Career Advice for a Foreign J.D.-Holder

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Krishna

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Career Advice for a Foreign J.D.-Holder

Postby Krishna » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:00 pm

Hello,

I am from Europe and graduated from a T14 school. Please note that my degree is not an LLM, but a legitimate J.D. (although I spent two years in this U.S. law school because the other two years in the program had to be completed in my home country). My law school grades were about average. I am now admitted to the New York bar (I was sworn-in last June).

Because I didn't know whether I wanted to work in the U.S. or in Europe, and because I was very intimidated by the prospect of having to compete in an environment where my native language would always represent some form of disadvantage, I didn't participate in any OCIs or other interviews while I was in law school, which I now sorely regret.

I am now considering starting a career overseas and, as I don't really know where to start, I am interested in hearing any piece of advice you might have.

In my home country, I have gained some valuable work experience as an intern with two U.S. big law firms and in different areas (corporate & securities/litigation). However, I am aware that getting a job in that kind of firms would be difficult for me since I missed the whole OCI process and have very little work experience in the U.S.

I recall that as a law student I really enjoyed studying litigation-related subjects like criminal procedure, constitutional law, trial advocacy or evidence. Do you think that I might be able to find work as a public defender with the NY court system (I'm not considering any position on the prosecution's side as I am not a U.S. citizen)? Or could I also work in immigration, given my knowledge of Spanish and other Romance languages? Any other career prospects (preferably within the State of New York)?

I have also considered getting in touch with my law school but I found them quite unhelpful.

I thank you in advance for your willingness to help. I know I might sound skeptical about my own abilities and this is probably one of my greatest weaknesses, but I know I am also very hardworking and loyal.

Cheers,
K.

favabeansoup

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Re: Career Advice for a Foreign J.D.-Holder

Postby favabeansoup » Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:12 pm

Krishna wrote:I am now admitted to the New York bar (I was sworn-in last June).


Did you graduate in 2016 or does last June imply 2015? If the latter what have you been doing for the past year re: legal work?

Confused whether you want to work in NY, overseas, or anywhere you can get a job? You seem a little all over the place why I'm asking.

I don't know that much about overseas biglaw, but US jds generally fit into niche areas of cap markets and the like. Might be hard to get into given you didn't do any OCI stuff, but native language skills might give you a boost over others. Depends on the market.

Public defender positions are competitive, they aren't just something you can jump into easily, especially somewhere like NYC. Others on here have more experience though and can tell you more about it.

Immigration work seems like your best bet at the moment. Language skills help a lot, and I'm sure there are a decent number of firms in NYC handling that work.

Also, why the hell are you not talking to your law school? If you don't have a job, you should 100% be using their resources. They may not be super helpful, but they can do some things now and again. Don't waste any resources that you could use.

truevines

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Re: Career Advice for a Foreign J.D.-Holder

Postby truevines » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 pm

You need to overcome two hurdles: 1) finding a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your work visa; 2) getting a work visa.

1) Finding a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your work visa.
You need an offer from a law firm in the U.S that is willing to sponsor your work visa. In general, work visas are not an issue to BigLaws, if you are hired through the OCI-SA-then-full time channel. It would be, if you seek a lateral hire - work visa would be part of the firm's considerations. In addition, the firm must apply for your work visa in April but you will not be able to start working until October. In other words, the firm must be willing to wait at least 6 months before you start working for it. If you are hired in May, you will not be able to start working until October next year (not October in the same year - because all of the available H1B visas will be gone in May). Firms that hire laterals usually are not willing to wait; they do lateral hiring because they need manpower immediately or soon.

2) Getting a work visa.
I assume that you are not eligible for an OPT and assume that you need a H1B work visa. You need to be lucky enough to win the H1B lottery. The number of H1B visas permitted each year is capped. More applications than the cap are filed each year. The USCIS uses a lottery system to determine which applications they will consider. The winning rate is about 1/3. If you do not win the lottery, the USCIS will not consider your application; namely, you will not have an H1B visa that year.

Good luck.

Krishna

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Re: Career Advice for a Foreign J.D.-Holder

Postby Krishna » Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:01 am

Thanks to the both of you for your replies! I appreciate it.

favabeansoup wrote:
Krishna wrote:I am now admitted to the New York bar (I was sworn-in last June).


Did you graduate in 2016 or does last June imply 2015? If the latter what have you been doing for the past year re: legal work?

Confused whether you want to work in NY, overseas, or anywhere you can get a job? You seem a little all over the place why I'm asking.

I don't know that much about overseas biglaw, but US jds generally fit into niche areas of cap markets and the like. Might be hard to get into given you didn't do any OCI stuff, but native language skills might give you a boost over others. Depends on the market.

Public defender positions are competitive, they aren't just something you can jump into easily, especially somewhere like NYC. Others on here have more experience though and can tell you more about it.

Immigration work seems like your best bet at the moment. Language skills help a lot, and I'm sure there are a decent number of firms in NYC handling that work.

Also, why the hell are you not talking to your law school? If you don't have a job, you should 100% be using their resources. They may not be super helpful, but they can do some things now and again. Don't waste any resources that you could use.


I'm sorry that I wasn't clear enough on some aspects of my curriculum in my OP.

Yes, I did graduate in May 2015, and took the July 2015 NY bar exam. For one year, I have been a legal intern/law clerk with three firms in my home country, two of which were the local offices of well-known New York firms. All in all, I have about one year and a half of legal work experience.

I am currently looking for jobs both in Europe and the U.S.. However, as far as Europe is concerned, many firms seem reluctant to hire someone admitted to practice in the U.S. but not locally (I am in the process of obtaining a local licence, but I have to take an exam next year and the process can be long). But to make things clear: in this post, I am only asking for U.S.-related career advice, as I know you are less likely to know how the European legal market operates (I probably created this confusion by using the word "overseas"; I meant "overseas" from my point of view, i.e. the U.S.).

I have already emailed my application to some U.S. practices matching the areas where I have gained experience so far (i.e, mostly international litigation).

You're probably right that I should contact my law school. It's just that my experience with them has been consistently bad and they do not seem to care at all (which is fine, it's just my own life after all).

Thanks for your advice anyway, I will look further into immigration.

Krishna

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Posts: 3
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Re: Career Advice for a Foreign J.D.-Holder

Postby Krishna » Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:07 am

truevines wrote:You need to overcome two hurdles: 1) finding a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your work visa; 2) getting a work visa.

1) Finding a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your work visa.
You need an offer from a law firm in the U.S that is willing to sponsor your work visa. In general, work visas are not an issue to BigLaws, if you are hired through the OCI-SA-then-full time channel. It would be, if you seek a lateral hire - work visa would be part of the firm's considerations. In addition, the firm must apply for your work visa in April but you will not be able to start working until October. In other words, the firm must be willing to wait at least 6 months before you start working for it. If you are hired in May, you will not be able to start working until October next year (not October in the same year - because all of the available H1B visas will be gone in May). Firms that hire laterals usually are not willing to wait; they do lateral hiring because they need manpower immediately or soon.

2) Getting a work visa.
I assume that you are not eligible for an OPT and assume that you need a H1B work visa. You need to be lucky enough to win the H1B lottery. The number of H1B visas permitted each year is capped. More applications than the cap are filed each year. The USCIS uses a lottery system to determine which applications they will consider. The winning rate is about 1/3. If you do not win the lottery, the USCIS will not consider your application; namely, you will not have an H1B visa that year.

Good luck.


Thank you, this is very helpful. I guess this means my going back to work in the U.S. is a long shot, but it's still good to know!



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