Leaving the Law Success Stories

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Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:15 pm

I am first year big law corporate associate at a v10 firm and I have basically come to the conclusion that once the COVID crisis begins to clear up, I am going to look for a job outside the law. I was wondering if anyone had any success stories, or advice, that they would like to share about leveraging a JD to land a job outside the law? I am a poli sci major that went straight through law school, so I understand that my options aren't looking great, but I am looking for some light at the end of tunnel here!

As background (warning vent coming), I knew I was not going to be in big law for the long-term, but the way my first-year is going, I can't see me staying around for long. Since I started working, I have worked at least a few hours on every holiday, except Christmas, I have worked at least a few hours on Saturday and Sunday for the past 2 months and I stay up until around 2am working at least one night a week (I am also currently running on 3 hours of sleep). I know a lot of people will say to leave my firm because these hours are inflated, but I really just have a strong dislike for the work I do, and I have yet to find an area of the law that I mildly enjoyed. I really like all the people in my group, including the partners, and I get staffed on matters that my law friends are jealous about, and I still really hate the work. I also understand that leaving the law is not a financially prudent decision, but I have never been this stressed and unhappy before, and I have decided it would be best to at least consider alternatives. Also, I have worked in some capacity since I was 14, including two jobs throughout college, so while big law is a shock to me, I wouldn't say that this is typical k-law school crying, but maybe it is, who knows.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:16 pm

I've been doing this 6 years almost now and I felt the same way you did about 3 months into my first year. I had massive debt coming out of school so I stuck it out pretty much exclusively for the pay to get out of debt and save up a nest egg. While I like my co-workers, I've disliked almost every minute of the job and actually feel like my skills have diminished outside of the very few specific ones I need for the job. What I found was that working at a V10, even if for a short time, helped me get almost any firm job I wanted, so a few times I've actually lateraled and taken time off between to travel and relax for a few months, which really helped me stick around big law much longer than I would have otherwise. I also switched practice groups so that kept things a little more interesting and the expectations a little lower.

If you really want to leave, I suggest lateraling once, just to give yourself some time off to think hard about what you want to do and then stack money at your new firm until you can leave or can't stand it anymore. I knew big law had to be in my future during my breaks so I didn't give it too much thought because of my debt load, but my next break will likely be my break from the law (or at least firm life).

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:58 pm

Do you hate doing deals or do you hate the underlying work?

I'm class of 2017 and there is honestly a limited number of leavers so far from my class. Im not a lawyer anymore but my current role probably requires a JD (distressed debt).

If you like deals but hate the work, IBD might make sense. If you hate both, not sure what a good option is, maybe legal recruiting if you are good with people.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by LBJ's Hair » Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:58 pm
Do you hate doing deals or do you hate the underlying work?

I'm class of 2017 and there is honestly a limited number of leavers so far from my class. Im not a lawyer anymore but my current role probably requires a JD (distressed debt).

If you like deals but hate the work, IBD might make sense. If you hate both, not sure what a good option is, maybe legal recruiting if you are good with people.
Seems like OP hates the hours and unpredictability, so IBD not a great choice

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by lawdog97 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:26 am

I know a lot of attorneys who end up going into finance, as investment bankers or stock brokers.

Look up Lloyd Blankfield, he was a big law attorney and now is the head of Goldman Sachs. Several of those guys have a J.D.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by cavalier1138 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:57 am

lawdog97 wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:26 am
I know a lot of attorneys who end up going into finance, as investment bankers or stock brokers.

Look up Lloyd Blankfield, he was a big law attorney and now is the head of Goldman Sachs. Several of those guys have a J.D.
0Ls are not allowed to post in the Legal Employment forums (this includes all the sub-forums in the Legal Employment category). If you have any questions about legal employment or law school, use the Ask a Law School Student/Graduate forum.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by unlicensedpotato » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:15 pm

lawdog97 wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:26 am
I know a lot of attorneys who end up going into finance, as investment bankers or stock brokers.

Look up Lloyd Blankfield, he was a big law attorney and now is the head of Goldman Sachs. Several of those guys have a J.D.
Objectively hilarious for a 0L to condescendingly point you to "Lloyd Blankfield" (and refer to him as the current head of GS) when noting they know "a lot of attorneys" who end up going into finance.

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beepboopbeep

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by beepboopbeep » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:21 pm

The absolute disrespect to DJ D-Sol.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by jigiwo1898jupiter » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:59 pm

lawdog97 wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:26 am
I know a lot of attorneys who end up going into finance, as investment bankers or stock brokers.

