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Is Literary Agent Really a Viable Career Path for Attorneys?

According to attorneys-turned-literary agents, it's harder to be a literary agent.

Lawyers often complain about long hours, but literary agents have no off-hours. The good ones are always on their game.

That's what agent Jeff Kleinman and other lawyer/agents say. A typical work week? How about 24/7?

Lawyering is Easier

In an interview with the ABA Journal, Kleinman and fellow agents Paul Levine and Priya Doraswamy described the challenging nature of their work. Lawyers write letters and briefs, but getting books published is something else entirely.

"Being a lawyer is a lot easier than being a literary agent," says Kleinman. "A lot."

Sure, agents get to read a lot of books, but it's a lot of books. Agents need to read, think, and breathe books.

Kleinman said it takes eight to 10 hours just to read a manuscript. Once he finds a good one, he has to do everything he can to put a deal together. The upside is a lawyer/agent can write the contracts.

'Way More Fun'

But when Kleinman jumped from law practice to literary agent, he was worried he wouldn't make enough money to pay his bills. He did some legal work to help with the transition.

It's a tough job, but Kleinman says reading manuscripts is "way more fun" than reading deposition transcripts. He said the best part of the business is seeing projects come to life.

"It's the whole thing, the creation of the story, inventing a new world," he said. "It's really cool."

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