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Author Topic: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...  (Read 1480 times)

NonTradInSATX

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So here's my situation.  I just started a new job after separating from the military.  It's a great position, solid pay and a really awesome organization, I am psyched about the opportunity and looking forward to working there.

But, I'm starting evening law in the fall.  Since it isn't a minor transition for me, but a total career shift, I'm thinking my new boss may not love the idea that I'm already planning my future in a different career track.  I definitely don't want to lie about it, but I also don't think there is any reason to share this tidbit.  The standard hours arent a problem and they have no reason to find out I'm in night school under normal circumstances.

So, the quandary I come across is this: How do I handle it if there is some 'mandatory overtime' that arises and it would impact my attending classes?  I certainly don't want to lie, but it could be hazardous to my financial well-being to be totally forthcoming.  Any thoughts on how to handle this delicately?
Military Officer separating, 1L fall 2011

San Antonio, TX

Cher1300

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2011, 02:16:46 PM »
Not quite sure how to address this, but I will also be starting law school in the evenings.  The difference is, I've been at my job for over six years.  I did need to tell my boss because there are certain events, etc. that would require me to be here on an occasional evening and I probably won't be able to attend.  Also, I needed to change my hours so I can leave a bit earlier.  If I were just starting this job, however, I don't believe I would say anything unless/until overtime came up.  I don't know what type of job you have, but you'll probably be there for at least two - four years.  You could slowly work in the subject by casually mentioning school here and there without making it a big deal.  That way it's not really a surprise if they need you to stay, but I wouldn't make it a formal discussion.  Hope that helps. 

Duncanjp

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2011, 03:28:13 AM »
In my experience, NonTrad, it's very difficult to conceal the fact that you're in law school. In fact, it would be impossible. For one thing, when you work all day and go to class at night, that's all your life is about. You study every spare chance you can get. You'll bring your casebooks to work with you to read during lunch and whenever you can before class. While your co-workers are eating their tuna sandwiches and working crosswords, you'll be reading your case books and study materials. Invariably, somebody will see what you're reading and ask about it. Even if you hide out in your car to read, you will find that you have absolutely nothing to say to anyone about your life if you can't talk about studying law. Law school completely absorbs you if you're going to do it right, anyway. You may conceal it for a while, but you'll find it increasingly difficult to hide until trying becomes pointless about a week after you start. Since you just got the gig, you're probably better off letting the cat out of the bag slowly like it's no big deal, and without asking your boss for favors or acting like handling work and school is hard. After you've been in school for six months and your boss and coworkers have become both aware and unconcerned with how you spend your evenings, you may be able to let your guard down a bit. But you cannot ever let your work suffer.

haus

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2011, 11:45:11 PM »
Currently I am working on wrapping up a Masters degree. It has been very consuming of my time, although I suspect that it pails to most part time law programs in this measure.

I have found that being open with my boss and my team members has been key. I have not gone into much of any detail as to my goals related to the completion of my Masters degree, but I have been clear in informing them in advance of my school schedule (which in my case has involved a fair bit of travel), and pointing out well in advance dates that I expect to be especially pushed for time (e.g. leading up to exams and/or project due dates) so that excessive stress from school usually came with forewarning.

All told I have found acting professionally, treating my academic pursuits in much the same manner as I would any other project, planning carefully and reading in those that may be impacted well in advance has paid dividends. Generally speaking, my management, peers, and 'customers' have been very receptive over the last several years.

Happy Hunting,

calgal27

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 11:11:44 PM »
I guess I was fortunate.  I have always worked full time.  I finished my bachelors while working a job that was not demanding.  Did a lot of class work while at work.  I finished my Masters Degree while at work.  This was a different employer and while I was hired to work for the Vice President... the doesn't produce a lot of things for me to do.  I was able to do all the research and assignments I needed and no one had a problem.  In fact, if I approached my boss and told him about law school, he would probably tell me to do whatever I needed to do at the office.

I am now going to attend law school but my classes are on Saturday.  I have not told my employer about this.  They knew about the Masters Degree because I was working on it when I started there.  I graduated with that almost a year ago.  I have been with company almost 2 years.

I cannot decide if I should tell them or not.  On the one hand, I do not want them thinking I am going to abandon them but of course an employer is going to think that since I am going to law school, I want to take that career path.  I had been in the legal profession for 20 years but this job is not legal.  More administrative.

I also am an online seller and I could really just do that and make enough money.  Heck, between the online selling and the job, I make close to 6 figures a year.  I just think if I tell them and be honest with them, they will not have a problem if I need to write or research at work.  My boss is out 3 out of 4 weeks.  We are a small office and are even allowed to stream TV and movies to our computers while working. 

So... do I tell them or just let it go and see how things progress in law school?

