Lawyer or IT consultant

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buddyt
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Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby buddyt » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:36 pm

I graduated from ASU in December summa cum laude with a BS in Computer Information Systems. Prior to graduation I was recruited by a large IT consulting firm. The firm has consistently blown away their yearly profit goals (most years by more than 20%) and we are on track to double the number of consultants at the Phoenix office this year alone. They currently have me contracted as a business analyst at a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company.

It goes without saying that the same kind of growth isn't happening in the legal job market.

However, my whole life I have known I didn't want to do IT for a living. My job isn't miserable--I work 40-hour weeks, and making around $50k right out of college is great--but I can't see myself doing anything with computers indefinitely. The more I read about law school, and the more I talk to my brother and brother-in-law (both attorneys) the more it is something I want to pursue.

I have no debt. I would like to practice in the Phoenix market exclusively. I was accepted at ASU with a small scholarship. After PTing in the high 160s, my LSAT score was in the low 160s. ASU has said they usually have leftover scholarship money in the summer and will consider increasing my scholarship based on a June retake [edit: I would still be able to attend this fall and would not have to defer a year]. I will own a home soon so with roommates basically paying my mortgage I will have little living expenses (gas, food, etc).

I am torn between choosing a career as an IT consultant or as an attorney. Which one might be more intellectually stimulating/less monotonous? Which one offers the better dollars-per-stress ratio? At a future hypothetical salary of (as an example) $100k, which job will require more hours, more weekends to be worked, more time away from family...

I don't know if there's a right answer, but am I a total moron for wanting to go to law school? Or could it end up being rewarding in the end?

tl;dr should I choose a career as an IT consultant (boring) or an attorney (seems interesting)
Last edited by buddyt on Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

in2win
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby in2win » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:44 pm

law school : take on 100k or more debt to enter the legal job market where you might end up making less for a starting salary than you are right now.

IT consultant: continue to make an above average salary for a bachelor's degree in a booming field with room for advancement (not to mention you could get your masters) with no current debt.

i think since time basically should not matter to you at all right now because you are earning a salary, why not retake and get into the best school possible and minimize your debt? law school will always be there

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bilbobaggins
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby bilbobaggins » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:00 pm

Why not take some time and work and think about this decision in a year or two? Law school isn't going anywhere and you'll gain valuable perspective by working for a few years.

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Buckeye33
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby Buckeye33 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:34 pm

I'd be inclined to agree with Bilbo. Keep working your current IT job (must be great, BTW -- political science majors, like me, definitely don't have these opportunities!) for a few years, live frugally, and save up some money. If you can't see yourself still working in IT, go to ASU. You'll have time to raise your LSAT in the mean time, while saving money for school. If IT is what you want, take some of your savings and work towards an MBA or MS. Hell, you could even go to law school part-time while working in IT (does ASU have a PT program?) and then practice law when/if you want a career change (though, admittedly, this is a huge time/financial investment if you don't definitely want to practice law. But, if you're like me and just love learning/school, it might be worth it depending on cost). All in all, your problem is a good one to have.

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buddyt
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby buddyt » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:35 pm

Thanks for the input. I've been having a lot of the same thoughts lately, so I'm glad I'm not too far off track.

Can anyone speak to the idea of, at a fixed salary, which one is less stressful or might afford more time to spend with family? I have a friend who is a secretary and makes $10/hr and generally has a pretty easy job. I have another friend who stocks shelves at Target, makes about the same money, but works his butt off (physically). So if physical activity is a factor, and the money is the same, it's easy to see which is the better pick. Can a similar comparison be made with lawyering, IT consulting and stress/workload, or are there too many variables?

I know it's probably impossible to answer, but maybe someone has some insight.

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TommyK
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby TommyK » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:42 pm

buddytyler wrote:However, my whole life I have known I didn't want to do IT for a living. My job isn't miserable--I work 40-hour weeks, and making around $50k right out of college is great--but I can't see myself doing anything with computers indefinitely.


If you're a strong performer, after a few years, your job will be less and less on the software development / tech side, and more on the consulting side. You'll be leading teams, then you'll be launching and implementing projects, then you'll work on growing the business by identifying company's needs and pitching your solutions to them. At that point, your tech skills will probably be a bit softer, but your knowledge of software development strategies will be very useful. In essence, you won't be working with computers or behind computers screens; you'll be leading a team to do that. So your aversion to working with computer indefinitely should be less of a factor long term.

in2win
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby in2win » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:48 pm

have a female cousin who is making over 6 figures after getting her masters and then working in the field for 4-5 years. sounds like a pretty solid career. although she says that she doesn't really like her job that much, ill take those career prospects any day. she also could be making more but she chose to opt of taking assignments which require a lot of travel. i think the only real factor in deciding between the two fields is that it will be much more competitive to get a job paying you a certain amount in law than it would to get that job in IT paying you the same amount. Also, I would think overall working in IT will be less stressful and would leave you a little more free time

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Chucky21
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby Chucky21 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:56 pm

buddytyler wrote:Thanks for the input. I've been having a lot of the same thoughts lately, so I'm glad I'm not too far off track.

