Questioning my entire life

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Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:44 am

Hey there.

Brief description of my situation. I'm a 3L at a local reputable Tier 4 school in a large metro area with median grades. I came into law school wanting to be a prosecutora and did all my internships during law school to set myself up for it. However, I'm currently doing a clinical at my local DA's office and I am really not enjoying it. I'm not sure I want to be a prosecutor now. I love being in trial but all the other bs that comes with the job such as the office politics, long hours, low wages are very unattractive. I kind of feel stuck in this situation. I have three bench trials to my name so far and won all three of them. I will also be graduating with about $150k in student loan debt.

My question is, what sort of civil firm would be interested in me given my type of experience? I was thinking along the lines of personal injury or insurance defense for a few years after graduation to get some experience then setting up my own firm. Is this a feasible plan? Am I destined for a life of wage slavery and unhappiness?

1styearlateral

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby 1styearlateral » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:54 am

Good trial attorneys are always highly sought out by litigation departments. The best way to get trial experience is public service IMO (DA & PD), which pretty much throws you to the wolves where you hit the ground running. Most people who go through the traditional route (law school -> law firm) don't try their own cases until their hair is gray, partly because the clients want to pay the senior partner to try the cases who has the most experience. You probably won't even start doing your own depositions until your third/fourth year at a law firm.

Get substantive experience and then lateral somewhere else. If you win cases and learn the procedure/evidence rules really well firms won't care as much where you went to school because you'll be a well-oiled machine. Some of the best attorneys I know (great law firms, very wealthy) started at the DA's office.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:59 am

1styearlateral wrote:Good trial attorneys are always highly sought out by litigation departments. The best way to get trial experience is public service IMO (DA & PD), which pretty much throws you to the wolves where you hit the ground running. Most people who go through the traditional route (law school -> law firm) don't try their own cases until their hair is gray, partly because the clients want to pay the senior partner to try the cases who has the most experience. You probably won't even start doing your own depositions until your third/fourth year at a law firm.

Get substantive experience and then lateral somewhere else. If you win cases and learn the procedure/evidence rules really well firms won't care as much where you went to school because you'll be a well-oiled machine. Some of the best attorneys I know (great law firms, very wealthy) started at the DA's office.


OP here.

Do you think my bench trial experience up to this point is enough for a civil firm to want to put me in a litigation department? I should have about six bench trials in total when this experience is over by Thanksgiving

1styearlateral

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby 1styearlateral » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:15 am

I'm not a hiring partner so I have no idea. I suppose it depends on your market and what kind of litigation (commercial, real estate, IP, etc.). More is always better. You're not even barred yet so I guess you could try to sell your pre-graduate trial experience to a firm hiring 3Ls or 2017 grads but you might need to stick it out a year or two before going to private practice. As always, network the hell out of your market and make sure partners at every firm know who you are, your experience, and that you're interested in "expanding your practice areas" or moving to private practice so that when they need someone, you're on the list of people to call.

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BasilHallward

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby BasilHallward » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:29 am

A bit overdramatic with the subject line, eh?

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby andythefir » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:Hey there.

Brief description of my situation. I'm a 3L at a local reputable Tier 4 school in a large metro area with median grades. I came into law school wanting to be a prosecutora and did all my internships during law school to set myself up for it. However, I'm currently doing a clinical at my local DA's office and I am really not enjoying it. I'm not sure I want to be a prosecutor now. I love being in trial but all the other bs that comes with the job such as the office politics, long hours, low wages are very unattractive. I kind of feel stuck in this situation. I have three bench trials to my name so far and won all three of them. I will also be graduating with about $150k in student loan debt.

My question is, what sort of civil firm would be interested in me given my type of experience? I was thinking along the lines of personal injury or insurance defense for a few years after graduation to get some experience then setting up my own firm. Is this a feasible plan? Am I destined for a life of wage slavery and unhappiness?