Look up Lloyd Blankfield, he was a big law attorney and now is the head of Goldman Sachs. Several of those guys have a J.D.
Maybe get his name right when you look him up, groupie.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jun 06, 2020 11:32 am

LBJ's Hair wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:19 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:58 pm
Do you hate doing deals or do you hate the underlying work?

I'm class of 2017 and there is honestly a limited number of leavers so far from my class. Im not a lawyer anymore but my current role probably requires a JD (distressed debt).

If you like deals but hate the work, IBD might make sense. If you hate both, not sure what a good option is, maybe legal recruiting if you are good with people.
Seems like OP hates the hours and unpredictability, so IBD not a great choice
OP here, thanks for the response and the honesty.This is honestly exactly why I want to leave sooner rather than later. The longer I stay in my group, the more I will develop a skill set that is basically not useful in any other setting besides a firm. I also have 100k in student debt (*here is where people tell me to stay for three years pay it off and then move on to be a unhappy in-house lawyer reviewing NDAs*), and that is that has stopped from really actively looking for a new job/career path. However, I have a really low interest rate and I can handle that student debt responsibly on a much lower salary, if need be. When I'm 50 years old I'd rather have a smaller house and smaller 401(k) than have my late 20's and 30's be a blur a work and real unhappiness.

With respect to a new job/career choices, lol at throwing IB out there. (1) IB firms do not like hiring lawyers, don't let the few who make it make you think otherwise (2) Yes, I want a job that has more predictability and chiller hours than the big law life. I have toyed with the idea of being a legal recruiter, working in business development (in a business or a different law firm), maybe even a Investor Relations position. Also I have seen so many job posts for compliance jobs at banks that I seem mildly qualified for. If anyone has any experience with any positions like that, any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated. Overall, I enjoy working with people and teams so anything in that wheel house I would be open to at least exploring.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by sms18 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:56 am

lawdog97 wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:26 am
I know a lot of attorneys who end up going into finance, as investment bankers or stock brokers.

Look up Lloyd Blankfield, he was a big law attorney and now is the head of Goldman Sachs. Several of those guys have a J.D.
LOL at "stock brokers." Also, just because someone has a JD doesnt mean that person actually practiced law. Sam Zell has a JD but he "practiced" law for a total of one week before deciding to go into real estate business.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by sparty99 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 11:32 am
LBJ's Hair wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:19 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:58 pm
Do you hate doing deals or do you hate the underlying work?

I'm class of 2017 and there is honestly a limited number of leavers so far from my class. Im not a lawyer anymore but my current role probably requires a JD (distressed debt).

If you like deals but hate the work, IBD might make sense. If you hate both, not sure what a good option is, maybe legal recruiting if you are good with people.
Seems like OP hates the hours and unpredictability, so IBD not a great choice
OP here, thanks for the response and the honesty.This is honestly exactly why I want to leave sooner rather than later. The longer I stay in my group, the more I will develop a skill set that is basically not useful in any other setting besides a firm. I also have 100k in student debt (*here is where people tell me to stay for three years pay it off and then move on to be a unhappy in-house lawyer reviewing NDAs*), and that is that has stopped from really actively looking for a new job/career path. However, I have a really low interest rate and I can handle that student debt responsibly on a much lower salary, if need be. When I'm 50 years old I'd rather have a smaller house and smaller 401(k) than have my late 20's and 30's be a blur a work and real unhappiness.

With respect to a new job/career choices, lol at throwing IB out there. (1) IB firms do not like hiring lawyers, don't let the few who make it make you think otherwise (2) Yes, I want a job that has more predictability and chiller hours than the big law life. I have toyed with the idea of being a legal recruiter, working in business development (in a business or a different law firm), maybe even a Investor Relations position. Also I have seen so many job posts for compliance jobs at banks that I seem mildly qualified for. If anyone has any experience with any positions like that, any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated. Overall, I enjoy working with people and teams so anything in that wheel house I would be open to at least exploring.
If you have 100k in debt I would not leave until that debt is down to 30k or so. WOrk one more year. It is not that big of a deal. Like someone else said, try to lateral so you can take a month off between quitting and starting your job. Try to get a sign-on bonus if possible. $100k is a lot of debt and you make a great salary. Just man up and do it for 12 months longer. Leaving now and still having $100k in debt would be dumb. Your 35 year old self would be happy that you stuck it out a year to pay down the debt.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Sackboy » Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:56 pm

sparty99 wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:48 pm
Just man up
Yikes.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by 12YrsAnAssociate » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:48 pm

