Law School Discussion

Document Review + UNPAID part-time Law Fellowship

Document Review + UNPAID part-time Law Fellowship
« on: March 27, 2010, 10:04:28 AM »
Hello all,

One of my friends from a low-level 2nd Tier law school was telling me about his post-graduation plan. (He graduates in May, his grades are pretty bad). He is almost certain that he will not be employed in the near future, even if he passes the bar.

He has secured an unpaid fellowship at an influential public interest organization where he would love to work one day (or he would someday love to work at a similar organization), and he plans to supplement this unpaid fellowship by doing 30-35 hours of document review a week.  He is locked into this unpaid fellowship for a year and must put in a minimum of 20 unpaid hours per week.

He argues that it will provide him decent money (from the doc review) while allowing him to gain more experience and make contacts in an area he would love to work in (the PT Law Fellowship).

My constructive criticism was that this plan precludes him from getting a full-time permanent position somewhere else for an entire year, and that seems like kind of a gamble.  His comeback: he believes he'd be unemployed for a year anyway!

What are your thoughts?  I've never heard of this.  Thank you!


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Re: Document Review + UNPAID part-time Law Fellowship
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2010, 10:38:27 AM »
I've never known anyone in that type of situation, so feel free to disregard what I say here.  

It's been my observation that law jobs do not suit themselves well for set time commitments.  They are often unpredictable.  So although someone thinks they'll do doc review for 30-35 hours per week, it could end up being 50 hours some weeks and 0 hours other weeks.  And to the same degree, although someone commits to a minimum of 20 hours per week at a nonprofit, there may be days or weeks in which the employee will not be able to finish the amount of work expected within 20 hours (or at least the employee will not be able to do a good job in 20 hours).

Law jobs are often project-based and deadline-oriented.  That is, you are expected to put in however many hours are necessary to finish the project by a certain deadline.  You often can't just punch in and punch out and say "I'll finish it next week."

So, I don't think it would work out very well to have two law jobs and expect to put in a set number of hours at each.  I think the employee might be setting himself up for failure at both jobs.

But again, I stress that I've never been in that type of situation, so I don't know from firsthand experience.

Re: Document Review + UNPAID part-time Law Fellowship
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2010, 05:43:08 PM »
I'd do the same thing as he does, although fully acknowledging every concern mentioned by both of you. It's far from an ideal situation, but in the current market, going unemployed for a year actually is a possibility.

Is there a chance that this unpaid fellowship will turn into a real job opportunity? It sounds like that is what he is hoping for, and if there is a reasonable chance of that working out, I understand him.