Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

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Anonymous User
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Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:23 am

Have come to a fork in the road, need words from the wise and/or experienced.

I went to a top 14 school, did really poorly, graduated, passed the bar, and have been crashing with family since. I did so poorly in law school that I got absolutely nothing out of OCI, not even a callback. I didn't make a journal, didn't advance in moot court, and usually received below average marks on exams. First summer I worked a professor at school, and second summer looked like it was going to be the same until I got hired to work at a small firm. My evaluations were positive and at times glowing, but I never felt challenged and thought the job was something more fitting for an undergrad intern.

Although I did poorly in school and generally didn't make the most of my opportunity, I did have certain brushes with the legal world that I enjoyed. Mostly litigation related stuff (moot court, clinic), I felt like I was good at and was challenging in a manageable way. Whereas in the classroom setting I frankly felt less intelligent than my classmates, in the mock-litigation setting I felt far more comfortable and felt that I belonged with my classmates. Based on that, I feel that I could have a fulfilling legal career in litigation.

That is, of course, if I can find a job. I haven't had any luck yet, and honestly don't even think that I've come close. I have surmised that there are simply too many qualified candidates, some with experience, and not enough positions. One small firm told me they receive 600 applications for each position they post, and they only post at top 30 schools. To get my foot in the door this way, I would need to rely almost totally on my school's brand-name, because my resume and transcript don't add a whole lot. The odds here seem heavily stacked against me. It seems that hard work and grind may payoff, or it may not. I have no way of knowing, but it seems a thorny path that may ultimately lead nowhere.

The other path I can take right now is to take a job teaching at a charter school. It pays enough that I can pay my loans on schedule and wouldn't need to rely on credit cards to live. The school is not in the state where I passed the bar. The obvious appeal of this position is that I could start working immediately and be "financially stable", i.e. know how I will pay rent every month, can afford to eat out a few times a week, etc. But the fear is that taking the job could kill whatever chances I have to make it in the legal world, and basically preclude the possibility of start a legal career in the future.

But because I don't know how great these chances and possibilities actually are, and because I don't even know if making it in the legal world is what I ultimately want, I'm sort of stuck. The thought of taking a job I more or less could have taken out of undergrad is none too appealing, to be frank, but I'm not sure if that matters to me at this point. I also could move there, teach, take the bar next summer or any summer, and try to transition into that legal market. Is this totally implausible? I have no idea.

So any and all thoughts are welcome. I know I rambled there but my main concerns are when to call off a legal job search that seems bleak, and whether or not I am essentially ending my legal career by taking a non-law job out of law school.

c3pO4
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby c3pO4 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 11:45 am

I'd set a deadline, like give yourself X amount of months to find a job. With a T14, even below median you should be able to find some form of work even if it is only contract legal work that might allow you to keep searching for an associate position at a small/shitlaw litigation firm. Eventually, if it doesn't happen, you should abort. I think 1.5 years after graduation is a good self-imposed deadline.

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SteelReserve
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby SteelReserve » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:03 pm

OP,

Put aside the fact that you likely won't get a legal job for some time if at all. If moot court in the law school setting is your main brush with litigation that peaks your interest, you have to understand litigation is 90% paperwork at the desk, 10% going to court to argue motions or a trial here and there. So you might end up sitting around for a year or so desperately searching for a litigation job, getting it, then hating it, and you will be back in square one wishing you took the teaching job.

I'm very impressed a charter school is paying enough for you to live independently and pay loans; that frankly sounds like a really rare opportunity that is worth taking. The charter schools in my state are offering living stipends and subsidizing college graduates' rent and such, but they aren't paying a salary or benefits. Sounds like you have an incredible gig.

You can always apply for jobs and look for a litigation career while teaching. That will also ensure you don't have a six month, one, two year unemployment resume gap which will turn off all legal employers.

While the entry level associate market is still terrible, I'm seeing a lot of law clerk/part-time jobs at litigation outfits opening up on craigslist, symplicity, etc. You could look for those types of positions to get some lit experience and see if it's for you, or look for firms looking for people to draft pleadings or what not.

Best of luck in the search, I know it's hard.

MrAnon
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby MrAnon » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:05 pm

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You take the job you can get now. You never know what it may lead to. You may discover you love education so much that you do really well there, your bosses are impressed, and they want to move you to a higher paying administrative job within 5 years. You may make a lot more money quickly in education. You may find teaching kids more fulfilling than sitting in a lonely office all day.

