My book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, is shipping from Amazon!

Buy it there now. Or buy the book in local book stores starting on May 25.

Here is tip #25 from the book: Don’t Use Adverbs

If you want people to pay attention to what you have to say, write short. This is true in all of life, but most true at work. Most of the writing we do at work is in the format of an email, proposal or presentation – all documents that your audience wants to get through quickly. The faster and more concisely you get to your point, the more likely your reader will stick with you and understand your message. “If today the president got up and addressed the nation in 270 words, it’d be a top news story. People will pay more attention because you’re so brief,” writes Janice Obuchowski in the Harvard Management Update.

We sound most authentic when we talk, and verbally, short, simple sentence construction comes naturally to us. When we write, authenticity gets buried under poor word choice. For example, people who use complicated words are seen as not as smart as people who write with a more basic vocabulary. “It’s important to point out that this research is not about problems with using long words but about using long words needlessly,” says Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at Princeton University.

Writing short is not easy. Take the 270-word Gettysburg Address, for example. “Lincoln didn’t just suddenly master elegant language. He wrote wonderful, down to earth language that was very concrete. But he rigorously trained himself to do that,” says Bryan Garner, editor of the Dictionary of Modern American Usage.

Here are some self-editing tricks for writing shorter:

1. Write lists.
People love reading lists. They are faster and easier to read than unformatted writing, and they are more fun. If you can’t list your ideas then you aren’t organized enough to send them to someone else.

2. Think on your own time.
Most of us think while we write. But people don’t want to read your thinking process; they want to see the final result. Find your main point in each paragraph and delete everything else. If someone is dying to know your logic, they’ll ask.

3. Keep paragraphs short.
Your idea gets lost in a paragraph that’s more than four or five lines. Two lines is the best length if you really need your reader to digest each word.

4. Write like you talk.
Each of us has the gift of rhythm when it comes to sentences, which includes a natural economy of language. But you must practice writing in order to transfer your verbal gifts to the page. Start by avoiding words you never say. For example, you would never say “in conclusion” when you are speaking to someone so don’t use it when you write.

5. Delete.
When you’re finished, you’re not finished: cut 10% of the words. I do this with every column I write. Sometimes, in fact, I realize that I can cut 25% of the words, and then my word count isn’t high enough to be a column and I have to think of more things to say. Luckily, you don’t have to write for publication, so you can celebrate if you cut more than 10%. Note: It is cheating to do this step before you really think you’re done.

6. Avoid telltale signs of a rube.
Passive voice. Almost no one ever speaks this way. And on top of that, when you write it you give away that you are unclear about who is doing what because the nature of the passive voice is to obscure the person taking the action. Check yourself: search for all instances of “by” in your document. If you have a noun directly following “by” then it’s probably passive voice. Change it.

7. Avoid adjectives and adverbs.
The fastest way to a point is to let the facts speak for themselves. Adjectives and adverbs are your interpretation of the facts. If you present the right facts, you won’t need to throw in your interpretation. For example, you can say, “Susie’s project is going slowly.” Or you can say, “Susie’s project is behind schedule.” If you use the first sentence, you’ll have to use the second sentence, too, but the second sentence encompasses the first. So as you cut your adjectives and adverbs, you might even be able to cut all the sentences that contain them.

… I just checked to see if I have modifiers in this section. I do. But I think I use them well. You will think this, too, about your own modifiers, when you go back over your writing. But I have an editor, and you don’t, and I usually use a modifier to be funny, and you do not need to be funny in professional emails. So get rid of your adverbs and adjectives, really.

By Ryan Healy — College taught me the true meaning of independence. I attended classes when I chose, I studied at my convenience, I partied at my leisure and I relaxed when I needed to relax. You would assume that since I am now an “adult,” I would at least have this same sense of independence in the corporate world. But working in this antiquated “count-the-hours” corporate structure, I am controlled and monitored more than I was by my parents in high school.

“I’m going to leave at 3:00 pm today, my wife is out of town and I need to pick my kid up at school or he will miss baseball practice.” This is just one example of the countless excuses to leave early that I have heard from my superiors.

Why do my managers and superiors feel a need to explain their need to leave early to me? I don’t care! Leave early if you have to. You have a life! I have a life! Work is just a part of life! I don’t need to know if your kid is sick or if you have a doctor’s appointment. We are all grown-ups here…I trust you.

