Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

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romothesavior
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby romothesavior » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:33 pm

And the hatchet it is!!! Thank you NR.

And thank you to OP for all your great insight. I hope you continue to post here.

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SplitterPride
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby SplitterPride » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:47 pm

This thread is useful. Lets encourage the OP with reasonable questions.

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atlantalaw
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby atlantalaw » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:03 am

thanks, op. a few questions:

how would you recommend getting practical knowledge in law school? did you do internships or clinics? were they helpful to you?

besides being able to bring in clients, what else can we do as law students to make ourselves look more employable to firms? do you have insight on what firms look for when they hire someone straight from law school?

any advice along these lines is appreciated.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:17 am

As someone that spent a year arguing with little kids about not being a JDU Troll, but rather, someone here to be a resource to those entering the profession, I encourage the op to continue posting. I have seriously cut-back (almost stopped my posting really), so its nice to see that someone else with some actual experience in the profession is offering up a little advice.

Do I 100% agree with op? No. Not really. Do I think his perspective is probably closer to reality than MOST of the expectations shared by the future lawyers of America? Yea, I do. Op is just not that far off base...

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reasonable_man
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:22 am

atlantalaw wrote:thanks, op. a few questions:

how would you recommend getting practical knowledge in law school? did you do internships or clinics? were they helpful to you?

besides being able to bring in clients, what else can we do as law students to make ourselves look more employable to firms? do you have insight on what firms look for when they hire someone straight from law school?

any advice along these lines is appreciated.


If you're talking about BIGLAW (where experience does not matter and pedigree is EVERYTHING), the things you can do in law school to increase your chances of being hired include being on law review, going to a top 14 law school and have excellent grades.

If you're talking about employment in small or mediumish sized firms, where experience is everything, then the best thing you can do is work in whatever firm you can to gain experience in an areas that interests you, enroll in externship opportunities and look into things like moot court, etc. However, by and large, these employers are not nearly as interested in grades as they will be interested in your hands on experience. Starting salaries at smaller to mid sized firms tend to range anywhere from 30 to 70k to start. A salary in the 100k ranges is typically at least 3 to 6 years down the road.

iahurricane
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby iahurricane » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:53 am

AJRESQ wrote:Hello: I don't normally post here, but I do enjoy the JDU / TLS battle from time to time. I came across this place from a solosez list serve, well, I hope I can say things that are helpful.

First, the bad news. Reality check: 90% of you are not going to start off in a mega law firm. Deal with it. That's life. It's not the end of the world, though. BIGLAW is not the land of milk and honey, and it's not the only way to succeed. A close friend of mine just left BIGLAW after two years to be a public defender. He was top of his class from a T5 and saw the writing on the wall. Clients are jumping ship from BIGLAW. Associates aren't billing enough hours. Clients realize they can hire a few small boutique firms at $200 an hour, without paying 3 junior associates prepare a memo on the federal rules of civil procedure, and get the same representation. Technology has evolved to the point where smaller law firms can do everything BIGLAW can. Thanks to Adobe PDF 9 and a scanner, a solo can bate stamp and process 10,000 documents with ease. Law libraries are available at your fingertips. Local rules are available online. The BIGLAW model is dying, and in some respects, you should be pleased that you aren't a part of a model that isn't working anymore.

Along those lines: There are very few law firms that will pay you $75k - $100k right out of law school. Why is this? Because you have no book of business and you have no experience. Most of your research will be very good because it's what you were taught to do in law school. Most of your practical experience will be very bad -- taking depositions, talking with other lawyers, answering discovery requests, bate stamping, etc. Because of that, most of your work will need to be revised and supervised but someone more senior. Why should a client foot the bill for that? Why would a client stay with a law firm where they are expected to subsidize your learning experience? The mid-sized firms that pay $75 - $100k a year usually hire (a) former BIGLAW; (b) lawyers who have profitable practices; or (c) lawyers with a good deal of practical experience. NOT young lawyers with no book and no experience. There are many experienced lawyers who are willing to work for a steady $75k - $100k paycheck and health benefits. Some lawyers just want to lawyer and not worry about business. Some extremely talented experienced lawyers. If your expectations are to make $2k - $3k as a summer or 2L, they're probably unrealistic. A $75k - $100k salary is realistic, I think, for someone with about 5 years experience in practice in a sophisticated area of law.

