Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?  (Read 3209 times)

joshuach

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« on: November 23, 2010, 07:54:58 PM »
I'm a jobless 3L with a "Dean's List" GPA (~top quartile, I think) at a top-10 school with about 7 years of work experience in Internet tech companies, and I'm pretty much at my wits' end about my next steps.  Hopefully, someone here can offer advice.

My original reason for enrolling in law school was to practice cross-border IP transactions (licensing, transfers, etc.); since then, I've discovered that law firms do not typically hire anyone out of school to do that, and the usual route to that practice is to take on more IP-related work in corporate law, or any licensing work that falls into your hands while practicing IP prosecution/litigation.  Since I don't have any job offers, the prospect of reaching my goal is very bleak (same story for most jobless 3Ls right now).

I'm down but not out, so to speak.  So far, I'm considering the following strategies:

1) Enter the Tax-LLM program here at my law school next year. 
Advantages:
  • I get the LLM for half-price (and it's a recognized program).
  • I can potentially get a job advising on international tax issues related to IP exchanges, like transfer pricing, which might be a stepping-stone into more of the IP licensing work later on.  According to some tax attorneys I've spoken to, having a tech background is a "nice to have" for firms doing transfer pricing out in Silicon Valley.  Also, I'll qualify for jobs at the Big4 accounting firms (also in international tax planning).
  • The LLM gives me another year to look for law firm jobs in corporate or IP, in addition to tax law jobs.
Disadvantages:
  • I take on another year's worth of loans (living, tuition) and delay my potential employment date.
  • I'm basically becoming a tax specialist, which I don't actually mind since I like my tax classes so far, but I might be foreclosing the option to pursue work in IP and corporate law.

2) Withdraw from law school next semester (with one more semester to go), and work in my former industry or in a legal internship.
Advantages:
  • If I get a legal internship, I can gain some relevant experience with which to hopefully make a case for the "experienced" jobs out there (~1yr exp).
  • If I end up back in my old industry, I'm essentially making some money while waiting for the job market to improve in law.
Disadvantages:
  • If I'm working in my old industry, I might have to make a case for taking such a break from studying/practicing law.  But, hopefully my continued status as a law student can dull the impact of such a break.
  • I'm basically delaying a career in the law, and career progression.

3) Just suck it up and graduate, pass the bar, and pound the pavement looking for work.
Although I've done this before in my previous career, I've been told that your starting point is much more determinative of your end-point in the law than in other industries.  My fear is that I will eventually have to seek "any" type of work - in an unrelated field of law, in my old industry, or in a somewhat related law industry (contracts administration, etc.), once student loans come calling; this is actually the situation some of my friends have gotten into.  And, once you go that route, it's hard to get "back on track" so to speak.

Right now, I'm heavily leaning towards the Tax-LLM.  If anything, it's an additional specialty that can potentially get me to where I want to be.

Thanks for reading and your comments are much appreciated!

john4040

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
    • View Profile
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2010, 08:02:43 PM »
I'm a jobless 3L with a "Dean's List" GPA (~top quartile, I think) at a top-10 school with about 7 years of work experience in Internet tech companies, and I'm pretty much at my wits' end about my next steps.  Hopefully, someone here can offer advice.

My original reason for enrolling in law school was to practice cross-border IP transactions (licensing, transfers, etc.); since then, I've discovered that law firms do not typically hire anyone out of school to do that, and the usual route to that practice is to take on more IP-related work in corporate law, or any licensing work that falls into your hands while practicing IP prosecution/litigation.  Since I don't have any job offers, the prospect of reaching my goal is very bleak (same story for most jobless 3Ls right now).

I'm down but not out, so to speak.  So far, I'm considering the following strategies:

1) Enter the Tax-LLM program here at my law school next year. 
Advantages:
  • I get the LLM for half-price (and it's a recognized program).
  • I can potentially get a job advising on international tax issues related to IP exchanges, like transfer pricing, which might be a stepping-stone into more of the IP licensing work later on.  According to some tax attorneys I've spoken to, having a tech background is a "nice to have" for firms doing transfer pricing out in Silicon Valley.  Also, I'll qualify for jobs at the Big4 accounting firms (also in international tax planning).
  • The LLM gives me another year to look for law firm jobs in corporate or IP, in addition to tax law jobs.
Disadvantages:
  • I take on another year's worth of loans (living, tuition) and delay my potential employment date.
  • I'm basically becoming a tax specialist, which I don't actually mind since I like my tax classes so far, but I might be foreclosing the option to pursue work in IP and corporate law.

2) Withdraw from law school next semester (with one more semester to go), and work in my former industry or in a legal internship.
Advantages:
  • If I get a legal internship, I can gain some relevant experience with which to hopefully make a case for the "experienced" jobs out there (~1yr exp).
  • If I end up back in my old industry, I'm essentially making some money while waiting for the job market to improve in law.
Disadvantages:
  • If I'm working in my old industry, I might have to make a case for taking such a break from studying/practicing law.  But, hopefully my continued status as a law student can dull the impact of such a break.
  • I'm basically delaying a career in the law, and career progression.

3) Just suck it up and graduate, pass the bar, and pound the pavement looking for work.
Although I've done this before in my previous career, I've been told that your starting point is much more determinative of your end-point in the law than in other industries.  My fear is that I will eventually have to seek "any" type of work - in an unrelated field of law, in my old industry, or in a somewhat related law industry (contracts administration, etc.), once student loans come calling; this is actually the situation some of my friends have gotten into.  And, once you go that route, it's hard to get "back on track" so to speak.

Right now, I'm heavily leaning towards the Tax-LLM.  If anything, it's an additional specialty that can potentially get me to where I want to be.

Thanks for reading and your comments are much appreciated!