I've been in biglaw for almost 7 years. It'll never be an easy job, but it gets way easier quickly. The first two years are the absolute worst. Everything is stressful because you know nothing. It's also bad because the biglaw model tends to push a lot of quick turn around grunt work on juniors with low billable rates. During those 2 years, every month gets better than the last, but no month is easy. After that, it gets gradually better. You gradually get assignments that provide some autonomy. You gradually learn which people you want to work for and which ones you want to avoid. You're gradually allowed to ask people more junior than you to help if you need it. You gradually just know how to do things better than you did before without spinning your wheels. And you gradually have less and less financial stress. Now, seven years in, I have lots of autonomy, I rarely feel rushed, and I have enough money in the bank that I don't stress about money. I still get stressed; I'm in litigation, and I want to win just like everyone. Like you, I sometimes think about doing something with fewer hours. But those jobs are like 25% of my current pay for about 85% as much work, and I don't think I have enough money saved up to make that switch without adding new financial stresses that I have finally just escaped.

The point of this post is that I just want to make sure you know that the way you feel now is likely not the way you'll feel in even 3 months. Take care of yourself.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:20 pm

12YrsAnAssociate wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:48 pm
I've been in biglaw for almost 7 years. It'll never be an easy job, but it gets way easier quickly. The first two years are the absolute worst. Everything is stressful because you know nothing. It's also bad because the biglaw model tends to push a lot of quick turn around grunt work on juniors with low billable rates. During those 2 years, every month gets better than the last, but no month is easy. After that, it gets gradually better. You gradually get assignments that provide some autonomy. You gradually learn which people you want to work for and which ones you want to avoid. You're gradually allowed to ask people more junior than you to help if you need it. You gradually just know how to do things better than you did before without spinning your wheels. And you gradually have less and less financial stress. Now, seven years in, I have lots of autonomy, I rarely feel rushed, and I have enough money in the bank that I don't stress about money. I still get stressed; I'm in litigation, and I want to win just like everyone. Like you, I sometimes think about doing something with fewer hours. But those jobs are like 25% of my current pay for about 85% as much work, and I don't think I have enough money saved up to make that switch without adding new financial stresses that I have finally just escaped.

The point of this post is that I just want to make sure you know that the way you feel now is likely not the way you'll feel in even 3 months. Take care of yourself.
Seems like litigation does get better as you get more senior. I'm a 7th year corporate associate and I find the opposite to be true to some extent. I definitely have more power to say no, and people leave me alone for longer than they used to when something needs to get done, but its higher stress since I deal directly with partners and clients and the expectations are much higher. I've had partners literally disappear and expect me to run deals till sign/close, which I guess shows they trust me, but its pretty brutal. I'd never want to be a partner and do this the rest of my life.

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:24 pm

I've heard of some people who have left to become public school teachers (100k+ working in like westchester or Long Island, with pension) and know one that's now a programmer after doing a coding course. Few people always go into investment banking where they networked and had the requisite skills.

I'm hoping to eventually leave too, but am only 3 years out of law school. I save my salary like crazy though in anticipation of doing so, and you should do the same (and try to pay off your debt before you leave). I'm ranging from lasting one more year to three more years and a networth between 500k and 900k depending on when I quit (or am laid off).

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Re: Leaving the Law Success Stories

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:31 am

Not sure I’m what you’re looking for, but I guess I’m sort of apply. I moved from big law (mid-level, corporate) to front office, buy side finance business role years ago.

Doesn’t sound like you are too sure about what you want and you are instead focused on what you don’t want. Understandable given your position, but that mindset may lead to a bad decision. I would focus on figuring out what you really want and understanding what that looks like.

Three things for you to consider about leaving law.

1. There will be things you don’t like about your new job. Many young lawyers that transition out of law really struggle going from a lifetime of clear structure and progression models (school to college to law school to big law up or out model) to corporate America where career progression is much slower and more nebulous. At least in the early part of your big law career, you’re getting additional duties and a clear path to more responsibility. In the corporate world, you could be doing the same job for a decade waiting for someone to leave for whatever reason before your next opportunity comes along.

2. I caution you on making the financial compromise this early. I get that you could be just fine at 50 with a smaller house and smaller 401(k), but you really have no idea what life will throw at you and what kind of resources you’ll need in the future. Perhaps things work out fine, but if you end up needing resources for whatever reason, the student loan debt will be a serious drag on you.

3. With the exception of legal adjacent jobs like compliance, the smaller the entity you go to work for, the more valuable your legal background will be. Small entities need people to wear multiple hats. The bigger the entity, the more specialization matters. If you end up in a big org—outside of compliance type roles—your legal background will be of little value and potentially a hinderance until you prove yourself.

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