I can’t blame my coworkers for this. I find myself coming up with ridiculous reasons for leaving a little early as well. We work in a corporate culture that believes more time equals more productivity and the people who work the most hours are the ones “going the extra mile.”

Best Buy has instituted a program called Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE), to combat this antiquated, assembly-line way of thinking. Workers come in when they want, they leave when they want and they don’t make excuses. Major deliverables are known in advance and management trusts its employees to get the job done. This may be an elaborate PR stunt, but if Best Buy actually practices what they preach; they are embracing the blended life.

I am absolutely convinced that this is the future of work. How refreshing would it be to have no idea how many hours you worked because there is no distinction between work hours and life hours?

It’s a new way of thinking, and like my buddy Ryan Paugh said, “change” is a dirty word, but it’s necessary and it’s logical. My peers entering the workforce are not preprogrammed to make a giant distinction between work time and other time. Now is the opportunity to make this very simple change in thinking. It’s a win-win situation. Half of the American population will no longer hate their jobs, which will inevitably lead to increased production for the corporations. The only sector that could possibly lose out is pharmaceutical, when clinical depression reaches an all-time low. And that’s just fine by me.

I’m amazed that a program such as this can be considered revolutionary. To me, it just makes sense. Apparently some older workers equate not having strict business hours with working around the clock. This is completely understandable. If you have been controlled by the clock and overly concerned with hours for years, then it may be hard to differentiate productivity from hours worked. When I have had enough and am struggling to concentrate on my work, it seems pretty obvious to me that I need to shut it down and do other things. The work can be finished later.

Of course, it will not be easy to implement this new way of working for every type of job. Hourly workers actually need to record their time, doctors need to be around in case of an emergency, stock brokers must be available when the market is open and I’m sure there are other examples where this would not work too easily. However, a Results Oriented Work Environment for the average corporate Joe would be a beautiful thing.

Best Buy (or at least their PR department) is redefining the meaning of work-life balance. Simply put, they have created a blended life culture. The wheels have been set in motion; it’s only a matter of time before everyone hops on board.

Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.

A few months after I graduated from college, I got a job at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I thought it was the perfect job for me because I was very focused on playing professional beach volleyball, and I needed to earn money to get myself to Los Angeles, but I couldn’t work 9-5 because then I wouldn’t have enough time on the beach.

My job at the Mercantile Exchange was 7am to 2pm. I got the job from a trader who wanted a volleyball partner. I worked for Prudential Bache running orders from the guys who took the orders on the phone, to the guys in the trading pit who held stacks of paper orders. These guys holding the stack kept track of orders (like, buy 30 lots of cattle when the price hits 15) and gave them to the traders when the price hit. Then the trader executed the trade.

I tell you all this to tell you why I was so bad at the job. But first, here’s why I was so good: Because I had no work clothes. I graduated from college and had a job as a bike messenger and played volleyball. So I had no money to buy a new wardrobe for the trading floor. I thought this was okay because the men (it’s almost all men) didn’t even change their ties each day – they left a tie hanging in their office and wore the same one every day.

So I wore what can only be called beach cover-ups. And I thought the men thought they were dresses. Really, though, what the men thought is that I was available for sex. So, no surprise, I got a very good job in the trading pit almost immediately even though most people (read: men) had to work years before getting a job like that. My job was to keep track of what price people were paying for the British Pound.

The problem is that I’m dyslexic. I was never really sure about this, until I had this job. I was supposed to hold a bunch of orders to buy and sell British Pounds, and tell a broker when it was time to fill an order. But I could never figure out if the price was moving up or down. The numbers were just a big mess in my head. I know, you are thinking that this is very easy to figure out: Three comes after two, one comes before two. But you are probably not dyslexic. You, for example, know your right and left every time, which I cannot say for myself.

So I wasn’t very good at my job that summer, but you have to do something absolutely terrible to be a young twentysomething girl at the Mercantile Exchange and lose your job.

When things got really bad, I’d take a break and read Jane Eyre in the bathroom. The great thing about having so few female co-workers is no one noticed the long hours I spent in the largest stall. When the markets were slow, I’d read a whole chapter.

I just sort of continued this way, being such a wreck at work that I was taking longer and longer breaks with longer Victorian novels.

But then the Berlin Wall fell. It is an understatement to say that this moment caused complete mayhem in the European currency markets. I was so checked out, from trying to keep track of the orders, and Jane Eyre, and my escape to Los Angeles, that I did not even know what happened. And I was screaming, What’s happening?!?!, but trading at the Mercantile Exchange is open outcry, and at that point, if you stopped to say anything you’d miss a trade.

