Law in Contemporary Society

Overview

I have done my best to organize the questions so that we can begin answering them. They are organized by content area and condensed whenever possible. I tried to keep individual names attached to questions and when I combined them, I recorded the names of all those who asked similar questions. Editing was kept to an absolute minimum.

Please continue to add questions. The most systematic way to do that is to use the comment box following each category. To add a response to a particular question, use the edit function.

Hopefully this organizational scheme is useful to people. If not, please feel free to make any changes you want to. I am not personally invested in one specific organizational scheme, only in creating one that works for the class.

All of the original, unedited quesions can be found here.

Also, there was one question which I couldn't understand. Andrew wrote, "What are some ways to find a pro bono cause outside of the ideas with firms and their billable hours?" If someone knows what this means, please file it in the appropriate space.

Talk Page

For discussion concerning how we should format these questions please visit TalkAboutQuestionsThatNeedAnswers

Questions

Taking Advantage of Law School

Grades

How can I reconcile a distaste for the grade race with a desire to clerk? (DanielButrymowicz)

I think the question is: CAN you?

-- AndrewHerink - 19 Jun 2008

 

Gaining Experience While in Law School

What are some ways to dabble in different parts of legal work before leaving law school? (JenniferBurke)

How can we figure out what area of law we would like to work in while in law school? (JenniferBurke) (JayunKoo)

As we have often discussed, the practice of law is quickly changing in terms of becoming more international, outsourcing, etc. How can we best prepare in law school for the changing nature of the practice of law? (JustinColannino)

What is a new and upcoming area of the law? (Other than IP, because I don't have that background.) (JosephMacias)

How can first year students best experience different aspects of the law and decide for themselves their career paths before the rat race consumes the decision making process and makes their choices for them?

-- HoangTruong - 20 Jun 2008

 

Why Law School

If law school teaches us nothing about being a lawyer, then what exactly are we supposed to get out of law school? (ChristinaYoun)

Is law school a good choice to prepare me for politics? What intermediate steps should I be making to become involved with California politics? Is prosecution still a golden path to elected office? (JosephMacias)

 

Selecting Classes and Activities

What classes/activities available in law school will most improve our writing skills? (JustinColannino)

Which courses or extracurricular activities (journals, clinic, student groups, study abroad) should we partake in to get the most out of the law school experience? (ChristinaYoun) (MinaNasseri)

How can we focus our 2L and 3L years on what we actually want to wind up doing? Should we take classes in what we're interested or try to pursue an internship or clinic or both or all three? (CaseyBoyle)

How important is class selection? If I fail to take classes in an area that I later find out I want to practice, will that hurt me? (DanielButrymowicz)

What classes will best teach me how to practice – regardless of where/how I end up practicing? (AdamCarlis)

Do I have to take classes such as Corporations, Tax, etc.? What are the benefits of taking these classes versus the costs of not taking them? Are there certain classes that every law student "must" take? (MinaNasseri) (CaseyBoyle) (AmandaHungerford)

When picking classes, should I think about what is going to be on the bar? (AmandaHungerford)

I have not taken any business/economics courses and I don't want to miss out on those skills. What's the best way for a law student to start learning about these things? Any books to recommend, classes, or community courses? Are these skills necessary to enter corporate law? (JonathanBoustani) (MiaWhite)

If I pass on the things you're "supposed" to do in law school (take corporations and evidence, be on a journal) and instead make the experience one I'll enjoy, what will the consequences be? (ErikaKrystian)

What do judges look for when selecting clerks straight out of law school? More generally, what are the pros and cons of clerking straight out of law school as opposed to trying to practice for a few years first? (WardBenson)

What are the benefits and drawbacks of taking classes at other schools (journalism, business, etc)? (AmandaRichardson? )

How important are journals? I have no desire to be involved with one. (JosephMacias)

How should we go about fulfilling or minor and major writing credits? It addition, once we finish them, should we take the time to shop it out to prospective journals? Is it worth it if academia or clerking is not a goal?

