So you are in Law School...Now What? by rogercroft


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So you are in Law School...Now What?
By Stony Olsen

It’s time, finally — law school has started! Congratulations on making it, and hopefully you got into your school of choice. But now the
law bills start mounting. Believe it or not, it’s not too soon to think about just how you are going to get your first legal job.

                              Really? It’s time to start thinking        But newer associates in a big law firm have a hard life. It
                              about your first legal job? Yes, it        used to be that you put in your time and then made partner.
                              is. But that doesn’t mean it’s time        But that is not true anymore — the vast majority of new
                              to start panicking over it. You’ve         associates will never make partner at a big law firm. The
                              probably already sat through some          reason is simple: big law firms are not promoting many people
                              career services presentations, and         anymore to partner. Unfortunately, many new graduates are
                              they’ve mentioned several things           forced to go the law firm route just to afford paying back their
                              to think about.                            school loans. Fortunately, most of the truly staggering tuition
                                                                         bills are at the law schools that might give you a chance to get
Unlike the second and third year students, there are                     into big law.
restrictions in place to let first years get their breath in law
school. You don’t want to panic over ‘’will I get a job?’’ that          Another problem with biglaw is that new associates frequently
first week when you are studying Pennoyer v. Neff.                       don’t get to do much. They aren’t going to be lead on a high
                                                                         power litigation case, or make crucial negotiations for the
But it’s important to think ahead some, if only to start                 clients.
examining your options. Right now, the legal market is in
a bit of a slump — hopefully it will recover by the time you             Government
graduate. So for first years, this is the best time to be in
school. Second and third year law students have a much more              There’s also the option of going to work in a governmental
immediate concern.                                                       area. Of course, that means criminal law for a lot of people. Or
                                                                         various governmental attorneys, such as the SEC or FCC, etc.
Your law school career will be basically centered on      school and     Don’t forget state governments as well.
your summer work. What kind of work do you want           to do? If
you are like most law students, you don’t know yet        what field     Government work doesn’t pay like big law, no question. But
of legal work you want. Keep in mind what you like        as you go      you have a life. You can be married and actually see your
through your classes.                                                    spouse. Plus, governmental work can be prestigious as well,
                                                                         and lead to jumping into a lucrative biglaw job later on after
Big Law                                                                  a few years seasoning. In fact, many do just that. And some
                                                                         people just thrill at the chance to investigate corporations
There is the traditional so-called ‘’BigLaw’’ route. But the             for wrongdoing or bringing down hypocritical politicians and
majority of law students and lawyers in the United States                putting them in jail.
don’t work for one of the ‘’Big law firms.’’ Biglaw has a lot
of perks, but it has a lot of drawbacks. The biggest perk:               Government attorneys can help shape the law as well —
money. You can get paid a lot by joining a large firm. But the           actually writing regulations that everyone else has to obey, too.
drawback is critical: kiss anything resembling a ‘’life’’ gone.
Working in Biglaw is very hard on relationships. The other               Small Firms
advantage of BigLaw is prestige, and you get to live in the big
cities such as New York and Washington. You get to work on               The bulk of law students will end up in smaller firms. Not as
bigger cases.                                                            much money, but not as stressful, this is the bread and butter

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           The most jobs— anywhere


of law. Here, you can help out actual people, not fight over                 larger companies, but also has a bit more of a life. It’s a safe,
why one huge corporation doesn’t owe a hundred gazillion                     steady job for the most part.
dollars to another. Plus, you can be home by 6 most days.
                                 In a small firm, you can do many
                                 areas of law that you will study,           Keep in mind what you want to do. There’s lots more jobs
                                 such as estates and wills, startups,        available in small firms. Big law firms are where the money
                                 incorporations, and taxes. Big law          and prestige are, but over 30 percent of all new associates
                                 firms do all of that too, but most          at those firms leave within three years — it isn’t worth it to
                                 feel a better connection with their         them.
                                 clients in a smaller firm.
                                                                             If you figure out what you like in law, then that can impact
You get more experience in a small firm. Plenty of second and                what you want to do. A complex corporate work lover will
third year lawyers have far more litigation experience from                  definitely want to shoot for big law. Someone into torts will
a small firm while their classmates at a big law firm haven’t                probably go small firm (if they can deal with the ambulance
even set foot into a courtroom.                                              chaser stigma).

And since the majority of law students go to schools the big                 Figure out what you like, and ask your career counsel
firms won’t even look at unless you are valedictorian, this is               for advice. Good luck this year in law school!
likely many people’s best bet.

Corporate Counsel

Other careers involve working for a company. In essence, you
have one client — your company. This can be lucrative in the

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