- Law Job Star
Pursuing a parallel career to beat the stress of legal job- Part 2
by Mary Waldron
Being a lawyer is stressful. The pressure and anxiety of the profession can literally drive attorneys mad, or at least to the point where they, and many people who love them, think they have gone mad. This is why many of today's lawyers are venturing out from behind the dark and consuming courtroom doors to pursue hobbies and second careers that satisfy their adventurous and creative senses. Almost all attorneys agree that having another hobby or side career actually helps them stay focused and engaged in their work as attorneys.
Check out what the country's attorneys are doing in their spare time to keep their lives fulfilled and balanced outside of the law:
What started out as a supplement to his income during law school has become a passion for Tyler Pokrass. Pokrass began to dabble in antiques when he was young, accompanying his parents when they attended estate sales and visited various antique stores. He collected bottles, coins, and then comic books. Years later, after discovering a stash of old comics at his friend's grandparents' house, Pokrass got his first taste of comic book broking when he sold the 1963 issue of Spider-Man 1 for a handsome profit.
In high school, college, and law school, Pokrass dove into buying and selling comics for profit. During law school, he connected with a local doctor who was in search of some of his favorite vintage comics (comic books published before 1975). Pokrass went to work shopping around at comic book shows and on eBay for the doctor, and eventually, his profits from that work helped him get through law school financially. Pokrass was even able to put a down payment on a house when he sold a 1940s issue of the Whiz comic book that featured the first appearance of Captain Marvel.
"It doesn't matter what you partake in to be a healthy, well-rounded person. Everyone needs a hobby to have some time away from law," he said.
Ethan McQuinn: Drummer—Denver, Colorado
During college in the mid 1990s, Ethan McQuinn took his lifelong passion for music further when he joined a band, Melatonin, as a drummer. His and his band's influences were artists like The Police, The Samples, and Phil Collins. McQuinn and his band developed a following and played the Denver club circuit throughout his college years and law school. Melatonin even played for a few of McQuinn's law school's talent shows. Because of the response they received, the group was invited to play at a private party for an audience of approximately 1,000 at the Boulder, Colorado, Fox Theatre. Though his music career never took him to the mainstream and his band eventually dissolved, McQuinn now can be found playing for the mega-church Woodman Valley Chapel.
"Law has a tendency to consume one's entire life, but it's important to have a hobby to maintain your quality of life and keep you balanced," he said.
Keith Kandel: U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel—Livingston, New Jersey
In 1985, following his first year in college, Keith Kandel decided to pursue a different route by joining the Army National Guard. He actively served for three years before going back to school and graduating from Widener University School of Law in 1993. Though Kandel said that he "never planned on law" and that he "fell into it," he has found that many of his skills from the Army have smoothly translated in his law career.
"Some skills are complementary to law, including leadership, focus, and development/planning," he said.
"I've connected differently with people in the military and developed strong friendships with people with the same views and values as me," said Kandel.
Scott Fleming: Canyoneer—Las Vegas, Nevada
Shareholder at Hale Lane Law Offices Scott Fleming discovered his favorite getaway from law four years ago when a friend of his invited him along for a weekend of the up-and-coming sport canyoneering. Basically the opposite of mountaineers, canyoneers use rappelling equipment to descend into canyons. The challenging sport requires knowledge of rock climbing, rope skills, and high endurance. It can also be done in an aquatic or semi-aquatic canyon environment and can require scaling slick rocks, swimming in ice-cold water, climbing up and down boulders, and excellent map reading skills.
Fleming usually takes six to eight canyoneering trips per year during the late summer and early autumn months. His favorite locations are Zion National Park and Escalante National Monument in Utah. Over the past four years, canyoneering has helped Fleming develop and strengthen his friendships.
"You're putting your life in their hands, so it can really help build strong friendships," he said.
With a lifelong passion for music and the arts, Peter Russo, a civil rights sole practitioner working in New York City, has broadened his career and become a singer and pianist, as well as an author. It was only natural that Russo would carry music close to him, as he grew up in a household filled with it. When he was a baby, he would actually scream if the radio was not on! In his childhood, Russo began playing the piano by ear, and he was in love from then on.
Performing at various clubs, restaurants, and events in and around New York, Russo has opened for musicians like Tony Orlando and Neil Sedaka. His CD, In a Sentimental Mood, was released last year; it features his renditions of a variety of pop and jazz-standard songs. His CD is available at certain Barnes & Noble locations.
Russo advises that having other activities outside of law is "essential" for any successful lawyer.
"A lot of lawyers are unfulfilled and hate it [law]. Many tell me that they would get out of it if they could; it gets ugly," he said. As an attorney, you are constantly dealing with people and building relationships, so it is valuable to know what else is going on outside of your world of law.
"If you're going to be a good lawyer," he said, "do something to develop your soul."
Kenji Tashiro and Andrew Fleischman: Opera Singer and Pianist—Louisville, Kentucky
This pair of lawyer friends from Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald, both partners in the firm, combined their musical forces when they discovered that they both had an interest and background in music at a reception held by their firm. They also met another singer who asked to meet up with them to sing and play.
Kenji Tashiro and Andrew Fleischman both came from strong musical backgrounds before they went to law school and took off in the legal world. Growing up and training in Japan, Tashiro was introduced by his mother to a prominent Japanese singer when he was young. When the singer heard his voice, she asked him to come train with her, and he did. Fleischman had a music scholarship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he was a music major and earned extra money as an accompanist.
Since their collaboration, Tashiro and Fleischman have been asked to perform at various local events, charities, and cocktail parties. Fleischman has played piano for the Kentucky Opera on numerous occasions, and he is also a board member of the organization. Last February, Tashiro sang in the chorus for the Kentucky Opera's performance of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.
Dubbed Louisville's local "ambassadors for the arts," Tashiro and Fleischman both agree that their passions for music have opened doors to clients and networking as well as educated their town about music and the arts.
"These days, I am distinguishing between the two less and less," said Fleischman. "It's important to keep happy; even later in your career, it's important to have hobbies as another outlet."