-- NicoleMedham - 20 Jun 2008

Which classes should every law student take in their time in law school? Would it be necessary to take corporations and such if I have no prior experience in business or economics?

-- HoangTruong - 20 Jun 2008

 

Finding Opportunities to Collaborate

Do business school classes develop collaboration skills? (MattDavisRatner)

How do we make 2L and 3L years feel more collaborative and less frustrating? (CaseyBoyle)

What is the best way in law school to gain the skills necessary for working efficiently in groups? (MattDavisRatner)

I often find that it's hard to garner up the courage to avoid the firm track and pursue the things I want to do. I feel that I often lack the social/financial/institutional support. But if students with similar interests here actually pair up maybe our combined skills and dedication can actually move us away from Big Law. For example, if some of us don't have the courage (or the capital) to open up our own firms immediately upon graduating, maybe with one or two other qualified lawyers we could. How can law school be structured so as to facilitate such collaboration and networking? (CaseyBoyle)

Who wants to start a "We aren't doing EIP" support group? (AmandaRichardson)

 

The Workings of a Law School

Why does law school rush the process so much. We have a meeting on 2L summer and talk of what we want to do and where we want to be when we graduate before we start talking about what courses we want to take or really get involved in the opportunities here? (MaxDubin)

Is it reasonable to think that you can change the way that law school classes are taught? (AndrewWolstan)

What would be the best curriculum or teaching method to prepare us for the changing nature of the practice of law? (CarinaWallance)

Should there be more clinical options to build collaborative communities at the school? (JustinColannino)

What is the administration doing to evaluate the current system of educating lawyers? (JustinColannino)

So if I do EIP, how am I supposed to know what type of law I am interested in? The first year subjects don't prepare me to evaluate choices like real estate law, securities law, or other areas that are not covered in the first year. (JosephMacias).

 

Training, Mentorship, and Networking

Identifying and Building Relationships with Future Colleagues

What is the best way to identify people I may want to start my own firm or organization with? How can I maintain those relationships once I have found them until I graduate? (KateVershov)

How can I best identify and partner with individuals who share my aspirations, politics, and work ethic in order to build a community of young progressive lawyers? (AdamCarlis)

What do you look for in your collaborators to avoid the free riders? (MattDavisRatner)

How do you establish trust with other people, both as collaborators in your project (i.e. a team member, fellow law school student) and as clients of your projects (i.e. somebody who needs a legal problem solved)? (JesseCreed)

 

Getting Good Training

Aside from big law firms, what alternatives are there that would allow me to get the training, connections, and resources to build myself an international practice (in terms of corporate)? (TaeSangYoo)

The question often raised - whether it is a good idea to work at a firm temporarily after law school to get legal training - presumes that firms offer good training. How accurate is this notion? How does the training one receives at a large firm compare to that in other employment opportunities? (JustinColannino) (AdamGold)

I'm assuming that the skills we’ve acquired in law school are on their own not enough for us to earn a livelihood. We have to learn to apply these skills so as to perform a service for which we’ll get paid. If so, why not use the firm as a paid residency? Medical students have to pull 36 hour shifts without getting paid; why can't we get our ‘hands on’ training from the firm and earn 160k in the process? (DavidM)

If an individual is working at a big firm, what types of experiences or practice areas should he or she be seeking out to get real training? (GideonHart)

I gather that clerkships offer a substantive and beneficial way to make contacts and get training right after law school. Can we list some other non-firm alternatives? (JustinColannino)

If we are interested in a certain area such as international human rights law, will going straight to working with a human rights organization cut us off from getting more thorough legal training? (JustinColannino)

What firms are known for providing training and allowing associates some control over their work? (GideonHart)

 

Developing the Right Skills

How can I use technological changes to my client's advantage? How can I use technology to have a more efficient practice?(JustinColannino)

What types of skills should we be developing that will be important in the future and could allow us to contract our time, rather than our minds to firms? (GideonHart)

As an associate, we are told, one does not get a lot of in court practice (assume litigation practice). How does one gain the knowledge pertaining to 1) how to file a motion 2) where to file that motion 3) the other nuts and bolts of practicing that we don't learn when looking at the "big" picture in our other classes? (AdamGold)

