Career Plan Advice Appreciated

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
sixofnine
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:08 pm

Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby sixofnine » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:25 pm

Hey everyone! This is my first post to this forum, but I have been a long time lurker. After deciding that the PhD route would lead to a miserable life that consisted of sitting in a dark room and writing articles no one would ever read, I am considering going to law school. I took the LSAT for the first time recently and scored a 165. I plan on retaking, but I refuse to take on anymore debt. The current job market too bad to justify high loan payments. I live in Birmingham Alabama and if I fail to get a full ride, then I will attend Birmingham School of Law and work my way through the program. Ok, there is the back story. Here is my question. Is the following a feasible job plan assuming I do not get a full ride somewhere.

Step 1. Survive law school and pass bar
Step 2. Find job at small local firm
Step 3. If unable to find job at local firm pursue starting a my own practice (I currently am self employed and would be able to support myself while the practice grew)
Step 4. Volunteer with local legal aid programs to do pro bono work and gain experience
Step 5. Network Network Network

Suggestions? Is this a sound plan? Am I outa my mind? Thanks everyone

timbs4339
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Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:19 pm

Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby timbs4339 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:00 pm

You should try to go to Alabama. It's the premier school in the state and you will probably have much better networking opportunities and opportunities to work at small firms. You might also land a job at a biglaw or midlaw firm in Alabama, whereas you probably won't from Birmingham or any of the other Alabama schools. The tuition is pretty low and even small debt would be worth it over a full ride from an unaccredited school like BSOL. If you can't get in now with the scholarship package you want, retake, keep working and saving $, and apply next year.

If you miss the biglaw/midlaw train, focus on getting internships at small and midsize firms during the school year and summer after your 1L year. This may lead to a job after graduation, and will allow you to see how solos and small firm practitioners get and keep clients. The ABA limits student working hours to 20/hrs a week, but I don't think volunteer or unpaid hours count, so feel free to work one paid job and volunteer someplace else. You should try to volunteer at direct services organizations that work one-on-one with clients. You'd be surprised at how many clients complain about not having good access to legal services and you might get ideas on where their is unmet demand for legal services.

Of course, it will be important that you go to a school with a generous curve so you can focus on working/networking during your last two years of law school instead of trying to pass classes. You should try to get as many of your required school hours through clinics, externships, or practice-oriented classes like Trial Practice. Also, pick classes with adjuncts who practice in "small law," and seek career advice from them. Tenured profs who never practiced will not have the foggiest idea what a solo practitioner needs to do to have a successful practice.

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IAFG
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Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby IAFG » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:05 pm

I don't agree that refusing to go into debt is a better financial plan than going into debt for a school with good employment prospects.

The current job market too bad to justify high loan payments.


The job market is too bad to go to a school with grim prospects, unless you just want to burn through 3 years and be not much better off from where you are now.

Are you still in undergrad? Have you ever had a full-time job while not being a student? Why do you want to be a lawyer?

sixofnine
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Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:08 pm

Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby sixofnine » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:36 pm

IAFG wrote:I don't agree that refusing to go into debt is a better financial plan than going into debt for a school with good employment prospects.

The current job market too bad to justify high loan payments.


The job market is too bad to go to a school with grim prospects, unless you just want to burn through 3 years and be not much better off from where you are now.

Are you still in undergrad? Have you ever had a full-time job while not being a student? Why do you want to be a lawyer?



No, I am not still in undergrad. I graduated with my MA in International Relations 'Bama a couple of years ago. The 60k debt from undergrad and my grad school excursion is what is requiring that I obtain my degree in the most economical fashion I can. After I graduated I was unable to find employment, and had to start my own company. I run a web marketing company and am currently interviewing to bring on my 3rd full time employee. I have no delusional ideas about the life of an attorney, and I know how difficult it is to start a business. Most of the older members of my family are currently lawyers in private practice, I worked in a law firm for six years during undergrad and grad school and roughly 40% of my company's monthly revenue comes from law firms using my service. So I do have some decent networks I can draw upon, and I plan on using them once I graduate. However, my previous experience of being a fresh grad with few prospects for employment means that I want to have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C in place before I start down a new path.
BSOL actually is pretty well respected locally, and that's fine with me. I don't want a big law job or to leave the state. Ideally, I would like to be in a small to medium sized town working with people who can not afford expensive legal help. My debt as it stands is manageable, but anymore and I would be forced to abandon that career path in favor of better paying work. If things go to plan, then I will bump up my LSAT score so I can get a free ride from Bama. It is entirely doable as I completely choked on the logic games section and missed over half of them due to time running out, and still scored pretty well. However, if I can not get a full ride, then I want as many perspectives on this plan as possible. It will help me modify it so that my chances of success are as high as possible.

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IAFG
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Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby IAFG » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:49 pm

Sounds like you've thought it through. You're on a fairly non-traditional path as far as TLS goes though, so you might not find guidance or validation here.

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MarkRenton
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Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby MarkRenton » Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:08 pm

- You can't go to BSOL - it'll be nearly impossible to get any job at all from that place. Even if you open up your own solo practice, someone still needs to walk into your office and then, hand you money to do legal work. If there's one thing that I've learned in law school is the absolute importance of your school. I would NOT recommend in most situations for anyone to go to a school ranked lower than the 40's or T1 because employment becomes dire. Even if it comes at no financial cost to you, you still wasted three years of year life while burning your savings on cost of living.

- Your best options are to attend Bama with in-state tuition and hopefully a partial scholarship or to attend a part-time program in some other state. This will at least allow you to work your way through school.

- This is the best way I've ever been able to describe choosing law schools: law school can either be an investment or a gamble. Either way, there's almost always a sunk cost (your money and time), a desired benefit (a job in a certain sector and payscale), and a probability (where you need to end up in the class). Law school is an investment when the cost is relatively low for a probable benefit. It's a huge gamble when the cost is high for an improbable benefit.

Thus, go to Bama and take on some loans if they're not too expensive and you have good reason to think you'll do well (above median LSAT score, added maturity, few distractions, prior high level work, etc), balanced by Bama's job prospects. Don't be afraid to take out some loans if it is a good investment. BUt whatever you do, don't gamble. BSOL is a gamble because there is a cost from almost zero chance of any tangible benefit. With a full ride, I wouldn't go to a school ranked lower than probably Tulane. Paying sticker, I'd probably only go to a T10 or better - or in-state somewhere. But that's just me.

berkeleykel06
Posts: 292
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:39 am

Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby berkeleykel06 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:45 pm

MarkRenton wrote:- You can't go to BSOL - it'll be nearly impossible to get any job at all from that place. Even if you open up your own solo practice, someone still needs to walk into your office and then, hand you money to do legal work. If there's one thing that I've learned in law school is the absolute importance of your school. I would NOT recommend in most situations for anyone to go to a school ranked lower than the 40's or T1 because employment becomes dire. Even if it comes at no financial cost to you, you still wasted three years of year life while burning your savings on cost of living.

Although normally I'd agree with this, I think it is less accurate in this case because of this:
sixofnine wrote:
Most of the older members of my family are currently lawyers in private practice, I worked in a law firm for six years during undergrad and grad school and roughly 40% of my company's monthly revenue comes from law firms using my service. So I do have some decent networks I can draw upon, and I plan on using them once I graduate.

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174
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Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby 174 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:48 pm

sixofnine wrote:I run a web marketing company and am currently interviewing to bring on my 3rd full time employee.

Your current business sounds 1000 times more promising than anything you are going to get out of a local TTT.

thoughts of MRC
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Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:09 pm

Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby thoughts of MRC » Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:00 am

Considering your current situation and goals I think BSOL would be perfect for you. The job market for lawyers is scarce and competitive, but from my experience who you know is more important than what school you went to. And, it sounds like you already have some good contacts for the future. I know many successful lawyers and judges that went to BSOL. It is a fine school. Just remember, as long as you pass the bar, you're a lawyer just like the rest.
I wouldn't recommend BSOL for everyone, but you have already experienced life after college. It sounds like you have a good idea of what you're looking for. And, you have proven to yourself that you can start a business; which is a great experience for you to have if you ever decide to start your own practice. Not all lawyers can do that.
Since you do work it would be easier for you to balance both school and work. Whereas, going somewhere else may cause you to have to give that up. BSOL is designed for working people, and it's the main reason it is not an accredited law school. If worse comes to worst and law school doesn't workout you will still have your business as a backup. Plus, you would not have the extra student loans to remind you.
Going to a school like Alabama does have its advantages. However, being a great lawyer is decided by what you accomplish after law school.

c3pO4
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:34 pm

Re: Career Plan Advice Appreciated

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:54 pm

you have solid WE. founded your own business, and it's in web marketing. you could get an IP lit job easily if you want to move to the bay area. idk about the legal market in bama matching your background. honestly, just stay in business -- lateral to director of marketing at F500 after a while and work your way up to VP. profit. no need to go to law school.




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