Go with #3.  Getting the tax LLM will pidgeonhole you.  #2 is a horrible idea because you're on the verge of graduating, you did well at your school, and you went to a great school.  I'd go with #3 because many say that it's easier to get a legal job once you past the bar.

bigs5068

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1474
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2010, 08:34:10 PM »
Yea number 3. How hard have you actually tried to find a job? I know several people about to graduate from my tier 4 that have job offers. Unless there is something you are not disclosing it seems like you have a great shot at getting hired by someone. Even if you have put in 110% into finding a job it would make no sense to drop out of law school now. You have spent 2 1/2 years of your life and god knows how much money up to this point. You might as well come away with something to show for it. 

bigs5068

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1474
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2010, 11:00:05 PM »
John4040,

You are right if you went to the 21st best school everybody is supposed to bow down for you. Honestly, doing everything you were supposed to do is never enough.  The only time you have done everything you were supposed to do is when you get the job done. Until you accomplish something you have simply not done enough. End of story.

You can bi*** and moan about unfair it is. Unfortunately,  excuses are like a**holes everyone has one and they are all full of sh**.   No matter what you do there is going to be someone that will get the job done without any excuses. The person can be from Cooley or Harvard if they get things done they will get hired and be kept around. Believe it or not businesses do not survive if they do everything they were supposed to do.  They need to be better than their competitors. If you are looking for a job you have to be better than the other people looking for work. The real world is competitive and you either sink or swim. People that swim get sh** done.  People that sink say things like I did everything I was supposed to do and the world is not fair. Newsflash life is not fair, and if you have not learned that by the time you graduate law school you better wake up.

BikePilot

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 488
    • AOL Instant Messenger - joshthebikepilot
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2010, 09:18:18 AM »
To the OP,

I think your best bet would be to stick with your current program, graduate and try to find an IP job - its likely too late for a biglaw ip job, but it may not be too late to apply the patent office or some governmental agency that deals with ip.
HLS 2010

joshuach

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2010, 12:31:04 PM »
Thanks for your advice guys.

bigs5068, I've had a few callbacks at biglaw but nothing worked out.  I don't think I'm a terrible interviewer, but obviously not good enough.  Just to give you some sense of my effort so far:

Attended 2 job fairs (one in Chi and one in SF) and emailed every firm for a walk-in interview, and walked into a few while there, and dropped off resumes to everyone else.  Total screenings from these job fairs - ~14.

At OCI, did the same strategy - landed about ~17 screenings.

Emailed about ~400 total firms in NYC, DC, all of California, Chicago, Seattle, Portland and netted 3 callbacks.

The above were for 2L summer jobs (I'm actually slated to graduate in Dec.).

Applied to HP's new graduate program, and got the only callback from my school.  Recruiter said that the guy they selected ended up having more experience than I did.

Applied to honors program jobs at FTC, SEC.

Contacted my network in Bay Area for legal internships, and applied to a few so far.  Also applied to some in-house positions that seemed to indicate that non-law experience was okay.

I'm also constantly checking indeed.com and simplyhired.com for all jobs listed as:
"junior associate" - usually have to add "law" and "years" to see exp. requirement in summaries
"summer associate" - usually nothing
"legal internship"
"ip licensing"

I agree that you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  It seems to me like #3 is the default option anyway - meaning that even if I tried #1 and #2, I'd just end up at #3 if nothing pans out.  So, given that thought, what can I lose by taking the other options?  The pigeon-hole problem is something I'm concerned about but I was thinking that I could de-emphasize the tax-LLM for non-tax jobs (either not present it, if that's ethical, or somehow minimize it).

BikePilot, I'll look into the patent office.  I heard that they're expanding their honors program (or whatever junior attorney program they might have).  But, I've had no responses from government agencies so far.  I've also heard that unless you interned with an agency, the chances of getting called in for an interview for the honors programs are almost zilch.

john4040, another reason #2 appeals to me is because I can keep the student health insurance during withdrawal; it's something that's actually very important to me.  I have an opportunity to do some contract work right now with a startup company (doing tech stuff), but with an opportunity to also handle some of their legal work (mainly coordinating with their outside counsel, and probably some other simple things I can try to do myself).  My thought is that I can roll that experience into something more substantial later on, i.e., if I make a case for that experiencing counting as ~1yr of in-house legal experience.

The other thing is, I'm going to try to pass the patent bar before graduating in both #1 and #2.  I have 1 more chemistry class to take before I qualify to sit for it.

Thanks again for your thoughts.  What are you guys doing right now, or how did you go about your job search?

john4040

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
    • View Profile
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2010, 12:48:17 PM »
Thanks again for your thoughts.  What are you guys doing right now, or how did you go about your job search?

I'm in a judicial clerkship right now.  I summered with a state government agency and didn't want to return.  I submitted my clerkship app during my 3L year and the position just sort of fell into my lap.  I've been networking local bar functions and Inns of Court and sending out feeler e-mails for the past several months.  I will kick my job search into full gear in late February / early March.  I've passed one state's bar and will be taking another in February.  I've had a couple of offers from small firms, but am holding out for better opportunities.

BikePilot

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 488
    • AOL Instant Messenger - joshthebikepilot
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: T1 3L, good gpa, jobless, weighing strategies, advice?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2010, 12:03:13 PM »
Check into positions at government agencies other than Honors Programs - I'm not really up on government stuff, but I'm pretty sure they hire quite a lot of attorneys outside the Honors program and some are bound to be less competitive - most honors programs are probably more competitive than a typical biglaw gig.

As for what we did - I did OCI for 2L summer, landed a few callbacks and subsequent offers, took one, summered a the firm, liked it, got an offer that summer, started this fall. 
HLS 2010