Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

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viking138
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Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby viking138 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:48 pm

I have had the really great fortune to get into my two top choices, Chicago and Columbia. However I am going straight out of Undergrad and many people have told me (and I agree) that some work experience would be a good idea before law school. The problem is I am a poli sci major and don't really have a marketable skill. I have interviews with several top firms coming up, so if I were to get a job as a legal assistant, would it be worth it?

Especially to those of you who have worked as legal assistants at top firms, did you find it worthwhile work? Would you want to do that job again if you were already accepted to your top choices?


Extra info:
-I want to go into corporate law after law school
-I'm a woman who plans on having kids and scaling back work in her early to mid 30s
-My SO was also accepted to these two schools but is most likely going to defer for two years to work at a hedge fund (going together would be nice because we could study together, commiserate, etc)

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GATORTIM
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby GATORTIM » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:52 pm

Image

viking138
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby viking138 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:55 pm

GATORTIM wrote:Image



Thanks for your input.

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screenymcgee
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby screenymcgee » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:57 pm

*popcorn*

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GoTribe1
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby GoTribe1 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:00 pm

Fuck the work experience.

/thread

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swc65
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby swc65 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:02 pm

Why not? If you have something you want to do before going to law school, I say go for it. If you will still have your Uch and CLS acceptances waiting for, then you do not have much to lose (except maybe delaying a big salary for one year). You would also have the opportunity to ride out this economy a bit longer and see where the legal field is headed.

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cardnal124
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby cardnal124 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:03 pm

GoTribe1 wrote:Fuck the work experience.

/thread


Fuck work experience as a legal assistant. If it were work experience in a corporation that would give you better insight into corporate law in the future, maybe go with work experience.

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autarkh
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby autarkh » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:05 pm

On one hand, getting that JD early will give you more flexibility to use your time as you see fit in your 30s. Unfortunately, either way, unless you got a crapload of merit aid, you're going to have to be working continuously after you get out. Think about that.

I've never worked as a legal assistant, but I imagine that it's pretty menial work -- less gratifying even than what paralegals get to do. Still, it is something you could do with your PoliSci BA. My personal inclination would be to just go for it: finish your formal education. Those are really good schools that hopefully will open a lot of doors to jobs that you'll find inherently more satisfying.

If, on the other hand, you were considering taking a year off to go backpack through South America, or become a beach bum, or something comparable, I'd say do that.
Last edited by autarkh on Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

viking138
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby viking138 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:07 pm

cardnal124 wrote:
GoTribe1 wrote:Fuck the work experience.

/thread


Fuck work experience as a legal assistant. If it were work experience in a corporation that would give you better insight into corporate law in the future, maybe go with work experience.



Hmm this is sort of my thinking...I wish it were traveling the world or something but it's not.

The "ride out the economy/see where legal market is going" idea is also persuasive to me...do you have any thoughts on that?


And of course I would like to have some time to make money before I'm making a larger salary since neither my parents or I have ever had much and I worry I might not manage it well.

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cardnal124
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby cardnal124 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:22 pm

Managing money well = spending less than you make. and in the case of lawyers, assuming a declining salary in making long term financial decisions (i.e. buying a house, car etc.).

Waiting for the economy is an ok idea, except that it sucks as an idea. In 2006, the legal market looked to be growing at a huge rate, but 2009 grads got screwed. 3 years is a lot of time for the economy and I know we're in a shitty market but waiting could be good or bad for you.

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jks289
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby jks289 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:29 pm

Usually I am all for waiting, but in your case it just doesn't make sense. You won't be gaining anything significantly valuable from a job in a firm (other than the realization that certain types of law lifestyle are soul-crushing). You can figure that all out in summer work. Unless you find someone that you really want to do with a year, or a job that lets you save significant money, I think waiting for the sake of waiting is a mistake. Congrats on Chicago and Columbia!

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JazzOne
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:36 pm

Work experience can be very good. If you have any doubts that you want to practice law, take the job for a year and see if you like firm life. If you know for a fact that you're going to law school no matter what, then just go now. I would actually rather go through 1L now than wait until your SO is under just as much stress as you are. I would rather stagger that important year of law school, not do it together. You probably won't be in the same classes, so studying together won't be all that productive, unless you just mean studying at the same place, not necessarily as a team effort.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:38 pm

I say do it. Many of your brilliant classmates will flame out of law or even law school in a year or so because they never actually tried it.

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jks289
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby jks289 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:40 pm

Another thought. Are you married to your SO? At the very least engaged or looking at rings or if you don't believe in marriage preparing for a life-long commitment alternative? Because if you aren't then his choices and timeline shouldn't play a role in when and where you go to law school. Honestly, that is the kind of decision you could end up regretting forever. Do what is right for you and you alone.

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JazzOne
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:46 pm

jks289 wrote:Another thought. Are you married to your SO? At the very least engaged or looking at rings or if you don't believe in marriage preparing for a life-long commitment alternative? Because if you aren't then his choices and timeline shouldn't play a role in when and where you go to law school. Honestly, that is the kind of decision you could end up regretting forever. Do what is right for you and you alone.

Even if you are engaged, you should go to law school when you want to. I don't see him turning down that job because you want to go to school now. Think about it.

legends159
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby legends159 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:52 pm

work experience is really important to get a good 1L summer job. It could be helpful during 2L OCI as well though I'd imagine what you do your 1L summer will be more interesting to talk about (not always the case though some people go into LS with some fantastic work experience).

Working as a legal assistant is definitely boring work and you're at the bottom of the totem pole. If you're doing it to get something on your resume and/or try to ride out the economy (though no one knows what the economy will be like when you do OCI) I would recommend some other kind of work--preferably something you would enjoy spending a year or two doing.

A year or two is not a big deal since you're still young.

viking138
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby viking138 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:53 pm

JazzOne wrote:
jks289 wrote:Another thought. Are you married to your SO? At the very least engaged or looking at rings or if you don't believe in marriage preparing for a life-long commitment alternative? Because if you aren't then his choices and timeline shouldn't play a role in when and where you go to law school. Honestly, that is the kind of decision you could end up regretting forever. Do what is right for you and you alone.

Even if you are engaged, you should go to law school when you want to. I don't see him turning down that job because you want to go to school now. Think about it.



He actually consulted me on it and asked if I wanted him to give up the job so that we could adhere to our original plan but because of his specific career goals I encouraged him to take it.

Also there's the income smoothing argument...he would pay for living expenses when I was in school, we'd have only one year of neither of us working, then I could pay for living expenses after graduation and neither of us would have to take out much in loans for living expenses.

viking138
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby viking138 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:55 pm

legends159 wrote:work experience is really important to get a good 1L summer job. It could be helpful during 2L OCI as well though I'd imagine what you do your 1L summer will be more interesting to talk about (not always the case though some people go into LS with some fantastic work experience).

Working as a legal assistant is definitely boring work and you're at the bottom of the totem pole. If you're doing it to get something on your resume and/or try to ride out the economy (though no one knows what the economy will be like when you do OCI) I would recommend some other kind of work--preferably something you would enjoy spending a year or two doing.

A year or two is not a big deal since you're still young.



The problem is that I really can't get anything I would enjoy doing that's not grunt work since I'm a poli sci major with no discernible skills beyond research and writing (kicking myself for not being an econ major or something now!).

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JazzOne
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:03 pm

viking138 wrote:
JazzOne wrote:
jks289 wrote:Another thought. Are you married to your SO? At the very least engaged or looking at rings or if you don't believe in marriage preparing for a life-long commitment alternative? Because if you aren't then his choices and timeline shouldn't play a role in when and where you go to law school. Honestly, that is the kind of decision you could end up regretting forever. Do what is right for you and you alone.

Even if you are engaged, you should go to law school when you want to. I don't see him turning down that job because you want to go to school now. Think about it.



He actually consulted me on it and asked if I wanted him to give up the job so that we could adhere to our original plan but because of his specific career goals I encouraged him to take it.

Also there's the income smoothing argument...he would pay for living expenses when I was in school, we'd have only one year of neither of us working, then I could pay for living expenses after graduation and neither of us would have to take out much in loans for living expenses.

I was wrong then. Glad to hear you're not thinking of delaying your future for a total jerk.

viking138
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby viking138 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:14 pm

JazzOne wrote:I was wrong then. Glad to hear you're not thinking of delaying your future for a total jerk.


Nah I appreciate the concern. I've seen a lot of girls make really horrible mistakes for guys so it's a legitimate worry!

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JazzOne
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:18 pm

viking138 wrote:
JazzOne wrote:I was wrong then. Glad to hear you're not thinking of delaying your future for a total jerk.


Nah I appreciate the concern. I've seen a lot of girls make really horrible mistakes for guys so it's a legitimate worry!

I still think that staggering your entrance dates could really be a good idea. He could handle some living expenses while you go through the stress of 1L, and once he gets there, he'll know what to expect from your experience, and you can pick up some of the financial slack during his final two years.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:28 pm

I would go to school right away. Deferring to work as a legal assistant is pointless and will only delay when you start making good money as an attorney. The stuff you will learn as a legal assistant will be learned more quickly and practically as an actual attorney.

The only upside I can see is that if you got into those schools during this cycle, you might have a shot at HYS in two or three years both because of experience/age and decrease in applicants. Personally, I'd go to Columbia and never look back.

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raperez129
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby raperez129 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:53 am

I would say start school now, because you are going to need the time later to scale back for a family.
I would only recommend the delay if you are having doubts, and want to get real world experience to make sure this is what you want to do.

I've done the opposite. I had my family young, and now that the kids are older and I am in my mid-30s, I'm going back to school. I’ve also worked as a paralegal for 10 years. I’m glad I did. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of big law, and I still want to do it. Sadly, over the years, I’ve seen many people right out of LS and into biglaw, only to find out they hate it. But you are on the right track to plan your timing ahead of time. Being a woman with a family in biglaw is an obstacle. It is difficult for them to co-exist. You defiantly need to work out if it will happen “before” or “after.”

imchuckbass58
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:07 am

I am really a huge fan of work experience and would normally encourage almost anyone to get it, but I'll make an exception in the case of being a legal assistant.

As far as I can tell, being a legal assistant helps you minimally either in terms of 1) giving you useful skills for law school/practice, or 2) being looked at as a positive during OCI.

If it were consulting, banking, TFA, peace corps, legislative work, or a variety of other things, I'd say go ahead, but I really would only work as a legal assistant if you are unsure about being a lawyer and want to see how it works firsthand (from your post it sounds like this does not apply to you).

Assuming you and the SO can stay in the same city, I say just go to school now.

newyorklaw23
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Re: Should I defer T6 school to work as legal assistant?

Postby newyorklaw23 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:05 pm

I have to disagree with what a lot of people have said here. Take the job, and enjoy a couple of years of disposable income and a fun social life in a great city. It's not glamorous, but it pays well, affords great networking opportunities, and a 40-60 work week provides you with free time and money that you just won't have in law school, or as a new associate.




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