Choosing non-legal job for $$$ = huge mistake?

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Choosing non-legal job for $$$ = huge mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:22 pm

Hi all, hoping to get some advice on a career decision.

After graduating and passing the bar (2015 or 2016 graduate) from a law school ranked around 30, I have had some difficulty finding a job. By way of background, I had a life sciences major and have passed the patent bar. I originally intended to get into biotech IP law, but also have interests / experience in environmental, corporate and litigation (and biotech IP, from what I have seen, almost always requires an advanced degree and/or years of experience). I studied under a professor 1L and worked at a V30 law firm 2L summer in an arrangement where I knew that I would not get an offer, and I graduated top 25% of my class.

Anyway, as many law students, I have a heap of debt that I need to be paying back or become drowned in. I have been offered a field research position (related to my undergraduate major) which would place me working remotely for terms of about three months. My initial commitment is for training and one of the three month terms (think islands and other remote locations which often put me out of the reach of cell and email). The travel part is nice and the money is good enough for me to start taking chunks out of my loans, and probably better than I could get at anything legal except biglaw. The problem is that there is no real path for advancement, and I would really like to settle down at a job where I could start a family and have a clear career progression. I'm also really interested in IP, but this hasn't yet sold me to firms looking for experience and PhDs.

The question is - by taking this position while I take another bar and continue to apply for jobs (in the interims of my field work), am I going to be screwing myself over by taking a non-legal job and losing opportunities to network (I am currently living near a major west coast city)? My thought is that, the legal market being as dismal as it is, I am better off working non-legal then going back to school for a masters (in, say, biomedical engineering) which will increase my marketability for patent law, or using spare time to study for the GMAT (hoping to kill it and get into a T10 bschool). In the meantime, I'll be able to pay back some debt and combat the accruing interest, which is starting to scare me. Is this a crazy choice? Should I just tough it out, beg for financial support, and keep churning apps to law firms? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Lemming

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Re: Choosing non-legal job for $$$ = huge mistake?

Postby Lemming » Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:54 pm

using spare time to study for the GMAT (hoping to kill it and get into a T10 bschool)


What work experience do you have that you think this is even a possibility?

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Re: Choosing non-legal job for $$$ = huge mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:09 pm

Lemming wrote:
using spare time to study for the GMAT (hoping to kill it and get into a T10 bschool)


What work experience do you have that you think this is even a possibility?


I have low level managerial experience at bio companies and firms doing gov't contract work, about 4 years which I know is low. I also have corporate law experience. HBS and GSB have both been known to accept candidates with low business experience. But yea, its a long shot. I would just try to get a good GMAT under my belt and apply Round 1 and see what happens. I would treat it more like entering the lottery while sitting on a job that I know would pay me well.

favabeansoup

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Re: Choosing non-legal job for $$$ = huge mistake?

Postby favabeansoup » Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:49 pm

Some things jump out at me from your post. You do seem to express interest in IP work, but otherwise you are pretty across the board with your legal interests, i.e. corporate and litigation and environmental (all very different). If you want to practice law and you do not have a job, you don't really get a choice about what kind of law you want to practice. You practice whatever you can get the job in.

Leads me to next point, do you really want to practice law then? In the span of 1 post you have expressed interest in 4 very different fields of law, 1 life science related field research position, going back to school for a masters degree, AND possibly going to a business school. I don't say this to be mean or anything, but what is your plan here bud? Are you just looking for a career that can give you a decent family life? You need to focus your life goals here.

If you really want to be a "lawyer" you need to freaking commit yourself. Take what legal jobs you can get, don't just cherry pick your interests and be surprised when you can't find the work you want to. Legal market will never not be dismal, and recent graduates who don't get biglaw aren't really in the position to be all that picky. I'm not an expert on IP law either, but I do know that work experience in the relevant field > masters degree for much of it, so you might not increase your marketability that much going that route.

If you want to go back to a science related profession, why not take the field work for awhile then just apply to a different job in the same/similar field with better progression opportunities? It's not like you'd have to be stuck doing the same field work for 20 years right? If you want to go to business school and leave all the science/law behind, do that. You just need to pick one. Ideally you should have picked one BEFORE racking up the law school debt, but too late for that now. Again, not trying to be mean, just saying I think you are going off in a million different directions and that is not helpful.

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Re: Choosing non-legal job for $$$ = huge mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:40 pm

favabeansoup wrote: If you want to go back to a science related profession, why not take the field work for awhile then just apply to a different job in the same/similar field with better progression opportunities? It's not like you'd have to be stuck doing the same field work for 20 years right? If you want to go to business school and leave all the science/law behind, do that. You just need to pick one. Ideally you should have picked one BEFORE racking up the law school debt, but too late for that now. Again, not trying to be mean, just saying I think you are going off in a million different directions and that is not helpful.


Thanks for the candid analysis - it makes a lot of sense. To put my seemingly varied interests into context, I think I do have one goal, which is to work at the high operational level in a biotech or pharma corporation. I realized when working in science after undergrad that scientific research was not for me for various reasons (soft money, pursuit of often collateral and meaningless issues, etc.), even though I do enjoy certain aspects of it. Since then I've had the goal to work in a pharmaceutical corporation, and thought that with my bio background my best route could be through law school --> law firm --> in house counsel --> COO/CEO or other high-level position, hence my decision to attend law school. Whether it was environmental law, litigation, corporate law or IP, I always saw a law firm as a means to this end and so the practice doesn't matter but, given my science background and what I (perhaps wrongly) perceived as a demand for IP lawyers coming into law school, I focused very intently on patent law.

I'm totally on board with your point that beggars can't be choosers, and at this point I would really take any legal job that I can get and try to work from there. Since I had these glamorous ideas of doing the SA --> law firm route which did not come into fruition, I'm really at a loss in figuring out whether I can really actually get into big law and do what I eventually want to, or if I will just end up being miserable scraping by with occasional doc review contracts for the rest of my life. Hence why I am thinking about the business school route as part of a 4+ year plan. With my debt and lack of high-level business experience, however, I would feel crazy just going back to school right now, so I'm on the verge of accepting this job that I don't really want but where I can at least have some financial security while I figure out what to do.

With regard to the family aspect, settling down is very important, but being able to work upwards within an established, large company (whether law firm or corporation) is my highest priority right now. I think I would really flourish as a hierarchical law firm or corporation where I could crank out hours and be rewarded with promotions, which to me pales in comparison to the end goal of research - just being a tenured scientist somewhere. Like I said, that may be the path for some people, but I've realized it doesn't fit me well. But again, I'm in desperate need for money, which is why I really am tempted to accept the research position ...



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