Moving up in law

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
LaBarrister
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:20 pm

Moving up in law

Postby LaBarrister » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:28 pm

So I was talking to an attorney at the Sierra Club who makes about 40k per year (salary) in my state suing local oil companies. He told me that he and most of the other lawyers that he works with could easily make 4x their salary if they simply up and moved to defend the very oil companies that they sue.

How come I never hear about law graduates working for NGOs to gain experience and then moving up to a big firm or corporation to make more money?

User avatar
nickb285
Posts: 1500
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:25 pm

Re: Moving up in law

Postby nickb285 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:31 pm

I would guess that the sorts of people who want to work for the Sierra Club or the NRDC are the kinds of people who value their idealism more than their salary. You might as well ask why teachers don't just get MBAs and become businesspeople.

LaBarrister
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:20 pm

Re: Moving up in law

Postby LaBarrister » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:33 pm

nickb285 wrote:I would guess that the sorts of people who want to work for the Sierra Club or the NRDC are the kinds of people who value their idealism more than their salary. You might as well ask why teachers don't just get MBAs and become businesspeople.


He did know a few people who "went to the dark side." He said it was just all about the money and the comfortable lifestyle. So it does happen. I just don't know why it isn't spread around that working for an NGO is an option if you have no other place to practice law, and that it can get you that experience that will open doors for you in other firms and corporations that wouldn't accept you prior to that experience.

Swimp
Posts: 493
Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 9:32 am

Re: Moving up in law

Postby Swimp » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:40 pm

It's my understanding that the NGO jobs you're talking about aren't all that easy to come by. They're generally in much shorter supply than biglaw jobs, as a matter of fact.

LaBarrister
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:20 pm

Re: Moving up in law

Postby LaBarrister » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:59 pm

Swimp wrote:It's my understanding that the NGO jobs you're talking about aren't all that easy to come by. They're generally in much shorter supply than biglaw jobs, as a matter of fact.


The attorney for the Sierra Club said that was the case in 2009/2010. When the economy tanked, BigLaw firms were taking in students on sabbatical, meaning they were actually paying the students only 50k per year for two years, given the students worked at an NGO for free during those two years. After the two years were up, the students would come to the firm at full salary. This actually saved the firms a lot of money.

The attorney said that NGOs are not that hard to get into anymore. I mean, sure, one needs good credentials, but you don't have to be a T6 grad with great grades. This guy graduated from a Tier 2 in 2003.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22885
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Moving up in law

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:07 pm

I would guess that the sorts of people who want to work for the Sierra Club or the NRDC are the kinds of people who value their idealism more than their salary. You might as well ask why teachers don't just get MBAs and become businesspeople.


This. Plus, to get the job, you have show pretty genuine dedication to the cause; just because some people do then move to biglaw doesn't mean these organizations like it when people do, and they try hard to weed these folks out.

LaBarrister wrote:
Swimp wrote:It's my understanding that the NGO jobs you're talking about aren't all that easy to come by. They're generally in much shorter supply than biglaw jobs, as a matter of fact.


The attorney for the Sierra Club said that was the case in 2009/2010. When the economy tanked, BigLaw firms were taking in students on sabbatical, meaning they were actually paying the students only 50k per year for two years, given the students worked at an NGO for free during those two years. After the two years were up, the students would come to the firm at full salary. This actually saved the firms a lot of money.

The attorney said that NGOs are not that hard to get into anymore. I mean, sure, one needs good credentials, but you don't have to be a T6 grad with great grades. This guy graduated from a Tier 2 in 2003.

2003 might as well be 2000 years ago in job prospect years.

Also, most NGOs hire people who already have experience, since they don't have time/money to train people. The economy tanking/biglaw furlough thing was an exception to this because the NGOs got the people for free. So that defeats the purpose of going to the NGO to get experience to wow biglaw with.

And the last thing is that while going from the Sierra Club to biglaw oil/gas makes sense, there aren't a lot of NGOs where that's the case. If you're doing legal aid or advocating for battered women or undocumented immigrants, you're not learning a lot about the kinds of things most biglaw firms handle.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests