Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

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Can I pull this off?

Yes -- with your credentials you should be fine, both for now and for later
5
20%
Yes -- but it's going to take a lot of work and some luck
5
20%
No -- you probably won't be able to find a good job in a small city without better ties
4
16%
No -- good jobs in smaller cities don't really exist
2
8%
No -- regardless of what you do for that 2-3 years, so long as it's not biglaw you'll never professionally recover
9
36%
 
Total votes: 25

Anonymous User
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Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:19 pm

I'm a T6 graduate, top 5% of my class, LR, and am finishing a fed COA clerkship (2/9/DC). I have an offer (which I haven't accepted yet b/c of the clerkship) at my 2L biglaw firm in a major city, and will probably go back to the firm if we end up staying in the city as planned. However, if my significant other gets into grad school, we will probably move to whatever city (or town) that school is in.

How concerned should I be about finding a good legal job in that town if it's not NY/Chicago/SF/LA/DC, or somewhere my 2L firm has a satellite office? The programs my SO is applying for are 2-3 years long and tend to be in smaller college towns. The sort of places that I think it's most likely we'll end up are also the sort of places that value ties the most -- think places like Indianapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Fayetteville, etc. And we almost certainly will have no ties to that area whatsoever, other than the all-important tie of having to be there for the duration of the SO's grad school program.

On a related note, how concerned should I be about being able to lateral back to Biglaw assuming I end up in some smaller regional place for the 2-3 years of my SO's grad school? It'd be good to know, when we get a chance to making a decision about what's best for us (assuming my SO is accepted somewhere), if me ending up somewhere less traditional (such as a regional firm or a strong plaintiffs firm) for 2-3 years will hamstring my career given my credentials. I don't need to be a V10 partner at age 33 or whatnot, but I'd like to know if this choice is going to limit me to midlaw for the rest of my life.

Thanks, all!

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a T6 graduate, top 5% of my class, LR, and am finishing a fed COA clerkship (2/9/DC). I have an offer (which I haven't accepted yet b/c of the clerkship) at my 2L biglaw firm in a major city, and will probably go back to the firm if we end up staying in the city as planned. However, if my significant other gets into grad school, we will probably move to whatever city (or town) that school is in.

How concerned should I be about finding a good legal job in that town if it's not NY/Chicago/SF/LA/DC, or somewhere my 2L firm has a satellite office? The programs my SO is applying for are 2-3 years long and tend to be in smaller college towns. The sort of places that I think it's most likely we'll end up are also the sort of places that value ties the most -- think places like Indianapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Fayetteville, etc. And we almost certainly will have no ties to that area whatsoever, other than the all-important tie of having to be there for the duration of the SO's grad school program.

On a related note, how concerned should I be about being able to lateral back to Biglaw assuming I end up in some smaller regional place for the 2-3 years of my SO's grad school? It'd be good to know, when we get a chance to making a decision about what's best for us (assuming my SO is accepted somewhere), if me ending up somewhere less traditional (such as a regional firm or a strong plaintiffs firm) for 2-3 years will hamstring my career given my credentials. I don't need to be a V10 partner at age 33 or whatnot, but I'd like to know if this choice is going to limit me to midlaw for the rest of my life.

Thanks, all!

This is a question you should be asking alumni affairs/career services at your school (it seems like alumni career advisors are more helpful than advisers for law students, at least in helping identify potential future problems). You might also try reaching out to headhunters to see what they think, though they may have a vested interest in seeing you follow your SO if they think it might lead to a relationship/fee down the line.

With your credentials I would think you would have a good shot at a biglaw firm's office in the market, even if it's only a small office. The difficulty, especially with regional firms, is that if you disclose you're there because of your SO's academic program, they know you're probably going to leave after a couple years (which is when you're really becoming valuable to them). Even if you work at a regional firm, you should have good lateral options with your credentials, although V10 might be more selective and absolutely require large firm experience. For the most part, the markets you list do have Amlaw 100 firms in them, though.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:08 pm

I'm the OP:

And, as a follow-up question, are there things that I can do to mitigate any career impact of practicing in a less well known firm for the first several years?

