Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

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Jonjay1

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Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby Jonjay1 » Thu May 18, 2017 12:49 pm

I'm preparing for the Sept/ Dec 2017 test while working a demanding full time position at a law firm. This has put a significant strain on me to the point that I'm doing poorly in both despite all the incredible time and effort I've expended. I'm doing so poorly that I'm at risk of losing my job. I was told I have a month to see if things improve otherwise I'd be let go. I'm certain that my studying is the reason my performance has significantly declined. I honestly don't want to continue working knowing how important the test is but the only thing keeping me is the fact that I know I won't be able to get a reference for when it comes time to find a summer internship during law school. Most probably I'd be better off not listing this position, which now amounts to about a year and six months worth of experience, on my resume at all. If I were to stay and work, I know I could salvage myself so that I can make up for the drop in performance since I began studying. I just don't know if that's worth getting a low test score. I've already put off applying to law school for a while now and given what I've been through, which I don't want to get into, I couldn't wait another cycle even if I wanted to. I can see definite improvement with my score in the coming 4 months but it will really demand my fullest attention.

Is it worth sacrificing my position now and putting myself at a significant disadvantage in finding another job so that I can devote myself to the test?
Last edited by Jonjay1 on Thu May 18, 2017 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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UVA2B

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby UVA2B » Thu May 18, 2017 2:04 pm

You've given so much here to unpack that I doubt I'll be able to fully address your concerns, but I'll try.

What is this incredibly demanding job at a law firm? Full time jobs at law firms as paralegals, legal assistants, etc. can be difficult and time consuming, but that should not take away all your ability to study in the evenings for the LSAT. Further, when you're at work, be at work and do your job to the best of your ability. This is an important trait you'll need to master and maintain for the rest of your career. Studying for the LSAT should not cause you to sacrifice your work product at your paid position. That said, if you have literally zero time to study on nights and weekends because of the workload, and you're absolutely certain you want to become an attorney, then you should find a less demanding job that will allow you to study for the LSAT while doing the job. But if you quit this job, what will you line up? How will you continue to live if you don't have an income?

Second, you need to get in good standing at this law firm before making any moves. Get your work product improved, and reestablish a good rep at the firm. You need to list this job on your resume when you apply to law schools and eventually to employers, because a year and a half gap looks much worse than listing an employer that might not even be a recommendation. But if you save your rep at the firm and leave on good terms, there's no reason they won't give you a positive review and recommendation when the time comes.

Third, the LSAT is important for law school admissions (unless the trend away from the LSAT continues, in which case it may lose some importance. I don't want to add to conjecture about that right now, so let's just work on the current system where the LSAT is incredibly important), but your haste to get started in law school, absent clarifying information that you don't want to give publicly, is misguided. You shouldn't go/start law school until you've maximized your position in achieving your goals (which could be important here, but that's another question for another day), which means a combination of cost minimization and legal market credibility of the law schools you're considering.

Lastly, no LSAT study schedule absolutely requires full days studying for four months. So while you believe it requires your fullest attention, that's unlikely to be true. Most study methods around these parts can be that long, and if you struggle with the test enough it could take that long, but this should be more about studying smartly than brute force studying the test. You need to still maintain a life while studying, which means you'll need some way to sustain yourself, keep yourself focused, and ultimately keep yourself happy. You'll need a job or some other way to pay for your life, and you need to keep perspective that is really critical and often misappropriated by 0Ls. Law school is not the goal. Law school is the means to a professional end. Keep that perspective throughout your studying and application process, because it cannot be overstated.

I hope this provides at least some minor clarifying help. And if you would like to provide more/better information in helping us help you, that will always lead to better advice.

Jonjay1

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby Jonjay1 » Thu May 18, 2017 2:23 pm

Yes it is a paralegal position but it's not your standard administrative type of work. I won't get into personal reasons why I find it difficult because the whole concern is based on subjective values but the fact of the matter is I know it takes an inordinate toll on me. Even when I strictly divide my life between work and study (work-study-sleep) and put in the hours, I'm just not very effective at all. And believe me, this isn't a question of not doing enough work but a question of doing too much. I've tried and failed for over a year to do the whole work and then study in the evening regimen but it's not effective and in the long run its clearly taken a toll to the point that my efforts in both working and studying have deteriorated. Considering how much I need to improve my score by, and considering the huge payoffs a great score can give, I don't see the use of having to disproportionately devote time to this position. At some point, it's not about being a quitter but about knowing when I'm going against my own interests.
Last edited by Jonjay1 on Thu May 18, 2017 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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UVA2B

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby UVA2B » Thu May 18, 2017 2:34 pm

You sound pretty miserable in this job, and if that's the case, get out of it and just accept you're never getting professional recommendations from them in the future. But what about the rest of my post? How are you going to sustain yourself if you lose this job and focus on studying? What are you going to do in the interim between the test/applications and then the gap until you matriculate? Having a year plus gap on your resume doesn't look great, and not including the firm on your resume would make that 2 1/2 years of gap time. That's going to be really tough to explain to employers when they read your resume (not because you won't have anything to say, but more that anything you do say will come off pretty poorly).