- Adam- I am currently working for the City Attorney in Los Angeles. We have a couple of firm attorneys that are visiting our office to get experience doing trials. So perhaps you'll be at a firm where you will do a stint in a prosecutor's office? Its a fast and dirty way to get experience in front of a jury while still going the firm route. (JosephMacias)

-Adam- I am currently working for a legal services organization called Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago where we asked to do exactly the things you have mentioned. One way to get that expirience before you graduate is to work/ volunteer to one of these organizations durig the school (if you dont want to commit a summer to it). (BetreGizaw)

 

Finding Mentors

How can we find mentors outside of the law school who have done work that we are interested in? (JenniferBurke)

If we do know what we want to do, but the path seems daunting or unclear, who can we talk to that will help us pave a reasonable career plan to achieve those goals? Where can we find counselors who are not just worried about the employment rate at graduation? (JenniferBurke)

How do you find a mentor in your professional career who is willing to invest in your education and future? (JesseCreed)

How can you find a mentor in the traditional firm structure who is able to help you with your entire career path? (AndrewWolstan)

 

Finding Your Path

Finding Information

What are some good sources for information about specific employers (firms, government agencies, non-profits) including things are awkward to ask about during interviews (salaries, hours)? (ClaireOSullivan)

What jobs allow lawyers out of law school meaningful time with decision makers on a daily basis? (JulianBaez)

What are some examples of successful lawyers who chose non-firm paths to their success? (ShawKaneyasuSpeck)

 

Determining a Path

How can I balance passions that seem to lead in very different directions (interests in "non-legal" advocacy and litigation)? Should I try to merge them? Should I try to leave all doors open? (ChristopherBuerger)

Is it possible to get a job out of law school where you're not doing someone else's grunt work for 50 hours a week? Are there options outside of government? (JulianBaez)

When I search for jobs in fields that interest me (for instance, in education law or policy), they all say 2-3 years of "experience" is necessary. What does this mean? How do I break into this field? Do I enter the private sector first? Would I get proper training at a firm? (CaseyBoyle)

How possible is it to shift from firm work to government work--that is, how much professional back-and-forth is there? (RyanMcDevitt)

 

Finding One's Niche

What are good ways of finding niches that need filling in the legal world? What if you don't have special skills? (KateVershov) (ChristinaYoun)

As for graduating with clients - are there really that many specialties that we can jump into with little or no experience? (KateVershov)

I keep getting the feeling that if law school was Ben & Jerry's, the only flavors within my sight are vanilla (corporate law), chocolate (public interest) and maybe strawberry (clerkship). I hate feeling like there's Chubby Hubby, Cherry Garcia and a whole host of other flavors out there that are more interesting and complex and might fit me perfectly, yet I can't even see them. Where can I find out about all these other flavors and get away from the two plain options that I'm presented with right now? (WhytneBrooks) (JonathanBoustani)

-Whytne-Jon- Firms are not the only route. Look at other law students who graduate from 4th tier schools. They hustle and find that there are lots of options out there. They find out where legal classifieds are posted and respond to those that are interesting. (JosephMacias)

How do I go about finding what areas of law I really care about between now and when I have to find employment? (WendyHuang)

At what point do I have to start specializing (or pick) the area of law I want to go into? Do I have to choose while I'm in law school? (AmandaHungerford)

Is the document-heavy, detail-specific, drudgery of civil litigation too debilitating for me to actually enjoy it? (AdamCarlis)

-Adam- Wouldn't you have to try it in order to find that out? (JosephMacias)

 

Predicting The Future

What areas of the law are rapidly developing or appear poised to rapidly expand? Where can we make our mark and find new niches within a fairly crowded industry? (StephenClarke)

Will the current Supreme Court gut every potential cause of action for the clients I would want to work for in the first place? If not, are plaintiff’s firms a decent place to start? (AdamCarlis)

