Non-Trad looking for input

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
kassir
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:34 am

Non-Trad looking for input

Postby kassir » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:06 am

:?: Short story: USAF vet, UG GPA: 3.8, civilian work experience with multiple (42) nationalities. I am about to turn 32, and have kicked around the idea of going to law school for several years...even took the LSAT in 2008. I feel pretty certain I'd be good at it, and law offers me flexibility and options my current job will never have (particularly the potential for mental stimulation). I don't particularly like my job, but I am pretty good at it. The problem is, I make 100-130k/year doing it. Granted, this earning potential is limited to working abroad/Hawaii/Alaska, and to take a similar position stateside would cut my salary range in half.

At what point do you decide to forego 300k in potential earnings, add 70k+ in student debt to change to a career where you might potentially make as much as you do now? :shock: I'm not getting any younger, and I welcome all viewpoints on this subject. Fire away.

-k

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hiromoto45
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Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby hiromoto45 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:14 am

Why mess with a good thing? If you want mental stimulation read a book. Don't waste money on law school and then get a law job that pays less than your current career. Unless you don't have job security then consider the career change. Maybe a part-time MBA program would work better in giving you more career flexibility.

Action Jackson
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby Action Jackson » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:18 am

OP, law school and the legal profession is not nearly as mentally stimulating as people think. If you haven't worked in the legal field I strongly advise you to get work experience in the field before you commit to it. Can you take a break from your current job without ruining your ability to go back to it? If so, take a year off and go in entry level at a law firm. See what they do every day, and then decide if it's for you. Also educate yourself about the job prospects coming out of law school. In all but the most extreme case you're going to take a major pay cut (and take on a bunch of debt).

kassir
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:34 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby kassir » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:25 pm

hiromoto45 wrote:Why mess with a good thing? If you want mental stimulation read a book. Don't waste money on law school and then get a law job that pays less than your current career. Unless you don't have job security then consider the career change. Maybe a part-time MBA program would work better in giving you more career flexibility.


I read plenty of books, that's not the kind of mental stimulation I'm concerned about. I'm talking about the feeling like my life is wasting away one minute at a time doing something I don't enjoy. Regarding job security: My field is a little more volatile in that the contracts are short (usually 6 months to a year) while working overseas. I bank enough that I usually take a few months a year off to travel and decompress. As far as getting a job, I've never had to look for one. I've waited for a specific contract to open up, but usually I'm turning down cold calls. I'll look into the MBA program, but I've already ventured into management-I think maybe the answer is striking out on my own.

kassir
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:34 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby kassir » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:34 pm

Action Jackson wrote:OP, law school and the legal profession is not nearly as mentally stimulating as people think. If you haven't worked in the legal field I strongly advise you to get work experience in the field before you commit to it. Can you take a break from your current job without ruining your ability to go back to it? If so, take a year off and go in entry level at a law firm. See what they do every day, and then decide if it's for you. Also educate yourself about the job prospects coming out of law school. In all but the most extreme case you're going to take a major pay cut (and take on a bunch of debt).



Action Jackson- thanks, the pay cut is a concern, but I'm also seeking some sort of "life balance". What law does offer me is the ability to work anywhere, even on my own if I so desire. If I decided to settle down, I'd much rather make 50k a year practicing law than 50k a year in my current job. Money is not EVERYTHING, but it makes life easier (and a hell of a lot more fun). Maybe I need to take another look, but I was under the impression that if you do well at a good school, associate pay of six figures is not hard to come by. Sure you'd be putting in the hours, but at least for me, keeping busy is easier than being bored out of your mind.

Action Jackson
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby Action Jackson » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:38 pm

kassir wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:OP, law school and the legal profession is not nearly as mentally stimulating as people think. If you haven't worked in the legal field I strongly advise you to get work experience in the field before you commit to it. Can you take a break from your current job without ruining your ability to go back to it? If so, take a year off and go in entry level at a law firm. See what they do every day, and then decide if it's for you. Also educate yourself about the job prospects coming out of law school. In all but the most extreme case you're going to take a major pay cut (and take on a bunch of debt).



Action Jackson- thanks, the pay cut is a concern, but I'm also seeking some sort of "life balance". What law does offer me is the ability to work anywhere, even on my own if I so desire. If I decided to settle down, I'd much rather make 50k a year practicing law than 50k a year in my current job. Money is not EVERYTHING, but it makes life easier (and a hell of a lot more fun). Maybe I need to take another look, but I was under the impression that if you do well at a good school, associate pay of six figures is not hard to come by. Sure you'd be putting in the hours, but at least for me, keeping busy is easier than being bored out of your mind.