Also, those cities were just some ones I threw out (no particular significance to any of them), and probably somewhat bigger than the average city the SO is considering.

Pokemon
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Pokemon » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:10 pm

Can you clerk for a judge in her small town?
Other than that, this seems to me like a terrible idea. Granted, you are a superstar in terms of credentials, but no one cares about that if you are not going to be a good worker/professional. And someone who moves like this would raise a huge red flag to me.
Also relationships are supposed to be two-way things. Her graduate degree better be in saving the earth from asteroids if you want to risk so much.
If however you could live without biglaw, this is probably not a bad idea.

-3L.

09042014
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby 09042014 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:19 pm

First, figure out if it is worth moving around for your spouse. Moving for a grad program often isn't worth it.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:40 pm

OP here: I will have already clerked for two years. As much as I've loved the experience, I don't think another two or three years of clerking is a good idea.

And no, my SO will not be saving the world from asteroids in grad school. :-/ It's definitely NOT worth moving for the SO's program from a strictly financial perspective -- this is more of a happiness move. Which I strongly believe in. But obviously my happiness is also relevant, and if the SO going to grad school effectively precludes me from having a successful career as a lawyer, well, that's a problem.

I'm ok with being shut out of the V10 post-return to biglaw. I'm concerned about being shut out of the ~V50 (or not being able to get back to any semblance of biglaw).*

*Understanding, obviously, that there are some great firms not in the V100 -- I'm just using this for a proxy of the general prestige/quality of a firm I'd be happy with.

TooOld4This
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby TooOld4This » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

As someone who is a pretty old time married with both of us having fairly high octane ambitions to navigate, here's my two cents.

If you and SO aren't married (or commitment equivalent), this is the point for both of you to figure out what is really important to you and be brutally honest with yourselves and each other. Now is not the time to try to convince yourself that "you could be happy if." If you want BigLaw and feel that is very important to your view of professional success, let her know. If she feels grad school is now or never, then she nerds to let you know. If you aren't married, this might be a case of right person wrong time. Maybe try long distance, but I wouldn't recommend either of you bending on your goals.

If you are married, I think the calculus changes. I've always taken the view that the marriage is priority #1. A huge part of that, though, is that both of us need to support the other in their goals. This results in situations where things aren't always 100% for either of us, and we each go for the 80% solution so neither of us is completely giving up on things that are important to us.

In your situation, I would ask the following questions. How critical is the school for future job prospects? Is there some flexibility, or is it a case of needing to go to 1 of 3 schools or no future? How critical is the timing of grad school? Why do you want BigLaw? Do you have concrete career objectives, or just amorphous prestige concerns?

Hopefully you can come up with a compromise where you can find a location that maybe isn't ideal for either of you, but not terrible either. Otherwise, I'd recommend that she put off grad school by 2 years so that you can check that box. In that time you may find it isn't what it's cracked up to be and be happy to move on, or that you can rotate out for a few years and leave open the option of going back in.

guyplus
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby guyplus » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:09 pm

TooOld4This wrote:Hopefully you can come up with a compromise where you can find a location that maybe isn't ideal for either of you, but not terrible either. Otherwise, I'd recommend that she put off grad school by 2 years so that you can check that box. In that time you may find it isn't what it's cracked up to be and be happy to move on, or that you can rotate out for a few years and leave open the option of going back in.


This. Your job security should be the leading consideration in the situation. Moving for something as amorphous (and maybe even unnecessary?) as a master's degree, in addition to being something that should be attainable while accommodating your job, will set a bad precedent that could become an occurring theme in the relationship - his/her "happiness/fulfillment" trumping your career decisions.

