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Author Topic: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!  (Read 6351 times)

Number81

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Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« on: April 27, 2009, 12:46:54 AM »
Hi friends,

These past couple weeks have been dedicated to thinking of possible uses for my law degree that do not involve working for a large law firm.  This is basically on the advice of my Career Services office, which has encouraged us to consider non-firm jobs.  Also, see AboveTheLaw's sad article.

This section is dedicated to background and skills:
I am 22 (1L).  I go to a T20 law school.  I have good, but not great grades (and would be looking for a biglaw job as of 2 years ago, based on where I'm at).  I have a worthless Political Science degree from a crappy undergrad.  I have no real work experience (interned for USDOC; worked for a midlaw firm; filed taxes).  I don't have any great extracurriculars besides doing some athletic-type stuff.  I have a really clean record.  I am in really good shape.  I can act very sincere and interested.

I am willing to suck it up and not make real money for a couple years.

I basically want to do something that at least makes me very marketable 3-4 years after graduation (and gets pay raises during this time).  I can afford to start at 50k/y, but I would need legitimate pay increases during those 3-4 years, and after that time (or, maybe after a couple more years), I would like the opportunity to make legitimate money.  For example, I was thinking of trying to do a JAG program (which I might not even be selected for), then lateraling into a USAttorney position, then working for a senator, and then becoming a lobbyist and making millions of dollars.

Likes and Dislikes:
Federal government jobs would be fine.  So would private jobs.  Using my law degree would be nice (but not a deal-breaker).  I want challenging work that does not involve pushing paper.  I like economic-type stuff.  I like politics and (much more broadly) analyzing policies.  I like making business decisions, although I don't really like selling things or managing people.  Gathering intelligence seems cool, although I'm not really sure what that means (yet. (and I'm kinda kidding)).  I don't mind moving or doing a little traveling.  I don't mind intensely focusing on details, so long as there is depth to the details.  I don't mind physically active jobs if they give-way to a promising future.  I don't like not understanding how the "Steps" for Federal jobs work, however I do like great job-security and guaranteed, large pay raises without excess accountability.  I may or may not be able to trick the Business school into letting me go into a JD/MBA program.  Other likes:  reasonable work hours, doing important/cool stuff, and being in an environment that lets me "continue my education," whatever that means.  I don't like filling out surveys that start with "Do you like to work outdoors?" or "Do you imagine yourself in the corner of the room?"

So, there we go.  I have been spending the last 2 years expecting to work for a big firm.  That's not happening.  I have no idea what other jobs are out there, so this could be fun.  Also, I'm a currently unemployed 1L, so I have some time to get started.  Hit me!

(p.s. maybe we could make this into a group game!)
Emory 2L
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vap

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 11:22:22 AM »
You want to litigate, right?  (references to JAG/USAO).

What are good-but-not-great grades?  From what I hear, you will probably need top 25% to get an interview at DOJ from a school ranked similar to Emory (but that's what I was told in 2007; not sure if you'll need higher grades now that everyone is probably flocking to government).

Has your CSO made any suggestions?

NYCFed

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 05:35:32 PM »
Considered federal law enforcement?  Although, if you don't want to just push paper, you may want to avoid the FBI.

With base pay + locality + 25% LEAP, most investigation types jobs pay over 50k starting out and early pay increases come fairly quickly.

There are tons of agencies, DEA, ATF, ICE, USSS, DSS (Diplomatic Security Service, if you want to or wouldn't mind living in Maputo), NCIS, AFOSI, etc

Number81

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 06:44:32 PM »
Thanks for the responses.
Also, there seems to be focus on government jobs (which is great), but does anyone have anything they can share about working in the corporate world, even if I'm not using my JD?

You want to litigate, right?  (references to JAG/USAO).

What are good-but-not-great grades?  From what I hear, you will probably need top 25% to get an interview at DOJ from a school ranked similar to Emory (but that's what I was told in 2007; not sure if you'll need higher grades now that everyone is probably flocking to government).

Has your CSO made any suggestions?

I would be happy to litigate, but I don't care a ton either way.  I actually like almost everything I've done in law school.  I am interested in lots of things.

My grades put me in the top 1/3 as of right now.  I have one more exam to go, but I think that I'll bump up a little bit after this semester. 
I always assumed that a USAO job was really hard to get.  I am guessing it's even harder to get now, but it looks like I need to look into this more.  Are there any legal government jobs that start out at GS-11 that aren't that hard to land?  Also, very stupid question:  USAO is just a smaller part of the DOJ, right?

I speak with my CSO at the end of this week.


Quote
Considered federal law enforcement?  Although, if you don't want to just push paper, you may want to avoid the FBI.

With base pay + locality + 25% LEAP, most investigation types jobs pay over 50k starting out and early pay increases come fairly quickly.

