Alternative Careers for big law refugees

(Share and discuss thoughts and stories on Dropping out of law school, entering a graduate school program, Career changes, Similar/ related career options)
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Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:08 am

Alright, wanted to start an anecdotal list here of potential careers you know people have exited out to. I don't mean in-house or govt attorney positions as that seems common. I'll list a few I've seen:

1. Leave to travel around the world (no professional plans?)
2. Leave to travel around for a year and return and join at a t-14 doing law school admissions (wonder how much this pays)
3. Leave and join covenant review (seems to be a research org that reviews HY deals and discusses current market trends etc.)
4. Leave and take a coding bootcamp, get certificates/portfolio and join a start up doing tech work (time between tech gig and big law gig = 6 months)
5. Leave to go get a MBA at a m7 (questionable plan, I would not want to be out of the workforce for another 2 years, and this is not even considering the new student debt)

Would love to hear more stories. Really just using this to fantasize about what I would do if I get shitcanned as a third year associate.

notinbiglaw

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by notinbiglaw » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:38 am

The dream exit plan is to transfer to a foreign office with much lower billable expectations and much more flexibility to work from home.

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by LaLiLuLeLo » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:46 am

Everything I’ve heard about foreign offices, including talking to colleagues at those offices, is that they’re worse than the US offices as far as hours and QOL go. And, in the case of somewhere like Germany, they get paid less to boot.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:06 am

notinbiglaw wrote:The dream exit plan is to transfer to a foreign office with much lower billable expectations and much more flexibility to work from home.
I don't know if this is necessarily true. For instance, Asia seems brutal. London can be hit or miss (probably overall better than NYC, but with periods of extreme businesses when capital markets are hot). Probably get more of what you're looking for moving to a secondary US market or satellite office.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by QContinuum » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:08 am

There are non-tenure track academic positions as well, primarily for litigators. There are various titles for these positions, e.g., clinical lecturer, fellow, research center director. These are not easy to get by any means, and of course the pay isn't great, but the work-life balance is superb, the legal work is typically very interesting, there is (generally) much more of a focus on practical legal work (as opposed to churning out highly theoretical law review articles), and they are much more attainable - relatively speaking - than tenure-track professorships. The typical path seems to be BigLaw litigation -> PI/government service -> academia.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:21 am

This probably really isnt "alternative" but ive seen a fair number of folks exit into consulting and investment banks

64Fl

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by 64Fl » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:48 pm

Law school services (not just admissions) and compliance are two I see a lot. I also see some lawyers end up in communication roles. HR is a very real possibility too, especially for benefits transactional folk or L&E litigators.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:53 pm

Anyone have any idea how much salaries are for these other roles? Being a law school administrator sounds like it could be enjoyable, especially if its 6 figures and 9-5.

ConfusedNYer

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by ConfusedNYer » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:55 pm

Almost every legal recruiter I've talked to is a biglaw refugee (admittedly not a huge sample size). Not sure how much work it is, and I imagine the job may be kind of market sensitive, but based on recruiter finders fees I'm guessing you can make a decent living (assuming your okay with basically a commission based sales job where the product is people.)

Re: foreign offices, definitely a mixed bag. Know some folks in London who have a great balance and low chance of being forced out even if they don't make partner, but I don't think that's the norm.

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by LaLiLuLeLo » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have any idea how much salaries are for these other roles? Being a law school administrator sounds like it could be enjoyable, especially if its 6 figures and 9-5.
Unlikely. Most states have public university salaries as public info. I just checked some rando from UCLA’s OCS who said he was formerly in NY biglaw and his salary is $77k.

nixy

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by nixy » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:20 pm

Yeah, if you ended up an actual dean of some kind at a law school you’d get into 6 figures, but that’s going to require experience other than a few years of big law.

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by trebekismyhero » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:29 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have any idea how much salaries are for these other roles? Being a law school administrator sounds like it could be enjoyable, especially if its 6 figures and 9-5.
Unlikely. Most states have public university salaries as public info. I just checked some rando from UCLA’s OCS who said he was formerly in NY biglaw and his salary is $77k.
$77k is kind of low for LA. I know a few big law people that went to T1 law school career services and that was basically their entry salary, but in cheap college towns.

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by LaLiLuLeLo » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:51 pm

trebekismyhero wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have any idea how much salaries are for these other roles? Being a law school administrator sounds like it could be enjoyable, especially if its 6 figures and 9-5.
Unlikely. Most states have public university salaries as public info. I just checked some rando from UCLA’s OCS who said he was formerly in NY biglaw and his salary is $77k.
$77k is kind of low for LA. I know a few big law people that went to T1 law school career services and that was basically their entry salary, but in cheap college towns.
Maybe the UC system just doesn’t pay. I just checked a few people from all the UC law schools and their salaries were $70-80k for non-director positions.

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dabigchina

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by dabigchina » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:58 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
trebekismyhero wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have any idea how much salaries are for these other roles? Being a law school administrator sounds like it could be enjoyable, especially if its 6 figures and 9-5.
Unlikely. Most states have public university salaries as public info. I just checked some rando from UCLA’s OCS who said he was formerly in NY biglaw and his salary is $77k.
$77k is kind of low for LA. I know a few big law people that went to T1 law school career services and that was basically their entry salary, but in cheap college towns.
Maybe the UC system just doesn’t pay. I just checked a few people from all the UC law schools and their salaries were $70-80k for non-director positions.
Do they get access to pensions/good retirement healthcare? It wouldn't be bad for someone who is seriously burned out to build up a small/moderate nest egg and exit to a low stress 9-5 making 70k and coast to an early retirement.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by albanach » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:07 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote: Maybe the UC system just doesn’t pay. I just checked a few people from all the UC law schools and their salaries were $70-80k for non-director positions.
Is it possible they're paid partially from endowment funds that are exempt from state FOIA rules?

