Being a lawyer on the side? Forum

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
thebroteinshake

New
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:50 pm

Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by thebroteinshake » Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:57 pm

Hi everyone, would it be possible someone to work a full-time job in another field (tech, in my case) and help people with legal issues on the side as an attorney -- immigration, family, estate planning, etc.? My objective would be to help people with legal expertise, not money. If so, what legal services would fit those constraints? I have a good gig in tech that pays well and has great WLB; my weekday work can be mostly wrapped up by 6pm, almost all of my weekends are always free.

I wanted to pursue litigation because I love the idea of advocating people facing unjust situations on their behalf (plaintiffs or defendants), but it seems like it may be difficult to get the type of satisfaction that I seek from non-public interest jobs. I also worry about the cultural and WLB issues that many folks allude to in this forum. In turn, I started wondering whether I can have best of both worlds by keeping tech as my main career and volunteer as an attorney on the side. When I am financially independent, I could continue the attorney work full-time.

FWIW, I am a 0L (currently deferred at CCN with $$). I have been working for several years in tech and have enough savings to be debt free, so finance is not an issue for me attending law school. However, if the part-time volunteering would be possible, I would reapply to a lower-ranked part-time program, with hopes of near-full financial aid.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:19 pm

Donate to a nonprofit/legal aid that supports your goals, you'll have a lot more impact than LARPing.

almostperfectt

New
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:47 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by almostperfectt » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:27 pm

Meaningful contributions to peoples' complex legal issues take more than a hobby's-worth of time commitment.

12YrsAnAssociate

Bronze
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu May 21, 2020 3:03 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by 12YrsAnAssociate » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:35 pm

I know a few part time litigators and they are uniformly terrible lawyers that repeatedly bungle their clients' cases, and everyone that goes against them knows it.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:39 pm

It's definitely doable, but I don't think its advisable. I know a couple lawyers who do variations of this (one left the law to be a full-time stay-at-home parent and does very-part-time legal work on the side, and another has a non-JD-required civilian career but serves as a JAG in the Army Reserve on the side). But they both went to law school intending to be full-time lawyers, and made the switch after practicing for at least a year or two. I don't know anyone who went to law school with the express purpose of never practicing full-time as a lawyer. That frankly strikes me as a huge waste of your time.

There are many ways to make an impact on the community that don't require a law degree. In fact, you're arguably able to do a lot more for the community *without* going to law school, because you could spend the thousands of hours that you would otherwise spend in law school actually helping the community.

Want to continue reading?

Register now to search topics and post comments!

Absolutely FREE!


User avatar
bretby

Bronze
Posts: 437
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:15 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by bretby » Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:01 pm

This is not a good idea. You cannot be a good lawyer as a hobby for a lot of reasons. Anything remotely challenging will require time, as mentioned above. Also you do not learn how to be a lawyer in law school -- you learn that on the job, so if you never work full time as a lawyer, you will never pick up the skills necessary to be an effective lawyer, let alone a good lawyer.

thebroteinshake

New
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by thebroteinshake » Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm

Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?

Barrred

Bronze
Posts: 266
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:49 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Barrred » Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:35 pm

thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
Its not that there is no legal work that can be done in a part time capacity---there definitely is, especially pro bono (simple immigration work, simple trust/estates issues, special ed advocacy, veterans benefits advocacy, simple landlord/tenant, etc.)---its just that in no way is it worth wasting 3-4 years of your life going through law school to do those things.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:38 pm

thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
You don't learn how to do anything in law school. You learn how to do it via the practice of law. You can help anyone do anything, but you won't know how.

Accidental anon: Littleredcorvette

Want to continue reading?

Register for access!

Did I mention it was FREE ?


almostperfectt

New
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:47 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by almostperfectt » Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:38 pm
thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
You don't learn how to do anything in law school. You learn how to do it via the practice of law. You can help anyone do anything, but you won't know how.

Accidental anon: Littleredcorvette
Also, along these lines, you don't have to be a lawyer to volunteer your time. Getting a JD makes your time more pecuniarily valuable, but if you are doing it to volunteer or just to help for no compensation, then just go volunteer now.

Barrred

Bronze
Posts: 266
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:49 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Barrred » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:00 pm

almostperfectt wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:42 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:38 pm
thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
You don't learn how to do anything in law school. You learn how to do it via the practice of law. You can help anyone do anything, but you won't know how.