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby c3pO4 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:21 pm

my backup option to the JD is teaching as well. most teachers I know really enjoy their jobs and if you have an advanced degree like a jd and good brand-name schools on your resume, i don't think grades matter for teaching gigs. you can bring in 6 figures at a lot of private schools and have a pretty chill schedule. que people telling me teaching jobs are as hard to get as biglaw...

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prezidentv8
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby prezidentv8 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:22 pm

I'd consider it. I'm not a fan of a lot of what comes with taking a teaching gig, but if the salary is there and you wouldn't mind the work/location, I say why not?

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:39 pm

Another bonus to the teaching gig is that it might fall under the federal loan foregiveness plan (I know public schools would, but I'm not sure about charter schools). I have a friend considering the teaching option for that reason.

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joemoviebuff
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby joemoviebuff » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:41 pm

I would take the teaching job.

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby TempleU555555 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:34 pm

MrAnon wrote:A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You take the job you can get now. You never know what it may lead to. You may discover you love education so much that you do really well there, your bosses are impressed, and they want to move you to a higher paying administrative job within 5 years. You may make a lot more money quickly in education. You may find teaching kids more fulfilling than sitting in a lonely office all day.


My old science teacher from high school (23 when he started) is an administrator 5 years in and is banking $140,000 per year in public school!

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:37 pm

TempleU555555 wrote:
MrAnon wrote:A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You take the job you can get now. You never know what it may lead to. You may discover you love education so much that you do really well there, your bosses are impressed, and they want to move you to a higher paying administrative job within 5 years. You may make a lot more money quickly in education. You may find teaching kids more fulfilling than sitting in a lonely office all day.


My old science teacher from high school (23 when he started) is an administrator 5 years in and is banking $140,000 per year in public school!


It's stories like these that make me really question my life choices.

MrAnon
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby MrAnon » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
TempleU555555 wrote:
MrAnon wrote:A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You take the job you can get now. You never know what it may lead to. You may discover you love education so much that you do really well there, your bosses are impressed, and they want to move you to a higher paying administrative job within 5 years. You may make a lot more money quickly in education. You may find teaching kids more fulfilling than sitting in a lonely office all day.


My old science teacher from high school (23 when he started) is an administrator 5 years in and is banking $140,000 per year in public school!


It's stories like these that make me really question my life choices.


Too many strivers focus on a career like law because they feel it will make them important. Professions like teaching become underserved and the people who go into them are not too bright. Tons of bright people go into TFA, but its only for a resume boost, then they want to get out and go to law school. What's left in the profession are a lot of dumbs, so if you are smart and can break in then you can get ahead very quickly and reach the top without as much clawing as you would have to do in law, which is too crowded with bright people.

TempleU555555
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby TempleU555555 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:25 pm

MrAnon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
TempleU555555 wrote:
MrAnon wrote:A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You take the job you can get now. You never know what it may lead to. You may discover you love education so much that you do really well there, your bosses are impressed, and they want to move you to a higher paying administrative job within 5 years. You may make a lot more money quickly in education. You may find teaching kids more fulfilling than sitting in a lonely office all day.


My old science teacher from high school (23 when he started) is an administrator 5 years in and is banking $140,000 per year in public school!


It's stories like these that make me really question my life choices.


Too many strivers focus on a career like law because they feel it will make them important. Professions like teaching become underserved and the people who go into them are not too bright. Tons of bright people go into TFA, but its only for a resume boost, then they want to get out and go to law school. What's left in the profession are a lot of dumbs, so if you are smart and can break in then you can get ahead very quickly and reach the top without as much clawing as you would have to do in law, which is too crowded with bright people.


yea, my guy was brilliant (4.0 biochem from Johns Hopkins). lots of the teachers in my hs were dumb as shit though.

buttonpusher
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby buttonpusher » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:37 pm

This is a no-brainer: take the teaching job and never look back.

Law is a boring, miserable, tedious, low-paying waste of time. Without your own book of business, you "top out" in shitlaw at 55-65 K about 5 years into practice, and work Biglaw-type hours for that scratch. Besides that, you're surrounded by negative people who hate what they do and are desperate to get out and into another career.