Go to another jurisdiction with better pay and lifestyle for DAs. Lots and lots of rural jurisdictions will take just about anyone who applies.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:53 am

Office politics can be a pain wherever you work, though its possibility working for the gov adds another unpleasant layer. Also, insurance defense quite possibly will come with more hours for not very much more money (if any). Insurance companies often pay ~200 buck an hour which translate into a 75K salary for new associates

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:56 am

Office politics can be a pain wherever you work, though its possibility working for the gov adds another unpleasant layer. Also, insurance defense quite possibly will come with more hours for not very much more money (if any). Insurance companies often pay ~200 buck an hour which translate into a 75K salary for new associates.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2016 1:21 pm

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:Office politics can be a pain wherever you work, though its possibility working for the gov adds another unpleasant layer. Also, insurance defense quite possibly will come with more hours for not very much more money (if any). Insurance companies often pay ~200 buck an hour which translate into a 75K salary for new associates.


Thanks for the response. Unfortunately as a previous poster had suggested, moving to a rural area is not an option as my wife has a 3 year commitment to a job she is working with the school board in an administrative capacity. She makes a pretty good income so I don't mind a lower salary to start my career so $75k a yr doesn't sound that bad actually. And I feel like any legal job is going to come with long hours and it will take effort to have a work life balance. Do you believe bench trial experience prior to graduation will serve me well in finding a suitable firm?

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:55 pm

BasilHallward wrote:A bit overdramatic with the subject line, eh?


Well I did spend quite a few years getting myself ready to work a job that I no longer want so idk. Just rethinking my entire life's plan is all. I'm thinking I'm definitely going to start my own firm. Create jobs and give back to the needy when the revenue starts flowing in. There's more ways to make a difference in this world aside from a broken justice system

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby grixxlybear99 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:13 pm

Monetarily; you're going to enroll in PAYE or REPAYE and stay in govt for 10 years to qualify for PSLF. After 10 years you can try for a regional law firm or special AUSA in some no name district. You're going to have a wife and kids and likely grow old and die

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Mr. Archer

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Mr. Archer » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:45 pm

Any litigation experience, especially trial experience, should be helpful in finding a job. I would imagine a criminal defense firm would like the criminal law experience, even though you have done prosecution. Maybe you could look into working for the government in some other capacity the a DAs office? Also, since you still have another semester of law school, you could try interning with a small firm to get some civil law experience. You would most likely be looking to work at a small firm anyway. With your debt load, I don't know why you would be thinking about starting your own firm, unless you were talking about something far down the road.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 24, 2016 7:36 am

Mr. Archer wrote:Any litigation experience, especially trial experience, should be helpful in finding a job. I would imagine a criminal defense firm would like the criminal law experience, even though you have done prosecution. Maybe you could look into working for the government in some other capacity the a DAs office? Also, since you still have another semester of law school, you could try interning with a small firm to get some civil law experience. You would most likely be looking to work at a small firm anyway. With your debt load, I don't know why you would be thinking about starting your own firm, unless you were talking about something far down the road.


Well that's what I was thinking. At least 5-7 years after practicing else where would I wait to start my own thing. I know my debt load is pretty high but between my and my wife's income, I think we'd be able to handle it. She had essentially 0 debt

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby andythefir » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mr. Archer wrote:Well that's what I was thinking. At least 5-7 years after practicing else where would I wait to start my own thing. I know my debt load is pretty high but between my and my wife's income, I think we'd be able to handle it. She had essentially 0 debt


You're objectively insane to leave the public sector after 7 years. Tough it out 3 more years and get a 6 figure lottery ticket.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:reputable Tier 4 school


I'll take "Does Not Exist" for $600, Alex.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2016 11:35 am

andythefir wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Mr. Archer wrote:Well that's what I was thinking. At least 5-7 years after practicing else where would I wait to start my own thing. I know my debt load is pretty high but between my and my wife's income, I think we'd be able to handle it. She had essentially 0 debt


You're objectively insane to leave the public sector after 7 years. Tough it out 3 more years and get a 6 figure lottery ticket.


