My route to the nontraditional

 Jill Rorem, Esq., is senior manager, legal staffing at Blackman Kallick (www.blackmanstaffing.com). Jill oversees the successful recruitment of attorneys, paralegals and contract legal professionals. Jill (and the Blackman team) staffs document reviews using qualified contract attorneys and thus, works with attorneys-in-transition daily. You can follow her at twitter.com/roremlegalstaff.

I may just be the queen of nontraditional attorney careers. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was not meant to practice law. When I worked as a lawyer, I dreamt of doing anything and everything else. I tried lots of different paths until I discovered staffing—a perfect fit.

So—how did I wind up on this nontraditional route? I began as a labor and employment attorney and practiced for two years for a few boutique firms. Frankly, I felt that I was living in someone else’s body as a practicing lawyer. I spent a lot of lonely days and nights writing, researching, agonizing and ultimately crying, whining and coming apart. So I made a huge change and moved to Los Angeles.

During law school, I found great happiness working at The Second City Theater as a waitress. In addition to enjoying the party that never seemed to end with friends who continue to be in my life (I even met my husband there), I gained an appreciation of the arts and entertainment. With a law degree, a business mind and no real acting talent, I moved to L.A. and landed a job at one of the top three talent agencies: ICM.  There, I worked in their highly coveted Agent Training Program. Talk about nontraditional—I traded my law license for a mail cart! There are piles of stories for other blog entries here but needless to say, I left the program and moved back to Chicago. Though the experience was exciting and enriching and riddled with celebrity sightings, I ultimately planned to get married and hoped for a lifestyle that was less meant for a perpetual adolescent and more meant for a woman on the verge of a family.

And so eight years ago, I began as a legal recruiter at an agency with a D.C. office that was looking for a director in their satellite Chicago location. There, I placed attorneys and paralegals into positions that they hopefully found more fulfilling than I did my past attorney jobs. This was terrific for me. After spending time in two careers where I regularly worked until dawn, it was nice to leave at five and have the flexibility to come and go as I pleased. I loved being able to close deals in line at a winery in Napa or while buying diapers at Costco.

I left that agency after 18 months of being heavily recruited by my current boss at Blackman Kallick (also, another entry for another day possibly titled: “How to find a great job at a garage sale”). Almost seven years later, I am still with BK and I have never looked back. I have continued with direct hire placement of legal professionals and then built, with the help of a solid team, a large temporary legal staffing business. My days are spent assisting attorneys-in-transition with their cash flow by placing them on document review projects while they soul search, interview and contemplate the next move in their careers. This career will most certainly be food for fodder in my future posts.

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