I myself am a teacher and LOVE it, the pay is better than shitlaw, the benefits are better than shitlaw, the hours are better than shitlaw.. the list just goes on and on. If someone told me today I had to leave and go back into law or put a gun in my mouth, I'd choose suicide hands down.

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Flash
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Flash » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:50 pm

buttonpusher wrote:This is a no-brainer: take the teaching job and never look back.

Law is a boring, miserable, tedious, low-paying waste of time. Without your own book of business, you "top out" in shitlaw at 55-65 K about 5 years into practice, and work Biglaw-type hours for that scratch. Besides that, you're surrounded by negative people who hate what they do and are desperate to get out and into another career.

I myself am a teacher and LOVE it, the pay is better than shitlaw, the benefits are better than shitlaw, the hours are better than shitlaw.. the list just goes on and on. If someone told me today I had to leave and go back into law or put a gun in my mouth, I'd choose suicide hands down.

"If life doesn't go your way kids, you should probably just kill yourself." Sounds like a great lesson there teach.

c3pO4
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby c3pO4 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:59 pm

buttonpusher wrote:This is a no-brainer: take the teaching job and never look back.

Law is a boring, miserable, tedious, low-paying waste of time. Without your own book of business, you "top out" in shitlaw at 55-65 K about 5 years into practice, and work Biglaw-type hours for that scratch. Besides that, you're surrounded by negative people who hate what they do and are desperate to get out and into another career.

I myself am a teacher and LOVE it, the pay is better than shitlaw, the benefits are better than shitlaw, the hours are better than shitlaw.. the list just goes on and on. If someone told me today I had to leave and go back into law or put a gun in my mouth, I'd choose suicide hands down.


wait a second, OP seems too perfect of a question for buttonpusher... is this another alt for the teacher schtick?

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:03 pm

what's happened to T14 graduates? I assume it's lower T14.



a little off topic: my T25 peers (it's a T25 that places better than its rank would indicate) who have 1/3 or middling grades have managed to fall back on something, e.g. nice small law (not shitlaw), mid law, staff attorney at courthouses over the past 6 months.

is T25 top grades>>> T14 bottom half?

back to topic: I think that even for the same pay, I would prefer to be an attorney if I like law. If I don't like law, then that would be another question...

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shepdawg
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby shepdawg » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:38 pm

Teaching is not stable anymore, and it sucks. Schools purposely hire young teachers, and then fire them prior to granting tenure in order to keep budgets low. Don't go the teaching route unless you want to live with regret for the rest of your life.

buttonpusher
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby buttonpusher » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:07 pm

Schools purposely hire young teachers, and then fire them prior to granting tenure in order to keep budgets low. Don't go the teaching route unless you want to live with regret for the rest of your life.


At least they get hired and get a paycheck. Miss the biglaw/OCI boat and you'll likely end up permanently unemployed or working as a government "volunteer" as a licensed attorney. Imagine the teacher's union allowing licensed teachers to work for free! Unlike law, our union actually fights hard for us- the ABA and state bars could care less about recent grads. Hence the current situation.

Again, if you miss OCI Biglaw you may as well drop out immediately. 3 more semesters+the bar'zam to end up begging for shitlaw at 30 K or a volunteer

kublaikahn
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby kublaikahn » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:22 pm

You could teach for a couple years then go get your LLM in tax or something. Get in front of your debt and then you get a fresh crack at the market when it is hopefully better.

But if it were me, I would keep at it. Call every professor you had in school and make your presence known. Go to every ABA meeting make some friends in the profession. Start looking for the shit job in BFE if that is what it takes.

Another option is to break the period of unemployment up by going overseas for a half a year or year (you could flat out lie and say you were gone longer.) Or find some NGO or missionary work you can do. Then come back and start fresh. Make it seem like the break in employment was planned.

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:20 pm

OP in the house,

Thanks for all the replies. Some great points were made and I incorporated them into my decision-making process.

One other thing that may be worth mentioning: I'm really not a schmoozer and I don't think I can be. This is not a result of some principle I hold, but just a lack of the skill of schmoozing. The single most uncomfortable experience I've ever had was the one firm reception that I was invited to (from a lottery OCI spot). There was not enough alcohol in the district to make that even bearable for me. The lack of schmooze skills that led to this seems like a big handicap for the path that I'd need to take for law success.

