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Messages - Big Time Lawyer

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1
Job Search / Re: firstlawjob.com a godsend or a gimmick
« on: January 29, 2009, 09:56:26 PM »
anyone heard of them?  anyone know anyone who used them?  what's the word on this company?  the better business bureau has nothing on them.

It's a gimmick.  Don't waste your time or money.

I actually find the site hilarious, although the company is trying to capitalize on law students' desperation.

"Regular Price is $199, sign up now during our national promotion for $79.00."

"If you have graduated your membership will last for six months of service."

"Why do we charge a nominal fee? FirstLawJob.com provides each client with a personal career counselor that takes care of the entire job-search process."

"How the Process Works

I.    Fill out the application and membership page.

II.   A career counselor will contact you to discuss career opportunities.

III. We begin searching and applying for jobs on your behalf through a     real-time database of hiring firms, as well as relationships with law firms      and legal recruiters.

IV.  You will be contacted directly by those firms that are interested in you."

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Job Search / Re: Should I leave Law School?
« on: January 24, 2009, 10:09:23 PM »
dontknowwheretogo, a few questions:

1. What year are you in law school?  If you are a 1L and are bummed out about not getting a biglaw SA position, then maybe you should wait until 2L Fall OCI, when the large-scale biglaw hiring occurs.  On the other hand, if you are a 2L, hinging your bets on 3L direct-entry hiring may not be such a good idea.

2. What do you mean by "took a gamble" in going to law school?  Were you specifically looking for a biglaw job, or would you be "okay" with a higher-end mid-size position that pays 80-100k?

3. Did you want to be a lawyer before coming to law school?  Do you still want to be a lawyer (keep in mind that law school is not reflective of actual practice, especially the transactional side)?  If so, why?  Is it just for the biglaw salary or for the office environment?

If you really don't like law, then being a biglaw associate will be a very unhappy time for you.  I agree with everything in Jacy's post.  I especially like her comment about "simply wish[ing] we could afford to do something we'd enjoy more."  It's amazing how law school and working in biglaw can change one's view of what's "affordable."

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Job Search / Re: ADVICE needed - DOJ or NYC Law Dept for 2L Summer
« on: January 24, 2009, 09:59:32 PM »
scappy, when you speak of getting into your desired "department," are you referring to a particular area of law?  If so, which area of law do you like?  With this info, maybe we can shed some additional insight into the DOJ vs. NYC Dept. of Law decision.

In any case, though, based on the information of the other posters, I would take the NYC position because it has a good probability of leading to a full-time position, unlike the DOJ position, and also because you like the NYC area.  Also, remember that a bird in hand is better than two in the bush, much less one in the bush (which would be the case if you took the DOJ position).

4
Current Law Students / Re: Judicial Internship vs. Paid Law Firm
« on: January 24, 2009, 09:51:42 PM »
You may have very good grades for the FIRST semester, but how are your interviewing skills?  Also, you don't know what your second semester grades will be.  It's not terribly uncommon for someone with fairly good grades to drop to the middle of the class at the end of the year.  This is especially true if your second semester is weighted (by number of credits or otherwise) more heavily than your first semester.  Believe it or not, not everyone with good grades is automatically hired.

You say you want to be in academia.  You will likely need a bachelor's degree from a top school as well as a JD from a top school, and you will need to have excellent grades, just to teach in a T2 school.  Do you know what academia is like?  You will have very little control over your geographic region (unless you are something like an A+ student), which seems to be fairly important to you.

Like another poster, I am also all for shooting for the stars, but you seem to think that you have a good shot at a CoA clerkship.  You mentioned that you want a CoA-level clerkship "at the least."  Perhaps you should do a little more research into the competitiveness of clerkship slots.  Also, competition will only increase in the near future as...

(1) law school grads, even those with good grades, apply for clerkships because they can't secure a biglaw position

(2) laid off junior associates that apply for clerkships (a growing trend is for 1st- and 2nd-year associates to take a leave of absence to be a federal clerk for a year)

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Current Law Students / Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
« on: January 24, 2009, 03:44:19 PM »
I took a quick look at the grading scheme.  Does 5-15% of the class have to fall within the D+/D/F category?  If so, wow.

6
Job Search / Re: Firms with Exempt organizations practice
« on: January 24, 2009, 03:39:08 PM »
Hi Big Time, thanks for the reply. I am definitely attracted to this work; I've been taking on nonprofit clients pro bono since law school. I imagine the workload would be less, but it is definitely the practice that attracts me. Thanks for the heads up about exempt work being subsumed in other groups in large law firms.

You seem pretty knowledgeable, could you give me some advice on how I can find a job doing exempt work? I do not think these jobs are aplenty, in general, and making a switch is generally not easy, especially in this kind of market. I've never seen these openings advertised. I'm planning to conduct informational interviews of attorneys doing this kind of work to make contacts, but I'm not sure how far this will get me. The job market is so tough right now. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!

Hey changeling,

I think it's great that you are interested in this type of work.  I, too, don't see lateral T&E positions advertised that often.  You are already doing "informational" interviews, and I'm sure you will find these to be beneficial.  Here are some other steps that I would add, if I may:

1. You are doing some tax-exempt work for pro bono clients.  Can you see if you can position yourself for a board of directors/governors/trustees position?  Depending on the organization, such a position could make you more valuable from a law firm's perspective.  The position could also help you get larger pro bono clients and other directorships.

2. Does your corporate group do any work for family/closely-held businesses?  If so, see if you can handle the business succession issues (passing large business interests from one generation to another according to the client's wishes and with a minimum of taxes).  This type of work is a component of many T&E groups.

3. Does your firm have a T&E group, or at least a tax-exempt practice within the Tax group?  If so, maybe you can talk to the partners, take an assignment, and set yourself up for a future transition to the group.