I don’t have a very clear memory of what happened. I remember my pile of orders falling on the floor. I remember the clerk next to me picking the orders off the floor and illegally making trades and no one seemed to care that he was filling orders he did not have the authority to fill. I remember that we had to estimate how many trades we missed and the trader I worked for started buying and selling generally – hoping he would have the right number of buys and sells at the end of the day to be legal.

I worry a little about writing about how much illegal activity was going on in the British Pound pit that day, but let me tell you something: That was a very tame pit. I am sure that people trading the German mark had it a lot worse.

A lot of people lost all their money that day. A lot of people made so much that day the never had to work another day in their lives. I made so many errors that I lost my job. Which was everything I had.

But you know what? It was a great job because I learned so much. I learned how sex appeal works at the office, I learned how people judge you by how you dress, I learned the importance of taking a break at work, and I learned that I was really, truly dyslexic. This is not even counting all the stuff I learned about commodities trading: I can use one hand to signal that the day traders are will screw you on price if you place an order now.

So here’s some advice for all you June grads who are worried about taking a job that is terrible: In almost any job you’ll learn a lot at the beginning if you keep your eyes open. Sometimes what we learn is not what we expect to learn, but all information about the world and ourselves is useful, if you put it to work when you make your next decision.

So go out into the world with your eyes wide open. And this applies to everyone. You don’t have to be young to demand personal growth from your job every day, and get it.

By Ben Casnocha — More than half of the current crop of college grads will start a business during their lifetime. And last year alone, 700,000 people started new companies in the United States. We are living in the golden age of entrepreneurship.

Part of the force behind this burst of new business is that the bar to start a company has never been lower, thanks to the Internet. On the web anyone can find cheap labor overseas, learn about almost any topic, and connect with potential partners and customers. Even if you’re in school – like I am – the opportunity to start a new business with few capital costs is enticing.

I launched my own business, Comcate, at age 14, and it’s still around today, five years later. Here are some things I’ve learned about starting a successful business even if you don’t know anything about business. These tips come from my new book My Start-Up Life, (which contains many more tips beyond these for starting and growing a company).

1. Be committed to personal growth and self-improvement.
Start reading books about entrepreneurship. Read about conferences. Reach out to local business leaders and ask for their advice on how to get started. In short, foster a genuine love for learning about the slice of business you are interested in.

2. Harbor a bias toward action.
Learning via books and talking to people can only take you so far. The very best entrepreneurs focus on doing over talking. Learn by doing, learn by failing. Take action. Pick up the phone. Send the email. Show up at the conference. Buy that book. What did you do today?

3. Share your ideas.
If you ask someone to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or if you simply pass on the opportunity to receive useful feedback because you’re scared someone will steal your idea, you are hanging a big, white poster on your chest that says, “I’m naive.” In the early stages, you want as much feedback as possible. This means sharing your ideas with others. There is no such thing as a new idea. Besides, it is execution that distinguishes successes from failures, not raw ideas.

4. Keep the customer at the top of your mind.
As you consider various business opportunities, always try to put yourself in the mind of the potential customer. What specific value would they derive from your product or service? What need are you serving? Leave the office and go immerse yourself in the life of the customer.

5. Enlist the support of others.
You can’t do it alone. Find people who can help you. Parents, neighbors, teachers, mentors, coaches. Your network is probably larger than you think. Somewhere in this network is probably a good co-founder for your business, too. Companies with 2 or 3 co-founders do much better than solo warriors. I talk about mentors so much in my book because they’ve been absolutely critical to my success.

Remember that anyone who tells you there is a single formula to successfully starting your own business is either lying or deluded. There is no single path. There are no top 5 rules.

It’s all personal to you. Who are you? What do you like doing? What are you good at? Where do you need people to help you? What do you know already? Be self-aware enough to answer these questions honestly.

Then get going and start doing (and let me know if you need help). The clock’s a-tickin’ and the world’s a-changin’!

Ben Casnocha, 19, is author of the new book My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley.

Guy asked for more material from me for his blog. So I wrote up a list of the biggest workplace myths. Here is my favorite:

Myth #9: Create the shiny brand of you!
There is no magic formula to having a great career except to be you. Really you. Know who you are and have the humility to understand that self-knowledge is a never-ending journey. Figure out how to do what you love, and you’ll be great at it. Offer your true, good-natured self to other people and you’ll have a great network. Those who stand out as leaders have a notable authenticity that enables them to make genuinely meaningful connections with a wide range of people. Authenticity is a tool for changing the world by doing good.

