Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

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El_Gallo

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Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby El_Gallo » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:49 pm

Back in 2012 I was seriously considering going to law school. I was a liberal arts major and I felt like law school was my only path to a decent paycheck. Unfortunately, I didn't want to be a lawyer. I heard the "you can do anything with a law degree" line, but TLS set me straight.

I got into some of the lower t14 with no money. I ultimately decided to put off law school and do Teach for America. My couple of years of teaching were enough to get me into b-school which IMO is a much better investment than law school.

When I first started b-school I thought I wanted to be a consultant. Even though the work seemed interesting, I quickly realized I did not want to be working 80 hours a week.

So where are the those mythical 8-5 jobs that pay six figures? I eventually found one in the HR field.

So before I give you the pitch on why you should be in HR, here's why you shouldn't:
-You get no respect. A lot of my b-school friends think I'm crazy. My parents don't even understand what I do.
-You'll never be CEO. If you want the brass ring, don't go into HR.
-You get a lot of Toby from the Office jokes

Here's why HR is actually way cooler than most people think
-You get interesting work. If you have a graduate degree, you're not going to be doing "grunt HR work." My current position is a large CPG company (think P&G, Pepsico, Johnson and Johnson, etc.) I'm managing a huge change project that affects over 1,000 employees. Other cool areas of HR that I'm looking to get into are things like organizational design, executive coaching, union negotiations and strategic compensation.
-You work great hours. I rarely stay past 5:00.
-You actually make a decent pay check. My job offer was for $95,000 base, $10,000 expected end of year bonus, and $15,000 signing bonus. It's not biglaw money, but it's plenty for the secondary market where I live. I'll be making $130,000 base in 5 years and $180,000 in 10.

Most of the HR people my company hires come from Masters of HR programs. However, my boss has a law degree and he told me our company would snatch up more JDs if they applied to the HR function.

I'm throwing all this out there for anybody that thinks law school is your only option to a good paycheck. If you are still in undergrad, consider getting a masters in HR:
-University of Minnesota - $75,000 starting salary
-Cornell - $85,000 starting salary
-University of Illinois - $77,000 starting salary

Admittedly, my salary started a little bit higher than most of the masters in HR folks because companies pay more for an MBA. They will catch up to where I'm at within a few years though.

If you are in law school or a graduate, apply to summer internships and jobs. Employers will pay the same premium for JDs that they do for MBAs. You could easily start at $80,000 - $100K range. You might need to spin a little bit of a story about "why HR," but if you taken any classes even semi-related it shouldn't be that hard. There are a lot of cool leadership and international rotation opportunities out there too.

Hopefully this post is helpful for somebody out there that feels like being a lawyer is their only option. I'm sure HR is not the only viable career path out there for us liberal arts losers. Law school is not the only option. Don't jump into a $200,000 risk hoping it will pan out.

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zot1

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby zot1 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:53 pm

I do labor and feel pretty confident I would hate to be in HR. However, this is a great post for those who don't want to be attorneys and want to know what else is out there.

Steven24

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby Steven24 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:33 pm

As a person who graduated with a Bachelor's degree in HR Management, is it safe to assume that a backup plan in case if you don't get a financially reasonable job out of Law school, would be to try your luck at upper level HR jobs? I've talk to many individuals and they say that a J.D. and degree in HR works wonders.. but who knows if that is true..

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northwood

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby northwood » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:01 pm

interesting. What is a typical day like? OP how did you snag your job? Networking, mass-mail, targeted applications? You can PM me if you want.

Voyager

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby Voyager » Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:12 pm

El_Gallo wrote:Back in 2012 I was seriously considering going to law school. I was a liberal arts major and I felt like law school was my only path to a decent paycheck. Unfortunately, I didn't want to be a lawyer. I heard the "you can do anything with a law degree" line, but TLS set me straight.

I got into some of the lower t14 with no money. I ultimately decided to put off law school and do Teach for America. My couple of years of teaching were enough to get me into b-school which IMO is a much better investment than law school.

When I first started b-school I thought I wanted to be a consultant. Even though the work seemed interesting, I quickly realized I did not want to be working 80 hours a week.

So where are the those mythical 8-5 jobs that pay six figures? I eventually found one in the HR field.