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by LaLiLuLeLo » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:12 pm

albanach wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote: Maybe the UC system just doesn’t pay. I just checked a few people from all the UC law schools and their salaries were $70-80k for non-director positions.
Is it possible they're paid partially from endowment funds that are exempt from state FOIA rules?
No clue, but having that be consistent across 5 schools seems unlikely. I genuinely think the salary is low but all in with benefits you’re over $100k.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by QContinuum » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:13 pm

trebekismyhero wrote:$77k is kind of low for LA. I know a few big law people that went to T1 law school career services and that was basically their entry salary, but in cheap college towns.
The cheap college town salary though is probably in recognition of the fact you need to pay more (relative to COL) to get mid-career folks to move to a college town.

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nixy

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by nixy » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:14 pm

Private v. public could make a difference, and institutions are just different, too, but UCLA doesn't sound out of line. My (small) state's law school pays like $60-65k for admissions and financial aid people. The asst. dean of students makes $70k. Then the director of development makes $105k, the dean for career services makes $125k, and the director of financial aid makes $150k. Dean of the law school makes $300k (but they usually come up the law prof route rather than purely the admin/staff route.) It's cheaper where I am than in LA, of course, but a lot of academia pays badly, and frankly you don't need biglaw credentials for a lot of these staff jobs - most of the people in these positions at my local law school don't actually have JDs, and I think that's consistent with other places I've seen. So you're not really expecting to lure people away from biglaw, although for the right position (probably career-related) it could be a decent credential.

In any case, a big paycut from biglaw, but yeah, benefits are usually good (health care/retirement - though I don't think anywhere in higher ed still has pensions), along with lifestyle. You'd just have to be willing to deal with a lot of academics and/or law students.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by paperrev » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:24 pm

What do people think the approximate salary of an entry/junior-level admissions/financial aide staff member would be at a private institution? I have always thought the admissions people at my school had a pretty kush lifestyle and am very curious...

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:33 pm

OP here. Didn't mean to make this a thread about admissions staff at law schools lol. Out of curiosity I checked with the ex-law big associate is making at the t-14 (it's public) and it's under $75k. Damn I don't think I could take a job (that is 40 hours a week), no matter how chill it is, that is under $150k so that's out.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by QContinuum » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Damn I don't think I could take a job (that is 40 hours a week), no matter how chill it is, that is under $150k so that's out.
Nothing under $150k? Friend, that's a sign of some serious golden-handcuff symptoms. Can understand not wanting to go down to $75k but for many BigLawyers, a 40-hour $150k job would be a dream come true.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by 64Fl » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:38 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Damn I don't think I could take a job (that is 40 hours a week), no matter how chill it is, that is under $150k so that's out.
Nothing under $150k? Friend, that's a sign of some serious golden-handcuff symptoms. Can understand not wanting to go down to $75k but for many BigLawyers, a 40-hour $150k job would be a dream come true.
This is especially true for an "alternative careers" thread. If you were going from biglaw to in-house and wouldn't accept less than $150k, I'd get it, but alternative careers are also going to be mostly "JD Advantage" careers that people could have gotten without going to (1) law school, or (2) a fancy law school. Consequently, most JD Advantage careers pay much less, at least just starting out.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:54 pm

True, and maybe 150k was an exaggeration, but I was already making $85k before I went to law school (and which would've likely been anywhere from 120k-150k now had I not gone to law school). It's dumb to think this way since its a sunk cost fallacy, I know. To be honest, I'd rather go back to accounting than take some $75k job but I can't even command that old salary anymore being out of the business world work force for 5 years already. Ideally I would be interested in some business and law hybrid kind of job. Aren't there like biz dev type roles at startups?

I know a lot of people talk about compliance at banks, but that sounds miserable.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by dabigchina » Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:42 pm

I think we have spoken before, but have you tried looking? it has probably been several years since you last worked in your old industry and wages have risen since then.

Even if you only get 75k, there's no shame in that salary assuming you are making it somewhere with reasonable CoL (not NY, SF, LA). Do a year or two at that salary, jump around for a 5-10% raise every couple of years, and you're at 100-150k in 10 years or so and you will have work life balance while doing this..

Hang in there, brother/sister.

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 27, 2019 6:13 pm

Compliance! I’ve done it for years and know a lot of biglaw refugees who’ve moved into it at close to biglaw salary. I started out of law school at 100k and then moved to 125k and then 140k now as a 4th year with a 30k bonus. Obviously this isn’t biglaw salary but it’s reasonable that I could move somewhere and bump my base to 170k.

Banks and institutions typically pay less than funds but banks are better hours. At a bank I worked 9-5 and more senior folks worked more like 9-6 and then answered emails on blackberry at night. It can be stressful at more senior levels. At a private fund I worked 8-6 with occasional late hours.

The main difference form biglaw is that you are not expected to be constantly available outside of market hours and your vacations and weekends are almost completely respected. Compliance is actually pretty interesting. I preferred being at a smaller shop because the role is broader, while at a large institution you may be doing just policies or just filings. In a typical fund role you are doing a pretty dynamic job that involves a lot of problem solving and judgment calls in the moment. Every decision you make can carry serious regulatory risk. The question we most frequently ask is how we can defend a decision in front of the SEC.

Regulatory knowledge is just as important as soft skills and it can be tough to develop unless you work in a related field now. A typical day on a small team at a hedge fund might involve a call with outside counsel on regulatory questions related to Regulation M, working on a major filing like Form ADV, sitting on a valuation committee meeting, reviewing marketing materials, and assisting with wall crossings from brokers.

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