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Turning points, the bar exam, etc. - Page 3

post #31 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater
Already bought the ring...

Ring for her or are we talking about body mods for you? I have to warn you, nipple piercings can be painful for quite a while . I'd probably faint at the sight alone of the equipment.
post #32 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGuy
RJ: The lawyer comments are spot on. I can totally see it and I would likely put myself with one foot in that category. Probably like many lawyers though (and law students) I do not see myself as totally adhering to the classic lawyer mold. Going to law school for me was a combination of ending up back in Hartford after I graduated, working a shitty job in insurance and what I see as a strange oedipal approval seeking thing since my Dad (who was an attorney) died in college.

Whether law school was the best fit for me- I just cannot really say. There is a lot about what I have done as a part time clerk that makes me think practicing I will be a good attorney, but there is plenty about law school that has served mostly as a learning experience in terms of what my major shortcomings are. I'm objective, hardworking, good with people, knowledgable on a wide range of subjects, and generally pretty humble in terms of doing busy work when it needs to be done. On my weak side- I am not terribly well organized- big picture is frequently more important to me, and I keep a lot of things in my head instead of on paper, which does not appear to be the best trait for an attorney.

Taking the bar right now, I think my ideal job would be something that gave me the potential to learn the legal side of business or simply a business so that down the line I could do something more entreprenuerial. While I would definitely do the Big Law or even Medium Law thing right now to pay the bills, realistically I can't see myself doing it for the rest of my career and being happy. RJ is on point with respect to how law school fits into things with my life view- I went to law school because I knew I wanted something bigger and better, but I didn't know what or how, but since I was an opinionated, young bookworm, I went to law school.

I suppose my questions have a lot to do with coming out of school for the first time and maybe making some decent money, feeling mildly secure, and feeling like there are options out there in terms of what I want to do with my life.

Well, good luck. I agree that passing the bar is one of those life-changing events.
Seeing the big picture is a virtue that many/most lawyers don't have, but that all of them need. The problem is that you'll be going bits and pieces of work for years before getting that opportunity.
I can honestly say that I am the happiest, by far, of all my law school classmates. At an alumni meeting last year, I was the only one of a group of 8-9 people who said they'd go to law school again; this, despite the fact that most of them made double my government salary.
So, my advice? Try to find the type of work you want to do, and compromise on everything else to do that (location, pay, hours). If you don't think you'll like BigLaw, don't start there.
Failing that, try to get into as established a firm as you can, and then look to fill a void (in my firm, the litigation partners hated to write, and they didn't like the way the appellate guys wrote their briefs, so I filled that need), and then move after you've impressed a client or a partner who departs. One friend went in-house to a real estate start-up that way.
Really, though, I've gotta admit that there are a stunning number of options for someone with a law degree.

But, yeah, my life has never been the same since I opened that letter that started: "On behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, I am pleased..."
post #33 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Checks
Really, though, I've gotta admit that there are a stunning number of options for someone with a law degree.
Do tell...
post #34 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Lawyers are geeks who read too much when they were young and who are greedy but risk-averse.
Um, yeah. Thurgood Marshall. Clarence Darrow. The Southern Poverty Law Center. District and City attorneys who fight a sisyphean battle against violent crime in our communities. The public defenders who shoulder wage the often thankless task of defending those accused - usually rightfully, but sometimes wrongfully - of committing the most heinous of crimes.
Greedy, risk-averse geeks, one and all.
post #35 of 56
And then run to Freedom when they get tired of all that crap
post #36 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater
Already bought the ring...
I thought maybe you were going to try ordering from Jantzen again.
But semi-seriously, good luck with the various balls you appear to have in the air.
post #37 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
Um, yeah. Thurgood Marshall. Clarence Darrow. The Southern Poverty Law Center. District and City attorneys who fight a sisyphean battle against violent crime in our communities. The public defenders who shoulder wage the often thankless task of defending those accused - usually rightfully, but sometimes wrongfully - of committing the most heinous of crimes.
Greedy, risk-averse geeks, one and all.

Well, not to sound like an ass or anything, but back when I was doing law school applications and grilling everyone I knew with a law degree for career prospect advice, one of the consensus pieces of information was that public service jobs, particularly the public defender positions, were typically considered the worst jobs and the last resort for people who finished at the lowest end of their class and couldn't get into any lucrative jobs with big firms. I remember getting into a bar conversation with a young lady who was celebrating the new DA job she got straight out of law school. I told her about my own law school apps, and for some reason she asked me how I did on the LSAT; when I told her, she said something like, "wow, you got 20 points higher than I did!" (no, I didn't get a 180 or something spectacular). I don't remember any other details, but I think I also recall her mentioning having to take the bar exam several times to pass.

Also, one of the cynical observations about city and district attorneys was that there is a lot of nepotism and good ol' boy local politics going on, which influences the makeup of the courts there. My favorite experience was sitting for jury duty in a panel where the judge boasted about having 3 generations of family in the courtroom (his father was one of the bailiffs; his daughter had gotten a cushy clerking internship and was sitting in the room), then mentioned that his wife was a judge in another room in the court building.