Another thing, the teacher schedule is so... fucking awesome. 2.5 months off for the summer? Who didn't like having summers off for the first 20-25 years of life? I never even thought about it, but the summer break is a big part of the reason I'm not batshit crazy. Need time off.

And as to any questions you guys may have had: I went to a lower top 14. My class rank was "top 90%" as me and my friends used to say. I had an amazing time in law school, socially the best of my life, but the whole issue-spotting thing is so not up or in the same town as my alley.

I think if I get the offer I'm gonna take it. Was waiting for a call from the principal, and he calls in the only 20 minute period in the last 36 hours that I wasn't basically vice gripping my phone. I have no teaching experience but I'm pretty confident I can Tebow it.

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unc0mm0n1
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby unc0mm0n1 » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:38 pm

Are you athletic? Maybe you should try JAG. Esp if you like to go to court. When I was in military justice the JA's would go to court at least a once every couple of months. Also you get great benefits, nice salary, and you get to say you served your country. If you graduated from a t-14 you'd have a leg up on most there because half the the JA's I knew went to very low ranked law schools. MY boss went to Cooley, one of the JA's went to Widener, We had a Wyoming (not sure if they went to wyoming for law school but they passed the wyoming bar to get in) grad in there. Also if you do that for 3 or 4 years you get veterans preference when looking for jobs with the government. If you have any questions shoot me a PM.
Anonymous User wrote:OP in the house,

Thanks for all the replies. Some great points were made and I incorporated them into my decision-making process.

One other thing that may be worth mentioning: I'm really not a schmoozer and I don't think I can be. This is not a result of some principle I hold, but just a lack of the skill of schmoozing. The single most uncomfortable experience I've ever had was the one firm reception that I was invited to (from a lottery OCI spot). There was not enough alcohol in the district to make that even bearable for me. The lack of schmooze skills that led to this seems like a big handicap for the path that I'd need to take for law success.

Another thing, the teacher schedule is so... fucking awesome. 2.5 months off for the summer? Who didn't like having summers off for the first 20-25 years of life? I never even thought about it, but the summer break is a big part of the reason I'm not batshit crazy. Need time off.

And as to any questions you guys may have had: I went to a lower top 14. My class rank was "top 90%" as me and my friends used to say. I had an amazing time in law school, socially the best of my life, but the whole issue-spotting thing is so not up or in the same town as my alley.

I think if I get the offer I'm gonna take it. Was waiting for a call from the principal, and he calls in the only 20 minute period in the last 36 hours that I wasn't basically vice gripping my phone. I have no teaching experience but I'm pretty confident I can Tebow it.
Last edited by unc0mm0n1 on Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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joemoviebuff
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby joemoviebuff » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:53 pm

OP, what would you be teaching? How did you come across this job?

REALLYBIGLAW
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby REALLYBIGLAW » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:28 pm

c3pO4 wrote:I'd set a deadline, like give yourself X amount of months to find a job. With a T14, even below median you should be able to find some form of work even if it is only contract legal work that might allow you to keep searching for an associate position at a small/shitlaw litigation firm. Eventually, if it doesn't happen, you should abort. I think 1.5 years after graduation is a good self-imposed deadline.


That is good advice. But I would make the deadline 1.0 years. Your JD is worthless one year after graduation when the next batch of newbie fresh meat exits law school. If you don't have any legal work experience on your resume one year after graduation, you are done. Your only option at that point is to go solo. The OP needs to be realistic about this. Sitting around at home is not going to change that fact. I would advise the OP to move on to teaching. If he has that ready to go, take it. It is a far more valuable profession than anything a lawyer does.

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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:46 pm

don't know how true it is about the 1 year mark.

I think the key point is 'without any kind of legal experience'.... he'll be done.

I know someone graduated from my T25 in 2009, got a temporary clerkship for a year, then worked in temporary document review jobs and special assistant district attorney (no pay).She found a permanent associate job with duane morris this past spring.

those who can afford to do meaningful legal work for free has a leg up.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Legal Career v. Immediate Financial Stability

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:40 pm

I would be wary of the charter school job -- can you talk to other teachers at the school? Charters are all different, but they're often notorious for overworking teachers resulting in high turnover. That said, you can also wind up overworked and underpaid in litigation, and the above poster is correct that most of your time is spent drafting, researching, doc-reviewing, conference calling, etc. rather than arguing stuff before a judge.




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