Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

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katesearches
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Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby katesearches » Mon May 14, 2012 6:11 pm

I've read a few threads on people aspiring to do corporate law for a few years (and then transition to public service work/other stuff they actually want to do). I would eventually like to do that, too. But my problem right now is the other way around.

Right now, I am in public interest/non profit work, and most of my job experience for the last few years revolve around public interest work in this field. Additionally, the only undergrad activities I have are also related to this field. So everything on my resume is about human rights/PI/public service work.. However, I want to do corporate law for a few years (3-5) after law school (to pay off loans), and then re-enter public interest work.

I'm afraid this might be a problem

I read in another thread that corporate employers may look down on people with "human rights" stuff on the resume, since corporate firms will sometimes be doing business with the "alleged human rights violators". I read that I may also be seen as a bad investment, since I have "I want to leave for public service work" written all over my resume. I'd definitely tone things down in an OCI - I wouldn't ramble about human rights, but focus on the experience I got out of related-human rights work. But still, everything on my resume is associated with human rights/non-profit work.

So... what should I do? I have contemplated quitting my current job to become a paralegal/legal assistant before matriculating law school. But I like my current job, the pay is alright, and the benefits are decent too. ANy advice? Thanks!@

2012JayDee
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby 2012JayDee » Wed May 30, 2012 11:59 pm

You need to be prepared to answer the question, "why are you trying to do corporate work when everything in your background is PI?"
You will probably get this question from every employer that looks at your resumer and interviews you.

Come up with the answer. They'll want to know. It has nothing to do with corporate attorney's looking down on you and more to do with them trying to figure out your motivation. Working in public interest is very different from corporate life. There is a certain grind and hustle to corporate life that is non-existent in PI work. There is an assumption that corporate work is harsh/edgy/competitive and PI work is more people-oriented. They need to know that you have what it takes to thrive in the corporate environment. Are you willing to work the long hours? Are you ready for the hierarchy? Do you even like the type or work that corporate attorneys do? Or are you really a social servant looking for a fat paycheck?

Even if you work as a paralegal for a year the assumption is that you did it to test the waters. They're still going to see your resume. They're still going to ask what you are passionate about. Hiring attorneys know the pay in PI work is low and that you could use a few years of corporate law to pay down those debts. 90% of students law firms hire have no intention of staying at the firm after 2-3 years. The difference is that some people are just cut out for the corporate culture from the jump and some are not. Are you going to be the person that is counting down the days from the minute you start working because you really want to be somewhere saving the world? If so, they're going to see right through you.

rad lulz
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby rad lulz » Thu May 31, 2012 12:10 am

katesearches wrote:However, I want to do corporate law for a few years (3-5) after law school (to pay off loans), and then re-enter public interest work.

You sound like the exact person biglaw doesn't want to hire, so you better think of a believable story, like the above poster said.

Also don't ask about pro boner opportunities in OCI interviews.

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Redamon1
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby Redamon1 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:57 am

rad lulz wrote:
katesearches wrote:However, I want to do corporate law for a few years (3-5) after law school (to pay off loans), and then re-enter public interest work.

You sound like the exact person biglaw doesn't want to hire, so you better think of a believable story, like the above poster said.

Also don't ask about pro boner opportunities in OCI interviews.



2012JayDee wrote:90% of students law firms hire have no intention of staying at the firm after 2-3 years.


But wait, as JayDee says, don't most grads leave their corporate gigs after a few years anyway once they've paid down their debt? Is is just that when you have a PI background it's harder to pretend like you want to devote your whole life to the firm?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:45 am

I had this problem. My resume screamed PI and a lot of firms didn't like me at all. But I bid on some firms at OCI specifically because they had a strong pro bono reputation, and I talked about how I wanted to work at that firm because of that reputation. (Note that this isn't what rad lulz said; I didn't ask about pro bono, I told them I already knew what they did. Research is always key to making a good impression at OCI.) A lot of firms may not like you, but it's possible to find one who will.

Also, whether a firm takes a chance on you will have a lot to do with things like what school you go to and what your grades are. You have to offer them something they want, and if it's not a gung-ho attitude toward corporate work, then it needs to be a strong school name on your resume and grades that show you mean business. So how much your PI-centered resume will be a problem might actually depend on other things you can't know yet.