So, while there certainly are some well-meaning and capable people in practicing law in the public sector, I'd posit that beyond judgeships and the higher level courts, there's no compelling reason to exalt the people who work in day-to-day court practices. And honestly, in the cases of lawyers who have the ability to get higher-paying jobs in the private sector but turn it down to work as DA's and the like, I would be prone to be suspicious of anyone who goes out of his way to pursue a position of power and authority.
post #38 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by aybojs
Well, not to sound like an ass or anything, but back when I was doing law school applications and grilling everyone I knew with a law degree for career prospect advice, one of the consensus pieces of information was that public service jobs, particularly the public defender positions, were typically considered the worst jobs and the last resort for people who finished at the lowest end of their class and couldn't get into any lucrative jobs with big firms. I remember getting into a bar conversation with a young lady who was celebrating the new DA job she got straight out of law school. I told her about my own law school apps, and for some reason she asked me how I did on the LSAT; when I told her, she said something like, "wow, you got 20 points higher than I did!" (no, I didn't get a 180 or something spectacular). I don't remember any other details, but I think I also recall her mentioning having to take the bar exam several times to pass.

Also, one of the cynical observations about city and district attorneys was that there is a lot of nepotism and good ol' boy local politics going on, which influences the makeup of the courts there. My favorite experience was sitting for jury duty in a panel where the judge boasted about having 3 generations of family in the courtroom (his father was one of the bailiffs; his daughter had gotten a cushy clerking internship and was sitting in the room), then mentioned that his wife was a judge in another room in the court building.

So, while there certainly are some well-meaning and capable people in practicing law in the public sector, I'd posit that beyond judgeships and the higher level courts, there's no compelling reason to exalt the people who work in day-to-day court practices. And honestly, in the cases of lawyers who have the ability to get higher-paying jobs in the private sector but turn it down to work as DA's and the like, I would be prone to be suspicious of anyone who goes out of his way to pursue a position of power and authority.
Well, that speaks volumes about your social circle, and how the folks you know define "success". Did you ever think you might regard lawyers as greedy and risk-averse because of which lawyers you choose to look when forming your opinion of the profession? I hate to break this to you (well, no, I don't really), but public defenders don't wield a lot of power and authority. Nor, for example, do lawyers who have chosen to work for 25% or less of what they could make at commercial firms so that they can combat poverty, racism, elder abuse, or what-have-you. Nor is being a public defender (or a prosecutor) a job of last resort. Most of the friends I have in who work as public defenders work for the Federal PD's office, so I speak with a bit more personal knowledge about that than about the local pd's wherever you live. But the folks I know who work there all had stellar academic records and for the most part had presitigious federal clerkships after law school. Several had big firm jobs and then moved on when the more attractive opportunity at the PD's office opened up. Each of them could get a big firm job in a heartbeat if they desired. That they choose not to -- at great financial cost to themselves -- says a lot about their character. If you can't hear what it says, you have a lot to learn. I would also note that one of the most competitive jobs for young lawyers where I practice is a job as an entry-level prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's office. The big, prestigious law firms all have numerous young associates who would give their eyeteeth for the opportunity to take a job as an AUSA that pays substantially less than what they're currently making.
I accept that you aren't trying to sound like a jerk, and that to large extent you're relying on what others have told you. But the canard that abtaining a job as a cog in the machine at a big law firm is the pinnacle of financial success is a dangerous one for a young lawyer or lawyer-to-be to swallow. To the extent you believe it bears on my credibility, I'll note that many moons ago I did achieve "spectacular" results on the LSATs. (It was long enough ago that the scoring was different. I scored a 48 out of a possible 48.) I then went on to achieve very good grades at one of the 12-15 law schools that claim to be in the "top ten". I took a high-paying job as an associate at a large law firm as a fall back because I was not offered the much-lower-paying-but-much-more-competitive public service job I applied for. After a relatively short stint there, I moved on to a job that paid a bit less but was more rewarding in many other ways.
Are there greedy, risk-averse lawyers? Absolutely. There are also greedy, risk-averse stockbrokers, plumbers, cops, merchants, doctors, and fashion designers.
post #39 of 56
A lot of the average DA's day-to-day work is spent incarcerating/fining minor drug offenders, extorting money out of minor traffic offenders, and putting black marks on the records of many people who may be innocent, so I find that out of line with your idealistic vision of people who combat racism, fight poverty, and end injustice, etc. I don't blame them for the existance of bad laws that screw up people's lives, but as the Nuremberg protocols have taught us (and I do apologize for using that heavy-handed reference, which I only do so for lack of more recognizable case), carrying out morally unjust activity solely because one has been ordered to do so still constitutes immorality on the part of the actor.

I also did acknowledge that there are talented people who give up potential wealth to pursue a DA type job, but I also view that as a bad thing. To me, that tells me the person doing so is seeking status and power, and is operating out of some sort of political ambition. I find people who do so dangerous and scary, not noble and altruistic. Had I become a lawyer, my not wanting to be able to exercise power on the lives of fellow men would have been my chief reason from not wanting to work in a public job.