If you can find a job in the city where he/she's accepted during the period between the acceptance letter and the first day of class, that would be optimal. But, explain that his/her attendance should be dependent upon your finding a job, due to the fact that the move could suck a huge portion of the value out of your hard work and world-class degree that you've earned. If you have to start at he firm you currently hold an offer from before then, he/she will just have to wait a couple of years.

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Emma.
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Emma. » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:24 pm

Tough situation. I think even with your credentials it is going to be pretty tough to go from 2 years at some small or mid-sized firm in somewhere like Fayetteville back to a bigger/more prestigious firm in a larger city. The clerkships will surely help (maybe your judge will be able to pull strings for you?) but you'll probably be burning some biglaw bridges. Also, while I'm sure firms in many of these towns would be thrilled to have someone with your qualifications, you may run into issues when it becomes clear to them that you are only interested in staying for a couple years when your SO is in school.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:42 pm

I love my wife but in your shoes I think I would stay put and do long distance. You could see each other every other weekend. You will be working a ton anyway. I say this as someone who really has a good relationship and we now spend all our time together.
Last edited by Hutz_and_Goodman on Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby 09042014 » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:56 pm

If the masters program is just for her happiness, she can find a program or near your job. Moving for a "happiness" masters programs is terrible especially since you'll move in another 2-3 years. You are basically uprooting your career twice. That's much more to ask than asking your husband to just take a different program near your work. And what happens in 2-3 years when your husband wants to move to bumfuck egypt to find a job. Lay down the law now.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Sammy841 » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:19 pm

Sometimes the smartest thing you can do as a couple is to just suck it up and do long distance for awhile. That's what my spouse and I are doing now. He has an established career in a place we would both like to live eventually, but where the law school was much lower ranked than the one I am currently attending several states away. If he had followed me to law school it would have meant uprooting his career and then uprooting again to go to a new location in 3 years. The separation isn't fun, but it's temporary, and I've never regretted it. If we did it any other way, one of us would have had to take a severe step back in our respective careers. Plus, we get to spend summers together since I'm a student, and I was lucky enough to get a great SA where he lives--one I probably wouldn't have gotten if I had just gone to the local law school. Maybe your significant other can do the same? Go to school wherever and spend the summers with you? If you're going to be in a large market, he/she should be able to get an internship or whatnot over the summers where you are.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby ClerkAdvisor » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here: I will have already clerked for two years. As much as I've loved the experience, I don't think another two or three years of clerking is a good idea.

And no, my SO will not be saving the world from asteroids in grad school. :-/ It's definitely NOT worth moving for the SO's program from a strictly financial perspective -- this is more of a happiness move. Which I strongly believe in. But obviously my happiness is also relevant, and if the SO going to grad school effectively precludes me from having a successful career as a lawyer, well, that's a problem.

I'm ok with being shut out of the V10 post-return to biglaw. I'm concerned about being shut out of the ~V50 (or not being able to get back to any semblance of biglaw).*

*Understanding, obviously, that there are some great firms not in the V100 -- I'm just using this for a proxy of the general prestige/quality of a firm I'd be happy with.


After two clerkships, you need to get on with your career. The more senior your are, the more difficult it is to move into a firm. After an additional two years, you would be looking at coming in as a 4th or 5th year. Either your career is going on the backburner, perhaps permanently, or your SO's career is. A marriage is about compromise and making equitable decisions; its not about keeping absolute parity between partners. If you're going to be the primary breadwinner, then your SO's grad school options must be limited by where you work.

ETA - there's a world of difference between Dallas and the other cities you listed. If you go somewhere like Dallas, then you'll be fine (i.e., no one's going to snub a few years at V&E, BB, Fulbright, JD, GDC, etc.).

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alphagamma
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby alphagamma » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:06 am

Long distance should definitely not be seen as the enemy. If you can't coordinate to be in the same city, you and your spouse can at least work together to find a biglaw job and a grad program close (or as close as possible) to each other and visit each other often. I'm currently in a long distance relationship with someone in Europe. We see each other every couple months. I know people who have gone through all three years of law school with long distance relationships, too. If your bond with your spouse is strong, you'll be fine. Long distance will be no problem (although you'll hate every minute of it).