Can anyone speak to the idea of, at a fixed salary, which one is less stressful or might afford more time to spend with family? I have a friend who is a secretary and makes $10/hr and generally has a pretty easy job. I have another friend who stocks shelves at Target, makes about the same money, but works his butt off (physically). So if physical activity is a factor, and the money is the same, it's easy to see which is the better pick. Can a similar comparison be made with lawyering, IT consulting and stress/workload, or are there too many variables?

I know it's probably impossible to answer, but maybe someone has some insight.


Well there are many things you should consider. First of all, do you or do you not want to be a lawyer? Are you interested in the law? What part of the law are you interested in? Do your skill sets fit in with what you perceive being a lawyer is all about.

Of course different lawyers in different fields have different experiences. At a small regional firm you will start off making about the same if not less than you are making now. At a large firm in NYC (biglaw) then you will start off at $160,000. However, the lifestyle is completely different.

In your situation it seems like you are keen on remaining in the same area, correct? If so, then your thought process should be around what the job prospects in the legal market in your area are like and whether you will find employment after law school. This is of course the single most important thing, what's the sense in getting a JD if you can't practice the law.

So seeing as you're buying a house and have a job right now then unless you are dead set on becoming a lawyer now I would hold off on going to law school until you are certain with what you want to do. You could use that time to retake the LSAT as others have suggested and try to get into the T 14 if you can. This of course will mean relocating, but it will also mean having a lot more options in the legal field.

This essentially boils down to whether or not you truly want to be a lawyer and are willing to take on debt to achieve that goal. Obviously I think it is worth it, but I understand not everyone thinks the same way, and everyone has different circumstances to deal with.

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buddyt
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby buddyt » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:08 pm

I very much want to be a lawyer. I don't know how closely related the bar exam is to the actual tasks of being a lawyer, but I was looking through my brother's BARBRI books and the content fascinated me. If law school is in part learning how to deal with those kinds of scenarios, I think I would love it. Another factor is money. I don't want biglaw, but as my career plays out I'd like to be making around what entry-level biglaw makes at some point, even if I have to wait until my 30s or 40s to do so. That seems like a daunting task in IT but seems more likely as a lawyer...maybe that's a common misconception.

I also feel like I'd be selling myself short stopping at undergrad, or even going to the MBA or MIS route. I feel like I need to do something bigger than that. Being a lawyer seems more altruistic, and that I'd have more opportunities to help others. IT seems pretty self-serving.

At the same time, if going to law school is economically a horribly stupid and risky decision, then I think I'd be able to swallow my pride and stick with my current gig.

keg411
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby keg411 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:21 pm

buddytyler wrote:At the same time, if going to law school is economically a horribly stupid and risky decision, then I think I'd be able to swallow my pride and stick with my current gig.


It is a risky decision. Personally, I'd stick with your current gig for a few more years and see if you change your mind. Law school isn't going anywhere.

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Chucky21
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Re: Lawyer or IT consultant

Postby Chucky21 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:15 pm

buddytyler wrote:I very much want to be a lawyer. I don't know how closely related the bar exam is to the actual tasks of being a lawyer, but I was looking through my brother's BARBRI books and the content fascinated me. If law school is in part learning how to deal with those kinds of scenarios, I think I would love it. Another factor is money. I don't want biglaw, but as my career plays out I'd like to be making around what entry-level biglaw makes at some point, even if I have to wait until my 30s or 40s to do so. That seems like a daunting task in IT but seems more likely as a lawyer...maybe that's a common misconception.
I also feel like I'd be selling myself short stopping at undergrad, or even going to the MBA or MIS route. I feel like I need to do something bigger than that. Being a lawyer seems more altruistic, and that I'd have more opportunities to help others. IT seems pretty self-serving.
At the same time, if going to law school is economically a horribly stupid and risky decision, then I think I'd be able to swallow my pride and stick with my current gig.


Ok cool. So basically you like the idea of being a lawyer which I think many people on TLS can relate to. What I am a little confused about is that you say you do not want biglaw, but you would like to earn a biglaw salary some day. You also want to be altruistic with your JD and not self serving.

First of all, you won't make a biglaw salary unless you work biglaw. And biglaw is viewed by some as self serving because your job is to make a profit for the firm by helping clients and billing them for your time. This is in an effort to make sure you get paid your salary and advance up the firm hierarchy.

Second, being an altruistic lawyer is somewhat of an oxymoron. Sure if you want PI then you can be seen as altruistic, but to secure and keep that job you have to be self-serving in using the law to your advantage to 'help' society. Being a lawyer, as I understand it, is not about changing the world or the legal system but rather to use the system to your own advantage. Clients come and go, winning your argument is all that matters. If you do want PI this also conflicts with your goal of making that six figure salary, that is just not happening from PI.

Also just to tackle all possible arguments about pro bono at big law firms, it is often the case that you should not do a hell of a lot of pro bono. It just subtracts from the time you could have been billing a client.

I don't mean to sounds pessimistic, being a lawyer is about being good counsel, but being a lawyer is also about making a profit either for yourself, or your firm.




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