Not sure what I want to practice Forum

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Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2022 11:50 am

Unsure of what I want to do. Worked for a year in a good state gov job but not sure I want to do that long-term. Clerking now. Did a tippy top NY/DC 2L SA but I only did one corp assignment and didn’t love it, one tax assignment that I assume was not representative of the practice (updating a treatise talking about int’l treaty issues), and a “white collar” assignment where I wrote a memo on a legal question.

I always thought I wanted to be a litigator, but after working and clerking for a year I’m not so sure. Maybe I didn’t give corporate a fair shake and I should look into transactional? Or investigations? I know I don’t want to do biglaw lit but maybe other biglaw areas could be good.

My gov job was good wlb, comp/benefits, and I could always go back to that but the biglaw money is hard to turn down and also maybe I’d prefer being transactional lawyer, in a specialist group, or doing investigations until I pay off my loans and got a job in bigfed…. I feel kind of screwed that I don’t know what to do even though I theoretically have options coming off a clerkship; and I think the boat may have passed on trying other practices so I don’t really know what to do. The safe option is to back to my old job, but I worry I could be turning down more fulfilling or lucrative work. Any advice on how to get a handle on things and evaluate next steps?

attorney589753

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Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by attorney589753 » Thu Sep 15, 2022 12:18 pm

It's OK. A lot of people pivot in their early career. Keep trying new things as much as you can until you find something you like. If you really can't decide, I would lean corporate over lit due to future flexibility and exit options. Try to figure out which skills are different per practice group, and aim towards something that you are good at.

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Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2022 12:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 11:50 am
Unsure of what I want to do. Worked for a year in a good state gov job but not sure I want to do that long-term. Clerking now. Did a tippy top NY/DC 2L SA but I only did one corp assignment and didn’t love it, one tax assignment that I assume was not representative of the practice (updating a treatise talking about int’l treaty issues), and a “white collar” assignment where I wrote a memo on a legal question.

I always thought I wanted to be a litigator, but after working and clerking for a year I’m not so sure. Maybe I didn’t give corporate a fair shake and I should look into transactional? Or investigations? I know I don’t want to do biglaw lit but maybe other biglaw areas could be good.

My gov job was good wlb, comp/benefits, and I could always go back to that but the biglaw money is hard to turn down and also maybe I’d prefer being transactional lawyer, in a specialist group, or doing investigations until I pay off my loans and got a job in bigfed…. I feel kind of screwed that I don’t know what to do even though I theoretically have options coming off a clerkship; and I think the boat may have passed on trying other practices so I don’t really know what to do. The safe option is to back to my old job, but I worry I could be turning down more fulfilling or lucrative work. Any advice on how to get a handle on things and evaluate next steps?
What is it that you don't like about lit? Clarifying that will be helpful in figuring out what else out there might be a better fit for you. I am a litigator but absolutely hate general commercial lit for a myriad of reasons including the subject matter, opposing counsel, and partners at our firm that work in that area, but I am really happy in white collar, which has none (or substantially fewer) of those downsides. I can't speak to corporate since I have no experience there and find what I do know about the work to be profoundly boring, though a lot of people here seem to like it.

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Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2022 1:04 pm

I don’t like the posturing and having opposing parties take ridiculous positions. Also it’s the general contentious nature seems like it could become toxic. My old job was actually a mix of practice areas, and I got to take depos and go to a few mediations. The depo was fun but preparing for it was a bit of a slog, and mediation was annoying since settlement involved so much posturing and bad negotiation. Also I am clerking now and haven’t loved it, researching and writing all day can get old.

I am thinking maybe the safest plan is go back to my old job and try to focus more on transactional (or other things the office does besides litigation) and see if I like it. Like I said, WLB and pay were quite good. If I don’t return to that job after clerking I probably forfeit the chance to go back in the future, too. And money-wise, I have a lot of debt but I have been racking up PSLF months and have confidence I can navigate that minefield. If I go back and don’t like any of the work the office does perhaps then I can try another gov job or private practice or something.

Anonymous User
Posts: 410854
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2022 1:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 12:47 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 11:50 am
Unsure of what I want to do. Worked for a year in a good state gov job but not sure I want to do that long-term. Clerking now. Did a tippy top NY/DC 2L SA but I only did one corp assignment and didn’t love it, one tax assignment that I assume was not representative of the practice (updating a treatise talking about int’l treaty issues), and a “white collar” assignment where I wrote a memo on a legal question.

I always thought I wanted to be a litigator, but after working and clerking for a year I’m not so sure. Maybe I didn’t give corporate a fair shake and I should look into transactional? Or investigations? I know I don’t want to do biglaw lit but maybe other biglaw areas could be good.

My gov job was good wlb, comp/benefits, and I could always go back to that but the biglaw money is hard to turn down and also maybe I’d prefer being transactional lawyer, in a specialist group, or doing investigations until I pay off my loans and got a job in bigfed…. I feel kind of screwed that I don’t know what to do even though I theoretically have options coming off a clerkship; and I think the boat may have passed on trying other practices so I don’t really know what to do. The safe option is to back to my old job, but I worry I could be turning down more fulfilling or lucrative work. Any advice on how to get a handle on things and evaluate next steps?
What is it that you don't like about lit? Clarifying that will be helpful in figuring out what else out there might be a better fit for you. I am a litigator but absolutely hate general commercial lit for a myriad of reasons including the subject matter, opposing counsel, and partners at our firm that work in that area, but I am really happy in white collar, which has none (or substantially fewer) of those downsides. I can't speak to corporate since I have no experience there and find what I do know about the work to be profoundly boring, though a lot of people here seem to like it.
Are the hours bearable? Do you feel like you can have decent exit options after big law in white collar? I would probably want to go bigfed eventually if I went investigations route—SEC seems like a good gig particularly.

