Probability of a non-big law outcome

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runnergirl159
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:12 pm

Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby runnergirl159 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:26 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of deciding whether to apply for this cycle, and could really use some guidance. Posts
such as these viewtopic.php?f=4&t=261392 have scared me away from the prospect of big law.
I'm looking for a professional career, but I just can't see myself being happy working 80 hours a week doing mind-numbing paperwork.

I'm a recent grad, 174 LSAT and 4.1 GPA and I'm wondering whether law school is a good choice at this point. I think
I would really enjoy law, if I were in the right type of position. So essentially my question is, how likely is it to obtain such a job
out of law school, specifically out of HYS CCN (where I'd be applying, and I think I stand a fair chance at getting in)?
I'm specifically interested in:

- Working in s smaller law firm, where the work is interesting and the hours are reasonable (50-60). Some practice areas I think I'd enjoy would be general litigation, tax, a tech related specialty (I have an MSc. in a STEM field), and white collar defence.
- Working in-house, doing interesting work (perhaps at a tech firm)
- Academia

From what I've read on this site, it seems that most/a lot of T-14 graduates get funnelled into big-law. Is this outcome to be expected,
or if I gunned for one of the aforementioned jobs would I have a reasonable shot? Also, I clearly don't expect to make big-law money at any of
the jobs I listed, but am wondering if it's possible to make a reasonable living in any of these positions.

Thanks in advance, and apologies if my aspirations are a bit delusional.

cavalier1138
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Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:38 pm

A few observations:

-What does a "reasonable living" mean for you?
-When you say "small", it sounds like you mean "boutique", and I absolutely would not plan on working fewer hours there.
-Most of the top-end lit boutiques require a few years of biglaw experience before joining.
-Both in-house work and academia are going to be longer-term goals, and in-house generally requires biglaw experience.

But the main thing is that high-paying jobs that only ask you to put in 50-60 hours a week are pretty much nonexistent for new graduates. The reason T14 students (especially those who want to work in the private sector) get funneled in to biglaw is that a lot of the more competitive endgame goals require that experience.

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runnergirl159
Posts: 19
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Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby runnergirl159 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:10 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:A few observations:

-What does a "reasonable living" mean for you?
-When you say "small", it sounds like you mean "boutique", and I absolutely would not plan on working fewer hours there.
-Most of the top-end lit boutiques require a few years of biglaw experience before joining.
-Both in-house work and academia are going to be longer-term goals, and in-house generally requires biglaw experience.

But the main thing is that high-paying jobs that only ask you to put in 50-60 hours a week are pretty much nonexistent for new graduates. The reason T14 students (especially those who want to work in the private sector) get funneled in to biglaw is that a lot of the more competitive endgame goals require that experience.


Thanks for your insights.

- I would define reasonable as 70K, maybe that's a bit unrealistic. Ideally, 100K would be great, but I'm getting the sense that's extremely unlikely.
- That's good to know about boutiques- so almost all of them have hours that are equivalent to big-law?
- I've heard that about in-house, but I've also read on a few forums that new LS grads were able to get these positions right out of school.
I guess this outcome would be a rare exception and not the rule?

Thanks again!

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Nagster5
Posts: 681
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Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby Nagster5 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:04 pm

runnergirl159 wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of deciding whether to apply for this cycle, and could really use some guidance. Posts
such as these viewtopic.php?f=4&t=261392 have scared me away from the prospect of big law.
I'm looking for a professional career, but I just can't see myself being happy working 80 hours a week doing mind-numbing paperwork.

I'm a recent grad, 174 LSAT and 4.1 GPA and I'm wondering whether law school is a good choice at this point. I think
I would really enjoy law, if I were in the right type of position. So essentially my question is, how likely is it to obtain such a job
out of law school, specifically out of HYS CCN (where I'd be applying, and I think I stand a fair chance at getting in)?
I'm specifically interested in:

- Working in s smaller law firm, where the work is interesting and the hours are reasonable (50-60). Some practice areas I think I'd enjoy would be general litigation, tax, a tech related specialty (I have an MSc. in a STEM field), and white collar defence.
- Working in-house, doing interesting work (perhaps at a tech firm)
- Academia

From what I've read on this site, it seems that most/a lot of T-14 graduates get funnelled into big-law. Is this outcome to be expected,
or if I gunned for one of the aforementioned jobs would I have a reasonable shot? Also, I clearly don't expect to make big-law money at any of
the jobs I listed, but am wondering if it's possible to make a reasonable living in any of these positions.

