backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

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Anonymous User
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backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:48 am

I'm in a real bind here. I accepted a summer judicial externship for a federal department in a big city around 80 miles away from where I go to law school. This means that I have to find somewhere to live in that's expensive. Subleasing my current house isn't a for sure thing either. This judicial externship is unpaid. They gave me a tight deadline to decide by and it seemed pretty awesome, so I accepted.

However, I just got notice today that a cool legal aid organization is offering me a summer position in a city that is a 10 minute drive from my current home. It's also unpaid. I really did not know if they would offer me the position, and they said it could take up to 6 weeks until some action would occur.

This is for the summer after my 1L year.

I have heard once you have accepted a position, you should stick to it. What are your thoughts? especially considering everything is unpaid.

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transferror
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby transferror » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:21 am

IME employers are understanding if you back out for a paid position (because money!), but this will prob come across as insulting, especially b/c you're backing out on the judge as an individual and not an org as a whole like DA/PD/AG.

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rickgrimes69
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby rickgrimes69 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 12:50 pm

Back out if you're cool with permanently burning that bridge.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 21, 2015 12:51 pm

I actually don't think this is any better/worse than backing out for money. I don't think "sorry, I got a paid gig" is a good way to back out of an unpaid gig at all. I would actually be more sympathetic about the location/commute/housing issue.

As for this, how long has it been since you accepted the judge? Do you have any aspirations to clerk for this judge in future? I don't think it's a terrible thing to back out, but it will probably burn bridges with this particular judge and might make him/her pissed off at your school, if s/he doesn't get a lot of interns from it.

(I would probably stick with the first thing I accepted, but I can see why you wouldn't.)

wwwcol
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby wwwcol » Sat Feb 21, 2015 1:25 pm

summer judicial externship for a federal department


Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but does this mean it's an admin. law judge (ALJ) for a federal agency? If yes, I wouldn't even bat an eye before reneging. Also if yes, they probably gave you a tight deadline so you wouldn't have time to explore your options, which is a tactic less-desirable employers often use to lock up applicants.

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15 styx
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby 15 styx » Sat Feb 21, 2015 1:38 pm

Reneging is traumatic but given your circumstance it is the right thing for you to do.

I reneged on my 2L summer firm when I received a last minute acceptance from a bigger firm that offered $15k more (and a better bonus structure). I held my breath then made the renege call. They were a bit snarky about it. Thing is, it was over in three minutes. Afterwards I was concerned that they might call the school to complain, but they never did.

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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby thebobs1987 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:47 pm

wwwcol wrote:
summer judicial externship for a federal department


Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but does this mean it's an admin. law judge (ALJ) for a federal agency? If yes, I wouldn't even bat an eye before reneging. Also if yes, they probably gave you a tight deadline so you wouldn't have time to explore your options, which is a tactic less-desirable employers often use to lock up applicants.


I agree with this. If it is a federal district judge then I wouldn't back out, but ALJ not that big of a deal

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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:56 pm

OP here.

It is ALJ. I figure it's still early on, so it wouldn't be last minute. They could find someone else.

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JenDarby
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby JenDarby » Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:52 pm

15 styx wrote:Reneging is traumatic but given your circumstance it is the right thing for you to do.

I reneged on my 2L summer firm when I received a last minute acceptance from a bigger firm that offered $15k more (and a better bonus structure). I held my breath then made the renege call. They were a bit snarky about it. Thing is, it was over in three minutes. Afterwards I was concerned that they might call the school to complain, but they never did.

I backed out of a shitty unpaind gov internship that explicitly offered NO possibility for post grad employment in favor of a paid position that I was REALLY interested in and that had some opportunity for post grad employment (I still work there).

The agency called my school and complained and then I had to have a meeting with someone from my school wherein they tried to explain how "bad" it was for the school that I backed out. It was NBD, and was over in a few minutes. I definitely have zero regrets.

smallfirmassociate
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby smallfirmassociate » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:05 pm

JenDarby wrote:
15 styx wrote:Reneging is traumatic but given your circumstance it is the right thing for you to do.

I reneged on my 2L summer firm when I received a last minute acceptance from a bigger firm that offered $15k more (and a better bonus structure). I held my breath then made the renege call. They were a bit snarky about it. Thing is, it was over in three minutes. Afterwards I was concerned that they might call the school to complain, but they never did.

I backed out of a shitty unpaind gov internship that explicitly offered NO possibility for post grad employment in favor of a paid position that I was REALLY interested in and that had some opportunity for post grad employment (I still work there).

The agency called my school and complained and then I had to have a meeting with someone from my school wherein they tried to explain how "bad" it was for the school that I backed out. It was NBD, and was over in a few minutes. I definitely have zero regrets.


I couldn't imagine my school trying some crap like that on a nontrad who gave zero fucks like me. "We think it looks bad on the school blah blah..."

"I think it's unfortunate that the school is trying to pressure me to take an unpaid position when I need to make money to pay off the mountain of debt I have as a result of paying your cushy salary. Perhaps you should offer stipends to people taking unpaid summer jobs if you're worried about people backing out. Let's call this one a draw and just move on, alright?"