Accidental anon: Littleredcorvette
Also, along these lines, you don't have to be a lawyer to volunteer your time. Getting a JD makes your time more pecuniarily valuable, but if you are doing it to volunteer or just to help for no compensation, then just go volunteer now.
And there are also all sorts of ways that you can volunteer in the legal arena without a JD. Go get training to be a guardian ad litem/CASA, or get training to be a special education advocate and help underprivileged kids get IEPs. If you want to go to law school part-time (for free) because you think it would be interesting/cool, then fine, do it---just don't do it because you want to help the community part-time, there are a lot of better ways to go about it if that's your goal.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:52 pm

thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
I am a lawyer, and I had to hire a lawyer to help take care of my parent's estate when they passed away recently. Because I'm not an estates lawyer.

The problem is that you're not much use as a volunteer unless you already know how to practice in a particular area of law, and if you don't actually practice law, you're not going to know that. You can learn, of course - that's what everyone does - but restricting it to outside business hours and on the weekends isn't going to get you the exposure you need. I'm not saying you'd never be able to find an organization that would make use of you, but it doesn't seem like a great idea. Why not wait till you're financially independent, then quit tech, go to law school, and work in law full time then? Law school isn't going anywhere.

Robot

New
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2021 9:42 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Robot » Tue Nov 23, 2021 8:04 pm

You can do some simple legal aid stuff—plenty of lawyers do like hotline stuff pro bono—but it will be very hard to become good enough to handle anything particularly complex. Eg the T&E bar is very specialized for a reason.

Register now!

Resources to assist law school applicants, students & graduates.

It's still FREE!


Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:20 pm

OP - I suppose I practice on the side. I work in law enforcement in my full-time job and serve as a JAG in a reserve branch (part-time) of the military. I will say, however, that I can afford to do that because I was previously a veteran and did not have to pay anything for law school, so I am less worried about the cost-benefit of obtaining the degree. I also know a few other reserve JAGs whose full-time jobs are either JD-preferred or not JD relevant at all. So, it does happen. Practicing on the side for the military makes me very happy and gives a nice sense of purpose. I know this isn't a practical route for most, but if you would ever consider service in the reserves or Guard, it is an option that might fit your criteria. Best of luck.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:53 pm

thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
There are definitely places that can use a volunteer lawyer, but - and I’ve said this once and so have others but it doesn’t seem to have stuck — you will not learn how to practice law in law school. You will not learn how to practice law by doing it for a few hours at a time a couple of times a week. Because you will not know how to practice law, you will be worthless as a lawyer to any organization or person.

thebroteinshake

New
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by thebroteinshake » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:53 pm
thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
There are definitely places that can use a volunteer lawyer, but - and I’ve said this once and so have others but it doesn’t seem to have stuck — you will not learn how to practice law in law school. You will not learn how to practice law by doing it for a few hours at a time a couple of times a week. Because you will not know how to practice law, you will be worthless as a lawyer to any organization or person.
No, I read your comment. But like Barrred above mentions, I wondered whether there would be some simple legal exercises that I could learn and help on a part-time basis. I agree with you that part-time volunteering isn't enough for most legal practices, but I wanted to check (and confirmed by Barrred) whether there literally isn't any.

I also want to reiterate that I am not belittling the legal profession; quite the opposite, I respect it and admire it, enough so that I am considering throwing away a pretty good gig in tech. I am getting the sense that you are offended that I would even fathom to ask whether anyone could practice law part-time. It's not because I think law is easy or that I belittle the difficulty of the profession. Instead, my question is stemming from my desire to take part in a profession that I respect and admire while avoiding the soul-crushing parts of practicing full time that so many people in this forum allude to.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:29 am

thebroteinshake wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:11 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:53 pm
thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
There are definitely places that can use a volunteer lawyer, but - and I’ve said this once and so have others but it doesn’t seem to have stuck — you will not learn how to practice law in law school. You will not learn how to practice law by doing it for a few hours at a time a couple of times a week. Because you will not know how to practice law, you will be worthless as a lawyer to any organization or person.
No, I read your comment. But like Barrred above mentions, I wondered whether there would be some simple legal exercises that I could learn and help on a part-time basis. I agree with you that part-time volunteering isn't enough for most legal practices, but I wanted to check (and confirmed by Barrred) whether there literally isn't any.