4. What city are you in?  Is a Tax LLM a "hidden" job requirement for T&E positions in your city?  Take a look at the biographies of T&E associates for the various firms in your city to get an idea.

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Current Law Students / Re: 2.0 - Should I drop out?
« on: January 23, 2009, 01:00:17 AM »
I got a 2.0 last semester, straight C's. I go to a law school ranked in the 30s - 40s. I got in because I took very easy classes in undergrad and I happen to take standardized tests well.
I didn't try particularly hard until finals came around and generally struggled to pay attention in class.  I would go weeks at a time in classes like civ pro where I wouldn't even take notes.  I really don't hate law school because I find that I have tons of free time outside of class to do the stuff that I like to do.  I generally don't believe that I can bring my grades up to even a 3.0 although I do think if I worked a little harder I could manage some   I'm just generally freaked out that I have no passion for law school material and I really don't know that I will even like being a lawyer. 
Considering I will probably leave law school about 150,000 in debt, I'm thinking my best option is to just cut my losses now or if they will let me, take a leave of absence for a year and figure out what I want to do.  To be honest, I don't know what I want to do.  I came to law school because I thought I would make a good lawyer but now I feel like I keep going blindly ahead I would be making a big mistake.  I also came to law school because I wasn't ready for the real world. I understand that I could still graduate with bad grades, pass the bar and make maybe 60,000 a year but I'm wondering if this is the right thing for me.  I'm just in a panicked state right now and I'm also wondering if this is par for the course for students after their 1L semester.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Hey Drowning,

Any time you ever feel down, think about the majority of people in this world that are wondering how they will put food on the table for their children, much less themselves.  "Poverty" in the United States is nothing compared to poverty in the global community.

Think about what you really want to do for a career.  As others have mentioned, there are both disadvantages and advantages to going to law school straight from undergrad.  In my view, one of the disadvantages is a lack of appreciation for the real working world.  Most people don't get to sit in an office in a relatively clean environment doing paperwork. 

Think about that the next time you pass a factory late at night, a police officer walking around in the rain, a construction worker covered in dust in the wee hours of the morning, a janitor cleaning toilet bowls, or the ever-standing sales clerk that rings up your purchase in the evening.

On the other hand, while law school is a great opportunity, one that most people in the world and even in this country will never have, it is not for everyone.  Only you know what's best for yourself, if you truly dig down deep and carefully analyze yourself.  However, you have only spent one semester in law school.  That first semester is not reflective of actual law practice (especially the transactional side), or even the substance of your future chosen law specialty.

What other careers would you pursue if you quit law school?

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Current Law Students / Re: 2.0 - Should I drop out?
« on: January 23, 2009, 12:44:57 AM »
It sounds like OP has no desire to be a lawyer.  As a society we view UG as intrinsically valuable, but the difference in pay with a degree vs. without is much higher over a lifetime than law degree (from bottom of the class) to without.  I'm not suggesting that everyone in the bottom of the class drop out.  I am suggesting that OP, who doesn't really want to be a lawyer/be in law school/just went for having nothing else to do, should seriously consider dropping out. 

Assuming OP has no undergrad debt (which could be a big assumption), $150k in law school loan debt would require about $200k in total repayments over 10 years.  OP's monthly payment will be $1726 over 10 years, and the financial aid calculator suggests that he needs an annual salary of $200k to pay it back while living comfortably.  If OP uses 15% of salary to pay it back, OP still needs $150k salary to live comfortably.

Add in the foregone income of between $40-60k per year for 2.5 more years -- $100k-150k.  Law school will thus cost the OP $300-350k, and OP will need a biglaw salary to pay back the loans while living comfortably.  This doesn't even factor in the opportunity for OP being 2.5 years higher on the job rung ladder by dropping out and getting a job now.  If OP drops out now, OP could be in a much better financial position.

Maybe the sacrifices are worth it if you really want to be a lawyer, but if you don't, then you should damn sure think twice about graduating at the bottom of the class and hoping to make $150k starting. 

I'll have to disagree with you on a few points.

First, if you take out $150,000 in federal loans (Stafford and Grad Plus) at a rate of $50,000 per year (so your actual debt at graduation is more than $150k), your monthly payments will be around $2,000 on a 10-year re-payment term.

Second, most lenders offer re-payment terms of up to 20 years for large debts, allowing for monthly payments of around $1,400.

Third, even at $2,000/mo, you don't need $200k per year to live comfortably.  If you make $200,000 per year, you will take home about $120-130k after taxes (federal income, state income, social security, medicare, unemployment) without any deductions, exemptions, or credits.  That comes out to $8k to $10k per MONTH, after making your loan payments.  You don't need $8k to $10k per month to live "comfortably," by any reasonable interpretation of the word.

[I'm not sure which "financial aid calculator" you used, but it's always a good idea to check the numbers for yourself before posting them.  Not to do so is like copying-and-pasting a summer associate's work product into a motion without checking the research.]

Fourth, if the OP takes a job working for the government (at any level) or for a qualified non-profit organization, the OP can take advantage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 1997.  At an adjusted gross income of $50,000, monthly loan payments for that $150k debt would only be $430/month, and the entire balance of the loan (principal + interest) will be canceled after 10 years.

9
Job Search / Re: Firms with Exempt organizations practice
« on: January 22, 2009, 08:44:11 AM »
Two things:

1. What draws you to tax-exempt work?  Are you actually drawn to the type of work, or are you looking for greener pastures with a less intensive workload?

2. Many biglaw firms have tax-exempt practices under the Trust & Estates / Asset Management / Wealth Planning umbrella.

10
What is your ideal lifestyle / compensation balance?

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