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby mr. wednesday » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:19 pm

If your spouse is going to have to move again after the MA is done to find work in this dream, happiness-filled field, don't tank your career on such a temporary thing. You can do long distance for the two year program. That first few years in biglaw is important for the mobility of your career later; lots of people move down to smaller firms, but almost no one moves up.

And would your spouse even be able to do this non-financially sound MA if she wasn't married to someone with a career that pays $160k? Realistically, if you don't take that offer and move with her, she could end up having to support you during her MA and after with her career. How comfortable is she with the MA program if she knows it might mean she has to depend on her degree to be the primary breadwinner? If the answer is, she's not--well there is your answer about moving.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby 09042014 » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:47 pm

Long distance is shitty and risky. Make him/her do the MA in near a big city. If you can't find an MA program in NYC, LA or DC s/he isn't looking hard enough.

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Ron Mexico
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Ron Mexico » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:54 pm

divorce time

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Arbiter213 » Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Long distance is shitty and risky. Make him/her do the MA in near a big city. If you can't find an MA program in NYC, LA or DC s/he isn't looking hard enough.


Egregious Chicago trolling, but seems accurate.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 27, 2013 3:07 pm

The correct answer here is that you should do a PhD yourself and then go on the law teaching market.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby 09042014 » Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:23 pm

Arbiter213 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Long distance is shitty and risky. Make him/her do the MA in near a big city. If you can't find an MA program in NYC, LA or DC s/he isn't looking hard enough.


Egregious Chicago trolling, but seems accurate.


Chill Midwestern Bros wouldn't let their cheerful busty 24 year old wives drag them to bumfuck egypt.

Anonymous Associate
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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous Associate » Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:33 pm

I ditto the long-distance for 2-3 years.

How easy will it for her to be to get a job where you currently have an offer once she graduates?

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Lady Croft » Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:15 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Arbiter213 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Long distance is shitty and risky. Make him/her do the MA in near a big city. If you can't find an MA program in NYC, LA or DC s/he isn't looking hard enough.


Egregious Chicago trolling, but seems accurate.


Chill Midwestern Bros wouldn't let their cheerful busty 24 year old wives drag them to bumfuck egypt.


I said LONDON. Jesus I'm starting to think all you hear when I open my mouth is "YALLA ALLAH AKBAR".

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Lwoods » Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:41 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Long distance is shitty and risky. Make him/her do the MA in near a big city. If you can't find an MA program in NYC, LA or DC s/he isn't looking hard enough.


Or within commuting distance. I could see programs like agricultural science being located in more rural areas, but there are still sometimes light rail commutes* from college towns to major cities.

*If I'm going to have a long commute, I tend to prefer train commutes because it's usually easy to get work done on a train.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:34 am

This is the OP again.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I don't want to get into the specifics of things, but the programs my spouse is applying to generally accept <10 people and generally have >1,000 applications, and, combined with the importance of fit and the location of the best-fitting schools, it's hard to be assured of us ending up in a big city. Also, the application process is not similar to law school applications, where you can be pretty sure about where you'll get in and where you won't -- the SO could easily get accepted into the #1 program in the country and rejected at every single other program. So it's hard to predict or control where we'll end up, other than through where the SO applies (which is part of why I'm asking now -- how broadly the SO applies may be determined by how flexible I can be).

I also think this is somewhat less important, but the grad school will do little to increase the SO's earning potential, but will likely do a lot to impact the experiential quality of the SO's career. Different, and more enjoyable (if not more lucrative), positions will only become practically an option to the SO post-degree. I also think that the SO will gain a significant amount of personal satisfaction from the degree. I, on the other hand, have no particular desire to make partner at the best possible firm at the youngest possible age, so it strikes me as being a worthwhile compromise to move for the SO so long as the move doesn't prevent me from being successful in SOME biglaw-esque firm in the long run.

