How to make a plan.

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CyanIdes Of March
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How to make a plan.

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Wed May 15, 2013 4:47 am

I've recently graduated and taken the LSAT but I'm taking a year (or more, depending on choices I make this summer) to actually figure out what I want to do. I already made the first mistake of "majoring in what interest you", Government/History, as opposed to "something that leads to a job" so I feel almost 'stuck' with Law. I've wanted to do Law since I came up with the idea in High School but I never could pinpoint "why". I realize this is a common, perhaps dominating, sentiment among 0Ls who enter law school. So, I've decided that my current understanding of the work that I'll eventually do is insufficient to take on the debt at this point. This is not to say that nothing in law interest me, but more that I don't know how to find out if it would interest me considering I don't know what the job is actually like. The "idea" of it interest me. Helping people interest me. Putting together arguments, cases, strategizing, that sort of idealistic and likely unrealistic thing interest me. But that's all I have at the moment.

I've spent the last few days pouring hours into researching what types of legal careers I can get, what salaries I can expect, what the hours would be like, etc etc. I've come to find that A.) No one seems to know what they want to do or what kind of job they can and/or will get until they are already in Law School. And B.) Finding out what kind of work any given type of lawyer does (Corporate, Litigator, Public Interest, etc) is difficult because different jobs have different cultures and expectations. Not to mention there seem to be a lot of different types of jobs and I'm having trouble finding which one would fit me the best.

So, here I am, asking you to help me figure some of this stuff out before I make such a huge commitment. I understand I may have to sacrifice a good portion of my life for a while, I'm hoping that at some point down the road it is realistic to expect some relaxation and free-time. I'm not adverse to hard work and "putting in your dues" but I am against wasting away most of my life in a job I hate to pay loans I only took out to get the soul-sucking job in the first place. All I've heard so far is the anecdotal horror stories during my research (mostly coming from BigLaw Corporate Associates) I would like to pin down some sort of general frame work for what I should expect when entering the legal market. Things like:
- What kind of work do litigators do?
- What kind of firms do they work in? Is Big Law Litigation a thing? Is it mainly smallish firms?
- How are the hours between Corporate (which I know is staggering), Litigation, Public Interest. I realize these probably differ greatly depending on a multitude of factors but any general information you'd like to provide will probably help.
- How do you start on a path to Litigation work as opposed to a path that leads to Corporate work? Is there even a separate path or do you kind of just get pushed into a job?
- How much do law school rankings mean for these kinds of jobs? Beyond the "Law School vs. No Law School" I'm deciding between "Relatively cheap, due to scholarship, regional powerhouse vs. Close to full-tuition T6"

Sorry this post is such a long rambling mess and the questions are so vague. It likely mirrors my thoughts right now and my understanding of the legal market, which is quite obviously lacking in many important ways. Any and all information given will be appreciated, if something is too vague just let me know and I'll try to formulate a more coherent thought. Thanks!

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Bronck
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby Bronck » Wed May 15, 2013 5:02 am

1. See http://www.chambers-associate.com/Artic ... ceArea/385
2. Yes. Most of the big firms have larger litigation departments than corporate departments, although there are several small and mid-sized firms that do litigation as well.
3. For big law, the hours are going to be similar (think billing 2400-2500 hours-plus in NYC) between corporate and litigation. The real difference is that corp bros have much less predictable schedules. No idea about PI, I'd imagine it's closer to a 9-5 work schedule, but I could be wrong.
4. By telling a firm at OCI that you want to practice litigation instead of transactional work, and vice-versa.
5. Law school rankings are fairly useless. Look to http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/ to find detailed employment statistics. Outside of the T14, your chances of getting big law decrease quite rapidly.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby Scotusnerd » Wed May 15, 2013 6:47 am

http://dearcoquette.com/post/41211467603/on-a-monumental-mistake

You might find this helpful.

Instead of looking at biglaw, I would adjust your PoV to look at the law field in general. Take a look at what people call shitlaw, local PI, employment discrimination firms, and GPs. See if any of that interests you. Also look at state government. There's plenty of plums hidden in the rough there.

I think the best advice about a school is this: go where you want to practice. If you want to practice in NY, go to school in NY.

I think if you do those two things, you'll be happier in the long run.

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stillwater
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby stillwater » Wed May 15, 2013 7:19 am

.
Last edited by stillwater on Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed May 15, 2013 8:04 am

Yes, biglaw litigation is a thing (as already said), and I think basically if you're in biglaw, the hours are what the hours are, whether you're in corporate or litigation. (How those hours are distributed may be slightly different, in that I regularly see people say - as above - that litigators have somewhat more predictable schedules than corporate lawyers do, but the billing requirements are the same at a firm whether you're in lit or corp.) So as I understand it, any significant difference in hours isn't between litigation and corporate but between the different employers - biglaw, midlaw/small-law, government, PI.

