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Messages - Hamilton

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I've read where folks recommend omitting the JD from resume - I do not buy that.  One should never apologize for getting a better educations.  If the concern is coming across as overqualified, that can be addressed in cover letter/interview - there are a lot of positive things learned in LS, highlight those and how they make you a better (not overqualified) candidate.  If I am an employer in a non-legal field, I am worried that this is a temporary gig and you will be out looking for a lawyer job while working for me - be prepared to address that honestly.  The best answer would be along the lines of found practicing law not what want to be doing, want to be doing what I am interviewing for, here is why my JD makes me an even better candidate.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Deciding which route to take
« on: September 13, 2010, 01:27:56 PM »
I am not (here or any other thread) talking biglaw... I am talking ANYlaw.  Financially set or not - who has $100K+ to p*$$ away on a degree that may be useless, or at least a very bad investment?  I am just saying that there are 2 sides to the equation.  I went into law school financially set and with a good career - I got lucky b/c I had the scholarships and have kept my well-paying job.  It's a different world for "seasoned" non-traditional students to crack into the law.  When you are working you can't do the summer associateships or internships - and thats who most folks hire.  Speaking from experience (personal and observed), I think there is an inverse relationship between your age when you pass the bar and the liklihood of landing a job.  The reality of the world is that the law firm culture is not all that interested in us older "non-traditionals."

My advice to anyone with an established background in a field is to build on that background.  I think it is generally an unwise choice to switch trains and pursue law.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Deciding which route to take
« on: September 13, 2010, 09:43:16 AM »
Think long and hard about it and do your own research on the REALISTIC job prospects out there - research the reasons why not to go as well as how/why to go and reach your own conclusion.  The market is saturated with lawyers and it is just going to get worse despite what the rainbow and unicorn crowd try to peddle.  You could be hurting yourself financially by spending upwards of $100K for a degree with very little opportunity for a job.  Age discrimination is illegal, but think about it, if a place is looking at hiring a young energetic 20-something from a T1 who they know will take the crap they shovel at the versus an older experienced person from a T3 who is (l) less likely to put up with BS, and (2) not quite so motivated to put in 80 hours a week, who do you think will get the nod? 

Any advice?  Suggestions, etc?

At my T4, only Federal Income Tax, Sales, and Secured Transactions were open book.


The trend at the top schools is for open-book throughout.  All my 1L exams were open book (as far as I can remember).  Keep in mind, however, that due to the time crunch, you rarely look at your materials during the exam.  They're mostly there as a crutch to avoid panic.

Unfortunately this is an increasing trend.  There is a body out there that will simply dismiss this as him making the wrong choices, not working hard enough to find a job, being too selective, etc., etc., but the sad reality is that there simply are more lawyers than jobs - folks do not want to hear that.  Agree with previous poster, try to find a job based on his undergrad degree or which is enhanced by JD, but where JD not necessary.

I will give you my take as it sounds similar to yours (working, non-trad, family, part-time school, UGPA).  I did well on LSAT and got great scholarship from a T4 based on the LSAT only.  Graduated in top 20% of class and passed bar first time.  I do not speak from a disgruntled perspective - I have a great job and great family, and paid very little for my JD - I just look back on it as a waste all things considered.  You can read my other posts on this subject.

My schpeel on law school - ask yourself 'why?'  Do you have a burning lifelong desire to be a lawyer or does this seem like the thing to do lacking any other ideas?  Unless you get a great scholarship and can go to school without wracking up unsustainable debt I advise against going - unless it is your dream to be a lawyer and you get into a T1 school.  The job market for lawyers is brutal, especially for non T1 grads (yes Bigs, its tough on everyone and no job is ever guaranteed, hard work, luck, all of that stuff...).  Do your homework and truly know what you are getting into if you pursue this - there is a growing community of anti-law school blogs (linking main-stream media articles) that give a lot of reasons to consider.