Thanks in advance, and apologies if my aspirations are a bit delusional.


You actually might have a shot at academia if you land Yale (which you definitely could with those numbers). An advanced degree helps quite a bit, you can leverage that to specialize in something related to your STEM field so you're not competing directly with the thousand other HYS grads/SCOTUS clerks a year trying to find a teaching position. It will still be very competitive/unsure though, and will require top grades which is not a given. You could also just go to CCN for free and go into government/public interest/etc, or do the same and ride the IBR/PAYE train at HYS.

Biglaw tax also has a rep for being the work/life balance haven by biglaw standards, and is not a very popular choice even at some of the best tax firms. 60 hours a week is probably very doable in most tax practice groups.

More places are hiring in house straight out of school now, but it's still a vanishingly small number of firms. Depending on your advanced degree it may be easier for you than most though.

Any of these can lead to a reasonable living, depending on your definition. Academia and biglaw are obviously very comfortable, and federal government attorney positions are as well. I wouldn't want to live in a major city on what they pay PI lawyers, but lots of people manage. I think it would be doable with minimal student loans (assuming you're not already swimming in debt from your previous degrees).

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Nagster5
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Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:28 am

Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby Nagster5 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:06 pm

runnergirl159 wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:A few observations:

-What does a "reasonable living" mean for you?
-When you say "small", it sounds like you mean "boutique", and I absolutely would not plan on working fewer hours there.
-Most of the top-end lit boutiques require a few years of biglaw experience before joining.
-Both in-house work and academia are going to be longer-term goals, and in-house generally requires biglaw experience.

But the main thing is that high-paying jobs that only ask you to put in 50-60 hours a week are pretty much nonexistent for new graduates. The reason T14 students (especially those who want to work in the private sector) get funneled in to biglaw is that a lot of the more competitive endgame goals require that experience.


Thanks for your insights.

- I would define reasonable as 70K, maybe that's a bit unrealistic. Ideally, 100K would be great, but I'm getting the sense that's extremely unlikely.
- That's good to know about boutiques- so almost all of them have hours that are equivalent to big-law?
- I've heard that about in-house, but I've also read on a few forums that new LS grads were able to get these positions right out of school.
I guess this outcome would be a rare exception and not the rule?

Thanks again!


Boutiques generally expect the same or more hours, and the lower leverage means higher expectations that you hit the ground running. They are by no means a lower stress version of biglaw.

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runnergirl159
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:12 pm

Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby runnergirl159 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:37 pm

Nagster5 wrote:
runnergirl159 wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of deciding whether to apply for this cycle, and could really use some guidance. Posts
such as these viewtopic.php?f=4&t=261392 have scared me away from the prospect of big law.
I'm looking for a professional career, but I just can't see myself being happy working 80 hours a week doing mind-numbing paperwork.

I'm a recent grad, 174 LSAT and 4.1 GPA and I'm wondering whether law school is a good choice at this point. I think
I would really enjoy law, if I were in the right type of position. So essentially my question is, how likely is it to obtain such a job
out of law school, specifically out of HYS CCN (where I'd be applying, and I think I stand a fair chance at getting in)?
I'm specifically interested in:

- Working in s smaller law firm, where the work is interesting and the hours are reasonable (50-60). Some practice areas I think I'd enjoy would be general litigation, tax, a tech related specialty (I have an MSc. in a STEM field), and white collar defence.
- Working in-house, doing interesting work (perhaps at a tech firm)
- Academia

From what I've read on this site, it seems that most/a lot of T-14 graduates get funnelled into big-law. Is this outcome to be expected,
or if I gunned for one of the aforementioned jobs would I have a reasonable shot? Also, I clearly don't expect to make big-law money at any of
the jobs I listed, but am wondering if it's possible to make a reasonable living in any of these positions.