Go to Guy Kawasaki’s blog, How to Change the World, for the whole list.

The biggest difference between the workplace today and the workplace twenty years ago is where the friction is. It used to be that the frontier of workplace change was feminism. Today it is time.

Women pushed for equal opportunity, equal pay, equal respect at home. Men pushed to hold their ground, hold their sense of self, hold their vision of what work is like. It was men against women. Baby boomers like Sylvia Hewlett and Leslie Bennetts cannot stop fighting this fight, and the media helps them. But these are old, outdated baby boomer tropes.

Today men and women have shared goals: More time for family and friends, and more respect for personal growth at work for everyone, not just the high-ranking or the hardest-working. We are at a shift. The majority of men under thirty say they are willing to give up pay and power to spend time with kids, according to Phyllis Moen, sociologist at University of Minnesota.

My favorite story about this shift is about the publishing of the book, The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke. My agent represented that book. She tells me that it was initially geared toward women, and men were outraged that people would call the infringement of work on home life a women’s issue. So at the last minute, they shifted the target of the book to include men.

If Generation Y has made its mark as entrepreneurs, Generation X has made its mark by valuing family. Both men and women in this generation are scaling back work to take care of family. And we’re doing it at precisely the time in life when baby boomers were inventing the word Yuppie and Latchkey Kid.

Generation X and Y are valuing time in a new way: we are trading money for time. Baby boomers assumed they would get a lot of money and then buy time at the end – their retirement. We want time now, and we’re willing to give up a lot to get it.

These are hard decisions to make, though. And there’s huge structural pushback in the workplace. The same way that women had to figure out how to change the workplace to accommodate them twenty years ago, men and women today have to figure out how to restructure the workplace to accommodate their personal time.

Women get guidance all the time for how to make the decisions, but the discussion is more muted for men. The way that I usually contribute to that male half of the discussion is through my husband, who has given up a lot to take care of our kids and can’t really figure how to get back on track.

But today I also want to add David Bohl to the discussion. He is a career coach who specializes in helping people create well-balanced, fulfilled lives and lifestyles. He focuses on the topics you’d expect – productivity, aligning values and setting priorities.

I liked him immediately when we started emailing because he is living the life he talks about in his coaching – that is, he adjusted his work to accommodate his personal life, and is always thinking about how to make this lifestyle work better. It’s a hard shift, especially for men, so I appreciate that he’s already done it, and now he is helping others make the shift in the American dream from focusing on money to focusing on time.

If you want to work with David for 90 minutes, for free. Send an email to me about why you think he’d be a good fit for you. The deadline is Sunday, May 20.

During my first job interview, my mom drove me to 31-Flavors while we practiced interview questions.

One question we did not practice was “How much money are you expecting?”

When the ice cream store owner asked, I said, “Well, my parents are cutting off my allowance for the summer so I’d like twenty dollars a week.” That seemed like a lot because I wouldn’t need money for school lunches.

Later, my mom pointed out that I gave a number so low that it would have been illegal. In the end, the owner paid me minimum wage for a 40-hour week, and because I had asked for so little at the beginning, by the time I was a doing the job of a manager I was making less than some scoopers.

So I quit, and moved to a pizza parlor where I got extra money for cutting the salami with the machine that cut peoples’ fingers. It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized there are established strategies for salary negotiations, and if you follow them, you will likely get the salary you deserve without risking the loss of a limb.

I got a lot of practice doing that in my twenties – having about ten jobs in ten years. I got a sense of who would negotiate and who wouldn’t. I learned to read people in business. And then I realized that you can use these skills for a lot more than just salary.

One of my bosses gave me the book Getting To Yes. He said the book would help me manage because every management moment actually has implied negotiations.

When I went to couples therapy with my husband, the therapist assigned us reading. (Who knew therapist assigned books?) But guess what it was? Getting to Yes.

It was a great idea. Because then instead of paying a therapist to entertain our insane ideas of changing each other. We learned how to make the other person feel happy about giving us what we want by making sure that they get something, too.

So I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview the author of Getting toYes, William Ury. He’s director of the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard, and his new book is The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes. Here are his five best tips for doing well in negotiations.