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JenDarby
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby JenDarby » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:07 pm

smallfirmassociate wrote:
JenDarby wrote:
15 styx wrote:Reneging is traumatic but given your circumstance it is the right thing for you to do.

I reneged on my 2L summer firm when I received a last minute acceptance from a bigger firm that offered $15k more (and a better bonus structure). I held my breath then made the renege call. They were a bit snarky about it. Thing is, it was over in three minutes. Afterwards I was concerned that they might call the school to complain, but they never did.

I backed out of a shitty unpaind gov internship that explicitly offered NO possibility for post grad employment in favor of a paid position that I was REALLY interested in and that had some opportunity for post grad employment (I still work there).

The agency called my school and complained and then I had to have a meeting with someone from my school wherein they tried to explain how "bad" it was for the school that I backed out. It was NBD, and was over in a few minutes. I definitely have zero regrets.


I couldn't imagine my school trying some crap like that on a nontrad who gave zero fucks like me. "We think it looks bad on the school blah blah..."

"I think it's unfortunate that the school is trying to pressure me to take an unpaid position when I need to make money to pay off the mountain of debt I have as a result of paying your cushy salary. Perhaps you should offer stipends to people taking unpaid summer jobs if you're worried about people backing out. Let's call this one a draw and just move on, alright?"

That's pretty spot on for how the conversation went.

smallfirmassociate
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby smallfirmassociate » Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:34 pm

Good on you. The last thing people in our position need to be doing is taking shit from some retirement-ready boomer who practiced in the glory days of the profession before taking her current twilight 9-5 job.

It's not that we're entitled; it's just that we don't want to be fed bullshit from people who were all but handed jobs with their J.D.'s. (from institutions charging reasonable tuition, no less).

WhiskeynCoke
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby WhiskeynCoke » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm in a real bind here. I accepted a summer judicial externship for a federal department in a big city around 80 miles away from where I go to law school. This means that I have to find somewhere to live in that's expensive. Subleasing my current house isn't a for sure thing either. This judicial externship is unpaid. They gave me a tight deadline to decide by and it seemed pretty awesome, so I accepted.

However, I just got notice today that a cool legal aid organization is offering me a summer position in a city that is a 10 minute drive from my current home. It's also unpaid. I really did not know if they would offer me the position, and they said it could take up to 6 weeks until some action would occur.

This is for the summer after my 1L year.

I have heard once you have accepted a position, you should stick to it. What are your thoughts? especially considering everything is unpaid.


To me this sounds a lot like you go to UC Davis and are juggling SF v. Sacramento. If that's the case I probably also know the Office you're talking about... If I'm right, you can probably sublet a place near Bart in the East bay for much cheaper than SF.

But even if I'm wrong, if you don't go to a T14 I think the externship will probably impress big firms a little more than the legal aid job. If your career goals lie elsewhere, it matters less. Personally, I'd much rather have a judge be willing to go to bat for me though.

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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:19 am

I would probably stick it out. The externship is probably a little more impressive and unless you want to do legal aid, you don't gain anything from it. I think it's 100% fair game to bail from free work for paid work, and I'm very loyal. This is partly because of the higher likelihood it will lead to a job after graduation. In this instance, I don't know if finding the work elsewhere more interesting for a summer is worth backing out on another agreement for.

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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:57 pm

I used to work for a federal agency with ALJs and AAs, both pre-law and as an extern. If I were OP, I would not burn this bridge, as this opportunity could lead to future employment.

Where I worked at, all the attorney jobs were filled through friends/family of current attorneys, and also through past externs who had built a good relationship with the office. From my understanding, this hiring practice is widely accepted at many, if not all, federal agencies. In fact, for the particular agency I worked at, and also for SSA, most/all hiring is done with people who have a connection to the office.

OP, maybe you will not end up working there after law school. But if you leave a good impression with the agency, particularly the ALJ (who can definitely help you get in), then it would only benefit you to have this opportunity in your back pocket once you graduate... especially if you can't find anything after 2L/3L.

wwwcol
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby wwwcol » Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I would probably stick it out. The externship is probably a little more impressive and unless you want to do legal aid, you don't gain anything from it. I think it's 100% fair game to bail from free work for paid work, and I'm very loyal. This is partly because of the higher likelihood it will lead to a job after graduation. In this instance, I don't know if finding the work elsewhere more interesting for a summer is worth backing out on another agreement for.


lmfao. You're suggesting he should take an ALJ internship because of the prestige? I actually laughed out loud at that.

Also laughed at the bit about loyalty.

OP should make whatever decision he thinks is best in the long term, but loyalty and prestige shouldn't play much of a role, if any. They certainly shouldn't compel OP to back out of what sounds like a better gig for his situation.

Anonymous User
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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:07 pm

I recently backed out of an unpaid government internship. I was receiving emails and phone calls from my school within about 2 hours. Awkward. I had a decent excuse though so everyone seemed cool after some explanation.

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Re: backing out of unpaid position? how bad is that?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:29 am

OP here. I just want to let TLS know that I did back out of the position, and it was COMPLETELY FINE. I think I had a good reason and I went about it nicely. No regrets.




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