Big Decision: Public or Private

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Anonymous User
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Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:36 pm

I've been here in TLS, on the Vale since 2016, and am writing to ask for much needed advice. Through law school, I studied and was most interested in a career in patent law and corporate law. I was top 25% at a T30 school and have bio undergrad with the patent agent cert.

I've been doing non-legal work since graduation. Most recently, I got a job at a start-up tech company. The work is largely non-legal, but I am allowed to designate my title as in-house counsel and there might be some legal aspects. The job is located in a major city where I want to live on the west coast, but pays just south of $50k, which makes servicing my loans on top of rent a bit of a problem. The start-up could make a lot of money, or just fizzle, and I've been looking for big law jobs while here.

At the same time, I'm in the final stages of discussing a District Attorney job in a rural location in a state that would be interesting to live in for a few years, but where I'm not sure that I would want to spend the rest of my life. The pay is about double that of the startup and, obviously, the work is 100% substantive legal work that would probably make me feel way better about myself than selling products for the tech company.

I feel like this decision will define the rest of my career. Should I take the DA job and work my a$$ off and try to get a DA job or private firm defense job in a more ideal location in a few years? Is the transition from public to private even possible? If I took part time classes while working as a DA to get a masters (in, for example, biomedical engineering), would it be possible to transition back into patent law?

This forum has been awesome support during my job search, so thanks for all the advice.

Civilservant

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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Civilservant » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:50 pm

Wait... a DA's office that pays nearly 100k to start? I am guessing this is CA? That sounds like a fantastic gig. I guess I am biased based on my handle, but a DA's office usually has good exit options, as well as offering trial experience. Rural areas will typically allow DA's to moonlight. Don't throw more money into education, leverage the skills you have to do something similar to what you are doing now on a part time basis.

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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:55 pm

Civilservant wrote:Wait... a DA's office that pays nearly 100k to start? I am guessing this is CA? That sounds like a fantastic gig. I guess I am biased based on my handle, but a DA's office usually has good exit options, as well as offering trial experience. Rural areas will typically allow DA's to moonlight. Don't throw more money into education, leverage the skills you have to do something similar to what you are doing now on a part time basis.


Probably Marin County. Last I heard they pay the highest salaries of any DA's office in the country.

Npret

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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Npret » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've been here in TLS, on the Vale since 2016, and am writing to ask for much needed advice. Through law school, I studied and was most interested in a career in patent law and corporate law. I was top 25% at a T30 school and have bio undergrad with the patent agent cert.

I've been doing non-legal work since graduation. Most recently, I got a job at a start-up tech company. The work is largely non-legal, but I am allowed to designate my title as in-house counsel and there might be some legal aspects. The job is located in a major city where I want to live on the west coast, but pays just south of $50k, which makes servicing my loans on top of rent a bit of a problem. The start-up could make a lot of money, or just fizzle, and I've been looking for big law jobs while here.

At the same time, I'm in the final stages of discussing a District Attorney job in a rural location in a state that would be interesting to live in for a few years, but where I'm not sure that I would want to spend the rest of my life. The pay is about double that of the startup and, obviously, the work is 100% substantive legal work that would probably make me feel way better about myself than selling products for the tech company.

I feel like this decision will define the rest of my career. Should I take the DA job and work my a$$ off and try to get a DA job or private firm defense job in a more ideal location in a few years? Is the transition from public to private even possible? If I took part time classes while working as a DA to get a masters (in, for example, biomedical engineering), would it be possible to transition back into patent law?

This forum has been awesome support during my job search, so thanks for all the advice.

These are totally different choices. Like the diffence is so huge I don't quite understand how to proceed with a decision.

I will tell you that trying to get a masters while working full time as a DA sounds incredibly unrealistic. You are going to have to choose sometime.

I also think you should look into how easy it is to move from one state to another jurisdiction with DA experience. Could you be happy in a smaller and cheaper location?

Is the issue that you want to be practicing law no matter what? If you want to be a DA, take that job.

k5220

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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby k5220 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:59 pm

I'd go with the DA gig - the real legal experience will be really important for any transfer down the road. I think it would be really hard to fake it in interviews coming from the legal-ish start up job.

Anonymous User
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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:05 pm

Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I've been here in TLS, on the Vale since 2016, and am writing to ask for much needed advice. Through law school, I studied and was most interested in a career in patent law and corporate law. I was top 25% at a T30 school and have bio undergrad with the patent agent cert.

I've been doing non-legal work since graduation. Most recently, I got a job at a start-up tech company. The work is largely non-legal, but I am allowed to designate my title as in-house counsel and there might be some legal aspects. The job is located in a major city where I want to live on the west coast, but pays just south of $50k, which makes servicing my loans on top of rent a bit of a problem. The start-up could make a lot of money, or just fizzle, and I've been looking for big law jobs while here.

