How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school? Forum

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LiquoreStoreHero

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How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by LiquoreStoreHero » Fri Aug 13, 2021 4:31 pm

I planned to go to law school in September 2020 but I didn't for a variety of personal reasons. In short, I had family troubles that spiraled out of control, and I wasn't doing very well emotionally for that and other reasons.

My score (170) is good until at least 2023 and potentially 2024. (The LSAC guidelines say that a score is good for "five testing years"; my last and highest score was from July 2019)

How do I find out if law is even a good career choice for me? In retrospect, I think I took the LSAT because I saw law as a stable and lucrative career to almost "default" into. I have done basically no legal work in my entire life. I did a very informal (and not very informative) "internship" as a legal assistant at a tiny personal injury firm for 2 and a half months shortly after college. (We didn't use WestLaw or Lexis Nexis; it was extremely basic.) I think that if I went to law school/became a lawyer, I'd want to do BigLaw and/or BigFed.

How do I get in touch with someone who's worked BigLaw and/or BigFed? I'd want to ask them about their work and see what it's like.

How do I see if law is right for me? My current idea is to find a paralegal job at a Vault 100 firm and spend maybe a year working there. This is complicated by the fact that I need to make money and have been also applying to work at an insurance firm where I can expect to make $66k starting salary. If I get a job in a non-legal related field, would it be okay to just do that and save money? If I end up taking a non-legal job, are there any other ways to find out if I'd enjoy law?
  • I should mention that the insurance firm I may start working at also has in-house Paralegal positions that I'd be eligible to lateral into after working for one year. But, doing so (and staying at that company) would mean I'd only be able to apply in 2023, which might give me only one cycle to get a good offer.
What's the best way for me to find a paralegal job? So far, I've been throwing my resume and cover letter at anything I find on Indeed or LinkedIn. I've also started running through the Vault 100 list of BigLaw firms and sending in applications to both individual Paralegal listing and also hiring managers.

Further background:
  • I am living with a relative currently but I feel compelled to move out in the next 6-12 months. (it is also uncertain how long they will be able to live in the NYC metro where I am looking for work). Therefore, I will likely not have a place to live rent-free, which means I must be concerned with job income and also would not be able to study as constantly for the LSAT as for my first run, in the event that I need to retake.
  • I'm not applying until at least day-one (late August/early September) 2022. I do not feel prepared to apply this current (2021) cycle.
  • I have not touched LSAT prep since July 2019.

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cavalier1138

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by cavalier1138 » Mon Aug 16, 2021 9:51 am

Working as a paralegal is a good idea. You can also reach out to lawyers directly in areas you have interest in and ask to talk to them about their work. That said, I think it would be much easier to find lawyers at the state or county level, which would give you an idea of what legal practice, even if it doesn't show you "Big Fed" practice in particular.

LiquoreStoreHero

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by LiquoreStoreHero » Mon Aug 16, 2021 10:28 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful response! How do I reach out to lawyers in BigLaw? How do I find lawyers at the state/county level? I'm not really sure where to start.

I understand that paralegaling is the typical advice for someone in my situation, but let's assume I don't/can't get a paralegal job. How would I get a feel for legal practice? Just talking it over with those lawyers? Some other angle I've neglected? Thanks again.

BrainsyK

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by BrainsyK » Mon Aug 16, 2021 10:55 pm

LiquoreStoreHero wrote:
Fri Aug 13, 2021 4:31 pm
How do I find out if law is even a good career choice for me? A lot to unpack here, but to start with, law is a huge domain. If you're just talking Biglaw, it would still be a highly personal question that only you can answer and with only some certainty after a lot of soul-searching and research. Being a Biglaw paralegal is a good way to research. Reading the Legal Employment section of this forum is another way. People have basically covered every aspect of Biglaw lawyering in it.

How do I get in touch with someone who's worked BigLaw and/or BigFed? Biglaw associates have web profiles that display their phone numbers and emails and love to talk about themselves. Put it together. I'm also happy to chat. Just hit me up in the DMs.

How do I see if law is right for me? See answer to first question above.

