Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

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Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:58 pm

I am thankful to already have a law firm job in place for after the bar. It's doing one of the types of law I most want to do and the firm is the right size and seemingly has a good atmosphere. The cost of living is low in the area and the pay is decent, but it's in a city (and state, for that matter) that I won't want to stay in. Still, that was fine until the PMF job fair over the past few days. For anyone who doesn't know, the PMF program is a two-year fast track into relatively high levels of federal government, but it is about policy rather than law. A couple of prospects from there seem really neat. My concern is that if I accept a PMF position, I'll bring myself too far away from law and won't be able to return if I later wanted to. Ideally, of course, I'd love what I'm doing so much that it wouldn't be an issue, but nonetheless I see it as a valid concern. Any thoughts on this? Or on the pros and cons of the PMF program generally?

Renzo
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Renzo » Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:44 am

My thought is that the PMF has become very competitive since the economy crapped out, and you'd be silly to worry too much about it until you actually got accepted into the program.

Bliz
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Bliz » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:08 pm

I have been accepted. I went to the job fair, had many very good interviews and already have a PMF job offer. Others may well be coming in next week. The time to consider it really is now, and it's a tough decision to make. That's why I'm seeking thoughts on the matter.

Renzo
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Renzo » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:16 pm

In that case, congrats. What are your ambitions, long-term?

As much as you are willing to divulge, what region/city are you in, what school, what class rank, etc.?

Bliz
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Bliz » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:41 pm

Thanks. Part of the issue is that my long-term goals are malleable. It's more that I have a set of job characteristics that I need to be happy: theoretical or otherwise thought-provoking work, decent money and something of a life outside of the job (not at all that I only want to work 40-hour weeks, but 80 or 90-hour weeks aren't what I'm after, either). I also need to be around good people, though that's not really pertinent for this discussion. Ideally, I want to be in a city. I interned for the corporate legal department of a large organization in my city, and the experience was amazing. I'd love to end up back there, but the issue is, who says I wouldn't be equally -- or more -- happy doing federal government work?

Another layer to this is that, if I took the PMF offer, I could take the bar in the state I'm now in rather than in that where my firm job is. Again, barring my finding unexpected happiness in the city I'm moving to, I don't plan on staying there permanently, and perhaps already having a license in the state where the aforementioned large organization is might be a good thing. On the other hand, I worry that the PMF job won't leave open the possibility for law practice later.

Moneywise, I'd certainly make more my first year practicing than I would as a PMF, even moreso because the firm is in a city with a low cost of living while the PMF position is likely in DC. That said, my second year in I'd make close to the firm salary and the third (if I converted to permanent employment) I'd be equal. Who knows how quickly I could get raises at the firm and what those raises/bonuses would be. It's a bit of an unknown.

As I go, I'm at a low T1 and on Law Review.

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truthypants
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby truthypants » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:46 pm

Bliz wrote:Thanks. Part of the issue is that my long-term goals are malleable. It's more that I have a set of job characteristics that I need to be happy: theoretical or otherwise thought-provoking work, decent money and something of a life outside of the job (not at all that I only want to work 40-hour weeks, but 80 or 90-hour weeks aren't what I'm after, either). I also need to be around good people, though that's not really pertinent for this discussion. Ideally, I want to be in a city. I interned for the corporate legal department of a large organization in my city, and the experience was amazing. I'd love to end up back there, but the issue is, who says I wouldn't be equally -- or more -- happy doing federal government work?

Another layer to this is that, if I took the PMF offer, I could take the bar in the state I'm now in rather than in that where my firm job is. Again, barring my finding unexpected happiness in the city I'm moving to, I don't plan on staying there permanently, and perhaps already having a license in the state where the aforementioned large organization is might be a good thing. On the other hand, I worry that the PMF job won't leave open the possibility for law practice later.

Moneywise, I'd certainly make more my first year practicing than I would as a PMF, even moreso because the firm is in a city with a low cost of living while the PMF position is likely in DC. That said, my second year in I'd make close to the firm salary and the third (if I converted to permanent employment) I'd be equal. Who knows how quickly I could get raises at the firm and what those raises/bonuses would be. It's a bit of an unknown.

As I go, I'm at a low T1 and on Law Review.


