Tips for choosing a field?

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cam0uflage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:39 am

Tips for choosing a field?

Postby cam0uflage » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:56 am

Hi. I am working on applying to Law school for next fall. I have not talked to any of my mentors or pre-law advisor about the necessity or lack there of for needing to know what field of law you plan on going into when you start law school, but I figured id get a little feedback from you folks. It was very beneficial to know going into undergrad what my choice of study would be, so I want to get an idea of what field might be right for me.

I have interned for 2 summers at one of the largest criminal defense practices in the Midwest (7 lawyers) and have also been exposed to some hours in one of the big corporate law firms.

Basically, this is what I am looking for, this may help you recommend to me:
I care alot about money, not about civil rights or public interest, I want to make alot of money out of law school and in my career, and if that means working tough hours in a big firm, that’s fine. Part of my philosophy of putting another 3 years of school in (3 years that happen to be very expensive) is that I want to make alot of money in my life. Whether you think this is right or wrong, I don’t care, I am simply asking for some recommendations. I have heard going to work for a big firm, though tough, can have many benefits, as if you get your foot in the door and do well, you get alot of benefits and can make great, stable money. I can’t do marriage/family law, as working with divorces and custody disputes everyday would not make me happy. I have enjoyed my experience at the criminal firm I have worked at, but I have realized I cannot make the type of money these guys do instantly. Basically they have advised me that you almost need to work as a PD or a prosecutor (for the state in summary), making little money, working your ass off for years in hope of getting noticed, because even if you start your own firm, who is going to trust you, or pay you with little experience, so I think criminal is out for me at this point.

People I know who work on the big firm/corporate side do a lot of literally sitting at a desk and writing all day. I want to strike a balance between constantly going to court and meeting clients in jail, and sitting at a desk and writing all day. Id like to have a stable job working mainly in an office, but id also like to get in the courtroom from time to time. If some occasional inter-state travel could be a part of this, that would be nice, as I am looking for something that is a little bit in between a constant travel chaotic lifestyle, and that of going to work and writing contracts at a desk all day, everyday, and never going to court or traveling.

I have heard product liability, personal injury, or mergers and acquisitions may fit this type of request, but what do you guys think? Do you have any suggestions for me? If you have any other questions that would help you qualify me for something, please feel free to ask. Thanks!

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Knock
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby Knock » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:14 am

cam0uflage wrote:Hi. I am working on applying to Law school for next fall. I have not talked to any of my mentors or pre-law advisor about the necessity or lack there of for needing to know what field of law you plan on going into when you start law school, but I figured id get a little feedback from you folks. It was very beneficial to know going into undergrad what my choice of study would be, so I want to get an idea of what field might be right for me.

I have interned for 2 summers at one of the largest criminal defense practices in the Midwest (7 lawyers) and have also been exposed to some hours in one of the big corporate law firms.

Basically, this is what I am looking for, this may help you recommend to me:
I care alot about money, not about civil rights or public interest, I want to make alot of money out of law school and in my career, and if that means working tough hours in a big firm, that’s fine. Part of my philosophy of putting another 3 years of school in (3 years that happen to be very expensive) is that I want to make alot of money in my life. Whether you think this is right or wrong, I don’t care, I am simply asking for some recommendations. I have heard going to work for a big firm, though tough, can have many benefits, as if you get your foot in the door and do well, you get alot of benefits and can make great, stable money. I can’t do marriage/family law, as working with divorces and custody disputes everyday would not make me happy. I have enjoyed my experience at the criminal firm I have worked at, but I have realized I cannot make the type of money these guys do instantly. Basically they have advised me that you almost need to work as a PD or a prosecutor (for the state in summary), making little money, working your ass off for years in hope of getting noticed, because even if you start your own firm, who is going to trust you, or pay you with little experience, so I think criminal is out for me at this point.

People I know who work on the big firm/corporate side do a lot of literally sitting at a desk and writing all day. I want to strike a balance between constantly going to court and meeting clients in jail, and sitting at a desk and writing all day. Id like to have a stable job working mainly in an office, but id also like to get in the courtroom from time to time. If some occasional inter-state travel could be a part of this, that would be nice, as I am looking for something that is a little bit in between a constant travel chaotic lifestyle, and that of going to work and writing contracts at a desk all day, everyday, and never going to court or traveling.

I have heard product liability, personal injury, or mergers and acquisitions may fit this type of request, but what do you guys think? Do you have any suggestions for me? If you have any other questions that would help you qualify me for something, please feel free to ask. Thanks!


You don't really have to worry about this for a few years at least, but it sounds like you are definitely interested in biglaw. So the next step then would be to try and figure out whether you would be interested in transactional work (M&A, IP, other coporate work, etc.), litigation (lawsuits, courtroom battles, although the vast majority of cases get settled rather than going to trial), or a smaller specialized group like tax. If you want to see the courtroom ever (which you won't for years anyway at a biglaw firm, with the exception of pro-bono cases), you should pursue litigation. Even in litigation though you will be spending the vast vast majority of time at your desk researching and writing. This is a useful source: http://www.chambers-associate.com/Pract ... -Summaries to learn more about different practice areas.

