Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

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Anonymous User
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Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:45 am

I'm a 3L. Have a V30 offer from my 2L summer. The thing is, though, I've been interning at an Attorney General's Office this semester and really prefer the work. This AG's office doesn't hire full-time out of law school, but does take "volunteers." The general sense I get is that volunteer positions generally convert to actual paid Assistant Attorney General positions within 1-2 years. If I go the law firm route, I lose my connection to the office and the chances of getting back there down the road are much slimmer.

So, the question is, assuming I can get by financially for 1-2 years, would I be nuts to work as a volunteer?

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FlanAl
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby FlanAl » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:22 am

talk to your school's career office about whether or not they have funding for these kinds of volunteer positions. I think schools have started to recognize that this is the way a lot of places have been hiring the past few years and they have put together minimal (like a grand a month) funding for students pursuing this. Also find out if you can split your summer and save your big law cash to fund that year of volunteering.

BeenDidThat
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby BeenDidThat » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 3L. Have a V30 offer from my 2L summer. The thing is, though, I've been interning at an Attorney General's Office this semester and really prefer the work. This AG's office doesn't hire full-time out of law school, but does take "volunteers." The general sense I get is that volunteer positions generally convert to actual paid Assistant Attorney General positions within 1-2 years. If I go the law firm route, I lose my connection to the office and the chances of getting back there down the road are much slimmer.

So, the question is, assuming I can get by financially for 1-2 years, would I be nuts to work as a volunteer?


Yes.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:38 am

Is the only way to get hired through one of these "volunteer" positions? Or, if it's going to take a 1-2 years anyway, can't you work for your firm, wait for a position to come open, and apply directly from your biglaw job? Having interned there should give you a little bump.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:39 am

Personally, I am very risk adverse. Just like you, I would much rather work at the AG than do big law. But I chose big law for the money, stability, and training. If anything, you should have applied to the DOJ Honors Program, but that's in the past now. I shouldn't dictate what you do, but I would be way to scared to jump in the abyss and do a nonpaid position for a few years. Does your firm do a one-year deferral program, which would allow you to work at the AG's office? That would be better.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:00 am

It sounds like a bad idea. Go to biglaw and do your pro bono hours at the AG office. Win Win

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Nelson
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Nelson » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:26 pm

If you want to be a DAG, don't go to the firm.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby BeautifulSW » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:36 pm

Never ever work for free. Was your law school training really worthless? That's what working for free says about you.

This will be a VERY unpopular opinion.

I give the same advice to attorneys. Send a check to Legal Aid. Never ever work for free. Ever. Period.

Edit: No exceptions. Ever. Period.

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cinephile
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby cinephile » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:56 pm

We had someone from our state's AG office come speak to us and while there are fellowships available (kind of like your volunteer-to-hire opportunity, but paid), we were told the vast majority of lawyers were hired as laterals after they had several years of biglaw experience. In fact, it was STRONGLY encouraged that we go to a firm first. Have you looked at the bios of the people hired there in the past few years? Maybe there are other (safer) ways to make your dream happen.

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:58 pm

if you can get a fellowship and/or swing the financial support, do it. biglaw sucks, and the best case scenario for you sounds like it would be lateralling to the AGs office after 3-4 years. why wait?

-someone who turned down gov positions and is very much regretting it 2 months in.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:04 pm

EijiMiyake wrote:if you can get a fellowship and/or swing the financial support, do it. biglaw sucks, and the best case scenario for you sounds like it would be lateralling to the AGs office after 3-4 years. why wait?

-someone who turned down gov positions and is very much regretting it 2 months in.


Why does biglaw suck?

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:08 pm

it sucks for anyone that values maintaining a healthy lifestyle and meaningful early-on career development over prestige and money. some might luck into good situations, and some might convince themselves that they've lucked into good situations, but for most people, it won't be a good job. And it's not sustainable job.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:24 pm

EijiMiyake wrote:it sucks for anyone that values maintaining a healthy lifestyle and meaningful early-on career development over prestige and money. some might luck into good situations, and some might convince themselves that they've lucked into good situations, but for most people, it won't be a good job. And it's not sustainable job.


Would you suggest instead to work at a smaller firm? or what is your better alternative?

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:31 pm

For many people, there is no other viable alternative. For example, if you want to do transactional work, you pretty much need to do biglaw at first. Or you may have financial issues that preclude other jobs. But the OP seems like he has a place where he would enjoy building a career and it may be financially viable for him, so I think he should jump on it.