Ha, so basically you're gunning for the same job everybody else wants. I'd go PMF.

Bliz
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Bliz » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:01 pm

Why?

Renzo
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Renzo » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:06 pm

I say take the PMF. It seems extremely unlikely that you couldn't get at least the same (or at least a fungible) job after the PMF. It sounds like you're headed to a decent midlaw firm, and if you could score that job in this economy I think you could do it again if you wanted after the fellowship. So at worst, you're delaying your legal career a few years. On the other hand, it sounds like a gov't job might be right up your alley, and the PMF might help you score one. Seems win-win to me.

270910
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby 270910 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:16 am

I think $$$ is critical here. If this were PMF vs. NYC biglaw, I'd say biglaw will give you better options and pay so you would just be giving up too much by taking PMF. On the other hand, if this were podunk insurance defense at $30,000 per year I'd tell you to get your ass to PMF as fast as you can.

I assume it's probably somewhere in-between? I'd definitely look into progression opportunities w/ the smaller firm. Obviously the probably don't have brochures produced by HR, but career services and contacts can probably help you figure out what your exit options / upside earning potential are with the firm.

Even from the dark, I'm having a hard time seeing how PMF loses. It's just a really cool program, and once you get in with civil service you can expect excellent job security, very respectable pay, benefits, and sane hours.

ArmyVet07
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby ArmyVet07 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:57 am

Given that the PMF program takes people with all kinds of graduate degrees and that only a few of the opportunities are direrctly related to law, do you even need to pass the bar?

FLS08
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby FLS08 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:10 am

Can you get in touch with a bunch of recent alums (or at least current members) of the PMF program and discuss these concerns with them? Seems like they would have the best insight into how easy or difficult it would be to transition back into law in the future. My guess is that law would still be open to you, but you might find yourself limited primarily to (1) certain practice areas that are at least tangentially related to the policy work you did in government or (2) firms and companies with lower hiring standards than the ones that you have been considering. So there is some risk, but probably not enough to prevent you from accepting a great opportunity that you might wonder about for a long time if you go down the traditional law-firm route.

Bliz
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby Bliz » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:32 am

No, you don't need a law license, but here's the catch: PMFs must do a 4-6 month rotation. Many law students, at least among those who have not foreclosed practicing law, do a law-based rotation, such as with DOJ or an agency's office of general counsel. For those you do need a law license. Since I plan to do one of those, I will be taking the bar.

I ended up accepting one of the PMF offers because it is with my dream agency. The policy work will be unrelated to the kind of law I would have practiced with the firm -- and, for that matter, one of the few kinds of law I would be interested in practicing on a permanent basis -- but as FLS08 suggested, I would have always questioned or even regretted turning down this opportunity. On top of that, a number of alums who started with the PMF program remained in government but in a law position. Also, I have a professor who was a PMF and now works in Biglaw, so that, too, is a possibility.

One last admission: People's response to the PMF job, which tends to be along the lines of "That's by far the coolest job I've heard of yet" (in the context of my 3L classmates) does help affirm my decision. Not that I need the affirmation, but I like that reaction.

ArmyVet07
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Re: Firm job v. Presidential Management Fellowship

Postby ArmyVet07 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:03 pm

Bliz wrote:No, you don't need a law license, but here's the catch: PMFs must do a 4-6 month rotation. Many law students, at least among those who have not foreclosed practicing law, do a law-based rotation, such as with DOJ or an agency's office of general counsel. For those you do need a law license. Since I plan to do one of those, I will be taking the bar.

I ended up accepting one of the PMF offers because it is with my dream agency. The policy work will be unrelated to the kind of law I would have practiced with the firm -- and, for that matter, one of the few kinds of law I would be interested in practicing on a permanent basis -- but as FLS08 suggested, I would have always questioned or even regretted turning down this opportunity. On top of that, a number of alums who started with the PMF program remained in government but in a law position. Also, I have a professor who was a PMF and now works in Biglaw, so that, too, is a possibility.

One last admission: People's response to the PMF job, which tends to be along the lines of "That's by far the coolest job I've heard of yet" (in the context of my 3L classmates) does help affirm my decision. Not that I need the affirmation, but I like that reaction.


May I ask which agency?




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