NonTradInSATX

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 12:04:36 AM »
Thanks everyone for the tips.  I guess my plan right now is to go to work and just not mention it, then if it does come out, treat it like it's no big deal.  On the plus side, I work for a company with 25K+ employees and they do have legal positions I'd be very interested in.  I guess we'll see how it goes, but many thanks to those that took the time to answer my post.  I appreciate the suggestions and will keep those in mind as I navigate these waters.
Military Officer separating, 1L fall 2011

San Antonio, TX

Hamilton

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2011, 07:47:20 AM »
Thanks everyone for the tips.  I guess my plan right now is to go to work and just not mention it, then if it does come out, treat it like it's no big deal.  On the plus side, I work for a company with 25K+ employees and they do have legal positions I'd be very interested in.  I guess we'll see how it goes, but many thanks to those that took the time to answer my post.  I appreciate the suggestions and will keep those in mind as I navigate these waters.

Do not "hide" the fact you are going to school.  A company that size may have a tuition reimbursement program that could take the edge off what you are paying.  Also, from my experience, do not expect to get a law degree and be embraced by your company legal department with open arms.  In-house positions generally go to folks with outside experience and from higher-ranked schools.  If you truly want to move to your legal group you should be talking to them up front and see if this is a reality: and if so, come up with a plan.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 11:21:56 AM »
Thanks everyone for the tips.  I guess my plan right now is to go to work and just not mention it, then if it does come out, treat it like it's no big deal.  On the plus side, I work for a company with 25K+ employees and they do have legal positions I'd be very interested in.  I guess we'll see how it goes, but many thanks to those that took the time to answer my post.  I appreciate the suggestions and will keep those in mind as I navigate these waters.

I think you've got the right idea.  In your shoes, I'd lay low, at least for the first couple of months.

As for some other thoughts:

1.  If you were an avid skiier, had a show dog, or coached your kid's travel soccer team, that's nothing you'd rush into your boss' office to tell him/her.  Your personal life is just that:  personal.  So long as it doesn't interfere with your duties at work, it's only their business if you chose to make it so.  So, use discretion when divulging that you're in law school at night. 

2.  If this business is like most others, they think absolutely nothing of you getting, say, an MBA at night.  However, you're right to have some minor apprehension about revealing law studies.  As an example, I'm an officer in the reserves.  When I let them know that I was going to law school, they immediately presumed that I was either going to resign my commission or request to transfer to JAG.  (Neither is true.)  People get their own funny ideas sometimes.  Best that you control revealing this fact under circumstances you control.

3.  Check into tuition reimbursement.  I used to work for a company that had a generous policy.  They paid about $35,000 for my MBA back in the 90s.  That was a lot of money back then.  However, frequently, companies will only reimburse programs of study that are directly related to your job or future prospects.  For instance, we had a female engineer who was desperate to escape to the mommy-track and wanted the company to pay for her to get an education degree.  No dice on that one.  Same for law and nursing.  Both of those were programs of study that the company, explicitly in their policies, would not pay for unless it was somehow related to your current job.  (So, I suppose a legal secretary might be able to get a law degree paid for.)

4.  Hamilton is right that corporate in-house counsel jobs are very hard to get.  Lots of guys who got into biglaw got tired of never seeing their families.  Not to sound too sexist, but a lot of these hard-charging female attorneys hit their 30s and discover that they have an unused uterus and really, really want a job that would let them not just have kids, but see them once in a while.  The pay is also considerable.  (Last company I worked for, in-house counsel probably made about $130-150).  So, these jobs are highly desired and sought after.  They're not easy, but for the most part, most of the year, you're hitting the door pretty close to quitting time and not working on the weekends. 

That having been said, I would check into your company's system of internal promotion.  Again, just personal experience, here, but my last company had a VERY, VERY strong internal promotion philosophy.  I worked there from 1993-2004.  During that time, I was promoted 5 times, which involved 3 different relocations.  That was, without a doubt, the thing I loved the most about the company.  (I have heard that lately they're getting away from that, but it's been a while since I've been there and I'm only hearing this secondhand.) 

During the time I was there, though, they had an opening for in-house counsel.  They posted the position on the company's internal promotion system, probably presuming that nobody would have a JD or any legal experience.  Well, nobody had legal experience, but two guys in the company did have JDs.  They both applied, which created a bit of a problem for the company since they were grossly unqualified for the position.  However, because the philosophy of the company was so centered on providing opportunities to current employees, they took who they thought was the stronger of the two candidates, and retained a retired attorney on a part-time basis to show the person the ropes for a couple of years. 

So, not all companies are the same.  Although the deck is stacked against anybody when it comes to in-house counsel unless they have about 5 years biglaw, your company might be like my old one was.

Best of luck to you.  You're going to do great!

Hamilton

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Re: Going to night school this fall and just started a new job...
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 02:19:00 PM »
So here's my situation.  I just started a new job after separating from the military.  It's a great position, solid pay and a really awesome organization, I am psyched about the opportunity and looking forward to working there.

I think this can be handled by being honest - that is how I handled it with my company (Fortune 500).  I spoke openly with my manager and let him know some key things: (1) i love my job and do not intend to just walk away, (2) not going to LS b/c I want to leave my job or company, want to expand my role and take advantages of opportunities within the company, and (3) LS will not interfere with work (and it didn't).  Followed up with a direct "do you have a problem with me doing this?"  I got support from my management and tuiition reimbursement - which required my manager's approval prior to taking the classes.

It obviously helps to have a good relationship with your manager and to have his support for when HIS managers start asking questions.