How much information about a firm (or other organization) can we gain from working there for a summer? Will experiances as a 1L or 2L offer a valid impression of what the future will be like? (DanBryan)

 

Getting Started

I know I want to work and study the intersections of human rights and media law (like working with independent film/documentary teams, cultural group performers/activists). Any ideas on where to start? Who should I talk to? (MiaWhite)

After graduation, how can I use politics and the law to achieve my goals (e.g. getting mass public transportation in Portland and Seattle, where all attempts have been defeated at the polls)? (AmandaHungerford)

How can I do criminal defense work, pick my clients, but still defend the poor? (AdamCarlis)

 

Going Solo

Can a solo practitioner hang a shingle directly after law school without taking over a family practice? (DanielHarris)

How can I get information regarding where there is a market for legal services? The yellow pages? I don't want to open an office where there are 15 others nearby. (JosephMacias)

What are the typical challenges faced by solo practitioners? How does their daily life compare to life at a law firm? (JustinKim)

I eventually would like to start my own practice, in which I hope to provide legal services to those who can least afford them. What steps do I need to take in order to build the necessary connections and gain the proper resources to undertake such a venture? Relatedly, how long do you think I will have to practice "under someone" before I can break off on my own? (AndrewHerink)

 

Going International

How difficult is it to practice law abroad after law school? Does it always mean getting a new degree or certification in the foreign country or are there certain jobs/places where my degree and bar certification will carry over? (ChristopherWlach)

What long-term opportunities are there for people who wish to practice outside the US? Are international jobs largely confined to global law firms and large NGO's? (KalebMcNeely)

How should the desire to practice outside the US affect one's choice of practice area? (KalebMcNeely)

 

Government Work

Does "working in government" mean one thing, or can it mean anything? Is it fundamentally different than working for a firm, or is there a spectrum of more firm-like to less firm-like government jobs? (MichaelBerkovits)

If government and private practice are so different, why is there a revolving door between the two? (MichaelBerkovits)

What is it like working for one of the government agencies, such as the SEC, FTC, and the Fed? (JayunKoo)

What is a good pathway to becoming a US Attorney? (JosephMacias)

 

Resources

I am more worried about how to work outside a big firm and have the resources to compete with such a firm. I would love to be a public defender, but they frequently don't have the resources to win their cases. At a firm, I'd get to take fewer pro bono cases, but I'd likely win more of the cases I got to take. That might be an oversimplification, but my question would be: What is the comparison between the resources of a law firm and other resources available, and how much does it affect success rates in court? (OluwafemiMorohunfola)

  • I am at the Bronx Defenders this summer. Their acquittal rate is pretty impressive and, having watched our attorneys go toe to toe against ADAs this past week, it is clear that the Bronx Defenders' attorneys have what they need to be successful. I have no experience with other defenders services and so I would suggest that you investigate any particular place you are interested in working.

 

Public Interest Careers

Finding A Job

Will I still be able to find a good public interest job in a small city if I can't start applying until November or December of my 3L year? Or, more to the point, if my significant other plans to clerk and I do not, how can we ensure that we end up in the same place after graduation? (AmandaHungerford)

Is it true that I need public interest work experience to get a public interest job? (WendyHuang)

How important are internships to public interest work? Is it really important to essentially begin a career now? (AmandaRichardson? )

* Amanda, I'm doing an internship with Legal Assistance in Chicago, and before it started, I kind of had the same question. But now, I feel like I'm gaining subtle skills (through trial and error) that can help me in later public interest work. But the problem is that I'm not sure how this skill set I am gaining can transfer to OTHER types of public interest jobs. So, in the end, I feel like I still have to answer that initial question.

-- AndrewHerink - 19 Jun 2008

 

Starting Your Own Organization

I know that I want to start my own non-profit after working for a bit. Where can I get information about this process? (MiaWhite)

How does one start and fund a non-profit law firm? (DanielButrymowicz)

 

Nuts and Bolts

Aren't the criticisms of law firms (broken compensation structure) valid for salaried public interest jobs as well? (WendyHuang)

  • I think there are two main differences. First, at a public interest job, you are doing work you believe in and so, presumably, don't begrudge doing. People are less likely to be forced to work for hours on end, instead, they want to be there. Second, there is more flexibility in hours at a public interest job (I got shoed out of the office yesterday at 5:00 and my supervising attorneys looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for more assignements late in the afternoon).

