Our blog has moved, and is new and improved.

You should be automatically redirected in 3 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lawyer chucks it all to be a high school teacher

Here is an article from our sister publication -- Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. I don't know of any attorneys locally who have made a similar change, but I thought this was an interesting story.

Teachable moments: Boston attorney leaves his law practice to become a teacher

To his great delight and at considerable financial sacrifice, Burton A. Nadler has traded the title of attorney for that of high school teacher.

A longtime name partner at the Boston firm of Petrucelly & Nadler, in September 2006 Nadler enrolled at Suffolk University, as a part-time student in education. He continued practicing with P&N, which still bears his name, until this fall when he began teaching history at Weymouth High School.

"I've always loved history; I was a history major in college," says Nadler, 58, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Santa Clara University School of Law in California.
He also teaches an elective course titled "Legal Studies," which he defines as "a basic and elementary review of the law."

"Actually, the kids love it," Nadler reports. "They're intrigued by the fact that they have a lawyer as a teacher."

By the end of last month, Nadler, who plans to remain licensed as an attorney, had obtained his teacher certification, having successfully passed the state's education-licensure exams.

His enthusiasm for his new career seems not at all dimmed by the fact that his salary as a teacher represents an "enormous" cut in pay from what he earned as a lawyer. "It is criminal what teachers are paid in the commonwealth," he says.

In February 2006, Lawyers Weekly reported that the estate of a woman who had been struck and killed by a piece of construction equipment on Boston's Huntington Avenue in 2000 would receive more than $4 million in a wrongful death lawsuit that ended in a settlement. Nadler was the attorney for the estate.

Asked if the result in that case had any impact on his decision to forsake the courtroom for the classroom, Nadler says, "I would have been able to do this without it."

The reaction of colleagues to his decision has run the gamut. "I've had a variety of reactions," Nadler says, "from 'Congratulations!' to 'How could you do it?' to a few saying, 'I wish I could make the change.' And some have said, 'I couldn't have done that.' After practicing for 25-plus years, people don't feel they can make the change to a new profession."

For Nadler, "it was a worthwhile thing to do" even if it meant giving up what he says was "a wonderful situation with my partner [Jeffrey P. Petrucelly]. I miss my partner a lot, but I don't miss the practice of law. ... I'm enjoying the rewards of being a teacher far more than I enjoyed the rewards of being a lawyer."

No comments: