Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

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jjlaw
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Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby jjlaw » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:02 am

There is a lot of talk on TLS about NY and DC BigLaw, but I'm wondering if anyone has insight for people who aren't interested in BigLaw? I'm interested in PI primarily, but if I do go into private practice, I wonder what factors a prospective law student should consider when choosing a law school? For example, what kind of emphasis do small or mid-size law firms place on applicants, besides school prestige? How do these firms recruit? How can a law student get a leg-up on these smaller firms? I assume the size makes them more selective.

If anyone has experience in working for a smaller firm, please share your experiences/thoughts. Thanks!

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James Bond
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Re: Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby James Bond » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:05 am

Factor to consider: How else am I going to pay off $250,000 in debt?

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby OperaSoprano » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:27 am

Look into the requirements of each school's LRAP to get a sense of how generous they are with helping you repay your loans. You'll want to see if the school has some kind of public interest office or center to help you find internships and volunteer opportunities. Smaller firms require more legwork in my experience, since most places interested in hiring one student (at most) won't bother showing up for OCI. You will need to do the dreaded networking, but the good news is that your school can help (not get you a job, mind. I said help.) My career services put me in contact with graduates of my UG who are practicing law, when I didn't know for sure that any existed. I even found someone with my same major, and this person still gives me wonderful advice.

Your best resources will honestly be current students. They can tell you how happy they really are with the school and what job prospects are actually like. All schools report selectively, though some do a much more honest and thorough job than others.

It is true that TLS is biglaw centric, but not all of us want that kind of life. I really didn't, though I did OCI anyway. The truth is that you will have to do the work if you want something else. Biglaw comes to you, and if you have the grades and/or the right school, it can seem like the easy option. Debt sucks and is scary and I don't blame people at all for wanting to pay it off as quickly as possible, but there is life beyond early interview week.

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pany1985
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Re: Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby pany1985 » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:33 am

I'd consider taking a big scholarship

It's definitely a load off your mind to know you can take a non-six-figure job and still live pretty comfortably because none (or very little of it) is being siphoned off to pay down student loans.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby OperaSoprano » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:45 am

pany1985 wrote:I'd consider taking a big scholarship

It's definitely a load off your mind to know you can take a non-six-figure job and still live pretty comfortably because none (or very little of it) is being siphoned off to pay down student loans.


This is also credited, though keep in mind that some PI employers still care about the name on your diploma. There are plenty that don't (my organization really didn't care where I went), but it's a consideration for those seeking ACLU type jobs.

FTR, a school like NYU with a large LRAP comes near to having the same effect on your take-home pay, though you must look at the requirements to participate. You can't assume your job will qualify. I am hoping my school expands LRAP coverage to government employees. At present we cover IBR payments for nonprofit attorneys making under a ceiling amount.

jjlaw
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Re: Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby jjlaw » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:22 am

Thanks for the responses and advice. Would it be harder to get a position at a smaller firm without BigLaw experience? I'm not attracted to the big factory culture of BigLaw, so I'm curious about the other routes others have gone in searching for a non-BigLaw experience in the private sector. Do smaller firms look for more experience, like clerkships and clinics, or even personality?

OperaSoprano, you mentioned that some government jobs don't really care about which school you went to. Can you give a few examples? I interned at a large nonprofit legal org, and I remember their advice that "school is everything." I'm wondering which kinds of positions would not emphasize school as much, and why do you think that is?

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Factors to consider for those not interested in BigLaw?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:39 pm

jjlaw wrote:Thanks for the responses and advice. Would it be harder to get a position at a smaller firm without BigLaw experience? I'm not attracted to the big factory culture of BigLaw, so I'm curious about the other routes others have gone in searching for a non-BigLaw experience in the private sector. Do smaller firms look for more experience, like clerkships and clinics, or even personality?

OperaSoprano, you mentioned that some government jobs don't really care about which school you went to. Can you give a few examples? I interned at a large nonprofit legal org, and I remember their advice that "school is everything." I'm wondering which kinds of positions would not emphasize school as much, and why do you think that is?


Unless you're on a full scholarship, small firms are going to be essentially impossible to handle from a financial perspective. While you're eligible for IBR, you're on the 25, not 10, year forgiveness plan, and the vast majority of LRAP programs won't give you a dime.

Edit: Unless you're talking about market-paying boutique firms, which are far, FAR more difficult to land than biglaw gigs, and have biglaw hours.




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