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happy187
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby happy187 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:36 am

great link knock.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:10 pm

I also want a $1,000,000 signing bonus, super model wife, $160k, and 3,000 sq. ft. My wife in real life is gorgeous, but the rest of those are chimerical. (Well, the house isn't really, depending on where you live and how much you have in loans. Thanks depressed real estate market!)

You can aim all day for a field, but first of all, you don't know anything about the practice of law yet. And you can read things on the internet all day about lifestyle, etc. - the practice is totally its own beast which you really can't get a flavor of until you do it yourself.

My advice? Work hard in law school. Get top o' the class grades, get on law review, intern for a federal judge or two, apply for jobs, and work at the one you get.

No law student grows up and says "boy howdy, I'd sure love to do me some products liability litigation!" No, they say "can I have a job?" To which the reply is, if you're lucky, "yes, here's a job. We do insurance defense. So will you."

Its fine to have aspirations, but when I read your post, I have a sense reality is going to smack you in the fricken face one day unless you remain a little flexible about what will satisfy you in your career. That's all. You can dream about doing products liability work, but if your only offer is to work in securities defense, guess what? You're going to be a securities lawyer, congratulations!

It sounds like you want to litigate. You said you don't want to work in criminal defense, but then you said you want to visit clients in jail. Which is it? Are you a badass with a BSD? Then gun for a U.S. Attorney job. Serve our country, get amazing criminal trial experience, then switch to criminal defense work. Sacrifice now for the pay off later. $$$ doesn't come without sacrifice. Welcome to the law.

Even the most accomplished criminal or even civil defense lawyer probably spends (guessing) 5-10% of his billables in court, maybe a little more depending on how much brief writing he or she delegates. The rest is research and brief writing - you want to be on your feet? Then work in construction or as a chef. Lawyers sit on their ass all day long no matter who they are. Hence, big, comfy chairs and large desks.

(SPOILER ALERT!) Oral arguments rarely, if ever, impact a judge's decision on a significant motion. Hearings are nerve wracking and a hell of a lot of fun, but the judge is really just giving you a chance to summarize. He or she likely already knows what they are going to do, and depending on the court, there may not even be a court appearance and the judge will decide on the pleadings. My point is, the real grunt work will happen at your desk. Even if you do attend the hearing on the motion, your success or failure will have as its as its root the quality of the argument in your brief.

So do some casual reading about fields of law, but relax. You've got over a year until you start law school - enjoy this low pressure time! Until you take (and pass) torts and contracts and property and constitutional law and criminal law, you truly cannot know what you find interesting, or what you are actually good at. So be eager, but be humble and realize that the greatest thing you know is that you don't know shit.

EDIT: Oh, you do realize that being a lawyer is being a professional writer, right? Amazing how few people realize this. You'd better LOVE writing......love it, and be good at it. As the poster just below noted, early on you are a research monkey, but the partner will only come back to you for more work if you can summarize the import of all your research into a condensed, readable summary, maybe something they could copy and paste a line or two into a brief. If your writing is difficult to read, people will not like you. You can see bad writing, and it is a big turn off regardless of the intellectual content.

EDIT 2: I hope you also realize that everyone "wants to make a lot of money," but lawyer as a golden ticket to riches is a myth for most, at least right out of law school, so just be aware there are brilliant people out there graduating this year from better schools than the one you will go to (unless you're at the number one school, but even so) who feel privileged to be making $60,000 right of the bat. I'm not kidding. There are a shit ton of poor lawyers out there, and they are like the asian student who is bad at math or the black guy who is bad at basketball or the Canadian who is bad at hockey and does not like gravy and cheese curds on their french fries - stereotypes, even positive ones, can hurt because they build false expectations. I've SEEN the awkward embarrassment on a lawyer's face when someone implies that they must be rich, when in fact their student loan debt payment is more expensive than their rent and car payment combined, because that is all they could afford.
Last edited by NotMyRealName09 on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:46 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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TTH
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby TTH » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:11 pm

As a new attorney working at a firm, it will be years before you do anything meaningful inside a courtroom. How many years depends on the firm and the market, but you'll be a research-monkey for a while.

If all you care about is money, there are easier ways to make money than being a lawyer. Do some research on the internet for the current state of the legal job market. It's a jungle out there.