I also want to reiterate that I am not belittling the legal profession; quite the opposite, I respect it and admire it, enough so that I am considering throwing away a pretty good gig in tech. I am getting the sense that you are offended that I would even fathom to ask whether anyone could practice law part-time. It's not because I think law is easy or that I belittle the difficulty of the profession. Instead, my question is stemming from my desire to take part in a profession that I respect and admire while avoiding the soul-crushing parts of practicing full time that so many people in this forum allude to.
Different anon here. I don't think that you should go to law school just to do part-time pro bono, as it sounds like a waste of your time/effort, which could be better spent making the world a better place without spending 4 years in a crappy, probably soul-crushing, part-time law school program.

But for accuracy's sake, I have to disagree with the other anon that a lawyer who only practices a type of law a couple hours a week is "worthless." For example, I am a biglaw litigator and a JAG in the Guard/Reserve on the side, so I spend a few hours a month writing wills for service members... its not that hard when you have a template. I'm certainly not a trusts and estates expert, and i'm just writing basic wills, but its an exaggeration to say that there is literally no area of law, however simple, that could be handled by someone doing only part-time legal work. That said, OP going to law school just to do super simple pro bono work part-time to make the world a better place would be like getting a Master Scuba Diver certification in order to give swimming lessons to 5-year-olds a couple times a month at your community pool.

ETA: Looking at your post history, it seems you're just really interested in becoming a lawyer, and are looking for potential ways to be a lawyer while keeping your lucrative FAANG job, rather than looking for a way to make the world a better place per se. If your question is therefore whether you'd be able to find some legal aid organization that is willing to let you play lawyer with them for a like 10-15 hours a month, my guess is that the answer is yes, but you could probably confirm that by emailing/calling some such organizations in your area and see what the requirements are for legal volunteers.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

Get unlimited access to all forums and topics

Register now!

I'm pretty sure I told you it's FREE...


Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:42 am

OP I don't know how to say this politely but no one is offended here, they just think your plan makes no sense. You keep ignoring the advice you came here to get. If you want to pursue a legal career, do it, but do it right.

nixy

Gold
Posts: 3645
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:01 am

thebroteinshake wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:11 am
Instead, my question is stemming from my desire to take part in a profession that I respect and admire while avoiding the soul-crushing parts of practicing full time that so many people in this forum allude to.
I think this is perhaps at the heart of the disconnect. There are definitely soul-crushing legal jobs, most notably big law, which requires a lot of hours and not a lot of control over those hours (as well as being extremely hierarchical and sometimes involving very unpleasant characters). But the solution to that isn’t to volunteer a few hours a week, it’s to do something other than biglaw. PI jobs can be difficult in that you’re working on things that matter a LOT to people (housing, benefits, child custody, their estates or taxes, DV, etc) but have a much higher capacity for being rewarding. Criminal law (prosecution or defense) can be a bit like drinking from a fire hose to start and of course exposes all the issues with our criminal justice system (whatever your political stance), but also can be extremely rewarding. Civil government jobs are rarely described as at all soul-crushing.

The problem with all the non biglaw jobs, of course, is that they don’t pay nearly as well as biglaw. But that doesn’t mean that full time practice of law, full stop, is soul-crushing. It means you need to think about what you want to do and not end up in biglaw on autopilot because that’s the easiest thing to do coming from a CCN.

Again, if what this really boils down to is money - you don’t want to do the jobs that pay the salary you want, and the jobs you do want to do don’t pay the salary you want - then just stay in tech till your finances are where you want them, then go to law school. There’s no expiration date. Yes, you’d have to give up your current office and probably have to retake the LSAT down the road, but especially since you’re already considering going full-ride to a local school that doesn’t seem like an issue. If you’re not looking at biglaw, school pedigree usually becomes less important than what you do in school.

I just really don’t think that volunteering a few hours a week on top of another full time job is the way to make law not soul-crushing. The way to make law not soul-crushing is to find the right law job. I’m also not at all convinced that anything you could do in a few hours a week on top of your day job that you’d be able to handle without practice experience is going to offer the satisfaction you’re looking for in law.

(The biglaw/JAG reserve person is right that you can advise people about wills off a template, but 1) they are also a practicing lawyer which, even if not in estates, does give a certain context that a grad with no other practice experience won’t have, and 2) going to law school to walk people through boilerplate wills a few hours a week is kind of like getting a PhD in horticulture to work a landscaping job a few hours a week. Edit: their analogy about scuba diving is probably better!)
Last edited by nixy on Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:17 am

thebroteinshake wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:11 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:53 pm
thebroteinshake wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks everyone for the response, and I hope no one was offended by the question - it wasn't thrown as a belittlement of the profession.