What's the best way for me to find a paralegal job? I've always gotten the impression that this was mostly for people with elite UG degrees and familial connections in Biglaw. At least, that's the background of most of the young paralegals that I see. I'd do some networking as I don't think blindly applying through a portal will get you far.

eytandg

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by eytandg » Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:33 pm

I also think you should think about whether you would want to work in Biglaw out of law school. Having taken a look at your previous thread, you seemed pretty against biglaw at first, but then more open to it. Do you know if you would be interested more in corporate work, litigation work, other specialties, or do you generally not know? If so, do you know why? To be honest, there are quite a few resources online, especially on this forum, where lawyers talk about their typical days, what type of work they do, what it entails and career progression. I would also take heed of BrainsyK's advice to email biglaw associates and would range on emailing too many rather than too few.

I'm also happy to chat about my law school experience if you want to PM me.

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JCougar

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by JCougar » Thu Aug 19, 2021 7:05 pm

Law is a lot of tedious paperwork/proofreading. I really mean a lot of it. Although a high LSAT score is a good sign, much of the daily grind in law is well below the intellect level needed to get a top LSAT score. It's a lot of project management/deadline management/organizational skills. It's a lot of combing through 100,000+ documents to find one line of text to question someone about at a deposition. While some personality Type B attributes will help you come up with novel arguments in briefs, etc., it's mostly a profession for extreme Type A personalities.

Just thought I'd put that out there. It's really unbelievable just how boring most of the work is. You really have to be the kind of person that can power through it without really making any mistakes.

LiquoreStoreHero

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by LiquoreStoreHero » Tue Aug 31, 2021 6:03 pm

eytandg wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:33 pm
I also think you should think about whether you would want to work in Biglaw out of law school. Having taken a look at your previous thread, you seemed pretty against biglaw at first, but then more open to it.
I had an aversion to BigLaw because of the hours. According to a few of the former and current BL associates I have spoken to, the really egregious workweeks are during “crunch time” and are not the baseline. Moreover, some family and friends of mine work/worked soulless corporate jobs and they describe the same kind of crunch time except they get paid even less during those times. I think that many jobs I may end up working will have that kind of schedule, and I don’t think it’s unique to BigLaw. That removes one “pull” factor away from BigLaw, in my eyes.

My positives for BigLaw are still fairly tenuous so that’s why I’m still figuring things out. I’d like to make a lot of money. I feel like it’d feel like a really substantial sense of accomplishment to get into a T13 school and work at a juggernaut firm. More practically speaking, I understand that a BigLaw firm is a FANTASTIC resume stamp that would help me find employment down the line, especially for Federal Government work. I also know that T13 schools simply have way better outcomes than other schools. Finally, from speaking to some BL associates and browsing Vault 100 firm overviews, I think I’d be working among really sharp people, and that sounds like it would appeal to me. My only concern here is that many of these motivations feel more external rather than internal, so I want to make sure law would even be right for me before I commit to school.

Lastly, I should mention that if I found another job that gave me a sense of internal validation, external validation, and feeling like I'm especially competent at a task/set of tasks, I'd consider that, too. I'm not married to the idea of becoming an attorney, but I am pretty curious about it.
Do you know if you would be interested more in corporate work, litigation work, other specialties, or do you generally not know? If so, do you know why? To be honest, there are quite a few resources online, especially on this forum, where lawyers talk about their typical days, what type of work they do, what it entails and career progression. I would also take heed of BrainsyK's advice to email biglaw associates and would range on emailing too many rather than too few.
I think I’d prefer transactional work over litigation, as I think I remember reading that you can find work easier if you specialize in transactional work. That said, I also feel like law is such a huge field, and I know so little, and so much of my motivation is admittedly external, where I feel like I don’t really know what I’d want to do.

I have a vague notion that working for the federal government would be cool, entail more reasonable hours, and still provide good pay. So maybe that would be a more sustainable long-term goal. I also feel like working for the EPA sounds cool, but it's just a general idea and nothing specific enough to make a plan based on.

CanadianWolf

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:31 pm

Most biglaw paralegal programs ask for a 2 year commitment.

gigem1620

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Re: How do I find out if I'd enjoy a legal career prior to applying to law school?

Post by gigem1620 » Fri Sep 03, 2021 4:57 pm

As far as looking for paralegal/legal assistant jobs, my best advice is to just never give up. It's hard to get them, but I got mine after trying hard and never giving up. Just keep applying, and eventually you'll get the right opportunity.

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