Is it the same in public interest as corporate law that it's more about who you know in the industry than your objective skills as an applicant? How Important is networking? (WhytneBrooks)(CaseyBoyle)

At a panel about whether or not to do EIP, a few panelists strongly suggested that many public interest firms look down their noses at applicants who have dabbled in corporate law, and vice versa. Unless I have the luxury of figuring out what area in which I want to practice before I graduate, it would be to my benefit to dabble in different areas, but it angers me that doing this (in an effort to make myself the best lawyer I can be) causes me to lose points with whatever institution I end up choosing. If this phenomenon is true, how can I avoid looking wishy-washy yet explore all of my options? (WhytneBrooks)

Is it crucial to get involved with the type of public interest work that you are interested in early in your career? For example, I have a real interest in city planning and urban development issues. Very few of the public interests opportunities I was able to locate while looking for a job for this summer had programs that provided work in a relatively niche capacity (like the legal side of city planning). Outside of being bogged down in city-level government work, it seems like the most viable way to get involved with this type of work is with a private academic, but I have difficulties figuring out a) how to make connections with independent people of such an industry and b) how to develop a skill set that is relevant for this type of work. (RobertCorp)

 

Firm Life

Why Join a Firm

Considering the way we've framed the realm of corporate law, is it possible for someone to have a valid reason for purposely making that the goal of their career? I suppose at this point, a similar question is why do EIP (rather than how), and no one could give me a reason why one might go in that direction, other than 1) they have no other plans or 2) they want money/networking. So, is there a good affirmative reason to subject oneself to corporate law to begin with? (WhytneBrooks) (MichaelBrown)

How do I distinguish between levels of social harm? The schools I have attended have big endowments, operate like corporations and do things that don't further my personal goals towards social change. What makes a law firm different? Is the issue whether or not I utilize them(these schools & a firm) for what they give me to get where I want? Is the question whether the ends justify the means? (MichaelBrown)

Why do law firms spend so much money on 1L receptions and events? Couldn't the money be redirected for additional associates, pro bono efforts, or to provide scholarships for law students who want to pursue public interest work and social good? (CarlForbes)

  • I'm not sure that this is the only response to this, but at one of the few receptions I went to I actually spoke with a partner about this very question, and her response was that as soon as even one top firm does a 1L firm reception then it sparks a sort of cold war-esque arms buildup where every other firm then has to do one. In this environment, therefore, each firm is constantly trying to outdo all the others, leading to the massive 1L firm reception cycle we see today. So maybe another question to ask along these same lines is is there anything we as students can do to convince the law firms not to spend money on receptions but instead put it to better use? Or like in the story Eben told us about the push in the 80's to switch to a non-graded first term do you think the majority of students would rise up against this and demand the continuation of the free-food gravy train? (AlexLawrence)

 

Using a Firm for its Resources

Is it possible to "use" a firm (by use I mean get paid without working crazy hours, receive mentoring, and learn skills useful outside the firm environment) without them using you up, if you don't care about making partner? (JulianBaez)

How should I plan my exit strategy when starting at a firm and how do I stick to that plan? What factors/forces trap lawyers at their firms? (JaredBaumgart)

What if you don't care about your reputation when you leave? How long can I get away with leaving work early and posting low billables before they fire me? (JulianBaez)

Why do some firms hire people to work on "pro-bono" matters full time, and for full pay? Do such hires get a lot of say in the matters they take on? (VishalA)

Do pro-bono coordinators at big firms get to make decisions about the kinds of issues the firm's resources will be devoted to? Do they become involved in the work, or are they just middlemen between public interest organizations and the firm? (VishalA)

 