So before I give you the pitch on why you should be in HR, here's why you shouldn't:
-You get no respect. A lot of my b-school friends think I'm crazy. My parents don't even understand what I do.
-You'll never be CEO. If you want the brass ring, don't go into HR.
-You get a lot of Toby from the Office jokes

Here's why HR is actually way cooler than most people think
-You get interesting work. If you have a graduate degree, you're not going to be doing "grunt HR work." My current position is a large CPG company (think P&G, Pepsico, Johnson and Johnson, etc.) I'm managing a huge change project that affects over 1,000 employees. Other cool areas of HR that I'm looking to get into are things like organizational design, executive coaching, union negotiations and strategic compensation.
-You work great hours. I rarely stay past 5:00.
-You actually make a decent pay check. My job offer was for $95,000 base, $10,000 expected end of year bonus, and $15,000 signing bonus. It's not biglaw money, but it's plenty for the secondary market where I live. I'll be making $130,000 base in 5 years and $180,000 in 10.

Most of the HR people my company hires come from Masters of HR programs. However, my boss has a law degree and he told me our company would snatch up more JDs if they applied to the HR function.

I'm throwing all this out there for anybody that thinks law school is your only option to a good paycheck. If you are still in undergrad, consider getting a masters in HR:
-University of Minnesota - $75,000 starting salary
-Cornell - $85,000 starting salary
-University of Illinois - $77,000 starting salary

Admittedly, my salary started a little bit higher than most of the masters in HR folks because companies pay more for an MBA. They will catch up to where I'm at within a few years though.

If you are in law school or a graduate, apply to summer internships and jobs. Employers will pay the same premium for JDs that they do for MBAs. You could easily start at $80,000 - $100K range. You might need to spin a little bit of a story about "why HR," but if you taken any classes even semi-related it shouldn't be that hard. There are a lot of cool leadership and international rotation opportunities out there too.

Hopefully this post is helpful for somebody out there that feels like being a lawyer is their only option. I'm sure HR is not the only viable career path out there for us liberal arts losers. Law school is not the only option. Don't jump into a $200,000 risk hoping it will pan out.


Great call out. I'd add that there are some very interesting problems to solve in HR and that there are not very many super competent HR leaders to solve them. You can make a real difference.

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mudiverse

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby mudiverse » Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:25 pm

I'm curious how someone can go straight from TFA to a reputable MBA program with no full-time work experience. It's not that I distrust what you're saying, but this seems unusual to me. I've strongly considered a post-JD career outside of the law but I think the biggest issue is there are no established pipelines other than Big 4/Consulting careers and those only recruit at the tippy top. Can I send in an application/resume drop to a F500 HR team? Sure, but I have strong doubts about getting a decent response rate, despite what your boss may say. What incentive do they have to take a JD over an MBA/MA in HR or even a BSBA?

I think while a JD will never preclude you from working in HR (or really any non-technical career) it seems a hard sell and you would be effectively carving your own path through heavy networking and depending on a lucky break.

Voyager

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby Voyager » Tue Jan 03, 2017 4:28 pm

mudiverse wrote:I'm curious how someone can go straight from TFA to a reputable MBA program with no full-time work experience. It's not that I distrust what you're saying, but this seems unusual to me. I've strongly considered a post-JD career outside of the law but I think the biggest issue is there are no established pipelines other than Big 4/Consulting careers and those only recruit at the tippy top. Can I send in an application/resume drop to a F500 HR team? Sure, but I have strong doubts about getting a decent response rate, despite what your boss may say. What incentive do they have to take a JD over an MBA/MA in HR or even a BSBA?

I think while a JD will never preclude you from working in HR (or really any non-technical career) it seems a hard sell and you would be effectively carving your own path through heavy networking and depending on a lucky break.


I happen to have a meeting with my VP of HR partner later this afternoon. I'll ask her your question re: JDs --> HR, assuming we have time for it.

Voyager

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby Voyager » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:17 am

Ok! Fun follow up on the JD-->HR career path question.

HR exec I work with said the following:

-Yes, some F500 HR functions would be open to hiring JDs into HR who have zero work experience
-Would be helpful to show classes (e.g., employment law) that demonstrated interest
-You would take an entry level job (e.g., "HR Analyst")
-However, these jobs can pay from $65k-$80k which is actually pretty competitive for starting annual income at smaller law firms and for a great many law graduates... most of them, actually.
-And, of course, the hours are way better (~45 a week with way less stress)
-Not all F500 HR functions take on entry level people. Some just aren't set up for that. Many, however, are. PepsiCo was the example given to me as one that does do that. That means that Coca-Cola probably does too (being a mirror image company). I know for a fact that Home Depot does as well... so you can expect that so does Lowes.