You're saying a couple contradictory things here (you'd be happy with $50k, but you'd rather have a 6 figure salary), but more importantly you have pretty much every fact wrong.

1. The law is actually very boring. As mentioned.

2. You can't just work anywhere. You must pass the bar in the state you want to work in, and every state has different laws you have to learn.

3. Those 6 figure jobs are no longer "not hard to come by," and doing well enough in law school to get those jobs is itself not as easy as you might think. Moreover, those jobs are at firms where quality of life is going to be VERY low (60+ hour weeks are the norm, work weekends, must be available 24/7 to respond to messages) and severely limit where you can work (the firm tells you where you're working, you can't just get up and move to Utah if you feel like it).

In short, you have no idea what you're talking about and you need to educate yourself about this career. It's not like what you see on TV.

kassir
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:34 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby kassir » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:25 am

Action Jackson wrote:
kassir wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:OP, law school and the legal profession is not nearly as mentally stimulating as people think. If you haven't worked in the legal field I strongly advise you to get work experience in the field before you commit to it. Can you take a break from your current job without ruining your ability to go back to it? If so, take a year off and go in entry level at a law firm. See what they do every day, and then decide if it's for you. Also educate yourself about the job prospects coming out of law school. In all but the most extreme case you're going to take a major pay cut (and take on a bunch of debt).



Action Jackson- thanks, the pay cut is a concern, but I'm also seeking some sort of "life balance". What law does offer me is the ability to work anywhere, even on my own if I so desire. If I decided to settle down, I'd much rather make 50k a year practicing law than 50k a year in my current job. Money is not EVERYTHING, but it makes life easier (and a hell of a lot more fun). Maybe I need to take another look, but I was under the impression that if you do well at a good school, associate pay of six figures is not hard to come by. Sure you'd be putting in the hours, but at least for me, keeping busy is easier than being bored out of your mind.

You're saying a couple contradictory things here (you'd be happy with $50k, but you'd rather have a 6 figure salary), but more importantly you have pretty much every fact wrong.

1. The law is actually very boring. As mentioned.

2. You can't just work anywhere. You must pass the bar in the state you want to work in, and every state has different laws you have to learn.

3. Those 6 figure jobs are no longer "not hard to come by," and doing well enough in law school to get those jobs is itself not as easy as you might think. Moreover, those jobs are at firms where quality of life is going to be VERY low (60+ hour weeks are the norm, work weekends, must be available 24/7 to respond to messages) and severely limit where you can work (the firm tells you where you're working, you can't just get up and move to Utah if you feel like it).

In short, you have no idea what you're talking about and you need to educate yourself about this career. It's not like what you see on TV.



Wow. Yes, I do realize that passing the bar is a pre-req. I'm not an idiot. Due to the lack of access to American TV, I'm not sure what shows you think I'm watching, but I assure you my concept of the law is not glamorous. I envision life as a first year associate at a large firm to be mostly running errands, filing, collating and doing endless hours of research.

Perhaps I should have been more clear regarding the salary vs. lifestyle balance. Currently I move around frequently (last three contracts were Hawaii, Germany and Dubai) and make lots of money. Often I have to work 60-84 hr weeks- so that's pretty normal for me. Sometimes I'm lucky and only have to do 40-48s. Benefits suck, and job security is not something you think about in my line of work- there is none- you know the length of the contract when you take the job. IF I worked locally (read: have a normal life), with a reasonably stable job and benefits, I could make roughly 50k a year. I would be confined to certain areas of the country, I could not "just get up and move to Utah" in that scenario, either. However, if I were so inclined as a lawyer, I could move to Utah, take the bar, get a job or even hang out my own shingle. Yes, I realize taking the bar is a big deal, but I also know tons of people are successful at it (roughly 80% in both my home state and Utah), and have absolutely no reason to believe I would fail.

I'm not fresh out of school, I have a very realistic expectation of what I'm capable of. I'm naturally inclined in the areas of research and data compilation, so your concept of boring probably differs from mine. I'm attracted to the law because it touches everything. Only the people who know the rules can really play the game right.

I appreciate your attention to my question. I knew the answer, just needed some impartial validation.