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Anonymous User
Posts: 410854
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2022 2:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 1:06 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 12:47 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 11:50 am
Unsure of what I want to do. Worked for a year in a good state gov job but not sure I want to do that long-term. Clerking now. Did a tippy top NY/DC 2L SA but I only did one corp assignment and didn’t love it, one tax assignment that I assume was not representative of the practice (updating a treatise talking about int’l treaty issues), and a “white collar” assignment where I wrote a memo on a legal question.

I always thought I wanted to be a litigator, but after working and clerking for a year I’m not so sure. Maybe I didn’t give corporate a fair shake and I should look into transactional? Or investigations? I know I don’t want to do biglaw lit but maybe other biglaw areas could be good.

My gov job was good wlb, comp/benefits, and I could always go back to that but the biglaw money is hard to turn down and also maybe I’d prefer being transactional lawyer, in a specialist group, or doing investigations until I pay off my loans and got a job in bigfed…. I feel kind of screwed that I don’t know what to do even though I theoretically have options coming off a clerkship; and I think the boat may have passed on trying other practices so I don’t really know what to do. The safe option is to back to my old job, but I worry I could be turning down more fulfilling or lucrative work. Any advice on how to get a handle on things and evaluate next steps?
What is it that you don't like about lit? Clarifying that will be helpful in figuring out what else out there might be a better fit for you. I am a litigator but absolutely hate general commercial lit for a myriad of reasons including the subject matter, opposing counsel, and partners at our firm that work in that area, but I am really happy in white collar, which has none (or substantially fewer) of those downsides. I can't speak to corporate since I have no experience there and find what I do know about the work to be profoundly boring, though a lot of people here seem to like it.
Are the hours bearable? Do you feel like you can have decent exit options after big law in white collar? I would probably want to go bigfed eventually if I went investigations route—SEC seems like a good gig particularly.
Sounds like you hate all the things I hate - I 100% relate. In white collar I have found that my hours are very manageable, but I think it can differ from firm to firm. Boutiques can also be a good option -- I think a lot have more reasonable hours expectations, though of course not all of them pay market. Having the government as your opposing counsel is a game changer - they are (usually) so much more pleasant to engage with than other counsel. Exit to bigfed is the normal path people take - whether to the USAO, SEC, CFTC or Main Justice, and people seem to land pretty nicely more or less where they want to be.

Excellent117

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Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Excellent117 » Thu Sep 15, 2022 2:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 1:04 pm
I don’t like the posturing and having opposing parties take ridiculous positions. Also it’s the general contentious nature seems like it could become toxic. My old job was actually a mix of practice areas, and I got to take depos and go to a few mediations. The depo was fun but preparing for it was a bit of a slog, and mediation was annoying since settlement involved so much posturing and bad negotiation. Also I am clerking now and haven’t loved it, researching and writing all day can get old.

I am thinking maybe the safest plan is go back to my old job and try to focus more on transactional (or other things the office does besides litigation) and see if I like it. Like I said, WLB and pay were quite good. If I don’t return to that job after clerking I probably forfeit the chance to go back in the future, too. And money-wise, I have a lot of debt but I have been racking up PSLF months and have confidence I can navigate that minefield. If I go back and don’t like any of the work the office does perhaps then I can try another gov job or private practice or something.
This is almost as prevalent in corporate work as it is in litigation.

Anonymous User
Posts: 410854
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2022 9:00 pm

Lit is highly overrated IMO. At an elite DC lit shop. Juniors don't get much interesting work that requires genuinely deep thought tbh, and client interaction is rare. Trial lit is all bullshit about discovery, and paid appellate work has tended to be more and more granular and boring these days. Many of the matters are morally questionable at best. Zero non-law exit opportunities, and don't see myself grinding out several more associate years without any comp or promotion incentive each year to bill more and get on better things than colleagues. I loved my clerkship (COA 2/DC), and law school. Haven't been at the firm very long but I'm already depressed and occasionally suicidal. Wish I had just sucked up my pride and done corporate, or done something entirely non law related.

Anonymous User
Posts: 410854
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Not sure what I want to practice

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2022 11:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 15, 2022 1:04 pm
I don’t like the posturing and having opposing parties take ridiculous positions. Also it’s the general contentious nature seems like it could become toxic. My old job was actually a mix of practice areas, and I got to take depos and go to a few mediations. The depo was fun but preparing for it was a bit of a slog, and mediation was annoying since settlement involved so much posturing and bad negotiation. Also I am clerking now and haven’t loved it, researching and writing all day can get old.

I am thinking maybe the safest plan is go back to my old job and try to focus more on transactional (or other things the office does besides litigation) and see if I like it. Like I said, WLB and pay were quite good. If I don’t return to that job after clerking I probably forfeit the chance to go back in the future, too. And money-wise, I have a lot of debt but I have been racking up PSLF months and have confidence I can navigate that minefield. If I go back and don’t like any of the work the office does perhaps then I can try another gov job or private practice or something.
Can you ask if they'll let you rotate? Or go to a firm that allows rotations/free market across lit and transactional? It's rare, but some places allow that.

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