To elaborate further, my long-term goal is to be a legal academic...but given how much of a complete disaster that field is at the moment, I want to be simultaneously keeping open the possibility of some other legal career. So, there's some chance that I'd move with the SO for 2-3 years, and then go straight into a fellowship/tenure track teaching position. My sense is that prestige of legal practice doesn't matter much for law professor hiring, so what I do for those 2-3 years isn't super crucial for my first choice career -- academia. But, given how impossible it is to get hired in legal academia these days, I don't want to treat all practice options over those years as fungible just because they are for academia -- in the high likelihood that I don't find a job in academia immediately / ever (or, if practice turns out to be a better fit for me), I want to have good exit options. I suppose I don't have any great attachment to biglaw in particular. It's more that my sense of the world is that biglaw (and boutiques of equivalent prestige) are basically the only entry-level legal jobs with good exit option ...so if I wanted to do prestigious PI or government work after the 2-3 years, I'd have to be in a similar position as I would if I wanted to do biglaw. If I'm wrong in that assumption, well, that's relevant to my question.

We are prepared to live within commuting distance -- such as at the end of a light rail line, as Lwoods suggests. I'm not sure that we're prepared to do long distance, though.

I have two follow-up questions (in addition to the above):

1. Is there any quick and easy way to find out which cities have good biglaw firms and which do not? The SO is looking into 40+ programs right now, so I'm not sure if it's practicable for me to research literally every single possible place we can end up. My assumption is that any of the top ~15 biggest cities in the US will have pretty good firms. But what about college towns like Ithaca or Iowa City?

2. I assume that I should be in good shape looking for a biglaw job in one of the "market"-paying cities (NY/DC/LA/Chicago/SF/Boston/etc). Will that be the case for the big cities paying ~145k? --Indianapolis, Detroit, Baltimore, etc? And, if I end up in a situation where I'm looking for a job in, say, Ithaca (assuming good jobs exist), what can I do to maximize my chances? Explaining why I want to be in some random college town that I have no connection to without going into the SO's grad school (which strikes me as being a bad idea--no firm's going to want to hire me if they think I'm leaving in 2-3 years) seems like a pretty impossible task. I'm hoping that most firms won't care, but my suspicion is that they will, at least outside of the major markets.

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Re: Following a Spouse to New City that Requires Ties

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:34 pm

Is there any quick and easy way to find out which cities have good biglaw firms and which do not? The SO is looking into 40+ programs right now, so I'm not sure if it's practicable for me to research literally every single possible place we can end up


Why do you need to do this now? She where s/he gets in and gets funding, then explore that limited subset of cities. By the way, I'm really confused on timing. When is your clerkship up? It seems a bit late if it's about to end, though some jduges are on weird calendars.

To elaborate further, my long-term goal is to be a legal academic...but given how much of a complete disaster that field is at the moment, I want to be simultaneously keeping open the possibility of some other legal career.


This is smart.

I assume that I should be in good shape looking for a biglaw job in one of the "market"-paying cities (NY/DC/LA/Chicago/SF/Boston/etc). Will that be the case for the big cities paying ~145k? --Indianapolis, Detroit, Baltimore, etc?


Yes. The only places where you'll (potentially) have problems are a handful of super-in-demand smaller cities. I'm thinking like Seattle, Denver, Portland, maybe Austin. Places with smaller legal markets where everyone wants to live.

And, if I end up in a situation where I'm looking for a job in, say, Ithaca (assuming good jobs exist), what can I do to maximize my chances?


The bad news here is that you really won't be able to find a biglaw firm-type job in places like those. It's really going to be working for the university or going to school yourself (or commuting). The good news is that there really aren't THAT many of those types of places out there. Most of the universities that offer the top tier grad programs are either big east coast institutions (and really, Cornell is one of the only ones not within commuting distance of a major market) or big state schools, which are usually within commuting distance of the major legal market in the state (often the state capital).




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