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For most of the year, Patricia Bak served as counselor to the unemployed in-house attorney — one part career adviser, one part headhunter, one part friendly ear. Like many of her colleagues at the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association, Bak had gotten caught as the national economy tanked last year. Law firms began to lay off associates, and in-house legal departments were not faring much better. Bak’s employer, the New York-based Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, which settles asbestos claims, downsized by half in 2001. Her job was eliminated. “So many of our members, including me, ended up looking for jobs,” says Bak, 49. And that’s when she moved from victim of the economy to counselor of victims. As she started to figure out her own next move, Robert Lavet, deputy general counsel at Reston’s Sallie Mae Inc. and then president of WMACCA, asked Bak to head up a brand new group for the quickly growing ranks of jobless in-house counsel. With that, WMACCA’s Members-in-Transition Committee was born, with Bak at the helm. Currently, three dozen unemployed attorneys are active members of the group, though the actual number of local in-house lawyers searching for jobs is likely much greater, says Ilene Reid, executive director of WMACCA. Bak, who ran the group through the summer of 2002, organized monthly meetings with speakers on topics like networking, using search firms, r�sum� writing, and marketing skills. The committee also held networking lunches at La Madeline eateries, and members generally leaned on each other during the many months it often took to land the next job. Sometimes, says Bak, committee members would hear about their colleagues scoring the jobs that they had hoped they might get themselves. During her reign, approximately two dozen of her brethren managed to find employment. Despite the tough market, she contends, those left without jobs managed to put aside any jealousy. “They can pull you into the boat, if they’re the ones who make it,” she says. These days, job searches can be a full-time job. But Bak — optimistic by nature, with a calming manner — figured she could also use her work running the committee as a way to introduce herself to search firms around town. “It’s not easy to call a search firm cold,” she says. Still, even the connections she was making at search firms didn’t seem to be panning out. “This area’s corporate environment hasn’t picked up as quickly as we’d like,” she says. “A lot of us started exploring other things like government, nonprofit.” Bak had applied for a legal post at the Federal Trade Commission, and says that the FTC’s assistant director for enforcement “referred my r�sum� to another division.” But, recalls Bak, “I didn’t get that job.” Soon after, though, Bak got another call from the FTC to see if she was available because another position had opened up. On Sept. 16, Bak began her new job as senior attorney in the bureau of consumer protection. Now that Bak has “transitioned,” as WMACCA members like to call it, two new, unemployed faces have taken over the committee — Nancy Bowen, formerly of Freddie Mac, and Chris Ryan, once with CareerBuilder Inc. The committee has also been renamed the Career Development Forum, a moniker WMACCA leaders hope is more upbeat. Bak’s advice for her former group as they enter 2003: “You have to make your own luck, and you have to be open to it when things present themselves. You have to be enormously flexible, and get in line with the idea that your career isn’t going to be linear.”

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