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Aspiring lawyer, questions on how to start

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by TauKappaEpsilon, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    Yea the legal field is turning into something more akin to photography or modeling- a few well-established, prestigious ones at the top pulling in good money but a massive majority of unemployed or underemployed taking anything they can get. People try to blame the economy and claim it will get better down the road, but there's plenty of proof that the eventual result in a developed economy is the legal profession diminishes- look at Israel or Singapore, highly educated countries where an excess has led to lawyering receiving the equivalent pay of a teacher, except at the corporate top. I feel lucky and thankful I got a decent job in the field, but there's no way in hell I'll let my kids, if I have any, become lawyers.
     
  2. FLMountainMan

    FLMountainMan Senior member

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    Yeah. The good old days are done. The only solutions I can think of are for the various state Bars have are to raise the admission exam score requirements (which will send the various minority groups into an uproar), petition the ABA to raise its accreditation standards, or encourage other fields to start requiring JDs.

    The real shitty thing is that the 52% of the country that still pays income tax will be on the hook for all these student loan defaults.

    FWIW - I have $145k in student loans, worked as an attorney for a few years, am now a bureaucrat. The law degree is helpful, but not as helpful as my accounting background and MBA.

    Another eventual trend - I think we're going to begin to see states, especially red states, exert more control over areas of professional regulation that were once reserved for the State Bar. Many of the Bars have been engaging in a lot more political advocacy than is appropriate and it's going to bite them in the ass.
     
  3. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    Well I'm working for myself now and doing ok, but only because I keep my overhead really low. And even then, if I have a lull (like I'm having right now) then things can start looking ugly really quick.
     
  4. TauKappaEpsilon

    TauKappaEpsilon Senior member

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    Thank you all for your advice, opinions, and responses. I've been struggling with my future career path for several years now. I write all of the following in complete honesty, and I say this trying to sound as humble as possible.

    I come from a moderately successful family who made their money in real estate, my family started out with some of the bigger names (Kushner, Hovnanian, etc.). Real estate has always been a great option for me and I have several opportunities at my families company or at a corporate firm in Manhattan when I graduate (within the next year or two). Although this sounds great and promising, even though the market currently sucks, I've realized I like law a lot more. I know grades dont matter that much but I get straight As in all my law classes with very, very minimal work. The things I learn about in my legal classes (whether its my White Collar and Commercial crime class, or my criminology class) I enjoy everything I learn and find it comes very easy to me. I also like the logical thinking that goes into the discussions of each case study we do. Due to my great enjoyment and academic success in my law classes I'm highly considering giving up a career in real estate to try to pursue law (even though I know its harder for a young lawyer to find a job then it is for a new home builder). I'm fortunate enough to not have to pay for my education so I'm currently throwing around some ideas with my parents and grandparents. I know how difficult it is to get a respectable job at a lawfirm that pays well so I've been thinking about what I can do to make myself stand out. I was thinking that I might stay in school for a long time (almost as long as a doctor stays in school/residency). I'm on a path to finishing my undergraduate studies a year early so I was thinking about staying there an extra year and doing a 5 year masters program. The idea that I'm considering is to continue to stay in school after the extra year for my masters and get a PhD. Then after having a PhD I should be able to find some kind of job I enjoy (maybe real estate) and go to law school at night for a few years. If I get a JD and I'm barred after having a PhD and several years of work experience (and hopefully some money) I think my chances of getting a respectable position as a lawyer would be quite high, especially because I'd be able to bring in a lot of work from my previous years of work during law school.

    I hope I've explained this properly, and I'm looking forward to your feedback and suggestions. Again, I know many lawyers, but I've never sat down and really spoke to them about the best career path for myself so I really appreciate your advice.
     
  5. ShoeShopperJ

    ShoeShopperJ Active Member

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    Feb 16, 2012
    If you want to make yourself stand out, then I recommend against "staying in school for as long as possible" or a "5-year masters program"---five (5) year masters program?---and accomplish something in the private sector.

    If you have a network in real estate, then why not get your broker's license and do commercial leasing or something?


    STAND OUT
    When I was interviewing right out of law school and, earlier, business school, invariably I would be asked about how I managed over ten million dollars in property at twenty-one years old. To this day my experiences have helped me in life and business.

    ENTREPRENEURIAL
    I formed my first company as a sophmore in college. I also formed, and later sold, a property management company. If you have a network in real estate RIGHT NOW, then obtain your broker's license and form your own brokerage? You have to check state licensing law and may have to partner, in some form or other, with a "managing broker."