Can you elaborate?

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby whysoseriousbiglaw » Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
andythefir wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Mr. Archer wrote:Well that's what I was thinking. At least 5-7 years after practicing else where would I wait to start my own thing. I know my debt load is pretty high but between my and my wife's income, I think we'd be able to handle it. She had essentially 0 debt


You're objectively insane to leave the public sector after 7 years. Tough it out 3 more years and get a 6 figure lottery ticket.


Can you elaborate?

PLSF...you get your debt forgiven without the tax bomb....

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby andythefir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:16 pm

No offense to OP personally, but this post reflects 2 of the biggest mistakes I see when law students try to figure out their careers. (1) They aren't aware of life-changing benefits available to them. Here, PSLF may be a $300k swing when you account for interest. Without PSLF/LRAPs law schools are almost never good financial decisions. (2) They are rigid re geography. It's true that some people do get terrible outcomes from law schools, but it is almost always due to one of those mistakes.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby jbagelboy » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:31 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:reputable Tier 4 school


I'll take "Does Not Exist" for $600, Alex.


yea what exactly is this, and why did you borrow $150,000 to get a degree from it

not trying to strike you when you're down, OP, just thinking that there might be some more pressing issues and more questionable decisions than "would I still enjoy being a prosecutor?" Basically, at this point you should be taking and pursuing any legal job you could get.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby zot1 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:19 pm

OP,

I too did a lot of work for the DAs office and then found out fall of 3L that I could never ever see myself being a DA.

I started marketing myself for labor government/firms and trying to use my trial experience to my advantage. Worked out for me, but of course there were other things at play such as my grades, other experience, school.

I guess my point is that this might be something you can explore, but beware that I had other things going for me.

Good luck! It truly sucks to want to change this late but better now than being stuck with a career you hate.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby BarbellDreams » Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:33 pm

Former ADA, now associate at a firm in a large market. A few thoughts:

1. 3 bench trials isn't anything anyone will really care about. You need JURY trials, and you need double digits. With that said, no hiring partner will check on this. If you're a good liar, just "load up" on "trial experience".

2. Most ADAs and PDs lateral to insurance defense and workers comp firms. Those jobs are very fast paced, think on your feet type. They become sort of mind numbing a little bit in, but they aren't "hard" per se.

3. If you've been in public interest for 5+ years, you need to stick it out for PSLF, period. I was only a prosecutor for 2 years before flipping for 100% salary bump so I did the math and PSLF wasn't worth it for me. Its great when it happens, but I didn't wanna live like a college student for another 8 years to get there. I now won't get forgiveness, but my lifestyle is much better and I can afford to take real vacations.

4. When it comes to lifestyle on hours, office GREATLY vary. I worked 9-5 Mon-Fri unless I was prepping for trial. I know ADAs who work 80 hour workweeks consistently. I don't get that. Why would I kill myself for ~45k?

5. When it comes to politics, you're screwed, basically. It was what shocked me most when I started. I thought you come in, look at discovery, make plea deals and if they dont want it you go to trial. I cannot begin to tell you of how many political things get in the way during that process that make you do things you don't wanna do. This is ESPECIALLY true from the ADA side. A PD can just say "Sorry judge, thats what my cleint wants" to just about anything. As an ADA, you have to worry about the media, the public, the judges, your boss, the cops, and somewhere way way way below all of the aforemetioned...you conscience. Examples of this would take a book to write. Lets just say I've pled out cases for pathetic deals that I really wanted to take to trial and I was forced to try things that I would have absolutely dismissed all because of public perception, judges, media, etc...
Last edited by BarbellDreams on Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby andythefir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:03 pm

BarbellDreams wrote:5. When it comes to politics, you're screwed, basically. It was what shocked me most when I started. I thought you come in, look at discovery, make plea deals and if they dont want it you go to trial. I cannot begin to tell you of how many political things get in the way during that process that make you do things you don't wanna do. This is ESPECIALLY true from the ADA side. A PD can just say "Sorry judge, thats what my cleint wants" to just about anything. As an ADA, you have to worry about the media, the public, the judges, your boss, the cops, and somewhere way way way below all of the aforemetioned...you conscience. Examples of this would take a book to write. Lets just say I've pled out cases for pathetic deals that I really wanted to take to trial and I was forced to try things that I would have absolutely dismissed all because of public perception, judges, media, etc...


