SA Position Involving a Career Jump

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Anonymous User
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SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:48 am

I am a non-traditional law student. I currently work at a large public research institution in a STEM field and have been working on my JD at a Tier 2 school at night. I enjoy my co-workers, make a respectable salary (I won't ever be RICH, but I will live very comfortably), and have the most amazing benefits I could ask for: matching 401K, 4-day work weeks (compressed schedule), never work past 5PM, 20 vacation days, 13 sick days, 10 holidays, work from home option, pension. Sometimes, though, I feel like the work I do is either boring or menial.

I've been going to school basically for free due to several scholarships. I only applied to one firm that practices exclusively in the practice area I am interested in for an SA spot and got the job. I am located on the edge of a large market. The firm has a 100% offer rate and matches pay of most Biglaw firms in the market we border. Now I am second guessing making the career jump that I originally planned. Primarily, I'm worried about the work/life balance (or lack thereof). Just for reference, the firm has an 1800-2000 billable hour requirement.

The flexibility of my current job has allowed me some great opportunities. I am very involved in the community and local politics and have made a TON of business and political connections because of this. I currently hold a low-level municipal government political position that requires sporadic attention throughout the week. I am associated with a local small business and receive profit-sharing based on the amount of time I put into it, that amounts to about $15-$20K per year for only 6-10 hours of work each week. I am able to maintain healthy relationships with everyone in my life. I am worried that switching to a strictly legal career will take all of these things away from me, and I am not sure the extra money would be worth it.

I've looked into it and don't think that meeting the billable hours requirement would be difficult on its face, but that face-time might be. What I am concerned about is that some of the other aspects of my life that are very important and mean a lot to me may require me not work the work schedule that would be dicated to me by a firm. For instance, I know that I would have one day per month where I would have to leave work by 4PM, and another where I would have to leave by 6PM. I'm not really sure if this type of thing would be acceptable, or how to go about asking if it would be acceptable in a legal environment. Is there an easy way to go about finding this out from the firm before I take the position?

The other problem is that after the SA position ends, there is a year gap until a full time position would start. Unfotunately, I cannot afford to be unemployed during this time, so I cannot just leave my job for this. Instead, I need to ask my current job to approve a leave of absence. I am trying to think of ways that I can discuss this with my employer so that my organization may possibly derive a benefit from me taking a short leave for the SA position. If anyone has any ideas on how to go about this, I would be very appreciative.

Right now I am leaning towards taking the SA spot, asking for a leave of absence from my job, and then re-evaluating after I see what the firm-life is like. If there is anyone who has gone through a situation similar to this that could provide input about doing a career jump, I'd be really happy to hear about it.

Thanks!

NYstate
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby NYstate » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:01 am

Take the leave of absence and try the firm. Your priorities may change. You may have to change your days of needing to leave by 4 and by 6 to something else. I wouldn't ask the firm about this upfront if you are serious about getting an offer. You might have to miss or reschedule those meetings to another time. But you might be able to make them when you see what is happening at work on the day.

What worries me the most is that you will never get a schedule close to what you are working now. If you are used to this schedule, and it sounds great, then you will have a tough time in law. The benefits won't be the same either.

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NinerFan
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby NinerFan » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote: Sometimes, though, I feel like the work I do is either boring or menial.




The grunt level associate work is kinda going to be like this + stress + job security fears.

I'd trade my associate job for yours.

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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:34 pm

What kind of pay difference are we talking here? Because that's the only reason I can see to work at a firm. Definitely don't do it because you think the work will be more interesting/exciting.

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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What kind of pay difference are we talking here? Because that's the only reason I can see to work at a firm. Definitely don't do it because you think the work will be more interesting/exciting.

OP here - Current pay is $85K from main job (with potential to jump up to ~$100K in the next year or two), and an additional $20-$25K from my profit sharing status with a local business and political office.

Firm pay starts at $140-160K.

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moandersen
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby moandersen » Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What kind of pay difference are we talking here? Because that's the only reason I can see to work at a firm. Definitely don't do it because you think the work will be more interesting/exciting.

OP here - Current pay is $85K from main job (with potential to jump up to ~$100K in the next year or two), and an additional $20-$25K from my profit sharing status with a local business and political office.

Firm pay starts at $140-160K.


Ill gladly trade places with you. Most firm's dont match 401k contributions. Plus you get a pension at your current job? That just about wipes out any financial advantage you would gain from working at a firm. Add in the fantastic hours and vacation/sick days....geeze. You got it fantastic.

lukertin
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby lukertin » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What kind of pay difference are we talking here? Because that's the only reason I can see to work at a firm. Definitely don't do it because you think the work will be more interesting/exciting.

OP here - Current pay is $85K from main job (with potential to jump up to ~$100K in the next year or two), and an additional $20-$25K from my profit sharing status with a local business and political office.

Firm pay starts at $140-160K.


Nothing about the SA position makes leaving your current position worthwhile.

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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:04 pm

moandersen wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What kind of pay difference are we talking here? Because that's the only reason I can see to work at a firm. Definitely don't do it because you think the work will be more interesting/exciting.

OP here - Current pay is $85K from main job (with potential to jump up to ~$100K in the next year or two), and an additional $20-$25K from my profit sharing status with a local business and political office.

Firm pay starts at $140-160K.


Ill gladly trade places with you. Most firm's dont match 401k contributions. Plus you get a pension at your current job? That just about wipes out any financial advantage you would gain from working at a firm. Add in the fantastic hours and vacation/sick days....geeze. You got it fantastic.