1. Take a break.
Ury calls this “going to the balcony” in order to get a big picture handle on what’s going on so that you are not getting too worked up over irrelevant details. He says, “When we negotiate when we’re angry we give the best speech we’ll ever regret.”

2. Know your BATNA.
This is negotiator-speak for “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” That is, if you have to walk away, what’s the best you can get? This tells you how much power you have in negotiations. The person who needs the agreement the least has the best BATNA and the most power.

3. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Ury describes negotiation as an exercise in influence. “You need to change someone’s mind, so you need to know where they are right now.” This means listening more than talking. And the first question to ask is Why. You will hear their needs, but you need to know the underlying cause for the need. For example, if your boss wants you to work a 16-hour day. To negotiate with your boss, you need to understand why – what needs to get done in those hours. Maybe you can get it done a different way.

4. Learn to say no.
“In order to get to the right deal, you need to be able to say no to the wrong deal. Saying no is fundamental to the process of negotiation.”

Tip from the department of great-if-you’re-him: Warren Buffet once said that he doesn’t understand “getting to yes” because he just says no until he sees a perfect yes. Buffet says you only have to give four or five great yes responses in his work in order to be a billionaire.

5. Be clear on your values.
For those of us who might not see a perfect yes, deciding on no is more complicated, and we have to be really clear in our own minds about what we value and what we need. Sometimes a no is surrounded by a deeper yes. For example. You say yes to the values, no to the tactics and yes to going forward. Ury calls this a positive no. But he warns that if you’re in doubt, then the answer if probably no.

What I take away from Ury is that good negotiation is a combination of good self-knowledge and good people skills. And, not surprisingly, this is the combination that gets you a lot of things in life.

There are opportunities in each of our lives to practice negotiations constantly — even, as Web Worker Daily points out, in email. You can do it with a spouse, with a boss, with your neighbor who doesn’t clean the yard. The better you get at the small stuff, the easier the big moments of negotiation will feel.

For many young people today, the most trusted source of career advice is their parents. Unfortunately, a lot of parents are giving a lot of misguided advice to their kids.

Today’s workplace is very different from the one baby boomers navigated. But often they don’t realize that, and think the “classic” advice still applies. It doesn’t. Here are the five worst pieces of advice that parents dole out.

Get a graduate degree
It used to be that people went to graduate school as a surefire way to achieve the American Dream. Today, graduate school generally makes young people less employable, not more employable.

For example, people who get a graduate degree in the humanities have little chance of getting a tenured teaching job.

And when it comes to an MBA, the value of the degree plummets if it’s not from a top school, even though the cost of the degree continues to skyrocket. So instead of opening doors for you, the degree in many ways forces you to settle for a job that pays well enough to pay back your student loans.

Law school results in one of the few graduate degrees that can make you more employable. Unfortunately, it makes you more employable in a profession in which people are unhappy. Law school rewards perfectionism, while law practice rewards good sales skills.

This dichotomy, combined with the reality that practicing law isn’t all that glamorous, means that law school should be something you do only if you’re driven to — it’s not the safety net indecisive career seekers wish it was.

Don’t job hop
The advice parents give about job hopping comes from the days when human resources people were in charge of job interviews, and hiring managers ruled the world. But today, job hopping is standard. Most people will have eight jobs before they turn 30, and that’s a good thing.

Young candidates these days have more power than interviewers because there’s a shortage of people to fill entry-level jobs. Unemployment among the college educated is less than 2 percent, young people routinely have more than one job offer, and 70 percent of hiring managers say they feel like they need to convince candidates to take their jobs. Clearly, this is a time when young people are in charge.

Job hoppers are bad for companies because high turnover is expensive, but switching jobs a lot is very good for employees. It builds skills faster, constructs a network more effectively, and helps you figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Most important, regularly switching jobs helps you maintain passion in your career — which, in the end, benefits companies as much as it benefits the passionate workers cycling through them.

Don’t ask about time off until you have the job
Everyone has a personal life that exists separately from their job. You can’t schedule your cousin’s bar mitzvah around a product launch, and you can’t clear your calendar before you take a new job.

So when you’re figuring out which job to take, be upfront about what sort of time you expect to be taking for yourself. If you want Tuesdays off for kickboxing class, then say so. If you have a vacation planned for two weeks after the proposed start date, then say that. Some jobs have unmovable start dates, and sometimes your personal life will preclude taking a job.
That’s OK. Why bother with the absurd job-interview song-and-dance where you pretend that your personal life doesn’t matter, and that only getting the job matters? You wouldn’t want to work for anyone who had that attitude, so why pretend to have it yourself?