If you want to make it in law, first you have to be willing to struggle for a few years. If you expect to make $75k right out of the gate that isn't going to happen for most of you. However, if you're willing to make $40k a year for a few years and struggle, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Take any job you can to get experience. I don't recommend doc review, however, since the money is better than most entry level job litigation positions. Because of that, many doc reviewers never leave. Ask solos and small firms if you can clerk while in school. You never know when an associate is going to leave and a position will become available. Getting your foot in the door at a firm doing anything is helpful.

Second, long term, you have to learn how to make your practice profitable. I recommend that you read "How to Start and Grow a Law Practice." Even if you have NO intention of ever going solo, your career is going to be about your ability to be profitable. Every young lawyer should, at the very least, understand how a law firm operates. Carolyn Elefant's "Flying Solo" is also good. Winning at Trial by D. Shayne Read is a great book you should read. A lot of BIGLAW partners started out in small firms or as solos. They secured a few great clients, developed a profitable practice, and then decided to merge with BIGLAW. Others like the freedom of having their own practice. Bottom line is, people that make lots of money in law develop profitable practices. They don't just go to school, get a JD, and expect to make a big paycheck by virtue of a JD and law license. Some if you will never be able to do this, and you might spend the next 5 - 10 years struggling. That's the reality -- some of you will develop a client base ad a profitable practice. Others of you will never get the business end of it, never develop clients, and you'll be bouncing around in small firms making $40k a year with no benefits. Profitable practices are mostly practice management skills, some experience, and your ability to generate business -- relationships.

Now, the good news. Recession creates opportunity. Ask yourself this: are the practice areas you're interested in profitable? Are they in growing industries? Is work in that industry realistic for you? For example, think of video stores. How would you like to be a lawyer who represents video stores? That industry is dying. In contrast, consider lawyers who represent companies that maintain REO / bank owned properties. There is so much work in maintaining bank assets right now that it's incredible; foreclosures create all kinds of litigation between subcontractors, former homeowners, etc. Thanks to the failed BIGLAW model and technological advancements, smaller shops can poach clients that would have otherwise gone BIGLAW. While bankruptcy is on the rise, do you think clients who can't afford to pay their bills can pay their lawyers? Litigation will always be profitable because in good times, businesses can afford lawyers. In bad times, no one wants to pay. Constitutional law was fun and interesting in law school, but what type of clients have constitutional law needs (outside, of course, the criminal defense context)?

Law is a saturated market, so your ability to succeed will be based entirely on your relationships. Why are clients selecting you to be their lawyer? Why will they continue to retain you? 10% of lawyers are incredibly smart. 10% of lawyers shouldn't be practicing. The rest of us fall in that 80% category, which is smart enough to pass the bar but the rule against perpetuities is just too much thinking. What separates you is your ability to develop and maintain relationships -- not your knowledge of the evolution of the strict scrutiny test -- and your ability to turn those relationships into profit. Example: a Union says "We need to retain a law firm to do all of our labor law stuff." If you know someone at that firm, you can say "Hey, we offer all that stuff." If the relationship is strong enough, and you push it, they'll probably consider you. If you have good clients, rest assured a law firm won't care WHERE you went to law school. (even Cooley!). Conversely, if you have no book, it doesn't matter if you went to Harvard a few years down the line. Try and develop a client base as soon as you can. Even if it just means keeping in touch with people who are business owners or otherwise involved in an industry that uses legal counsel. Your ability to generate a profit (bring good clients) is paramount. This way you can either open your own shop or you can go work somewhere in exchange for a salary and benefits.