Smaller firms may be better, but it will depend - mostly, I think, on whether you're viewed as someone that will be there for the rest of your career, or someone that is expendable.


Edit: OP, I also don't know why you would lose your connection to the AG's office. Work hard and stay in touch with the people you work with. If you do biglaw, they'll remember you in a few years.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:37 pm

EijiMiyake wrote:For many people, there is no other viable alternative. For example, if you want to do transactional work, you pretty much need to do biglaw at first. Or you may have financial issues that preclude other jobs. But the OP seems like he has a place where he would enjoy building a career and it may be financially viable for him, so I think he should jump on it.

Smaller firms may be better, but it will depend - mostly, I think, on whether you're viewed as someone that will be there for the rest of your career, or someone that is expendable.


Edit: OP, I also don't know why you would lose your connection to the AG's office. Work hard and stay in touch with the people you work with. If you do biglaw, they'll remember you in a few years.


How hours/day do you generally work? Do you have time to exercise?

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Nelson
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Nelson » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:39 pm

BeautifulSW wrote:Never ever work for free. Was your law school training really worthless? That's what working for free says about you.

This will be a VERY unpopular opinion.

I give the same advice to attorneys. Send a check to Legal Aid. Never ever work for free. Ever. Period.

Edit: No exceptions. Ever. Period.

That's great shitboomer advice and all but it's not really very practical these days.

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
EijiMiyake wrote:For many people, there is no other viable alternative. For example, if you want to do transactional work, you pretty much need to do biglaw at first. Or you may have financial issues that preclude other jobs. But the OP seems like he has a place where he would enjoy building a career and it may be financially viable for him, so I think he should jump on it.

Smaller firms may be better, but it will depend - mostly, I think, on whether you're viewed as someone that will be there for the rest of your career, or someone that is expendable.


Edit: OP, I also don't know why you would lose your connection to the AG's office. Work hard and stay in touch with the people you work with. If you do biglaw, they'll remember you in a few years.


How hours/day do you generally work? Do you have time to exercise?


I am either at work, or working at home about 70 hours a week. My billing efficiency varies - sometimes when I'm fielding lots of different tasks/requests/questions, time just evaporates without a whole lot to show for it. A better version of myself would have time to exercise, but I haven't in a few weeks.

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mr. wednesday
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby mr. wednesday » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:14 pm

So most law school funding lasts about 6 months or so. If you volunteer with the AG, you might have a job in 1-2 years. How do you plan to support yourself for the 18 months you are without pay? If the funding isn't there to bring you on in two years, your biglaw firm won't want anything to do with you. What will you do to pay your loans? Buy food? Pay rent?

If you were choosing between an AG position and a biglaw position, I'd say go for the AG. But you are choosing between a biglaw position and unemployment. That's what a volunteer position at an AG is, graduating unemployed.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:17 am

OP, here. Thanks for all the input everyone.

Part of my thinking is that I pretty much already know how much of a drag Big Law can be. I worked for a few years before school in a similar industry and the hours were, like someone above said, unsustainable. I have indeed applied to most govt programs and have been considering this volunteer program as a backup. For 1-2 years, if I did it, I'd be able to get a decent loan from the ol' Bank of Mom and Dads, so I'm lucky in that regard.

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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:53 am

Anonymous User wrote: For 1-2 years, if I did it, I'd be able to get a decent loan from the ol' Bank of Mom and Dads, so I'm lucky in that regard.
this is the crux of it IMO. If you don't need or care about the money then it's a whole different ball game.

I'd still probably do the big law route and hope to lateral, but it's more than defensible to just do what you want from day one, provided it isn't financially irresponsible.

adonai
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Re: Ditch Big Law to Volunteer? Too Crazy?

Postby adonai » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:53 pm

Like someone else said above, AG offices value biglaw work a lot. Do the financially responsible thing and suck it up and work in biglaw, checking for open positions and applying then jumping ship asap when you can. You should know by now that loyalty has gone down the shitter. You said it yourself that they may or may not hire you even after two yrs. They will never feel like they "owe" you something. If someone better than you comes along, guess who gets hired? Govt agencies tend to still advertise openings to the public, even though they have volunteers who are working there for free who could easily fill the spot.
I really think biglaw opens a lot of doors to everything. If you ever want to move on to the AUSA, that biglaw experience will also be very helpful.




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