Don’t have gaps in your résumé
It’s so common for people to take time off to explore after earning their degree that universities have people who specialize in helping students find after-college non-work/non-school learning opportunities. As long as you’re learning and growing — and not endangering your life — then gaps in your résumé are merely you finding another way to discover the world. In fact, you’ll be a better employee for that.

The people who don’t flounder at all after college and go straight into a career they stick with make up less than 12 percent of the population today. Research shows that they’re generally less creative in picking a path that’s right for them, and more willing to take paths someone else has established. But each of us needs different things from our work — we have to make our own paths, and we need breathing room to do that.

If there are no gaps in your résumé, it probably means you didn’t take any time in your life for reflecting. Sure, you can do your reflecting in the shower or during a boring meeting or on an invigorating run. But grand thinking requires grand amounts of time.

Often, we need to separate from everyday life in order to see possibilities far outside what we’re doing. So make gaps, and talk about them in job interviews like the learning experiences they are.

Earn enough money to pay rent and buy food
One of the smartest career choices you can make after graduation is to move back in with your parents. This isn’t possible for everyone, but those who can do it have a distinct advantage in their entrance into adult life. It’s why more than half of college graduates are choosing to move back home.

At present, entry-level jobs don’t pay enough to cover student loans, health insurance premiums, food, and rent in the kinds of cities young people like to live. Parents will say, “When I was a kid, everyone could pay their rent when they got their first job.”

That’s probably true, but since that time, real wages have fallen, school costs have outpaced inflation, and health care costs are astronomical for people who don’t get insurance through work — which is a large portion of fully employed young people.

Young people who need to support themselves without any help from family are necessarily limited in career choices — they have to have a job that pays well in order to live. That’s why 60 percent of graduating seniors move back in with their parents after college.

But the best way to figure out what you really love doing is to try things and worry about pay later, when you know what you like. Moving back in with your parents allows you to take a job purely because it’s a good opportunity for personal growth and self-knowledge.

Many baby boomers stayed in careers they didn’t like for 20 years. A good way to not repeat this in the next generation is to explore many careers before you choose one.


The people who don’t flounder at all after college or an online MBA and go straight into a career they stick with make up less than 12 percent of the population today.

By Stephen Seckler, Managing Director, Boston Office, BCG Attorney Search and author of the blog Counsel to Counsel.

The cost of a legal education is now reaching stratospheric proportions. Anyone contemplating this enormous investment of time and money should think long and hard before applying.

Here are five common myths about what law school will do for you:

Myth 1: I’ll be able to use the law degree in whatever career I decide to choose.
Go to law school if you want to be a lawyer. But don’t go if you believe it will “open doors” for you. It won’t. By the end of law school you may still have no idea what you “want” from your career; only now you are likely to limited by huge law school debt.

Myth 2: I’ll get a job when I graduate law school.
If you graduate near the top of your class from a top school, then your job prospects are likely to be strong. But if you have an average performance from a second-tier school, finding your first job may be a big challenge.

Myth 3: I’ll get to be in court and try cases.
Most lawyers never see the inside of a courtroom. About 95% of all civil law suits that are filed are settled before trial. Much of the work of a “litigator” involves reviewing documents, preparing court filings and negotiating with the lawyer from the other side of the case.

Myth 4: I’ll be able to advocate for the little guy.
If you are independently wealthy, you can advocate for the poor, fight for environmental justice, defend civil rights, etc. But if you are like the typical law school graduate today, you will finish with substantial debt. Public interest jobs are too low paying to accommodate a heavy debt burden. Some law schools have a debt-forgiveness program for people going into public interest jobs, but the salaries are so low that they are often hard to manage even in light of debt forgiveness.

Myth 5: I’ll have intellectually challenging work.
Early in your career, you will probably spend a lot of time reviewing documents all day rather than tackling great intellectual issues. Even litigators – many of whom go into law to argue exciting, constitutional issues — will spend most of their time researching mundane procedural issues at the beginning of their career.

If you’re thinking of going to law school, make sure you have a clear plan for how you will make that degree useful (and essential) when you graduate. Find some practicing lawyers and spend time with them to find out what they really do for a living.

If you are already in law school and reading this, don’t panic. Rather, start doing some of the harder thinking that you put off and figure out how you want to make the best use of your degree when you do graduate. The work you do now will surely pay off in the long run.