So, my advice to you: make sure you know the basics of how a law practice runs. If you want to go to school, get a fancy degree, graduate, and then make $75k a year by virtue of having a law degree, this isn't the right profession.
Best of luck.


Unless you live in state like Montana your salary numbers are way off. 75-100k is unrealistic? 40k for small law? Many small law firms in big cities pay around 70k these days. mid-sized law firms pay 100k and big law much higher. You really think firms dont pay 2-3k a week in the summers anymore? Funny, cuz every big law posting I saw on career services paid 3k a week. The job market may be bad, but you're just giving false info. I admit, if I saw this post before I entered law school it may have just scared me away from going to law school. Seriously, the only people who will be making 40k a year are people who either enter the public sector or people who rank at the bottom of their class.

ChewbaccaDefense
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby ChewbaccaDefense » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:29 am

iahurricane wrote:Unless you live in state like Montana your salary numbers are way off. 75-100k is unrealistic? 40k for small law? Many small law firms in big cities pay around 70k these days. mid-sized law firms pay 100k and big law much higher. You really think firms dont pay 2-3k a week in the summers anymore? Funny, cuz every big law posting I saw on career services paid 3k a week. The job market may be bad, but you're just giving false info. I admit, if I saw this post before I entered law school it may have just scared me away from going to law school. Seriously, the only people who will be making 40k a year are people who either enter the public sector or people who rank at the bottom of their class.


I think you might want to re-read his post. When he says "Along those lines:," he's pretty much indicating that he's dispensed with biglaw, then moving on to the rest of the market. And according to the bimodal salary distribution chart we're all so familiar with, he's dead on. As for 75 - 100K, he says that won't happen "for most of you."

--ImageRemoved--

I normally don't allow myself to get sucked into this garbage, but I want OP to hang around. He's giving a perspective that rarely makes it on here.

rundoxierun
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby rundoxierun » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:49 am

Interesting thread to read while Im at work.. just to be clear, by top 10% of your class are you referring to the top 10% of law school students each year or top 10% at each school?? I think even the worst hit of the Top schools still get around 1/3rd into biglaw, right?

keg411
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby keg411 » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:11 pm

Hi RM! Missed you around here :D. Hope the lack of posting means that your career is going well!

tkg - I think the OP was talking about 90% of ALL legal hiring that includes all of the schools from Yale to T4's. Obviously the top schools place a lot more of their students in BIGLAW; but that is not the majority of attorneys by any stretch of the imagination. Plus, I think it's even good for T10 or so students to read and be prepared in case they get shutout at OCI or no-offered.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:48 pm

keg411 wrote:Hi RM! Missed you around here :D. Hope the lack of posting means that your career is going well!

tkg - I think the OP was talking about 90% of ALL legal hiring that includes all of the schools from Yale to T4's. Obviously the top schools place a lot more of their students in BIGLAW; but that is not the majority of attorneys by any stretch of the imagination. Plus, I think it's even good for T10 or so students to read and be prepared in case they get shutout at OCI or no-offered.



Thanks.. I've been insanely busy. Career is going well. Cannot describe the insanity of my current workload, which prevents me from thinking, much less posting. That said, I'd rather be a busy associate than a bored associate right now. I get really stressed about the amount of work, until I talk to another associate at some other random firm (especially biglaws theses days), and realize that I'd rather be on the verge of a work induced nervous breakdown than one caused by fear of losing my job.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Mr. Matlock » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:53 pm

reasonable_man wrote:Thanks.. I've been insanely busy. Career is going well. Cannot describe the insanity of my current workload, which prevents me from thinking, much less posting. That said, I'd rather be a busy associate than a bored associate right now. I get really stressed about the amount of work, until I talk to another associate at some other random firm (especially biglaws theses days), and realize that I'd rather be on the verge of a work induced nervous breakdown than one caused by fear of losing my job.

