Career Possibilities for Mid-Age Law Applicant Forum

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lawcouldbe

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Career Possibilities for Mid-Age Law Applicant

Post by lawcouldbe » Mon Dec 18, 2023 12:46 am

Hi,
I’m a first-time user, and not sure if this is the appropriate session for my inquiry. However, as my concern is job-related and falls within the realm of professional advice, I hope it’s ok to post here and receive your valuable insights. Thank you very much!

My background:
1. I am a JD program applicant aiming for enrollment in fall 2025. Currently, I’m working on the LSAT after my full-time job, making steady progress, and targeting a score of 170+ (hopefully).
2. I’m in my late 30s, so if everything goes well as planned, I anticipate completing the JD program and entering the workforce in my early 40s.
3. I hold a B.Arch degree from abroad and an M.Arch degree from the U.S.
4. With approximately 10 years of experience in Architecture/Urban Design across Asia, Europe, and the U.S., I’m currently leading design process for some project components in a large architectural firm’s local office.

My concerns and disadvantages:
1. My age is an issue, and I worry about securing a decent job post-graduation even if the application goes well and I can get into an ok law school.
2. My prior work experience is not directly law-related, the only part I can think of is some involvement in communication/permitting process with the city, and some exposure to construction.
3. My educational background is also non-legal, with only a few cross-registration courses at school of government during my M.Arch studies in the University.
4. English is my second language, impacting my writing and speaking skills compared to other U.S. candidates. I am committed to improvement but acknowledge limitations.
5. I lack connections that could potentially lead to job opportunities after graduation, or bring cases to me.

My questions:
1. Considering the information provided, do you think it is feasible for me to secure employment post-graduation? Do you have people similar to my case in your workplace?
2. Is it realistic to expect to reach a salary level of $150k within three years of graduating?
3. Despite being open to initial demanding work hours (60-80 hours weekly), is it possible to achieve work-life balance after five years, taking into account family and children?
4. Given my background, is there any chance to gain admission to a T20 law school?
5. Set aside my personal interest, just to be practical for job opportunities, what areas of law would you recommend I explore?
I apologize if my questions seem “novice” or if they do not align with the typical queries here. I figure this is probably my last chance for a career path change and just want to be realistic if law could be the option.

I sincerely appreciate your time and expertise. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!

talons2250

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Re: Career Possibilities for Mid-Age Law Applicant

Post by talons2250 » Mon Dec 18, 2023 12:54 pm

You have just a good a chance of getting into a top school and getting a job following graduation as anyone else. For example, this person graduated college in 1994, started NYU Law in 2014 and now works in biglaw: https://www.debevoise.com/amyzimmerman.

crazywafflez

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Re: Career Possibilities for Mid-Age Law Applicant

Post by crazywafflez » Tue Dec 19, 2023 10:59 am

1. Considering the information provided, do you think it is feasible for me to secure employment post-graduation? Do you have people similar to my case in your workplace?

Yes, it's certainly feasible. Maybe a slight disadvantage at some shops, but so long as you are not well into your 50s, you should be fine. At my previous firm, no, we didn't have any mid career jump folks. I know of one though at a comparable firm. I'm in fed govt now, and there's one person in my current office who was similar.
2. Is it realistic to expect to reach a salary level of $150k within three years of graduating?

Only if you graduate from a T14. Otherwise, unlikely.

3. Despite being open to initial demanding work hours (60-80 hours weekly), is it possible to achieve work-life balance after five years, taking into account family and children?

Not in big law (the jobs that'll pay over 150k).

4. Given my background, is there any chance to gain admission to a T20 law school?

Certainly. If you have a good GPA and a high lsat score, it's a real possibility. However, I do not believe T20 should be your goal. I think schools like Minnesota are T20s now? They do not place well in BL- others, like Vanderbilt, do.

5. Set aside my personal interest, just to be practical for job opportunities, what areas of law would you recommend I explore?

Corporate, securities, bankruptcy.