Firm Structure

Why do law firms (and many other types of businesses) choose to overwork associates rather than hire additional workers to make up the hours? Couldn’t a firm hire 20% more associates and have each of them bill 40 rather than 50 hours (for 20% less pay)? (EdwardNewton)

I think health insurance, retirement benefits, transaction costs of hiring and office space are factors in that, but it still seems that there is a point at which they could hire more people for each person to do less. (AndrewWolstan)

 

Being Successful at a Firm

What does a recent graduate, with the limited skills, actually do on a day to day basis at a large firm? (JustinColannino)

How do I avoid just randomly getting assigned to one random field of law or another as a 1st year associated at a firm? (JonathanBoustani)

How does one make partner at a big firm? (AdamGold)

How true is the notion of "bamboo ceiling" for Asian Americans (especially 1.5 generation immigrants) in big firms? (TaeSangYoo)

If there is a reality, and a general perception, that a huge percentage of young associates will not be staying with a firm until they reach partner, how competitive is the workplace? Can anyone who is summer-ing at a big firm attest to this aspect of the experience? It seems like the cutthroat competition of law school (or at least of the characterization of law school) would not have to exist in such a setting, since it seems like a relatively small percentage of people are actually focused on making partner. (RobertCorp)

Often as a woman we are labeled as bitches (for being assertive) or weak for not standing up for ourselves. How can we effectively straddle this line as female associates?

-- NicoleMedham - 20 Jun 2008

 

Moving On from a Firm

If you step off the partnership track at a big firm what other opportunities are available? How does one get a general counsel job and how difficult is it to do so? What are the advantages and disadvantages of going in-house at a company as opposed to working at a law firm? (JustinKim)

Are future career options (e.g. in-house counsel) more limited if we don’t land the big job at the big firm? Word on the street is that it plays a HUGE role. (DavidM)

What, if any, benefits does making partner at a big firm bestow upon one who wants to eventually enter private practice? (AdamGold)

Down the road, I’d like to open a private practice, set my own hours and practice a field of law that I want to practice. Does working at the firm provide a stable foundation (both financially and professionally) with which to advance those desires? If not, what other options are there? (DavidM)

How important is the “prestige” that comes from the reputation of the top firms to facilitating a transition to a position of community leadership? During my section of legal methods, with Bobbitt, we were exposed to many attorneys who have had interesting careers and have accomplished a lot in the civil spectrum, but many used the reputation of their big firms as a conduit to their success in the political/social sphere. (The example that has stayed with me the most was Philip Howard, Vice-Chairman of Covington & Burling, who has gone on to be a prominent civic leader in New York) (RobertCorp)

 

Becoming an Academic

What should I do if I think I may want to work in academia? How do I figure out if I really want to do that? Do I have to want to teach? (Personally, I have serious problems with public speaking but I could be really happy spending the next 20 years doing library research…) How do I figure out if this is really the type of work I would like to do? Am I simply addicted to student life? Am I lazy? Once I decide I might want to do something academic what course of study should I follow? Should I look into PhD? programs? Is that necessary? What if I am interested in the intersection of law and social sciences? Again, how do I figure out if that is really what I want to do? I have never taken a break from school so I think I need to graduate from law school and work for a while. What should I do during that period if I think I may want to return to school? Clerk? Work for a while then just go back to school? What are some helpful resources? (ThaliaJulme)

If one wants to go into academia, is having a Ph.D. in a social science a benefit, or a detriment? (the extra 5-7 years in school aside) (GideonHart)

 

Geography

US Markets

How important is it for me to know what geographic area of the country I want to live in? (AmandaHungerford)

I'm swayed by the idea that my husband has enjoyed his Midwest private practice career over the years. Observing him traverse his career path, but admittedly often from a fair distance, leads me to believe that I can have that, too. Given that we're talking about a non-national law firm market (specifically, Indianapolis) here, how likely am I to be mistaken in making this leap of faith? (BarbPitman)

How important is it to start in a major market (NYC, DC, SF, LA, Chi)? Why is starting in a city outside of this group looked down upon? Is it assumed that your substantive work / actual legal skill is inferior to that of someone who chooses to start at one of these "major" cities? (MakalikaNaholowaa)