At the same time, I'm in the final stages of discussing a District Attorney job in a rural location in a state that would be interesting to live in for a few years, but where I'm not sure that I would want to spend the rest of my life. The pay is about double that of the startup and, obviously, the work is 100% substantive legal work that would probably make me feel way better about myself than selling products for the tech company.

I feel like this decision will define the rest of my career. Should I take the DA job and work my a$$ off and try to get a DA job or private firm defense job in a more ideal location in a few years? Is the transition from public to private even possible? If I took part time classes while working as a DA to get a masters (in, for example, biomedical engineering), would it be possible to transition back into patent law?

This forum has been awesome support during my job search, so thanks for all the advice.

These are totally different choices. Like the diffence is so huge I don't quite understand how to proceed with a decision.

I will tell you that trying to get a masters while working full time as a DA sounds incredibly unrealistic. You are going to have to choose sometime.

I also think you should look into how easy it is to move from one state to another jurisdiction with DA experience. Could you be happy in a smaller and cheaper location?

Is the issue that you want to be practicing law no matter what? If you want to be a DA, take that job.


OP here. Yes, one of the issues is that I want to actually use my law degree. Another major one is that I need to make payments on my loans and hate the idea of being buried in debt. I would love to be a DA, and have always been interested in politics. But, I also don't want to dead end myself in a rural location. In terms of moving, my networking contacts have told me that the job facilitates moving around in the state after two years. But, I haven't ran into anyone that knows anything about transferring out of state, and haven't been able to find any info on that possibility. I know that many DA's exit to work for the Federal gov't, but I'm not sure if that means any Federal gov't positions or just those in the state where you were a DA.

Npret

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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Npret » Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I've been here in TLS, on the Vale since 2016, and am writing to ask for much needed advice. Through law school, I studied and was most interested in a career in patent law and corporate law. I was top 25% at a T30 school and have bio undergrad with the patent agent cert.

I've been doing non-legal work since graduation. Most recently, I got a job at a start-up tech company. The work is largely non-legal, but I am allowed to designate my title as in-house counsel and there might be some legal aspects. The job is located in a major city where I want to live on the west coast, but pays just south of $50k, which makes servicing my loans on top of rent a bit of a problem. The start-up could make a lot of money, or just fizzle, and I've been looking for big law jobs while here.

At the same time, I'm in the final stages of discussing a District Attorney job in a rural location in a state that would be interesting to live in for a few years, but where I'm not sure that I would want to spend the rest of my life. The pay is about double that of the startup and, obviously, the work is 100% substantive legal work that would probably make me feel way better about myself than selling products for the tech company.

I feel like this decision will define the rest of my career. Should I take the DA job and work my a$$ off and try to get a DA job or private firm defense job in a more ideal location in a few years? Is the transition from public to private even possible? If I took part time classes while working as a DA to get a masters (in, for example, biomedical engineering), would it be possible to transition back into patent law?

This forum has been awesome support during my job search, so thanks for all the advice.

These are totally different choices. Like the diffence is so huge I don't quite understand how to proceed with a decision.

I will tell you that trying to get a masters while working full time as a DA sounds incredibly unrealistic. You are going to have to choose sometime.

I also think you should look into how easy it is to move from one state to another jurisdiction with DA experience. Could you be happy in a smaller and cheaper location?

Is the issue that you want to be practicing law no matter what? If you want to be a DA, take that job.


OP here. Yes, one of the issues is that I want to actually use my law degree. Another major one is that I need to make payments on my loans and hate the idea of being buried in debt. I would love to be a DA, and have always been interested in politics. But, I also don't want to dead end myself in a rural location. In terms of moving, my networking contacts have told me that the job facilitates moving around in the state after two years. But, I haven't ran into anyone that knows anything about transferring out of state, and haven't been able to find any info on that possibility. I know that many DA's exit to work for the Federal gov't, but I'm not sure if that means any Federal gov't positions or just those in the state where you were a DA.

If you are a DA will you qualify for PSLF and maybe get on that train before it's gone?
I think that DAs can work anywhere for the Feds as it's federal practice.
The DA job is your only option if you intend to practice so go for it.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:28 pm

Former DA who went private practice and now I'm in biglaw. I make way more money, have no free time, and regret my decision.

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abogadesq

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Re: Big Decision: Public or Private

Postby abogadesq » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:46 pm

Working as a prosecutor need not define your career. Heck, most prosecutors end up doing something other than criminal law after a while. I say go to the DA's office, get actual legal experience, and go from there. Also, I work at a non-DOJ agency, and several of my colleagues are former prosecutors, though I wouldn't say substantially more than attorneys of other backgrounds.



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