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Redamon1
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby Redamon1 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:55 am

vanwinkle wrote:I had this problem. My resume screamed PI and a lot of firms didn't like me at all. But I bid on some firms at OCI specifically because they had a strong pro bono reputation, and I talked about how I wanted to work at that firm because of that reputation. (Note that this isn't what rad lulz said; I didn't ask about pro bono, I told them I already knew what they did. Research is always key to making a good impression at OCI.) A lot of firms may not like you, but it's possible to find one who will.

Also, whether a firm takes a chance on you will have a lot to do with things like what school you go to and what your grades are. You have to offer them something they want, and if it's not a gung-ho attitude toward corporate work, then it needs to be a strong school name on your resume and grades that show you mean business. So how much your PI-centered resume will be a problem might actually depend on other things you can't know yet.


Very helpful. Would you care to share some of names of firms that may have a favorable PI bias, either because of their pro-bono work or because of the types of clients they serve overall? Is there a good way to research this? I'm a PI-heavy (6 years WE) 0L in the early stages of my legal jobs search so any advice is appreciated.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:40 pm

Redamon1 wrote:Very helpful. Would you care to share some of names of firms that may have a favorable PI bias, either because of their pro-bono work or because of the types of clients they serve overall? Is there a good way to research this? I'm a PI-heavy (6 years WE) 0L in the early stages of my legal jobs search so any advice is appreciated.

Been almost two years since I did OCI, so I forget specifically. I can tell you how to figure it out yourself, though.

I did a PI internship my 1L summer and asked some of PI attorneys about reputations of firms. They could easily tell me the difference between firms that said they care about pro bono (which is most of them) and ones which actually put in a lot. All you have to do is look at at lists of awards that firms have received for pro bono service; after a while you'll start to notice which ones have really impressive lists.

Often the pro bono work by a firm is coordinated with a PI organization. In NYC, for example, a firm might take cases directed to it by the Legal Aid Society or the NYCLU. It could also provide services at the request of national organizations like the Human Rights Campaign. These PI orgs often give "service awards" to law firms to recognize their contributions, so look for law firms that have more awards or more prominent-sounding awards.

You can also go to American Lawyer magazine's rankings. They rank the top firms in terms of pro bono work performed each year. The top-ranked firms tend to be the ones that have an internal culture supportive of pro bono work.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:41 pm

One last thing: In my interviews, I talked about how doing pro bono work is a great way to build experience which can then be put to use for paying clients. I think firms like hearing this practical side because it shows you're thinking about their bottom line, which is what's important to them.

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Redamon1
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby Redamon1 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:45 pm

Thanks for these helpful tips!

2012JayDee
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby 2012JayDee » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:17 pm

tragic mispost
Last edited by 2012JayDee on Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Transition from Public Service to corporate law?

Postby rinkrat19 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:28 pm

2012JayDee wrote:Few Questions I've been asked

-Does Rutgers rank it's students?
A: No. Rutgers does not rank it's students at all. You don't get a number or a percentage. Employers will not receive a class rank either. You are also not supposed to list a class rank on your resume.
Note: Employers that recruit at Rutgers already know the school doesn't rank and don't expect you to submit a class rank. If you submit a rank to an employer that knows the school doesn't rank you've likely set yourself up for an automatic denial.

-How does one calculate GPA? (Don't hold me accountable for the actual math here)
A: The school will not automatically calculate your GPA at the end of a semester. They will however, provide you with the tools you need to do so. It's a fairly simple formula. Multiply the number of credits by the points allowed for a specific letter grade and divide by the total number of credits
Ex. A+=4 A=3.75 A-=3.5
If you took 9 credits, a 4 credit class with an A; A 3 credit class with an A+ and a 2 credit class with an A- you would calculate your GPA as 4x3.75 (15) + 3x4 (12) + 2x 3.5 (7) =34
Divide 34 by the total number of credits taken (9) and your GPA is a 3.78 rounded.

-Who can participate in OCI?
A: Any 2L/3LE, 3L/4LE ("E" is a part time students in the third or fourth of four years) that has completed the mandatory 1L curriculum. 1L full-time or part time students may not participate in OCI. Fall OCI occurs in the mid-late August before the fall semester starts and continues until Late Sept/Early Oct.
Note: This is the guidance from NALP on 1L hiring:
D. Summer Employment Provisions for First Year Students

Law schools should not offer career services to first-semester first year law students prior to November 1 except in the case of part-time students who may be given assistance in seeking positions during the school term.
Prospective employers and first year law students should not initiate contact with one another and employers should not interview or make offers to first year students before December 1.
All offers to first year students for summer employment should remain open for at least two weeks after the date made.

:?:




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