Jonjay1

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby Jonjay1 » Thu May 18, 2017 2:42 pm

I'm going to simply rely on what savings I have. I'll keep the position on my resume and try to find employment as soon as I'm done with the test. I know it's such a ridiculous risk to be going through all this, especially when I have little to no funds to get through law school at all, but I'm certain that quitting will enable me to get a higher score and get into a better school. Debt and everything else that follows will be an acceptable consequence to getting into a good school. I think without this risk, I couldn't get into a good school. So, the way I see it, it comes down to either playing it safe by keeping my job, getting a decent score and decent school, etc., or it's going all in and taking the risk for a really good school. I've already postponed going to law school for two years and I know it sounds naive how eager I am to go considering it's normal for many to take several years off in between, but postponing it has just been a torturous experience and I feel like its a monumental waste of time for me.

snowball2

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby snowball2 » Thu May 18, 2017 2:52 pm

Not sure where my first post went, but my concern is that if this level of stress is getting to you then 1L will hit you like a ton of bricks. You need to see someone about stress management as a first priority (while you have insurance). I would then explore a leave of absence from work, citing stress management issues) before quitting outright.

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby UVA2B » Thu May 18, 2017 2:53 pm

You weren't actually looking for advice then? It seems you just wanted TLS to tell you its okay to quit your job since you've already decided to do so. If you think it's the best move for you, great. You never actually provided any substantive information for us to tell you otherwise. I have a distinct feeling there is a ton of incredibly relevant information you're hiding in the background that prevents us from actually giving you constructive advice, so good luck studying and I hope you achieve your goals in getting into a good law school.

If you ever want actual advice that would be at all substantive to your personal situation, come on back willing to offer information and receive advice.

Jonjay1

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby Jonjay1 » Thu May 18, 2017 3:02 pm

I don't want to get into giving excuses for myself as I know I can always improve in this area but I'm no stranger to stress. But, even if this issue is completely due to my inability to handle stress, should I be jeopardizing my score? When can I get to the point of correctly saying this position is a sunk cost? What would objectively tell me if I should keep trying or just moving on?

Jonjay1

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby Jonjay1 » Thu May 18, 2017 3:03 pm

UVA2B, no not at all. What substantive info could I provide without getting too personal?

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UVA2B

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby UVA2B » Thu May 18, 2017 3:19 pm

Jonjay1 wrote:UVA2B, no not at all. What substantive info could I provide without getting too personal?


What about this paralegal job is unique from any other paralegal job and why can you not handle it during working hours? Why does the job affect your studying at night and on weekends? Why are you struggling to handle being a paralegal, and why do you think that struggle is unique to this one position? And, should this job not actually be uniquely stressful, how are you planning to deal with it once the stakes are higher as an attorney and you're likely carrying student loan debt that needs to be paid off? It would be short-sighted to look at this situation and how stressful it is, to go all-in on quitting, studying for the LSAT, and going immediately to law school to find yourself back in the very environment where you found that type of stress to begin with.

Most importantly, why do you have to go right now? Law school isn't going anywhere, and it's not sunk cost or opportunity cost to either get better at your current job and come back to the LSAT when you feel ready to do so, or absent that, finding a new job that will allow you to study more effectively and get the right LSAT score to be admitted to the law school you want. You're setting artificial deadlines for maximizing your opportunity because you don't want to "put off" law school any longer, but you're not putting anything off. To think that is utter delusion in every case I've ever seen around here or in real life. No one dramatically needs to go to law school immediately.

We don't need to know your whole life story, but anyone claiming they need to go to law school right now is lying to themselves for artificial reasons (I'll allow that there might be a situation where going immediately is absolutely imperative, but I have never seen it), so without telling us why you must quit, study exclusively for the LSAT, and go to law school right now, I'm going to remain skeptical of the entire situation.

snowball2

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Re: Law School / Future Employment ADVICE

Postby snowball2 » Thu May 18, 2017 3:21 pm

Jonjay1 wrote:I don't want to get into giving excuses for myself as I know I can always improve in this area but I'm no stranger to stress. But, even if this issue is completely due to my inability to handle stress, should I be jeopardizing my score? When can I get to the point of correctly saying this position is a sunk cost? What would objectively tell me if I should keep trying or just moving on?


I would strongly urge some counseling. If your stress level away from work is interfering with studying for the LSAT - which has its demands but is not especially stress-inducing - then something else is going on. Failing to address what's going on inside you will not lead to a positive law school experience.



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