ADA v. Firm, Career Trajectory

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ADA v. Firm, Career Trajectory

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:07 pm

Recent graduate here. I realize these are really two different areas of law, but I am faced with a dilemma and wanted to hear what sort of options I really have, or get some tough love or whatever, from the good people of TLS. I am sharing my own personal situation here and hope for comments, but more broadly the question here is the relationship between ADA and civil law firm work and what chance, if any, the latter can lead to the former.

My current longterm goal is to work in a civil law firm. I particularly enjoy administrative law, statutory and legislative issues, contracts, tax, and generally the transactional side of things. I'm a research/writing guy at heart. I could probably chomp out memos and contracts for 10 years and be content.

I'm not exactly in the Vale of Tears - I have been working at a very small environmental law firm making just over $20 per hour for over a year. But they have dicked me around. I have told them I'd like to work there permanently, but for whatever reason I've never gotten a straight answer yes or no, just strung along with platitudes and backslaps.I should have been more aggressive, but I'm pretty much ready to look beyond that now.

So my dilemma is that I was recently offered my first legal job as an ADA in a small-town. I am certified through my state's "711" student practice program and I imagine that helped me get the job. It is a low-paying job at less than $50,000 per year. Additionally, I don't really want to do criminal law. I have zero interest in doing criminal defense down the road. I've read all the threads on TLS and the career trajectory for small-town ADAs seems pretty bleak. Not much hope of being an AUSA, and probably not much hope of doing civil law. Seems like the normal trajectory is to move into insurance defense, P.I., criminal defense (especially), or hang out your own shingle and do any/all of the above.

My stats are: Top 1/3 of class from a Top 50 school with regional appeal, Law Review leadership, extensive law school work experience, etc. Not very good at interviews, unfortunately, but through practice have still improved a LOT.

If I don't take the ADA job, my other thought would be to hold out for a firm job (or state agency job I suppose, ugh) post-bar either before or after I get my results, continuing to work PT at my current gig in the meantime. Is that a fool's errand? I frankly am taking my medicine now, because once I got my 2L summer job I never really expended any energy doing mass-mailings or targeting firm's for post-graduation employment. On the bright side, I guess, anyone willing to consider my application hasn't already passed over me before. But my indolence is on me, no doubt. But it would be very tight/near impossible, to get by monetarily while waiting, especially with bar prep reducing my earning potential, but I'd do it if it led to what I want.

In short: If I try to hold out until September/October/November for a firm job of the type I want (and willing to relocate throughout state where I graduated) is there any chance I will be rewarded for taking the risk? Or, in the alternative, am I wrong about the ADA gig? Is it possible to do that for 2-3 years an get the undeniably awesome courtroom experience and somehow parlay that into the sort of work I want to do, civil law, contracts, admin law, government law, etc? I just don't want to take the ADA job if I am selling myself into criminal law forever with no escape - it just doesn't really appeal to me. I've been told plenty of people end up with respectable firm jobs AFTER the bar, but you might be able to imagine it's hard to pass up a paying gig now for a chance at a job down the road. I'll feel very stupid if I'm unemployed in December when I could be celebrating my 6 month anniversary.

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