In fact, read this first: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/busin ... wanted=all

cam0uflage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:39 am

Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby cam0uflage » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:52 pm

I appreciate the response guys but I feel like you guys are misinterpreting my post. I am not freaking out that I need to decide what I want to do with my life at this point in time. I merely want to just get a little bit of feedback on areas where it might be worthwhile to do further research into. Also, I don’t know if I wasn’t clear enough, but I think I made it fairly clear that obviously I don’t expect to get hired out of law school, make 300,000 bucks a year, litigate once a week, and travel around the country. I know from knowing many people that for at least the first, and in many firms the first few years, your job consist of primarily research, and writing. I love writing, and see it as one of my greatest strengths, and this is one of the reasons I think I can be good at law. I made this post with the idea in mind that what I am looking for will take years to accomplish, but I am looking for those type of job qualities as something down the road that I can achieve, not something that I expect to gain right out of law school, because that is unreasonable. What I am looking for is some information on what a certain field is like for an experienced and qualified person who has made that field their career, not a stepping-stone. And as far as the guy who insisted that I have to do insurance defense or product liability, I simply said that those, as well as a few other fields I had listed, may be the right match, obviously I don’t know much about them, hence why I am posting here in this forum, so the attack on my stated ignorance was greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:54 pm

If you have criminal defense exposure and still want to do it, you want to be a litigator, and you care about money and comfort, it sounds to me like you want to be a white collar associate. Quite a few BigLaw firms have significant white collar practices, and give you great training and experience. You could also use that experience to become a prosecutor or PD once you've paid off your loans and saved up some money, if you really wanted.

That said, you will have plenty of opportunities in law school to experience different things, and you may find that what you want to do most is something you didn't even consider doing before you started law school. Keep your mind open and you may like what you discover. You don't need to even worry about this right now. Your best bet may be something you run into by chance and couldn't have planned at all.

Renzo
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby Renzo » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:00 pm

vanwinkle wrote:If you have criminal defense exposure and still want to do it, you want to be a litigator, and you care about money and comfort, it sounds to me like you want to be a white collar associate. Quite a few BigLaw firms have significant white collar practices, and give you great training and experience. You could also use that experience to become a prosecutor or PD once you've paid off your loans and saved up some money, if you really wanted.

That said, you will have plenty of opportunities in law school to experience different things, and you may find that what you want to do most is something you didn't even consider doing before you started law school. Keep your mind open and you may like what you discover. You don't need to even worry about this right now. Your best bet may be something you run into by chance and couldn't have planned at all.


This post was so helpful it actually blew my fucking mind.

NotMyRealName09
Posts: 1394
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:50 pm

Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:02 pm

cam0uflage wrote:I appreciate the response guys but I feel like you guys are misinterpreting my post. I am not freaking out that I need to decide what I want to do with my life at this point in time. I merely want to just get a little bit of feedback on areas where it might be worthwhile to do further research into. Also, I don’t know if I wasn’t clear enough, but I think I made it fairly clear that obviously I don’t expect to get hired out of law school, make 300,000 bucks a year, litigate once a week, and travel around the country. I know from knowing many people that for at least the first, and in many firms the first few years, your job consist of primarily research, and writing. I love writing, and see it as one of my greatest strengths, and this is one of the reasons I think I can be good at law. I made this post with the idea in mind that what I am looking for will take years to accomplish, but I am looking for those type of job qualities as something down the road that I can achieve, not something that I expect to gain right out of law school, because that is unreasonable. What I am looking for is some information on what a certain field is like for an experienced and qualified person who has made that field their career, not a stepping-stone. And as far as the guy who insisted that I have to do insurance defense or product liability, I simply said that those, as well as a few other fields I had listed, may be the right match, obviously I don’t know much about them, hence why I am posting here in this forum, so the attack on my stated ignorance was greatly appreciated.

Thanks.


Attention to detail. I didn't say you had to do either of those. They were purely examples. I could have said basketweaving law, or admiralty. I chose examples you listed. I didn't insist on anything. I merely implied that you have less control over your career path than perhaps in other professions, as it depends on what work is available. Your misread my post, then got snide in response. Well done.

When soliciting advice, don't come back and say "that advice blew, but it was 'greatly appreciated.'"

cam0uflage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:39 am

Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby cam0uflage » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:10 pm

Im snide? You should read your first sentence in your first post. i dont see anyone else making responses like that. You have been the exact opposite of helpful, pretty much just a dick.

cam0uflage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:39 am

Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby cam0uflage » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:12 pm

This is a useful source: http://www.chambers-associate.com/Pract ... -Summaries to learn more about different practice areas.[/quote]


Thanks knock. That was precisely the type of thing i was looking for.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:54 pm

Settle down, kids, before someone gets a timeout.

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Icculus
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Re: Tips for choosing a field?

Postby Icculus » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:32 pm

Renzo wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:If you have criminal defense exposure and still want to do it, you want to be a litigator, and you care about money and comfort, it sounds to me like you want to be a white collar associate. Quite a few BigLaw firms have significant white collar practices, and give you great training and experience. You could also use that experience to become a prosecutor or PD once you've paid off your loans and saved up some money, if you really wanted.

That said, you will have plenty of opportunities in law school to experience different things, and you may find that what you want to do most is something you didn't even consider doing before you started law school. Keep your mind open and you may like what you discover. You don't need to even worry about this right now. Your best bet may be something you run into by chance and couldn't have planned at all.


This post was so helpful it actually blew my fucking mind.


VW is usually pretty spot on, and just totally put me at ease.




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