    I AM WORRIED
    My worry for you, based on world experience---and of course everyone's experiences are different---is that more education will not help you (at all). But if you insist on more education, then why not obtain your broker's license now and work at least part time while pursuing another master's?

    I know MIT has an excellent graduate program in real estate.

    Most of all, and I mean absolutely most to all, I sense you could be very successful in real estate in some capacity or other. My worry? A law degree could hinder your success. Many commercial brokers I work with have law degrees---and many have no degree at all---and do not use their law degrees. You could still work in real estate succesfully with a J.D., but I think it would only serve to delay and possibly even hinder your success.

    Start working now. Get more involved in working if you already are working. You are way too smart to go to law school.


    TRUE STORY
    During law school, I was flying to Paris. This was over my second year during the summer. Next to me on the flight was a kid around my age. His dad was a retired football player, and I was able to learn about the football players' pension system (still find it interesting). His dad was successful after his football career with varied small businesses: gym, laundry mat, etc.

    Anyway, this kid tells me he basically has a career lined up in professional baseball. I do not remember the full details, but he was going "pro" or "majors" or something. But! He told me that he would give that all up to practice law.

    I told him honestly and sincerely that he was not smart enough to practice law or survive law school. If you had a shot at becoming a professional baseball player but would rather pursue an uncertain legal career, then your ability to solve complex legal problems is not there.

    We hung out a bit in Paris---his hotel was right down the street near me, and but for him I would have gotten lost to my hotel---and I am not sure where he is today. I honestly, sincerely, truly hope that he is a successful baseball player. Now that I think about it, I should have said, "pursue baseball first and if that does not work out, go to law school."

    I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED
    I warn about law school because I want you to succeed. If the (limited) opportunities that law school provided were not so out of proportion to the costs/expenses/time, then I was say just take the risk. It is not a limited risk that law school will hinder your success. My opinion, and simply my opinion, is that it will in all likelihood hinder your professional and certainly personal (financial) success.

    Edit: If you do not do law school right, a J.D. is going to hurt you in many and varied ways, professional and personal.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
  6. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    I don't see anyway that would happen, there's no interest group out there for the graduating law student, and the incentive to law schools and the state bars to keep admitting more and more and charging more and more is way too high. I predict the field will keep exploding for the next 10 years or so, then word will start getting out that it's probably not that great of an investment. There's still gonna be a ton of kids willing to practice law for a teacher's salary, much like many masters and phds out there, and we're gonna turn into a Singapore or Israel in terms of our legal field.
     
  7. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    That's actually kinda heartwarming, given the sour tone of this thread so far.
     
  8. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    Really, though? Maybe in a few fields, like criminal law, where people tend to have a lot of fun with what they do. Or if you can get by working for yourself. But slaving away in legal sweatshops like I did for my first couple years out of school? I don't see it. Literally every single prospective law student I meet is either planning on being a criminal lawyer or working in Biglaw and making a shitload of money. Nobody is looking forward to doing 4 years of document review until they can get a low paying job litigating slip and falls or cranking out consumer bankruptcies.
     
  9. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    this is gonna sound really harsh, but you come across as a self entitled douchebag. your entire post is one big humblebrag ("I don't say this to brag, BUT...").

    your undergraduate classes are nothing like classes in graduate school or law school. nothing. you also don't seem to realize that EVERYONE who is in a top law program or a top PhD program has a 3.8+ and a ton of internships, etc. it is... just incredibly competitive out there. for anything. you need to have a better, more realistic understanding of your prospects.

    a couple obvious, obvious issues:

    * don't stay at one school for your undergrad, MA and PhD
    * PhD in what field? if it's anything humanities related tack on an extra 3-4 years
    * why do you assume a PhD is impressive to law schools?

    edit: also never, EVER talk about coming from a privileged background. it's a huge turn off to people, because no matter how you phrase it you're saying "look I'm important and special and I have lots of connections," and I know that, for humanities programs at least, being a privileged white male is the worst possible thing for your career or admission prospects.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
  10. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    I will second what someone else said, that a few years of work experience are going to serve you a lot better than a Ph D would. The PhD followed by the law degree just makes you look like a lifelong student and a dilletante. An MBA might not hurt, but a few years working in business or real estate will give you experience and connections, both of which you will need.
     
  11. yerfdog

    yerfdog Senior member

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    ShoeShopperJ's advice should be followed.
     
  12. dagman1

    dagman1 Well-Known Member

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    Toronto
    

    lol, my thoughts exactly. If you think you're special because you have As, a masters, some internships, and come from a privileged family, boy do I have news for you that you are exactly average in law school.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2012

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