Biglaw notoriously requires the most hours (because it pays the most) - government (whether state/federal) is much more likely to be 9-5 with a decent number of paid holidays. (Government lit employees can work much longer hours, especially on the eve of/during trial, but I don't think it approaches biglaw.) Mid/small-law hours are really hard to predict - there are plenty of places that expect close to biglaw hours but don't pay biglaw salaries. I believe the hours for PI outside of government (Earthjustice or the ACLU, that kind of thing) are more like government work, but I don't know this for certain.

To start on a path to litigation work, you apply for jobs at places that do litigation. That could be biglaw, or it could be externing for the DA/PD or other government position, or working for a mid/small law firm that does litigation. You will know when you're applying for stuff whether that employer does litigation or not (you should know, anyway). You can also tailor your law school course work somewhat - take trial advocacy classes and crim pro or complex civil lit, depending on your interest, for litigation; take all the business-y law courses for corporate work - although that doesn't really lock you into anything.

Law school rankings matter a LOT for biglaw (corp or lit). They can matter for federal government jobs, although the federal government will often take people will excellent grades from lower-ranked schools over less-good grades from a higher-ranked school; it depends on where you're applying. School rank/grades matter less for some state government positions - for instance, state PD/DA don't generally care much about either, with the exception of some of the very competitive offices. Like Bronck said, look at employment stats rather than at rankings.

(As for what litigators do: this is a huge question, but in biglaw, you will vary rarely go to trial. Instead, you will spend a lot of time conducting discovery - getting docs/info from the other side, giving docs/info to the other side - and writing motions, which ask the court either to do something - like dismiss the other side's case or exclude their expert witness - or make the other side do something - like comply with discovery requirements. Junior associates tend to be wrangling the discovery documents by figuring out which documents, out of thousands, can be revealed to the other side; or to be doing research to support legal arguments in a motion. You won't necessarily be writing motions right away yourself, as I understand it. If you become a PD/DA, you will be in court a LOT and you will do quite a lot of trials - even though most criminal cases plead out, there are still plenty of trials, even if they're one-day things about a drunk driving accident, especially to start. Other government jobs, how much you actually go to trial will vary.)

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CaptainLeela
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby CaptainLeela » Wed May 15, 2013 11:14 am



Coquette is a godsend, most days of my life. That is all.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Wed May 15, 2013 12:41 pm

So far this has all been very helpful. Another question: In Big Law, are there any predictable reductions in hours down the line? I've seen things about In House jobs and transitioning from big firms to smaller firms. Can anyone comment on that?

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Bronck
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby Bronck » Wed May 15, 2013 1:05 pm

CyanIdes Of March wrote:So far this has all been very helpful. Another question: In Big Law, are there any predictable reductions in hours down the line? I've seen things about In House jobs and transitioning from big firms to smaller firms. Can anyone comment on that?


No reduction in hours when working big law. In-house, yes. Smaller firms I imagine have less stringent hour requirements as well, though maybe not as cushy as in-house. People typically seem to try to lateral out somewhere between 3-5 years, as that's when they start to become desirable (though of course others are able to lateral earlier).

timbs4339
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby timbs4339 » Wed May 15, 2013 2:01 pm

Think about taking a few years off and working as a paralegal. You won't be doing what lawyers do but you may get to see what it is like, and you'll be earning $.

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guano
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby guano » Wed May 15, 2013 2:07 pm

CyanIdes Of March wrote:So far this has all been very helpful. Another question: In Big Law, are there any predictable reductions in hours down the line? I've seen things about In House jobs and transitioning from big firms to smaller firms. Can anyone comment on that?

Generally, attorneys who make partner end up working even more hours, not less.
Transitioning in-house, if its a major company (fortune 500), means working roughly 60 hours a week, or so.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: How to make a plan.

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Wed May 15, 2013 5:16 pm

60 hrs is at least marginally better and I suppose, worse comes to worse, I can bite the bullet and work toward that goal. But considering the time I have to figure it out I'm going to keep exploring my options. I'd hate to waste a relatively good LSAT/GPA combo and fall back on my near worthless dual-degree!

Another question: Can anyone comment on Government lawyers? What kind of jobs? Are there tiers? As in, what could someone from HYS achieve that would be rather difficult for the lower T14 or beyond? Including pay scale (which I know is considerably lower than Big Law, but I've seen around 80k, is that in the ballpark? Do they qualify for loan forgiveness programs at most places (I can probably answer this and other questions myself but feel free to answer if you'd like). Finally, is it feasible to expect to go into Corporate for ~5 years or so and then transfer to Government (I know there are some experience-related problems with some forms of transfer)?

Again, thank you guys, this is all very helpful to me (and maybe others who have the same questions and use this post for reference later on) in finding how I should conduct my research. Otherwise it's all just aimless Google searches with no expectation of what I should be looking to find, mostly filled with anecdotal tales of regret.




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