Public defenders, I admit I know less about. My main basis for that was partly rooted in terms of economic rationality (i.e. why take a lower-paying public defender job when one could make much more as a big name private defense attorney?) and from the observation that the handful of public defenders I did get to see during my day of jury duty had an uncanny resemblence to Old Gil from the Simpsons. I can see some admirable aspects of the profession though, certainly much more so than in any of their prosecuting counterparts.

I certainly don't consider biglaw types to be the pinnacle of human existence either, but my point is that I think your casting DA's and their ilk in such a noble light is unwarranted, given that the profession seems to be a refuge for the incompetent and the power-hungry.
post #40 of 56
LD. I'm sorry my flip remark -- directed in jest at BigLaw -- caused such turmoil. I have deep, deep respect for those of us who work in the public sector.

Aybojs, there's a lot more than economic rationality at stake in choice of jobs made. I wish more people would realize that economic rationality is an incomplete yardstick in an irrational world. And to turn your statement on its head, why seek wealth instead of status? Especially when, as a lowly junior litigation associate, you might be correcting commas for a few years and your only courtroom exposure would be carrying someone's litigation bag?

Having done a fair amount of pro bono work, I don't think it's fair to categorize all public-sector criminal lawyers as incompetent and power-hungry. I can say that the state of our public defender system is distressing, but there are some wonderfully talented people doing work out of the courage of their convictions. And in a world in which remarks like yours pass for the norm, courage in the face of economic rationalization nonsense is courage indeed.
post #41 of 56
It should also be remembered that many people graduate law school with absolutely bone crushing debt. Some who would otherwise be pre-disposed to take public sector jobs simply cannot afford to do so, so they end up in the private sector at a larger firm so they can afford to make their loan payments. This is not necessarily an issue of taking a higher paying job simply due to a desire to make more money; it is done out of a necessity. After awhile, some of these people pay off their debts and move into the public sector. Some remain in the private sector.

This is also not to say that most who work in the private sector are greedy (risk adverse is something else - I actually think it's a positive in a lot of ways in the practice of law, as long as it doesn't paralyze you). There is a lot of good being done by private law firms, even BigLaw firms. Somewhere along the way the practice of law has gone from being a noble profession to being the butt of all jokes (except, of course, when the joke teller actually needs legal representation - then they gladly accept the representation but complain about their legal bills). It's unfortunate, and lawyers certainly share the blame for the current state of affairs, but I think the majority of lawyers (just like the majority of doctors, accountants, and what have you) are good people.
post #42 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by javyn
I'm working on becoming a really good paralegal. That way I can make the same amount as a crappy lawyer, but get to go home at 5 every day instead of 9 or later.

Most of the paralegals I know in mid- and biglaw work longer hours than the attorneys. During trials, they are the ones left at the end of the day to prepare the next day's exhibits and documents. When summary judgment motions are due, they are the ones left doing an all-nighter the night before the deadline to copy and assemble the filings. During document discovery they are the ones left staying late at night fishing out and redacting the documents some 2nd year associate marked with post-its.
post #43 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
LD. I'm sorry my flip remark -- directed in jest at BigLaw -- caused such turmoil. I have deep, deep respect for those of us who work in the public sector.

Aybojs, there's a lot more than economic rationality at stake in choice of jobs made. I wish more people would realize that economic rationality is an incomplete yardstick in an irrational world. And to turn your statement on its head, why seek wealth instead of status? Especially when, as a lowly junior litigation associate, you might be correcting commas for a few years and your only courtroom exposure would be carrying someone's litigation bag?

Having done a fair amount of pro bono work, I don't think it's fair to categorize all public-sector criminal lawyers as incompetent and power-hungry. I can say that the state of our public defender system is distressing, but there are some wonderfully talented people doing work out of the courage of their convictions. And in a world in which remarks like yours pass for the norm, courage in the face of economic rationalization nonsense is courage indeed.
No worries, and your post is well-stated. Making cynically self-deprecating remarks about the profession is one of the perks of practice. It's just unfortunate when the irony gets lost in the translation.
post #44 of 56
aybojs, you could save yourself a lot of typing by simply saying "all lawyers suck."
post #45 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by retronotmetro
Most of the paralegals I know in mid- and biglaw work longer hours than the attorneys. During trials, they are the ones left at the end of the day to prepare the next day's exhibits and documents. When summary judgment motions are due, they are the ones left doing an all-nighter the night before the deadline to copy and assemble the filings. During document discovery they are the ones left staying late at night fishing out and redacting the documents some 2nd year associate marked with post-its.

Well, first, that's not my experience.

Second, and I think you'll agree, it's an entirely different stress level for the attorney. So, during a big trial, or on the eve of oral argument on a big motion or appeal, I might be out taking a jog, but my mind is going 100 mph, trying to figure every angle, every argument that will be made by an equally committed, educated, talented person who wants his client to win as much as I do.

I've been in trials where the other side is asking the jury for 175 million dollars, that will pucker your asshole for a month, becaue you know the jury is going to give that much if you lose.

The paralegal (I call them paranormals, because every one I've even known has been weird) doesn't have that level of stress. It's the difference between cleaning guns and being in the duel.
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