Hey RM! Good to hear from you again. :D

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Scallywaggums
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Scallywaggums » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:55 pm

Why, Why Mr. Matlock? Why would you change your avatar? ::sniffle::

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Mr. Matlock » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:59 pm

Scallywaggums wrote:Why, Why Mr. Matlock? Why would you change your avatar? ::sniffle::

Eh... my good friend Harry44 made this for me to wear for the world cup. The Dear Tebow Leader will return shortly, rest assured! :D

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atlantalaw
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby atlantalaw » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:06 pm

thanks rm! good to see that you are back (even if only to answer a few questions).

reasonable_man wrote:
atlantalaw wrote:thanks, op. a few questions:

how would you recommend getting practical knowledge in law school? did you do internships or clinics? were they helpful to you?

besides being able to bring in clients, what else can we do as law students to make ourselves look more employable to firms? do you have insight on what firms look for when they hire someone straight from law school?

any advice along these lines is appreciated.


If you're talking about BIGLAW (where experience does not matter and pedigree is EVERYTHING), the things you can do in law school to increase your chances of being hired include being on law review, going to a top 14 law school and have excellent grades.

If you're talking about employment in small or mediumish sized firms, where experience is everything, then the best thing you can do is work in whatever firm you can to gain experience in an areas that interests you, enroll in externship opportunities and look into things like moot court, etc. However, by and large, these employers are not nearly as interested in grades as they will be interested in your hands on experience. Starting salaries at smaller to mid sized firms tend to range anywhere from 30 to 70k to start. A salary in the 100k ranges is typically at least 3 to 6 years down the road.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:22 pm

atlantalaw wrote:thanks rm! good to see that you are back (even if only to answer a few questions).

reasonable_man wrote:
atlantalaw wrote:thanks, op. a few questions:

how would you recommend getting practical knowledge in law school? did you do internships or clinics? were they helpful to you?

besides being able to bring in clients, what else can we do as law students to make ourselves look more employable to firms? do you have insight on what firms look for when they hire someone straight from law school?

any advice along these lines is appreciated.


If you're talking about BIGLAW (where experience does not matter and pedigree is EVERYTHING), the things you can do in law school to increase your chances of being hired include being on law review, going to a top 14 law school and have excellent grades.

If you're talking about employment in small or mediumish sized firms, where experience is everything, then the best thing you can do is work in whatever firm you can to gain experience in an areas that interests you, enroll in externship opportunities and look into things like moot court, etc. However, by and large, these employers are not nearly as interested in grades as they will be interested in your hands on experience. Starting salaries at smaller to mid sized firms tend to range anywhere from 30 to 70k to start. A salary in the 100k ranges is typically at least 3 to 6 years down the road.


I've missed my TLS-addiction lol. I don't have time to monitor the threads at large lol, but I am willing to answer questions of up and coming lawyers to be regarding post law school legal employment.

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Grizz
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Grizz » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:48 pm

reasonable_man wrote:I've missed my TLS-addiction lol. I don't have time to monitor the threads at large lol, but I am willing to answer questions of up and coming lawyers to be regarding post law school legal employment.


Reasonable man, I know I missed your heyday, but the posts you do write now are really good and tell it like it is (the fact that most people are gonna get utterly shit on).

Please post here more often.

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Scallywaggums
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Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Scallywaggums » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:19 pm

Scallywaggums wrote:As one who's uncertain of my future ability to solicit clients (while I hope I'll do a decent job of networking in general), what do you (or anyone else) think of this goal:
1) Get lucky with BigLaw, stay for five years
2) Exit into Government
Exiting into Gov seems to be an exception to the rule of building a client base, yes? Specifically though, would I even last 5 years at BigLaw without bringing in solid clients?


Are you allowed to bump your own questions?




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