Before I close the book on this, I want to confirm that there are literally no legal issues (litigious or otherwise) that part-time volunteering would suffice. I know of friends who have taken care of their friends' parents' estate after they passed away - are there literally no matters that could use help from attorneys in a part-time capacity?
There are definitely places that can use a volunteer lawyer, but - and I’ve said this once and so have others but it doesn’t seem to have stuck — you will not learn how to practice law in law school. You will not learn how to practice law by doing it for a few hours at a time a couple of times a week. Because you will not know how to practice law, you will be worthless as a lawyer to any organization or person.
No, I read your comment. But like Barrred above mentions, I wondered whether there would be some simple legal exercises that I could learn and help on a part-time basis. I agree with you that part-time volunteering isn't enough for most legal practices, but I wanted to check (and confirmed by Barrred) whether there literally isn't any.

I also want to reiterate that I am not belittling the legal profession; quite the opposite, I respect it and admire it, enough so that I am considering throwing away a pretty good gig in tech. I am getting the sense that you are offended that I would even fathom to ask whether anyone could practice law part-time. It's not because I think law is easy or that I belittle the difficulty of the profession. Instead, my question is stemming from my desire to take part in a profession that I respect and admire while avoiding the soul-crushing parts of practicing full time that so many people in this forum allude to.
Not offended at all. Just trying to communicate something that many people who haven't yet begun to practice don't always fully grasp: you learn how to be a lawyer through on-the-job experience. Law school exposes you to basic legal frameworks and principles, but it does not teach you what to do with that generalized knowledge in any meaningful way. That's what you get from actually practicing (the verb is important). It's not that what you learn in practice is difficult in some abstract way, though sometimes there are difficult legal issues/strategy questions that arise, it's that through practice you learn the mechanics and the procedures and all of the intangibles that are often the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful outcome. Can you help people fill in template wills without any legal experience? Sure, but really anyone with a small amount of sophistication can understand and complete a template will - legal education, let alone legal experience, is not really key there, and besides, at least one of the people who does this is also a full-time lawyer dabbling in a field outside their area of expertise, but a practiced professional nonetheless. The SCUBA example is a reasonable one, but I would liken it more to someone who learned how to be an electrician from by sitting in a classroom with little to no hands-on experience and then volunteered to wire houses for Habitat for Humanity on the weekends. They would likely make mistakes because they have no real experience with actually installing the wiring, and those mistakes could be devastating for the people who ended up living in the houses. Legal errors can have real and life-altering consequences for people, and saddling a person with limited means with an inexperienced lawyer who has no meaningful path to gain experience seems irresponsible.

ClubberLang

Bronze
Posts: 358
Joined: Wed May 23, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by ClubberLang » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:36 am

As others have said, you won't be able to contribute legal expertise to some cause because you will not have such expertise until you legitimately practice. Another side is that you are ethically obligated to provide thorough representation. I don't see how you could possibly do that by working weekends or whatever for anything but the simplest matters.

It's a profession, not a gig.

Communicate now with those who not only know what a legal education is, but can offer you worthy advice and commentary as you complete the three most educational, yet challenging years of your law related post graduate life.

Register now, it's still FREE!


User avatar
Definitely Not North

Bronze
Posts: 228
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:16 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Definitely Not North » Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:33 am

Just keep your job until you’re ready to pull the trigger on FatFIRE. Once you’re there, quit, go to law school, and give practicing law a proper, full-attention swing. If you end up not loving it, whatever, you’re already FatFIRE’d.

nixy

Gold
Posts: 3645
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 24, 2021 11:46 am

The other thing about learning in practice is that so much of what you need to know to practice in a given field in a given jurisdiction is kind of arbitrary. It’s not stuff that you can figure out by extrapolating from your law school education, you just have to learn it. For a really simplistic example, you can learn about the rules of civil procedure but they don’t actually tell you how to file a complaint and proceed throughout a case in a specific court, which will have its own spin on everything which may be different from another court’s spin on how to do it. You can’t just decide what to do based on logic or common sense.