The other major company function that would be an obvious fit is Sourcing. This is the group that vets out suppliers and helps business leaders write the RFP, put together a bid process, select the sourcing firm and then negotiate terms. Again, you would go in entry level and not all sourcing departments might offer that but your JD would actually have some value here as well.

Again, I bet those entry level jobs are still paying $70k or more.

I reiterate that both of these entry points would allow you to develop a long term career with loads of upward mobility.

I hope the above is helpful.

Voyager

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby Voyager » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:19 am

mudiverse wrote:I'm curious how someone can go straight from TFA to a reputable MBA program with no full-time work experience. It's not that I distrust what you're saying, but this seems unusual to me. I've strongly considered a post-JD career outside of the law but I think the biggest issue is there are no established pipelines other than Big 4/Consulting careers and those only recruit at the tippy top. Can I send in an application/resume drop to a F500 HR team? Sure, but I have strong doubts about getting a decent response rate, despite what your boss may say. What incentive do they have to take a JD over an MBA/MA in HR or even a BSBA?

I think while a JD will never preclude you from working in HR (or really any non-technical career) it seems a hard sell and you would be effectively carving your own path through heavy networking and depending on a lucky break.


TFA-->MBA is quite possible. Business schools are looking for diversity of experience in the class.

HiOCEAN

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby HiOCEAN » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:23 pm

As a JD, how should I go about applying to these jobs? Job boards? What kind of specific job titles should i be searching/applying for?

Thanks for this post. Very helpful!

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El_Gallo

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Re: Something Else You Actually CAN Do with a Law Degree

Postby El_Gallo » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:47 pm

northwood wrote:interesting. What is a typical day like? OP how did you snag your job? Networking, mass-mail, targeted applications? You can PM me if you want.


I'm in a 1000+ person plant. I imagine my typical day will be much different once I get pulled into the corporate offices. Right now I get to the offices around 7:30 and answer any pressing emails. I'll loop around the plant for an hour and talk to workers on the floor, make sure there is no mutiny brewing. Then a meeting with our plant leadership team where I advice on people and regulatory issues. I'll take an hour lunch and then check in with my two HR specialists that work under me. I may take a call from the corporate offices or lead a training session for new employees. I'll spend the rest of my day working on any special change projects (we are adding a new production line and need to make sure it's staffed, safe, and optimally brought online). I leave between 4:30 and 6.

I landed my job by creeping up on some alums on LinkedIn that work at my company. I called them up and did a few info interviews. They connected me with some people on the hiring team. I chatted informally with the recruiters and then they asked me to submit an application. I could have submitted my application right off the bat, but I think that making some connections in the company first really put me at the top of the pile.

mudiverse wrote:I'm curious how someone can go straight from TFA to a reputable MBA program with no full-time work experience. It's not that I distrust what you're saying, but this seems unusual to me. I've strongly considered a post-JD career outside of the law but I think the biggest issue is there are no established pipelines other than Big 4/Consulting careers and those only recruit at the tippy top. Can I send in an application/resume drop to a F500 HR team? Sure, but I have strong doubts about getting a decent response rate, despite what your boss may say. What incentive do they have to take a JD over an MBA/MA in HR or even a BSBA?

I think while a JD will never preclude you from working in HR (or really any non-technical career) it seems a hard sell and you would be effectively carving your own path through heavy networking and depending on a lucky break.


Teach for America is a full time job. However, I did slightly under perform my numbers as far as b school acceptances. I think that was more of an issue of quantity of WP than quality. Most schools like 3 -5 years, I only had 2.

From the HR leaders I've spoken with, a JD is a desired credential in the function. However, you may have to sell it a little more than a traditional MA in HR. They need to know you are interested in a career in HR and won't jump ship to a firm first chance you get.

HiOCEAN wrote:As a JD, how should I go about applying to these jobs? Job boards? What kind of specific job titles should i be searching/applying for?

Thanks for this post. Very helpful!


You want to target large companies with HR leadership or rotational programs. In the job description they will require at least a masters degree. You want to target companies that tout HR as a "seat at the table" function and not one they just keep in the back room. Some great HR companies I can think of off the top of my head at Cisco, Microsoft, LinkedIn, American Express, Chevron, Amazon (more so now than it was 2 years ago), Boeing, General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, Honeywell, GE, PepsiCo, American Express, and HP.

If you have already graduated I would highly recommend to reaching out to alums or recruiters in the company before you apply.



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