Law school is a brutal time drain - plan on substantially missing 3+ years of your kids lives while you go to school.  That time away takes a huge toll on the kids, jacks the household stress level up 10-fold, and places a huge burden on your spouse to raise the kids.  You are either gone at school, need to sudy, there for a limited amount of time b/c you have to study or go to class, or you are there but not THERE.  Think about it and ask whether it is worth it.

Agree.  If you are not going to be THE lawyer, you will be the guy who has a law degree and knows "something" about these things, but the "lawyers" will be making the decisions and running the show.  The "lawyers" don't want non-lawyers meddling in their business.  I am a lawyer - but within the organization of my company I am not a lawyer working for our legal department - so I am not a lawyer and am not authorized to be involved in legal matters.

There might be a niche, but the reality is that you should go to law school if you want to be a lawyer and no other reason. You should go to medical school to be a doctor and to the police academy if you want to be a cop. I hear people at my school say I know I am not going to have a traditonal legal career and I don't want to be a lawyer and I want to say why the hell are you spending 100k then. Law is more broad and has applications in numerous fields, but in reality it is not worth the time and expense to just understand one nuance of the law better in some minor aspect of your career. Again, I am sure there is someone that made a career out of knowing some nuance along with another technical skill, but that is probably not the general case. So bottom line go to law school if you want to be a lawyer and for no other reason.

Sounds very similar to my position when I did it - I would advise that you step back and have a concrete idea as to HOW SPECIFICALLY having a JD will help you advance.  If you can't nail one down, think twice about doing it... will it be nice to have or is there DEFINITELY a benefit to have it?  In the end after I passed the bar, I decided that I was not going to take a step back salary-wise and practice law, the JD did not result in a direct tangible career benefit (although it adds some gravitas - but that does not mean $$) - so the question was why do it?  I had scholarships and tuition reimbursement through work, so my out-of-pocket was negligible - but the time can never be recouped.

My $0.02, if you are not going to practice law and will pay full price for the JD, do not waste the time and money.  Get a MBA or a doctorate in your field if you want to enhance your education.

Don't get a JD as a gap-filler or resume-booster - either have a plan or burning desire to practice law, or think of better uses for your money.

As I am looking at options, I am concerned about the expense of school. Currently I live in the suburbs of DC and am looking at PT programs. Fortunately there are quite a few options, unfortunately many of them are very expensive. As it get closer to making a decision I will have to strongly consider the impact that the cost is going to have on me. I may be in a somewhat unusual position in that I am viewing a law degree as a means of helping me expand a little on my current career path instead of starting a different path. My current salary is in the low 100k range, and I suspect that when I wrap up my Masters and then (possibly) go on for the JD I should be able to move up from here. But I would like to keep the cost of this effort to as manageable of a level as I can.

It's not $100,000/yr and you may be hard pressed to find accurate statistics.  I recommend drilling down on the stats for the schools you will likely attend - I mean REALLY dig into the stats.  Yes, there are some who win the lottery and start out making very decent money, but like lottery winners, they are few and far between.  Don't be afraid to look at the stats (and your friend's situations) and ask yourself if it is worth it.

Ask yourself it it is your life passion to be a lawyer or whether it seems like the thing to do to make some good money.  If the latter, my answer is straightforward - dont do it.

Do you know what is the average salary a T2,3,4 grad attorney can make?  I know two people graduated from T3 law school, and couldn't find a job after they passed their BARs.  Now, they are working for Immigration law offices, and making believably low salaries, like 4,000 a month, I guess.

Non-Traditional Students / Re: 50! and still thinking of law school!!!
« on: September 03, 2010, 04:30:51 PM »
Do your homework and consider the time, cost, and liklihood of actually landing an attorney job. I am generally a voice against going to law school if it is not your burning passion, you are not getting good scholarships, and you are not going to a high ranked school.  Your situation may be different and you can do this on a lark - but school could end up costing well over $100K, and the job prospects are not great right now.  There are a lot of articles and blogs out there about the state of employment in the legal market.

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