 

International Issues

What changes are in store for lawyers practicing internationally and how can I be prepared for those changes? (KalebMcNeely)

What language should I be learning for the future international economy? Spanish? Japanese? Chinese? (JosephMacias)

 

Developing as a Lawyer

Skill Development

I want to have the tools necessary to get jobs in government, public interest, firms, and internationally. Is it still possible to be a Renaissance woman (w/ a legal degree)? What do I need to do now to start stocking the necessary tool box? How can I remain flexible throughout my career? (JenniferClark) (StephenClarke) (JenniferClark)

The biggest source of anxiety for me is that I am not sure that the communication skills I will need as a lawyer have been improving since I started law school. How do I assess where I am, apart from the grades I receive? (JayunKoo)

How can we learn to look several steps ahead when solving legal problems? (JaredBaumgart)

 

Maintaining Flexibility

How great is the danger of becoming "pigeonholed" in one area of the law (such as criminal defense)? (DanielButrymowicz)

-Daniel- At the LA City Attorney's Office there are many prosecutors who spent many years in criminal defense. At the very least, criminal defense will adequately prepare you for prosecution if you ever want to change sides. (JosephMacias)

 

Preparing For the Future

How do I balance doing what fulfills me (professionally) at the moment with what I hope to achieve in the future? I want to make sure I'm prepared and well qualified for the future. (ChristopherBuerger)

How can I best prepare to start a practice/business on my own? (JonathanBoustani)

How much start up capital do I need to start my own practice? How much experience? How old do I have to be before people take me seriously? I will be 25 when I graduate. (JosephMacias)

How are technological advances going to change the legal profession, and how can I be prepared for those changes? (JuliaS)

 

Non-Legal Careers

How will one become an influential writer, in the 21st century? (AndrewGradman)

  • If a writer is one talented at creating audiences, will that talent still be lucrative?
    • Will it remain a matter of choosing which publisher-corporation one wants to be an advertisement for (e.g. New York Times, Columbia University, Vogue magazine ... or whichever website gets the best traffic)?
    • Or will the internet destroy publishers? will I have to call writing a "hobby?" If so, what other marketable skill should I learn?
  • What are the social diseases that the Internet will create, that I need to become equipped to protest?
    • loss of identity, information integrity, social control? ... How will these diseases spawn and spread?
    • What professional routes will permit me to be an open (or at least productive) critic of the way in which corporate marketing degrades human dignity and free choice? (paraphrase: How much more ethical are we capable of making CEOs?)
    • Can I make others feel the indignity that I feel, when I'm the victim of successful advertising? (should I?)

If you don't take a legal job right out of school, is it worth it to still take the bar after 3L year since that is when everything will be freshest in our minds? Or, for those going a non-legal route are you planning on gambling and not taking the bar on the hope that you'll be able to cram for it and pass it later if need be? (AlexLawrence)

My best friend's father, who is a successful lawyer, once gave me the cautionary advice that a law degree is to a certain extent a "perishable good." What he meant by this was that if you take a non-legal job (something, I for one, have thought a lot about) right out of law school you only have about 2 years to decide if you want to go back into the legal profession. Beyond that you're too far removed from law school and the knowledge isn't fresh in your head so you don't really stand a chance against the newest, youngest, and freshest set of "packaged meat." Is this true? Or maybe is it only true for corporate, big-firm, law? (AlexLawrence)

What tools do I need to make the transition from law to business after paying off student loans? (JonathanBoustani)

What high paying non-legal careers are out there and available to a young lawyer with no full time work experience? (JulianBaez)

This is not directly law school related, but I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on ways to start a company based on an innovative business model without having it taken wholesale by a larger competitor. (ignoring "business model patents" as an unholy aberration) (TheodoreSmith)

Being a transactional lawyer at a large firm or a lawyer at a business-focused government agency (such as the SEC) are two routes which offer insight into running a business. Does a law school student who wants to become an entrepreneur or transition into a non-legal job in the private sector have any other GOOD options for gaining business experience?