There are tons of agencies, DEA, ATF, ICE, USSS, DSS (Diplomatic Security Service, if you want to or wouldn't mind living in Maputo), NCIS, AFOSI, etc
Can you go into greater detail about what I would be qualified to do here?  I don't have any police/military training, I'm not old, and I don't have any kind of science or semi-science background.  Would I still be a reasonable candidate for these organizations?  And can you give me an idea of what I would be doing?  Assessing/interpreting intelligence?  Being a "field" agent and basically a federal cop?  Detective or quasi-detective?  What are the exit options like?
This is definitely something that interests me, but I know so little about it.
Emory 2L
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Number81

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 09:41:21 PM »
Well, that's New York.  I'm not interested in being employed by New York state (although I appreciate the help, and I'm guessing that one of the federal agencies has a similar pay scale).

And not to act like an entitled prick, but it will be slightly frustrating to be competing with high school graduates for some of these jobs.
Emory 2L
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vap

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2009, 12:26:08 AM »
I always assumed that a USAO job was really hard to get.  I am guessing it's even harder to get now, but it looks like I need to look into this more.  Are there any legal government jobs that start out at GS-11 that aren't that hard to land?  Also, very stupid question:  USAO is just a smaller part of the DOJ, right?

USAOs are components of DOJ, but they are much more difficult to get because of location (you get to have a federal job and live in your hometown).  Most USAOs do not follow the DOJ Honors Program (the DOJ's major way of recruiting attorneys).  Some USAOs have term appointments; last time I checked these were mostly in border states doing criminal work related to immigration.  These are very competitive positions, but they do hire more recent grads (I knew a guy who clerked for two years and then got one of these).  Many USAOs do not hire recent grads, but others do, so you will just have to ask around.

There are many other other federal agencies in DC that hire attorneys.  Almost every one does: FCC, FEC, DOL, DOS, PTO, DOI, USDA, HHS, DOC, DOTransportation, DOTreasury (and IRS chief counsel in DC and area counsel across the country), and the list goes on and on.  Your best bet is to probably go here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/our_government/executive_branch/.  Look at the list of federal agencies, and then visit those agencies' websites.  Many will have info about career openings or law student hiring.  There are many sub-agencies/bureaus, as well.  Check them all out.

Good luck!

linquest

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2009, 02:55:52 AM »
Are there any legal government jobs that start out at GS-11 that aren't that hard to land? 

Not really.   Base salary for entry-level attorneys is at GS-9.  GS-11 is usually for Honors Program entrants.  The agencies that pay more than GS-11 starting (SEC, USPS, etc) are even more competitive. 

The scary thing is that applications from attorneys are now flooding the market for quasi-legal job titles.  I've spoken with attorneys from DHHS, DOD and EEOC who have told me that they're getting hundreds of attorneys applying for job titles like paralegal, examiner or investigator, that are GS-5 or GS-7.
Fed gov't atty

vap

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2009, 09:30:41 AM »
Are there any legal government jobs that start out at GS-11 that aren't that hard to land? 

Not really.   Base salary for entry-level attorneys is at GS-9.  GS-11 is usually for Honors Program entrants.  The agencies that pay more than GS-11 starting (SEC, USPS, etc) are even more competitive. 

The scary thing is that applications from attorneys are now flooding the market for quasi-legal job titles.  I've spoken with attorneys from DHHS, DOD and EEOC who have told me that they're getting hundreds of attorneys applying for job titles like paralegal, examiner or investigator, that are GS-5 or GS-7.


I do not doubt that some start at GS-9, but most are GS-11 from what I have seen.

However, to qualify for GS-11, I have seen the following statement (or similar statement) on many job postings:
Quote
One year of professional legal experience; or the second professional law degree (LL.M) which requires one full year of graduate study; or the first professional law degree (LL.B or J.D.), provided the applicant’s records show superior law student work or activities as demonstrated by one of the following:

A.  Academic standing in the upper third of the law school graduating class;

B.  Work or achievement of significance on law school’s official law review;

C.  Special high-level honors for academic excellence in law school, such as election to the Order of the Coif;

D. Winning of a moot court competition or membership on the moot court team which represents the law school or in competition with other law schools;

E.  Full-time or continuous participation in a legal aid program;

F. Significant summer law office clerk experience;

G. Other equivalent evidence of clearly superior achievement.

linquest

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2009, 02:54:49 PM »
The key phrase was "hard to land".  Those "A-G" requirements are per OPM standards for GS-11 qualifications- http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/gs0905.pdf , http://www.usajobs.gov/EI24.asp .  Most of these positions are going to be filled by bar-admitted attorneys under the "1 year of professional legal experience" qualification, not 3Ls/recent law grads, especially in the current legal market's state.
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vap

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Re: Creative uses for my useless degree brainstorming session!
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2009, 04:26:46 PM »
The key phrase was "hard to land".  Those "A-G" requirements are per OPM standards for GS-11 qualifications- http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/gs0905.pdf , http://www.usajobs.gov/EI24.asp .  Most of these positions are going to be filled by bar-admitted attorneys under the "1 year of professional legal experience" qualification, not 3Ls/recent law grads, especially in the current legal market's state.

That's very interesting the base salalry is GS-9.  I've been watching job postings for a long time and have never seen one advertised at GS-9.  (And it's hard for me to fathom because I made GS-9 my second year as a paralegal).