I was asked to respond to this question raised by an organization that provides counseling and support for lawyers.


My wife has worked for a nonprofit legal organization for the past 6 and a half years. She was recently terminated from her position. This was her first and only legal job out of law school. Because of her termination, she cannot get any supervisory recommendations to use in her job search; she's left with her original law school references and some character references from some colleagues. My wife is very depressed about her firing, and fears that her career as an attorney is over. Are there any resources for attorneys who have been terminated in terms of seeking work again? Are their any help or support groups for this kind of thing?


I’m afraid I don’t understand the problem. A lawyer is terminated from her position and can’t get a recommendation. So what? Why does she need a recommendation?

What does she want to do? Who does she want to work with? Who does she want to represent?

Does she want to work in a small firm representing those with personal plight issues; i.e., family and divorce, environmental injury, toxic tort cases, education, employment discrimination, health? Who are the lawyers who do this kind of work? Has she talked to any of them about the circumstances surrounding her termination? What did they say? Did they care?

While being terminated isn’t the most positive way to end an employment situation, it provides the opportunity to devote much more time to finding the next position.

Would she like to be a sole practitioner working with others and sharing space with those who do similar work to what she does? If that is of interest to her, isn’t it irrelevant that she was terminated since you don’t need a recommendation from a previous employer to start your own practice, do you?

She needs to simply take control over her career, decide what she wants to do, promote and market herself to those who do that kind of work and find a position where she can derive satisfaction from doing it.