-- JosephWilliams - 22 Jun 2008

 

Personal/Professional Alignment

Gender Issues

I would really like to know where all the women in this field do end up. Do they leave to raise families? Simply can't "hang with the boys" in the office? (ChristinaYoun)

In class, we talked about students who found ways to practice without giving up control of their license. I am deeply concerned with finding a way to live and practice that allows me to do good without forfeiting a personal life and family. Many of us were astounded by the idea of a young associate who seized upon something that he did extremely well (greenmail) and that was of critical importance to his firm, which he leveraged to gain unparalleled flexibility and autonomy. I want that. I want to know what the firm needs that could be done effectively in a way that grants me greater control over my life.

And, I want to know how to get Big Law or Big Business to foot the bill for the cause I care about. Is it all about knowing who has sympathy for my cause? How do you get the firm to break the rules that ordinarily add to the bottom line?

-- SylvieRampal - 02 Jun 2008

 

Family

How would starting a family immediately after law school affect the advancement of my legal career? (ElaineTan)

What is the best job for a female fresh out of law school who plans to be pregnant, and doesn't want to be overstressed during her pregnancy? What can I do during law school to ensure that I get that job? (ElaineTan)

Is having a child either next year or during 3L year a realistic option? What is the better choice? (ElaineTan)

How long can someone survive at a firm if she does not want to become a partner but makes it obvious that she wants to pursue the "mommy track" instead? Do part time lawyers still work what would would be considered full time hours in any other field? Is it easier to balance work/family in the public sector? (AnaCorrea)

To piggy-back onto Ana's mommy track question--how can we, as female associates, go about having a family but making it clear that we do not want to be on the mommy-track and will continue to work just as hard (emergencies not withstanding) despite having children?

-- NicoleMedham - 20 Jun 2008

 

Money

How do I figure out what I want/need out of life from a purely financial point of view? I guess the answer to this is of course is that I need to look into myself, but I'm certainly worried about trying to balance the things that I would like to do for myself and the burdens that I will willingly assume (a family, etc) down the road. (AlexLawrence)

Can I really live on 30k a year? (WendyHuang)

  • From ages 6 to 13, I lived in a household with a combined income below 40K. The 2006 median household income was about $48K. Since first year public defenders make about 48K, I can't imagine you would be making much less after graduation if you choose to use your law degree. But, even if you do, you will have the same chance of survival as I had. Given that 1 in 4 American families have a combined household income of about 25K or below, you won't even be that poor. -- AdamCarlis 22 May 2008

I eventually want to have children, and so one concern I have is how to use my law degree to financially support a family in the New York metropolitan area. Besides working at a large law firm, are there other career paths that pay you enough to raise a family with some sense of financial security in one of the most expensive regions in the country? (JustinKim)

How much money does it take to live the conventional American suburban life (raising 2.5 kids and sending them to college without relying on loans or scholarships)? Looking farther, given the rising costs of health care and living in general, and the likelihood that Social Security and Medicare may not be around when I retire, how much money will I need to accumulate during my professional career in order to be able to live well in old age.

-- WardBenson - 20 May 2008

 

Too Much Work

Can one achieve a work/life balance while working at a big firm? (DavidM)

Where can I find legal work that pays a decent wage where I get out of work at 5PM? (JulianBaez)

 

Loans

If not working for a big firm (or in the public sector), how does one pay down loans while building a meaningful practice? (AdamGold) (GideonHart)

How do we repay our loans as quickly and painlessly as possible? Does LRAP make any sense? (DavidM)

How long, on average, does it take to pay back the student loans accumulated over the course of law school (not to mention undergrad)? (JonathanBoustani)

Is there any part of the country where i can get the best 'bang for my buck' in terms salary and cost of living so I can pay off loans as quickly as possible? If that is not a place where I want to be or where there isn't a large public interest opportunities, how difficult is it to find public interest work in CHI, SF, NY, DC where these jobs seem to be?

-- BetreGizaw - 21 Jun 2008

 


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