Thanks in advance, and apologies if my aspirations are a bit delusional.


You actually might have a shot at academia if you land Yale (which you definitely could with those numbers). An advanced degree helps quite a bit, you can leverage that to specialize in something related to your STEM field so you're not competing directly with the thousand other HYS grads/SCOTUS clerks a year trying to find a teaching position. It will still be very competitive/unsure though, and will require top grades which is not a given. You could also just go to CCN for free and go into government/public interest/etc, or do the same and ride the IBR/PAYE train at HYS.

Biglaw tax also has a rep for being the work/life balance haven by biglaw standards, and is not a very popular choice even at some of the best tax firms. 60 hours a week is probably very doable in most tax practice groups.

More places are hiring in house straight out of school now, but it's still a vanishingly small number of firms. Depending on your advanced degree it may be easier for you than most though.

Any of these can lead to a reasonable living, depending on your definition. Academia and biglaw are obviously very comfortable, and federal government attorney positions are as well. I wouldn't want to live in a major city on what they pay PI lawyers, but lots of people manage. I think it would be doable with minimal student loans (assuming you're not already swimming in debt from your previous degrees).


Thanks for your input :D That's encouraging to hear that academia isn't completely out of reach, and that Biglaw tax could be reasonable!

Maybe it's too hard to say, but would you have an idea how likely/unlikely it would be to get an in-house position out of LS? Or would it be better not to bank on that, and shoot for another option? Thanks again!

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Nagster5
Posts: 681
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Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby Nagster5 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:23 pm

In the last few years it's gone from impossible to extremely unlikely. HP has a program, and I think a few other offices are experimenting with it as well. It may expand in the next few years as more clients are looking to keep more work in house, but definitely not enough to be a reliable plan.

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elendinel
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Re: Probability of a non-big law outcome

Postby elendinel » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:06 am

In-house straight out of LS is tricky and I generally wouldn't advise it. Aside from being really hard to break into unless you have a lot of special skills/gun really hard for it, the benefit of starting at a firm is that you're guaranteed to be taught a lot of law and to see how a lot of people apply that law/what they do when they encounter something new. If you start in-house (especially for a tech start-up) you may end up being the only lawyer there doing whatever work you're assigned to, and you're going to have a lot less guidance on how to do things. You will be learning a lot of law fron=m scratch and you won't have the leeway to make mistakes that you would in a firm (because there may not be anyone else there who can look over your shoulder to make sure you did something right). The only people for whom I've seen it work really smoothly are patent pros attorneys who were patent agents before they went in-house after LS, or people who were lucky to get into a legal team that included a lot of attorneys all working on the same stuff and therefore had cultivated an environment similar to a firm; everyone else I know who tried the in-house route immediately out of LS eventually got the hang of things, but it came with an extremely steep learning curve. Which is not conducive to having short work weeks.

It's not difficult to make at least 70k outside of biglaw, so I wouldn't be too concerned there. But I'd echo what everyone else says about the hours; you won't avoid long hours merely by avoiding biglaw, and many of the jobs that will be available to you out of LS will require long hours. Jobs with better work/life balances are almost considered to be the "reward" for dealing with poor hours early in your career.

The "tech related specialty" that you can hope to get into is going to heavily depend on what your particular STEM background is and what you've done with it/what you want to do with it. I do think having certain tech backgrounds can put you at an advantage in getting an in-house job at a tech startup, from what I've seen. In particular former SWEs/CS majors who are doing tech-related law, or lawyers who are doing general corp/lit but who used to do R&D for the same tech area as the company seem to get in-house jobs at tech startups more easily than non-techy lawyers doing general lit/corp/etc. In part it's because the tech background helps with tech-related areas of law, but IME tech startups also tend to like having someone on board who understands their tech on more than a superficial level, even if they're going to act as a GC doing generic law stuff.




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