Final note- I wouldn't go to law school in your shoes. Forgoing 3 years of income, potentially taking on massive debt, for a career with a terrible work life balance where only the top 14 or so schools guarantee decent pay outcomes.
If you currently make over 6 figures, I can't really see this being a good career move for you. If you are making 60 though and your spouse makes decent money, by all means, make the leap.

lawcouldbe

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Re: Career Possibilities for Mid-Age Law Applicant

Post by lawcouldbe » Thu Dec 21, 2023 12:11 am

crazywafflez wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2023 10:59 am
1. Considering the information provided, do you think it is feasible for me to secure employment post-graduation? Do you have people similar to my case in your workplace?

Yes, it's certainly feasible. Maybe a slight disadvantage at some shops, but so long as you are not well into your 50s, you should be fine. At my previous firm, no, we didn't have any mid career jump folks. I know of one though at a comparable firm. I'm in fed govt now, and there's one person in my current office who was similar.
2. Is it realistic to expect to reach a salary level of $150k within three years of graduating?

Only if you graduate from a T14. Otherwise, unlikely.

3. Despite being open to initial demanding work hours (60-80 hours weekly), is it possible to achieve work-life balance after five years, taking into account family and children?

Not in big law (the jobs that'll pay over 150k).

4. Given my background, is there any chance to gain admission to a T20 law school?

Certainly. If you have a good GPA and a high lsat score, it's a real possibility. However, I do not believe T20 should be your goal. I think schools like Minnesota are T20s now? They do not place well in BL- others, like Vanderbilt, do.

5. Set aside my personal interest, just to be practical for job opportunities, what areas of law would you recommend I explore?

Corporate, securities, bankruptcy.

Final note- I wouldn't go to law school in your shoes. Forgoing 3 years of income, potentially taking on massive debt, for a career with a terrible work life balance where only the top 14 or so schools guarantee decent pay outcomes.
If you currently make over 6 figures, I can't really see this being a good career move for you. If you are making 60 though and your spouse makes decent money, by all means, make the leap.
Thank you for your comprehensive response! I now have a better understanding of the information. While I previously "imagined" that lawyers in the U.S. typically earn very high salaries, I realize that this may not always be the case, and it seems that the rate of earning growth is not necessarily rapid.

crazywafflez

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Posts: 679
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:02 pm

Re: Career Possibilities for Mid-Age Law Applicant

Post by crazywafflez » Sat Dec 23, 2023 3:49 pm

Thank you for your comprehensive response! I now have a better understanding of the information. While I previously "imagined" that lawyers in the U.S. typically earn very high salaries, I realize that this may not always be the case, and it seems that the rate of earning growth is not necessarily rapid.
[/quote]

Happy to help. The median salary for attorneys of all stripes and ages is around the 120k mark. This includes public interest type law and big law. Nonetheless, graduates who miss the big law train generally make around 60-90k starting. I'll try and give just a few break downs below (make sure to check my work, as I'm sure I've messed up somewhere).

Let's take an example of OKC. You go to OK law and get a job offer in OKC after graduating. 1) That is a gig with the DA's office. You're offered 60k. After about 10 years, you'll be making around 100-120k. Not a bad living in OKC. 2) You start at a well respected firm in OKC. You're starting pay is around 75k. You get around 5k increases a year as well here; after about 6-8 years you are no longer getting raises, but you are up for partnership. Once you get partner (if you get it), you'll be making anywhere from 80k-250k. It really depends on how successful you are, your firm, your work flow and a myriad of other factors. 3) Personal injury firm. You start out making 60k or so. You don't get any real raises but you get bigger cuts of your settlements. Eventually, your firm will take you off a salary and you'll get paid fully on your settlements. You could make 0 bucks a year, and you could make all the way up to 500k. Really world is your oyster type, sink or swim gig.

Those are generally the 3 most common buckets. It takes attorneys quite a bit of time to breach the 120kish mark, for the most part. Of course, it's a good gig compared to most other professions, but it is not a golden ticket. Going to Tulsa law is a great ticket to the middle class. It isn't getting you rich unless you are just a killer personal injury lawyer.

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