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Author Topic: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!  (Read 1885 times)

jack24

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The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« on: August 23, 2012, 02:48:04 PM »
Working in the legal field sucks.  Wait, that's not right.  The legal field is so huge and diverse, that it can't all suck unless all work sucks.   So let me rephrase: I hate my job and I think I'd hate at least 25% of all law-firm jobs.
So I have law school debt, and I make less than I made before law school.   The long term financial outlook in the legal field is still very good, but it really sucks in the short term.
In summary, I hate my job, I'm bored to death, I have soul-crushing debt, I have a modest income, everything else in my life is going very well.
In addition to my law job, I teach college as an adjunct.  I absolutely love everything about it, but the pay sucks.

So I'm deciding between forging on with my current career and going back to school for a Ph.D. 

I understand there are many pitfalls with the professor path, but when evaluating my decision, should I consider my student loans and time investment as a sunk cost?  In other words, is it rational to consider the time and money investment as a significant factor when I can make more money and be happier doing something that doesn't require a law degree?


Maintain FL 350

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2012, 03:41:11 PM »
A decision like this volves so many aspects of your life that it's difficult to offer any advice. My father is a college professor, and several of my close friends are full time tenured professors. Here are a few things I'd consider, however.

Employment prospects
Full time college teaching positions are very, very competitive to obtain. I'd say the market is even tighter than the legal market. My dad teaches at a non-prestigious state university. When positions open up, which is rarely, his department has the luxury of choosing from several hundred applicants. The people who get hired, even at his state commuter school, invariably have Ph.Ds from places like Columbia, Berkeley, etc., and are well published. One of my good friends got his Ph.D from UCLA and spent years teaching part time community college courses before landing a full time gig.

Like law school, your employability is tied to your pedigree, but it's worse. You can't be a solo practitioner college professor, and even small colleges can be very picky about hiring.

Do you like research and scholarly publications?
The Ph.D will not be enough. You'll need to publish like crazy in order to build up a reputation so that you can get hired. Many people like teaching but aren't thrilled with the peer review/publishing aspect.

Are you willing to live just about anywhere?
If so, you may have a better chance at employment. A small college in west Virginia  will be less competitive than, say, NYU, but it will still be far more competitive than most people expect.

My views on Ph.D programs differ somewhat from my views on JD programs. Based on what I've seen, a Ph.D from a so-so university is probably not worth it. The field is simply too competitive.

The good news is that it's quite common to get substantial or full scholarships for a Ph.D. If they accept you, they'll probably offer you money.

legend

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2012, 06:01:54 PM »
Again my anonymous internet poster opinion, but I think for most Doctors and Lawyers the first 5 years after school are awful. It is made worse by the fact that the T.V. makes it appear that all Doctors and Lawyers are rich often this is true after years of experience is gained. A lawyer or a doctor holds a great deal of responsiblity and nobody wants to be the doctors first surgery or have their multi-million highly personal lawsuit be their lawyer's first trial. However, it does happen for everyone eventually.

I can say the first three years post law school were awful for me and most of my fellow classmates. Waiting for the bar I was volunteering getting a small stipend from my school. Then I got some document review work, contract work, then eventually I got a full-time with a somewhat shady solo practioner, but I did get some trial, deposition, etc experience there. Having those experiences got me interviews and eventually I found a firm that I have been at for 2 years now, but it was a long uncertain path.

I don't think more education is the solution you have to tough it out. One website that really helped me find some decent jobs was the https://www.law2.byu.edu/career_services/jobbank/states/California/ it connects you to basically every law schools career service website. username: jobfind password: ijbank almost every career services office gives the password out and I still browse it from time to time. Good luck to you.


jack24

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2012, 06:34:34 PM »
I love research and writing and I love teaching, but I understand there are many challenges and barriers on the road to being a career professor.

My job isn't that awful, but I still feel like I need to make a move now or stick it out.   The longer I wait the more difficult it will be to change.

I went to law school knowing exactly what I wanted to do: Banking law and Real Estate litigation..   I did well, I graduated and I hustled for a job.  Luckily, my firm represented the regional interests of two large banks.  Unfortunately, those accounts dried up due to an FDIC takeover and a sale just six months after I started.  Now I do a random mixture of collections, family, criminal, and personal injury, none of which is very interesting.  But it's work.  I want to start a firm in a few years because I've owned businesses in the past, but I want more contacts in banking and real estate law before I go out on my own, and this firm isn't making that happen anymore.

HolmesBoy

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2012, 08:52:30 PM »
What type of PhD are you interested in?


Cher1300

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2012, 10:58:28 PM »
I don't know where you live, but in my area, the LA County Bar Association has numerous networking events for attorneys in their specific practices throughout the city.  If there is anything similar in your area, that may be a place to start to build additional contacts in real estate.

jack24

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2012, 01:56:19 AM »
There are a few joint Econ Polisci Ph.D. programs out there I'd be very interested in. 

What type of PhD are you interested in?

vap

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2012, 12:44:19 AM »
No, don't consider the sunk time/money as an investment.  Your life is not poker.  If you're miserable in law, get out.

But you're all over the place.  First you say you hate your job, then it's not that awful?  You want to start your own firm?  I would say to wait out the firm for as short a time as you can, and then start your firm.

Going back for a Ph.D and then trying to get a college teaching job sounds horribly boring for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit (does that describe you?).

You should be getting advice on JDU; plenty of small firm and solo lawyers there.

cooley3L

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2012, 01:17:50 PM »
If you want to teach, can you get an assistant teacher job at a law school, or teach at a community college (both I doubt require a PhD)


Julie Fern

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Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2012, 04:38:09 PM »
that not problem.