This is all superstar advice, but I'd like to emphasize this. I personally came thisclose to being laid off because a grant got moved at the same moment the state's revenue was way down. Being dependent on the business world can suck, but so can being dependent on political will.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Jchance » Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I love being in trial but all the other bs that comes with the job such as the office politics, long hours, low wages are very unattractive. . . . Am I destined for a life of wage slavery and unhappiness?


Except for the low wages, office politics and long hours are everywhere. If you go the firm route, you'd likely be giving up doing trials.

The grass is always greener.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:47 pm

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:Office politics can be a pain wherever you work, though its possibility working for the gov adds another unpleasant layer. Also, insurance defense quite possibly will come with more hours for not very much more money (if any). Insurance companies often pay ~200 buck an hour which translate into a 75K salary for new associates.


Depends on the market, but from my experience they pay first year associates quite a bit less than that even. Your salary ceiling is also pretty low with minimal raises and modest (if any) bonuses. Most of the work is pretty monotonous and robotic -> file a general answer denying liability using a form -> issue discovery. You will not be trying all that many cases as you would as an ADA, either.

No offense man, but if you are complaining about hours at a DA's office, I do not think you would like private practice at all. The hours are generally much worse. You don't have minimum billable hours in gov't practice. And 150k in debt is not serviceable outside of PSLF (gov't gig), big law, or hitting the lottery. With that kind of debt, I do not know how you would open up your own shop a few years down the line. You would not have the resources to do so, IMO. Not trying to be bleak and overly negative, just being honest as someone that has been through the process.

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Re: Questioning my entire life

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:55 am

BarbellDreams wrote:Former ADA, now associate at a firm in a large market. A few thoughts:

1. 3 bench trials isn't anything anyone will really care about. You need JURY trials, and you need double digits. With that said, no hiring partner will check on this. If you're a good liar, just "load up" on "trial experience".

2. Most ADAs and PDs lateral to insurance defense and workers comp firms. Those jobs are very fast paced, think on your feet type. They become sort of mind numbing a little bit in, but they aren't "hard" per se.

3. If you've been in public interest for 5+ years, you need to stick it out for PSLF, period. I was only a prosecutor for 2 years before flipping for 100% salary bump so I did the math and PSLF wasn't worth it for me. Its great when it happens, but I didn't wanna live like a college student for another 8 years to get there. I now won't get forgiveness, but my lifestyle is much better and I can afford to take real vacations.

4. When it comes to lifestyle on hours, office GREATLY vary. I worked 9-5 Mon-Fri unless I was prepping for trial. I know ADAs who work 80 hour workweeks consistently. I don't get that. Why would I kill myself for ~45k?

5. When it comes to politics, you're screwed, basically. It was what shocked me most when I started. I thought you come in, look at discovery, make plea deals and if they dont want it you go to trial. I cannot begin to tell you of how many political things get in the way during that process that make you do things you don't wanna do. This is ESPECIALLY true from the ADA side. A PD can just say "Sorry judge, thats what my cleint wants" to just about anything. As an ADA, you have to worry about the media, the public, the judges, your boss, the cops, and somewhere way way way below all of the aforemetioned...you conscience. Examples of this would take a book to write. Lets just say I've pled out cases for pathetic deals that I really wanted to take to trial and I was forced to try things that I would have absolutely dismissed all because of public perception, judges, media, etc...


OP here.

Thank you for this. Very informative post.



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