That’s leaving aside the fact that studying how caselaw has evolved in a given area (say, employment discrimination) doesn’t tell you the steps to take when you have an employee in front of you who wants to sue their employer for discrimination.

This isn’t to say that law school is useless; I think you do need that training/background to be able to practice (maybe not 3 years of school, but that’s what we have so not worth worrying about it). But it’s not enough.

thebroteinshake

New
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by thebroteinshake » Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:54 pm

Thanks for everyone's replies. To cap what I am hearing:

1. For ALMOST ALL legal practices, getting a degree and working part-time will NEVER be enough to practice at an ethically competent standard: I want to reiterate that this has ALWAYS been clear to me and wasn't what I was asking in this thread. I am baffled why some folks in the thread are yelling at me about something I already know. My fiancé is a Big Law corporate associate at a V10; of course I don't have a prayer ever learning the ropes of what she does on a part-time basis.

2. (a) For a VERY FEW simple legal processes, getting a degree and working part-time may be enough, but (b) it isn't worth the investment: (a) is the question that I was actually asking, so thanks to the folks for answering me. As for concluding that it isn't worth my investment (b), thanks for the advice - they are well-taken, and I totally see your point of view. I do disagree about the impact of even small legal exercises can do in the community, however. I came over the to States with my mom and my sister 20 years ago, and I remember we would struggle with the most basic immigration processes: applying for an F-2, an H-1B, and then a Green Card. In retrospect, we were a pretty straight forward case, but as immigrants who had just moved with poor English skills, the process was daunting. Having someone in our community who could help us navigate this would've given us a tremendous peace of mind, even if they could only help us with very small, basic legal processes. Yes, the full-time attorneys who practice immigration will know much more and do a much better job, but they were never available to my family. For some specific, simple legal processes, I figured that having one more person to help would be better than having none at all. I also imagined there could be some supervision in these non-profit organizations so that I stay within the guardrails. In sum, I believed significance of service doesn't always linearly move with complexity.

Now to address the cost side of this investment, I imagine a lot of folks also think 0Ls just don't know how difficult and costly law school is. I don't think that's the 0L's fault - how can anyone know how tough those 3 years are until they get through them? But in my defense, I probably did more diligence about what going to law school would mean than 99% of 0Ls. For the first three years of my career, I worked at a consulting firm that provides economic expert testimonies used in support high stakes commercial litigation. I have sat in on 4 different 1L class lectures and have read parts of the textbooks that were used. I have crafted various financial projections with Excel sheets on what law school would cost me, with variations baked in for my monthly spending and unforeseen life events (I have an analytics background). In addition to talking to practicing associates in my network, I've cold called law firm partners in the fields I am interested in (white collar, international arbitration, IP) to chat about their experiences and how I should think about my legal career. I also have another thread here where I ask folks how one could learn what BL litigation would be like before going law school (viewtopic.php?f=23&t=311290).

I think I have as realistic expectations about what going to law school and practicing law would mean as any 0L could. I welcome folks disagreeing with me about the alternative service opportunities being superior to community, etc., but also know that my disagreement with you isn't coming from me not researching the cost and the rigor of law school. Like someone else said, I don't need and am not looking for anyone's approval in these discussion, but I also don't want anyone to treat me as if I haven't done my diligence.

Anonymous User
Posts: 385057
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Being a lawyer on the side?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:17 pm

thebroteinshake wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:54 pm
(a) is the question that I was actually asking, so thanks to the folks for answering me.
For those, attending law school is irrelevant anyway. We are talking about, for example, helping people with relatively few assets fill out will templates, which students do under attorney supervision. The "bad investment" advice is not that the payoff is not good enough but rather that you are getting a law degree you are not using.

You may as well just help people fill out tax forms; that is also useful and does not come with an opportunity cost of three years of salary.

Like someone else said, I don't need and am not looking for anyone's approval in these discussion, but I also don't want anyone to treat me as if I haven't done my diligence.
You clearly have not done your diligence, since it appears you are unaware of "paralegals" and "legal assistants" and other agents of attorneys. You could do those jobs (at nonprofits if you want, or just donate the salary).

The issue is that you are looking for something chimerical: A job sophisticated enough that it requires a law degree but not sophisticated enough that doing it as a side gig is possible.

You should just do law-adjacent things that are still meaningful and helpful or those few tasks simple enough not to require a law degree. What you are actually asking for does not really exist.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


Post Reply Post Anonymous Reply  

Return to “Legal Employment”