Does unemployment insurance keep people from working?

One of the best ways to find work is to work part-time in the hopes of it turning into full-time employment. Another strategy is to try to work for yourself as a freelancer, consultant or entrepreneur. But either of these have one giant downside — if you collect unemployment insurance and you earn more than a certain amount a week from work, you’ll jeopardize your unemployment earnings.

Here’s how it works in NY, where I live (it varies state by state, but most states have a similar system):

If you work less than four days in a week and earn $405 or less, you may receive partial benefits. Each day or part of a day of work will result in your weekly benefit rate being reduced by one-quarter. For example, if your weekly benefit rate is $100 and you work three days and earn less than $405, you could potentially receive $25 in benefits. If you work two days, you could potentially receive $50 in benefits. If you work one day, you could potentially receive $75 in benefits.

As I talk to people, I’ve noticed a pattern. Though almost no one could support themselves on the paltry sum they receive from unemployment insurance, many folks (especially at the lower end of the income spectrum) use unemployment benefits as a cushion that supplement with some other income until they find a full-time job. But in order to preserve their unemployment benefits, they look for off-the-books work.  Sometimes they do consulting or freelance work, again only if they can find clients willing to pay them on the sly. By doing this, they might be taking steps towards finding full-time work. But they are probably living in fear of being discovered (and facing severe penalties, including jail time in some states). {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Do women lack ambition? Chime in.

Do women lack ambition? That was the question posed by Anna Fels, in a 2004 article in the Harvard Business Review, and again at a provocative luncheon panel earlier this week in a room full of high-powered women lawyers at a New York City law firm.

Read on for their take on this fascinating question, then let us know what you think.

{Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Where Are They Now: Jonathan Fields

Jonathan Fields, lawyer/serial entrepreneur/author/marketer

Jonathan Fields

I’m starting a new interview series where I’ll be catching up with people at various stages of a career transition or reinvention. In some cases, the subjects will be folks I’ve profiled before, as is the case with my first guest, Jonathan Fields. I met Jonathan in the Fall of 2001 when I interviewed him for this New York Times article on businesses that were thriving in post-9/11 New York City. At that time, Jonathan had recently left a position as an associate with Debevoise and Plimpton to open Sonic Yoga, a yoga studio in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen.

In 2003, I wrote a follow-up story on him for the Times, this time focusing on Jonathan’s path from corporate lawyer to entrepreneurial yogi.

Jonathan is in the midst of yet another identity shift as he has just published his first book, Career Renegade, which is steadily climbing the Amazon rankings.
Read more »

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Law Firms Get Rated on Female Friendliness

A celebration in honor of the second annual survey of the country's best law firms for women highlights progress, as well as trouble spots.

When Your Career Has a Mirror Image

Why it is a good idea to find people whose careers mirror yours.

More on Legal Issues After Layoffs

Taking another look at employees who blog disparagingly about former employers or start businesses in the face of non-compete agreements.

Friday’s Links: Why Lawyers Leave

With large numbers of lawyers fleeing the legal profession, one ex-lawyer starts a project to try to understand why.

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Diversity at the Office: Policy vs. Reality

A discussion about how employers can create and sustain diversity in the workplace.

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Denver wrap-up


I’ve just spent a few days in Denver, where I’m happy to report that the low humidity does wonders for those of us prone to the hair frizzies. In other news, Denver was also home to a some very slash-receptive audiences and even a spot on local tv, so that’s always nice.

Here’s the link to my appearance on the Denver morning news.
http://www.9news.com/life/programming/shows/mornings/article.aspx?storyid=71943
(I’m told this will expire in 30 days so please watch soon!)

On Wednesday, Carol Ross, a career coach who specializes in Boundary Crossers, interviewed me for the Northwestern University Alumni Club. Carol’s work is very innovative and she has an excellent blog worth a visit. And last night, I organized a salon called “The Secret Lives of Writers” through the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, which is hosting a great two-week LitFest. If you’re anywhere near Denver and interested in writing, get yourself over to the Lighthouse site and sign up for some workshops and panels. More information on that here.

The New York Law Journal covered my book today in this article, “Lawyers Find Bliss in Pursuing Alternate Careers” (not sure if the registration will let you in, but if it doesn’t, I’ll see if I can post it to my website.) This is shaping up to a pretty perfect Friday! I’m now turning off the computer and getting ready for a walk in Washington park with my old friend Jen before hopping on the plane.

** Carol Ross also blogged about her interview with me. You can read it here.

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Why I left the law — short answer


I recently got a two-part question from a second year law student in Florida. Taking a page from Jeremy Blachman, one of may favorite bloggers, who likes to post his answers to such questions on his blog, I’m going to start to do the same whenever it makes sense. I’ve started to get a lot of questions from readers, and I’m guessing that if one person has a question, might have a similar one. Plus, it will share more of my back-story, something I want to do in this blog. And it should give readers an idea of how I feel about the questions I get.

The question was: What prompted you to leave the law after 10 years? I inquire because I am a 2L and would appreciate some candid insight into what I can expect from a career in law. Thank you in advance for your response.

Here’s what I wrote:

What you can expect from a career in the law is an awfully big question and the answer is completely different if you end up working for the A.C.L.U., a small law firm in Iowa, a big firm in L.A., or the federal trade commission in DC. That question is a bit like asking what you can expect from a career in business.

If you tell me a bit more about what you want to do in the law or the kinds of opportunities you’re choosing between, I might be able to shed more light.

As to why I left the law, that’s also not a short answer kind of question. But here are a few reasons.

1. I ended up doing very specialized work that I wasn’t passionate about and after some searching around didn’t feel like there was another practice area that jazzed me enough to try to figure out how to move in that direction.

2. At the same time, I was becoming increasingly drawn to writing. I was reading a lot, taking classes, and the urge to get published was really nagging at me.

When you combine #1 and #2 it was a bit like feeling like your marriage is starting to fracture and then noticing that rather conveniently you were starting to find yourself attracted to an available and willing partner.

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