Career Path Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
Weaselfish
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Career Path Questions

Postby Weaselfish » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:23 pm

Hey guys and gals, I'm just a 0L with a couple (possibly premature) questions.

I will be attending NYU this fall and will be taking on minimal (possibly zero) debt. At this point in my life I'm pretty sure I want to end up working in public interest of some sort. I have read, however, that working in BigLaw for a few years can be a boost to the resume and that the experience can be valuable in moving on to other fields. NYU seems to offer pretty fantastic opportunities in both public interest and BigLaw, and my main question is: should someone in my position initially focus on BigLaw for the benefits I mentioned, or go straight along the PI path?

I recognize this is probably a matter of personal preference, but if anyone has any insight into the costs/benefits of either path it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

UpandDown97
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:07 pm

Re: Career Path Questions

Postby UpandDown97 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:46 pm

Weaselfish wrote:Hey guys and gals, I'm just a 0L with a couple (possibly premature) questions.

I will be attending NYU this fall and will be taking on minimal (possibly zero) debt. At this point in my life I'm pretty sure I want to end up working in public interest of some sort. I have read, however, that working in BigLaw for a few years can be a boost to the resume and that the experience can be valuable in moving on to other fields. NYU seems to offer pretty fantastic opportunities in both public interest and BigLaw, and my main question is: should someone in my position initially focus on BigLaw for the benefits I mentioned, or go straight along the PI path?

I recognize this is probably a matter of personal preference, but if anyone has any insight into the costs/benefits of either path it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!


At least some of the answer depends on what kind of PI you want. Getting Big Fed jobs are really hard, and it may not be possible straight out of law school, even out of NYU. For example, getting into the DOJ may require some work experience and/or a clerkship.

to116
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:45 pm

Re: Career Path Questions

Postby to116 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:37 pm

I don't know if it's better to start off in biglaw or in PI and I'm a 0L also so i'm not an expert but i think that most prestigious PI positions are much harder to get than run of the mill biglaw. So if your ultimate goal is one of these sought after PI positions, i would be tailoring my resume towards PI from the get go. You can still get biglaw with PI-oriented activities throughout law school (i'm pretty sure, maybe i'm wrong but it seems like it's mostly about school rank and grades) but it will be almost impossible to target biglaw, ignore showing a commitment to PI, and then expect to land one of these PI jobs. So basically, i think target PI throughout law school and then if you want biglaw after graduation you'll still be able to get it and if you want PI, you havne't closed any doors.

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Worker and Parasite
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:53 am

Re: Career Path Questions

Postby Worker and Parasite » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:07 pm

It really does depend on the type of PI and with which agency or non-profit you plan to work at. Generally if you do decide to do the Biglaw route, your first or second year won't be useful but if you develop litigation skills in your later years, they can be helpful to whatever PI you want to pursue. Also, the Biglaw money with your lack of debt could help pad future years when your PI salary will be minimal. I think NYU funds the first year or so in established PI areas, so that's beneficial. Luckily your lack of debt puts you in a position where you can choose either path and get to where you want to be.

Note that while there is plenty of PI work to go around post-3L, many of them just can't afford to pay you. You'll have to look for some fellowships within NYU and outside of NYU.

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ndirish2010
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Re: Career Path Questions

Postby ndirish2010 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:28 pm

One of the biggest problems on TLS is people just saying they want to work in "public interest" as a 0L. I think in order for people to really help you, you need to be much more specific than just saying public interest. The jobs are very different and may require very different answers. As someone who currently works in "public interest" doing litigation that the majority of TLS would probably disagree with, I know first-hand about this difference.

tomwatts
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Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Career Path Questions

Postby tomwatts » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:11 pm

I think all of the above responses missed the relevance of the fact that you're a 0L. Your first job search isn't going to be for a permanent position after law school. Your first job search is going to be for your 1L summer job. It's pretty hard to get a biglaw job for your 1L summer anyway, and it's not really necessary even if you want to go into biglaw. So there's a very good chance you'll be looking for a PI job as your first internship regardless.

In that case, what you should do is figure out what that might look like for you. If you have a particular area of PI that you're interested in (say, environmental law), then when you get to campus, start networking with profs who know about that kind of thing and talking to career services about the options that might be available. Get a summer internship in that area for your 1L summer, and collect information during that summer about what you need to do to go forward with this interest.

If you don't have a particular area that you're interested in, then take a bit of a broader approach. Work with career services to try to brainstorm areas that might be worth looking into. Collect information. Your 1L summer should be something that you could be interested in doing long-term and want to try, but you can always apply for something significantly different during your 2L summer if you decide there's something else that you have your heart set on, so there's not a ton of pressure.

For later on, the general rule is that you should start doing what you want to do as soon as you possibly can. If you have no debt and no interest in biglaw, you have no reason to do biglaw. Take advantage of the fact that you have no debt and go straight to what you care about.

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ndirish2010
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Re: Career Path Questions

Postby ndirish2010 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:13 pm

My main point was that 0Ls should do some serious research before going to law school for "public interest." I've found that most 1Ls don't really know what PI entails. You should have some basic idea of what your goal actually is before law school, that's all I meant.




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