This firm told me that they will match 401K, but did not specify what percentage it includes.
Yes, under my current system, a pension is collectable at age 57 and will be ~35% of my final salary; more if I work longer.

lukertin
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby lukertin » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This firm told me that they will match 401K, but did not specify what percentage it includes.
Yes, under my current system, a pension is collectable at age 57 and will be ~35% of my final salary; more if I work longer.

35% of 100k is 35k, retiring at 57 and assuming you live to 85, that's a million bucks. Do you know how much you need to save to make that up? How much larger of a raise would you require to even break even? It's worth like $30k/yr, post-tax. Since you'd be taxed at close to the highest marginal income rate as a lawyer, that's like a required raise of $50k/yr. And you would need to save all that money. You'd have the exact same standard of living. What's the point?
Last edited by lukertin on Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.

champ33
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby champ33 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:08 pm

Use the free time you have now to explore things that are interesting to you, rather than seeking them in Big Law (where they are unlikely to be found). Perhaps you will be able to move up in your organization in the future where the work will become less "boring" and "menial"? The tone as well as the substance of your post just make it seem like you are pretty content, and have a lot of interesting avenues that could be explored aside from your full-time job (which provides you enough time to pursue those avenues). And as was mentioned, 85-100K plus a pension.. just doesn't seem to me the bump in salary will be worth it. Best of luck

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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:17 pm

champ33 wrote:Use the free time you have now to explore things that are interesting to you, rather than seeking them in Big Law (where they are unlikely to be found). Perhaps you will be able to move up in your organization in the future where the work will become less "boring" and "menial"? The tone as well as the substance of your post just make it seem like you are pretty content, and have a lot of interesting avenues that could be explored aside from your full-time job (which provides you enough time to pursue those avenues). And as was mentioned, 85-100K plus a pension.. just doesn't seem to me the bump in salary will be worth it. Best of luck

Champ, yes thanks for the input. When I first received the offer, the big numbers grabbed my intention and I kind of got shocked. Once I began researching things about hours and such, however, I started to become really uneasy, at it seems that I would probably be doing twice as much work for less than double the salary, and at the expense of the other parts of my life.

While I am content with my job for the majority of the time, there are some things that really bother me and make me uneasy about it. I guess that these stresses would be present at any job, though, and may even be worse in a biglaw setting.

This has just been a very difficult time weighing the options and trying to make a decision that is not the best for my career, but the best for me as a person.

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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:26 pm

Honestly, I would have an honest conversation with somebody you trust at the company. Say that after doing research, you are heavily leaning toward staying at the company because of everything you stated above, but that this is a one-time opportunity and that you would like to take a leave of absence to at least get a taste. This way, if you do ultimately turn down big law, you'll have at least seen what it was over the summer, and you'll have the peace of mind that you turned it down while knowing what it is.

Otherwise, you risk forever asking yourself "what if I would have really liked it...?" and that alone might suck a lot. I say take the opportunity while it is still there.

EDIT: regarding the pension... if the recent economic implosions have taught me anything is that nowadays, the economy moves quickly, and seemingly invincible companies go broke (who thought that GM would go bust 60 years ago? Nobody). Your pension sounds sweet, but also remember that if you live till your late 80s, we're talking about predicting the future of the company into 2060. Maybe even 2070. That's a hell of a long time.

Okay, that sounded overly negative, but just thought that it should be a consideration.

lukertin
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby lukertin » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Honestly, I would have an honest conversation with somebody you trust at the company. Say that after doing research, you are heavily leaning toward staying at the company because of everything you stated above, but that this is a one-time opportunity and that you would like to take a leave of absence to at least get a taste. This way, if you do ultimately turn down big law, you'll have at least seen what it was over the summer, and you'll have the peace of mind that you turned it down while knowing what it is.

Otherwise, you risk forever asking yourself "what if I would have really liked it...?" and that alone might suck a lot. I say take the opportunity while it is still there.

EDIT: regarding the pension... if the recent economic implosions have taught me anything is that nowadays, the economy moves quickly, and seemingly invincible companies go broke (who thought that GM would go bust 60 years ago? Nobody). Your pension sounds sweet, but also remember that if you live till your late 80s, we're talking about predicting the future of the company into 2060. Maybe even 2070. That's a hell of a long time.

Okay, that sounded overly negative, but just thought that it should be a consideration.


His pension is probably federally insured. If not YOLO

Anonymous User
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Re: SA Position Involving a Career Jump

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2013 5:23 pm

lukertin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Honestly, I would have an honest conversation with somebody you trust at the company. Say that after doing research, you are heavily leaning toward staying at the company because of everything you stated above, but that this is a one-time opportunity and that you would like to take a leave of absence to at least get a taste. This way, if you do ultimately turn down big law, you'll have at least seen what it was over the summer, and you'll have the peace of mind that you turned it down while knowing what it is.

Otherwise, you risk forever asking yourself "what if I would have really liked it...?" and that alone might suck a lot. I say take the opportunity while it is still there.

EDIT: regarding the pension... if the recent economic implosions have taught me anything is that nowadays, the economy moves quickly, and seemingly invincible companies go broke (who thought that GM would go bust 60 years ago? Nobody). Your pension sounds sweet, but also remember that if you live till your late 80s, we're talking about predicting the future of the company into 2060. Maybe even 2070. That's a hell of a long time.

Okay, that sounded overly negative, but just thought that it should be a consideration.


His pension is probably federally insured. If not YOLO[/]

Correct, the pension is guaranteed through the fed gov.




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