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Author Topic: Recent Grad Unsure As to Future Career Path  (Read 2274 times)

PSUDSL08

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Recent Grad Unsure As to Future Career Path
« on: June 29, 2008, 05:26:23 PM »
Wondering if there's any other grads who are uncertain as to what type of law they want to practice, and how to move forward.

My situation is as follows: I'm a recent grad with very good grades from a T2 school. I will be a judicial clerk (1 yr position) in the Court of Common Pleas in PA, for a judge who deals with civil, criminal, and orphans court cases. I felt that a clerkship is a perfect option for me at this point: it's a nice transition from law school back to the working world, the judge is awesome and is very enthusiastic about mentoring clerks, and I'll get to watch trials in a wide variety of legal areas.

However, after the clerkship ends, I'm not exactly sure what I want to do. I know I want to be a litigator of some sort, but I'm torn between government criminal trial work or chasing the money as a civil litigator. I am about 90% sure I would find a career as a prosecutor or US Attorney to be satisfying, and would like to become a judge someday if this option is available. The only downfall I see with pursuing a career in criminal litigation is the pay.

On the other hand, I worked as a summer associate for a small insurance defense firm last summer and absolutely hated it. I couldn't imagine myself waking up every day and putting in the long hours at a small firm for minimal pay and limited partnership opportunities. I could see myself doing plaintiff's side tort litigation, and would absolutely love to open my own private practice someday after getting a few years of litigation experience under my belt.

Considering my grades and connections in the small market city I want to work, I think I will have some decent options to pursue over the next year or two. I interview pretty well and have the credentials to qualify for a position with the DA's office and the US Atty's office through their honors program. Through her job, my girlfriend provided me with contact information for a handful of attorneys at large firms in the city. I plan on pursuing all of these opportunities in addition to targeting mid sized plaintiffs firms next fall.

I realize that my immediate future will be dictated by the job market and whether or not I can make a favorable impression with these employers to land an offer. And I am certain that I would be perfectly happy in a career as a lower paid government attorney. But part of me wonders whether I could find an equally satisfying career on the plaintiffs' side and make more money in the process. Does anyone have any advice on how to move forward? Thanks for your help..

jacy85

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Re: Recent Grad Unsure As to Future Career Path
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2008, 06:49:57 PM »
Would you be interested in doing criminal defense work? For a lot of attorneys, that seems to pay more than prosecutors.  And in many jurisdictions, there seems to be a lot of movement between the two (I know many prosecutors who've left and went into crim defense to make more money, and know just as many former defense attorneys who are now prosecutors).

PSUDSL08

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Re: Recent Grad Unsure As to Future Career Path
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2008, 02:05:35 PM »
Would you be interested in doing criminal defense work? For a lot of attorneys, that seems to pay more than prosecutors.  And in many jurisdictions, there seems to be a lot of movement between the two (I know many prosecutors who've left and went into crim defense to make more money, and know just as many former defense attorneys who are now prosecutors).

The idea of "helping others" in my future line of work is fairly important to me. I can justify working the long hours necessary as a personal injury attorney (non-ambulance chaser) on the basis that I am helping people to receive deserved compensation for their injuries as opposed to keeping insurance companies rich. Same with being a prosecutor/US attorney for obvious reasons.

I have toyed with the idea of doing criminal defense work. I can also justify this line of work on a moral basis as well (i.e. all people entitled to competent counsel, prevent oppressive police tactics, etc). However, I think I would have a hard time representing a child molester or rapist if I believe they actually committed the crime.

themanwithnoname

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Re: Recent Grad Unsure As to Future Career Path
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2008, 11:57:53 PM »
I dont think you really need to worry about being put in that position if you do not want to be in it. Criminal defense lawyers have specialties. If you are doing white collar, no child molesters. I would seriously suggest going the criminal route. You absolutely can make a ton of money as a plaintiff's lawyer, but there is going to be a ton of stress involved, as well as risk, and a lot of your income is going to depend on luck. If that great client walks through your door you make millions. If not, you worry about paying your rent. Also, I think if you wanna do plaintiff's work, mass torts is the way to go. The money is potentially huge, and there are some fantastic plaintiff's firms in that sector, where you can get great experience. Mark Lanier and Joe Rice spring to mind. Plus, there are usually more interesting legal and factual issues to think about, so the work is likely to be more intellectually stimulating.