Action Jackson
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby Action Jackson » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:52 am

kassir wrote:I'm not fresh out of school, I have a very realistic expectation of what I'm capable of. I'm naturally inclined in the areas of research and data compilation, so your concept of boring probably differs from mine. I'm attracted to the law because it touches everything. Only the people who know the rules can really play the game right.


I think it's more like my concept of research and your concept of research might differ. I can't stress this enough, you really should get first hand experience in the legal field before you make any long term decisions. Legal research consists of looking up lots and lots of cases and parsing them to see what can or can't work for your issue. Believe me when I say that sounds much more fun than it really is. Moreover, things like document review and cite checking are very, very TEDIOUS. The fact that your initial comments stressed mental stimulation as one of your interests does worry me, because most of what lawyers do is incredibly boring.

But I've given you my advice. I wish you the best of luck with whatever you do.

Though, if you don't mind my asking, what business are you actually in?

edinbourgh
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 9:04 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby edinbourgh » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:04 am

I'm not sure what kind of input you are looking for. Your question could rub some people the wrong way, especially recent college graduates ITE who are choosing law because they have absolutely no other option and are looking at unemployment as a mere humanities grad.
If you want random anonymous online opinions, here's another one, although I don't think you'll receive any that are much better than what you've already received.

Just keep your current job. A job is a job; sometimes we have to be thankful for what we have.
Some people would love to have a job like that right now even if it is not permanent.
In addition, being a lawyer isn't that stable anymore anyway.

However, only you know for sure if the aforementioned job is so unbearable and/or unpredictable that you can't see yourself staying on it despite the money. Be certain that it's not a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

If you're good at research and have been out in the real world as long as you said you've had, just make sure that you know what you're getting into (esp. law school debt + life as a lawyer). Since you said you have 3.8, you're probably intelligent and capable enough of doing so easily. Best of luck, OP.

Mosca
Posts: 251
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:10 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby Mosca » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:10 am

I'm surprised no one has asked this question yet: What is your LSAT score?

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PDaddy
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby PDaddy » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:13 am

32 is still fairly young, even for a lawyer. As a matter of fact, it's really the perfect age to go. You are grounded, you have work and life experience and have probably saved some money so you don't go into debt. IMO, more students should be waiting.

As far as law being "boring", that depends on your reason for going into the field and what area of law you practice.

erniesto
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:56 pm

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby erniesto » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:44 am

From what I understand non-trads get f-ed in OCI. Sounds like you're about to make a big downgrade.

Mosca
Posts: 251
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:10 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby Mosca » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:45 am

erniesto wrote:From what I understand non-trads get f-ed in OCI. Sounds like you're about to make a big downgrade.

Yeah, that's why Northwestern placed so poorly into the NLJ250 in 2009...

erniesto
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Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby erniesto » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:15 pm

Mosca wrote:
erniesto wrote:From what I understand non-trads get f-ed in OCI. Sounds like you're about to make a big downgrade.

Yeah, that's why Northwestern placed so poorly into the NLJ250 in 2009...


You're assuming this person will make the LSAT score (they haven't boasted one) which will put them in at Northwestern, and give them competition at an OCI full of non trads. Last I checked 95 out of 100 LSAT takers didn't score that 169 which would make Northwestern a safe bet. Besides, your data is pre-burst and hopeful at best. Welcome to an OCI 4 to 5 years later.

35 is not young to start a big firm career. In fact its the opposite. So expectations of a public salary are correct. The expectation that there will be any mobility in the legal profession, or the possibility of starting solo, barring an already established network of needed legal work, aren't.

Action Jackson
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby Action Jackson » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:19 pm

NU isn't full of non-trads. NU favors work experience, which means around 2-3 years of work experience, instead of 0-1 year of work experience. Some people think that's a big difference in maturity and quality of students, but they aren't non-trads.

The non-trad people I've known have either rocked OCI or had a rough time with it. Oh... like just about everyone else. Age sometimes works against you, and experience sometimes give you a home run. You can't generalize this stuff.

erniesto
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:56 pm

Re: Non-Trad looking for input

Postby erniesto » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:39 pm

All this is pretty anecdotal. I'd call school admissions and ask how people your age fair in OCI and where they are placed, a list of alumni like yourself and actual hard, verifiable data, before making any decision.

Keep in mind that Median salary for lawyers is ~65k and you're locked into a state.




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