Post # 1
I’m about to start as a 3L this year, currently clerking for the CA Legislature. I’m starting to work on applications for post-bar jobs, and I’m feeling a bit discouraged. At this point, I will be happy to take any job that comes my way, since I know how tough things are, but I’m having some doubts about which direction I should go in.
I am applying to a lot of federal jobs and even some “non-traditional” legal jobs in politics and maybe even marketing/communications.
So my question is: Did any of you find jobs that you absolutely LOVE, and what is it that you do? Did you always know what field you wanted to go into, and if not, how did you discover your job?
Thanks in advance!
Post # 3
I have similar questions as you. I do plan to try to work at city, county, state govt jobs when I graduate or clerk for a judge. Although they do not pay as much, you get tons of experience that is very valued in the private sector.
Somebody also recommended to me the book on legal specialties and another named Full Disclosure. It’s also good to do informational interview with your law school alumni in different legal specialties to figure out what you would like. Most people I talk to fall into the job they love by serendipity though.
Post # 4
I honestly don’t love my job, but I’m only 9 months in, I do think it will get better.
My suggestion at this point would be to try to figure out if you want to practice law or not. The skills involved in practice are different from the skills involved in a policy/legislative job. While any job is good, each will lead you down a different path. It will be hard to get into practice if you spend three years working for an assembly committee, for example.
Clerking is kind of the best of all worlds: good prep for practice, keeps doors open for other things as well. In this economy, clerking would be my number one suggestion. It makes you more marketable, and you are unlikely to be laid off.
Post # 5
@monitajb: What kind of law do you practice?
Post # 6
@LeahP: Water and land use.
Liking my job is more a function of the fact that being a young attorney is HARD. You don’t know what you’re doing, expectations are high, you feel incompetent. Law school does not teach you how to practice law.
I like my specialties. It’s just the experience is tough.
Post # 7
@LeahP: I’m in the same boat as you. I’m also an upcoming 3L. I’m spreading my apps far and wide right now. I’m crossing my fingers for a clerkship so I can buy a year or two before having to practice, but I’ll take what I get. I’m applying for all the fed jobs up in DC and local government jobs. I’m taking the patent bar in a few months, so I’m applying to all sorts of boutique patent firms, and obviously just regular firms that have areas I wouldn’t mind practicing in. I’m using every connection I have to see if anything comes from one of them. The market really sucks right now, so I just hope I find something sooner rather than later because I don’t need to stress about finding a job while trying to study for the Bar. Good luck!
Post # 8
@Boston Bee: I’m doing the same. Sending out apps to whoever will take one! And clerking seems like a good way to go!
@monitajb: Yeah, I totally know what you mean about how hard it is. But I’m getting quite comfortable feeling incompetent! Since I’ve done several different internships and clerkships, I’m continually starting over, and by the time I get even a little bit more comfortable, I’m doing something new. Crazy.
Post # 9
I graduated law school in 2007 and took a position in a small firm a few months after taking the bar. I felt fortunate to get the job, especially when I knew classmates weren’t finding anything. I know it’s even tougher now. I thought I would like it and that it was a good decision (I also had a prospective spot at a different firm), but I actually pretty much hate my job. I do creditor’s rights and bankruptcy work.
The good news is that it’s not that I hate being an attorney, I think it’s just the particular type of law I do and that fact that I don’t really like who I work with. I had pretty much no idea what I wanted to do when I got out of law school, and was always amazed at other students that seem to know exactly what type of law they wanted to practice. I mean, how do you really know what you like doing until you try it anyway? Since I’ve been working a while, I think I have somewhat of a better grasp at what I do and don’t like, and I will probably start looking for something else soon. Hopefully that will pan out better than my current situation 🙂
Good luck with everything!
Post # 10
From someone who has summered in big firms to clerking for federal judges and ultimately being an AUSA, I highly recommend following your gut. I always knew that I wanted to clerk and highly recommend it. I also knew I wanted to be an AUSA (I had interned during law school). Please feel free to message me if you have any questions.
I like to think I am a realist (FI says I’m a pessimist), but finding a 100% perfect job is the goal, but oftentimes not the reality. I love the substance of my job but hate the sedentary lifestyle. I like the flexibility of the government but would prefer a private employer’s pay.
The most important thing is to keep an open mind. Upon graduating from school, I thought I would never practice criminal law. Now it is 95% of my practice. Always follow your heart and gut! Good luck!
Post # 11
I started clerking at the public defender’s office when I was a 2L. Funny enough, prior to clerking at the PDs office, the two areas of law I swore I’d never practice were family law and criminal law. Shockingly, I totally fell in love with criminal defense. It’s fascinating to me. I’ve worked in the legislature (for an Assemblymember) as well and hated it. The politics were just too much for me. I interned briefly for a general practitioner and hated every second of it. Civil law to me is a total snoozefest. The idea of being stuck at a desk all day long is like a death sentence to me. I have to be on my feet, in a courtroom. It’s a tiring, thankless job, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else (if you haven’t figured out by now, I’m now an official card carrying public defender.) I go to work every day with a sense of purpose. I am a voice for the voiceless (sometimes a little less voiceless than I’d prefer) and am often more of a social worker than an attorney.
It can be an extremely frustrating job at times. The proverbial stack is typically very much stacked against me, making every battle an uphill climb. No matter how discouraged I may be, I’ve got to keep fighting. There’s a certain feeling you get when someone looks at you like you are their very last hope in this world. That feeling intensifies when you realize you ARE their very last hope in this world. There’s a lot of times where I want to quit this job and find some cushy, well paying job that allows me to have a big office (instead of the hole I currently work in), to travel around and afford nice things (I actually make less now than I did as a law clerk when I also freelanced!). When I think I just can’t bear to hear “motion denied” or “guilty” one more time someone will look me in the eye and, with a quivering voice and through tears ask, “will you please help me?” Something deep within me stirs and I answer “I will do everything I possibly can.”
I will occassionally get cards and thank you notes from clients. I keep them all. Those are what keep me going on the really hard days. Whenever a client smiles at me and says “thank you”, my frustration dissipates and I remember why I do what I do.
Being a public defender is a difficult, tireless and noble profession. It’s not for the weak, but if you think you have the chops and the desire, I highly recommend it.
Post # 12
I am a recent grad so i understand where many of you are with the bar exam, the economy and trying to decide what to do. I was lucky enough to land an internship with the district attorneys office the summer before my 3L year and loved it. Being in the courtroom was addictive and I just had to get back in there.
I applied all over the place, different da’s offices, the attorney generals office and tried to stick to criminal in general just not to look like i was streching it with my expierence (all criminal prosecution and defense with trial advocacy certificate from school). I worked my contacts a lot, stayed in touch with the people i met at my internship and just landed a full time atty job for the DA’s office that i loved so much. I know they interviewed a ton of people and i think i got the job because they knew the work that i did was solid and everyone the supervising attorneys asked about me had great things to say (because I had stayed in touch so they still remembered me). I can’t wait to start on Tuesday and although I will start out in traffic court, I feel privileged to have a job.
I know it doesnt pay as well as some of you in private law but check out the new legislation for loan forgiveness. My DA said that there is a new program that gives prosecutors and public defenders loan forgiveness after 3 years (SCORE!) so I am working with her to make sure I do everything I need to in order to qualify.
Overall my advice is to work your ass off at clerkships, clinics and internships. The better the references and network of contacts you have the better off you will be. I would have never known that my office was ready to hire if it wasn’t for the fact that i stayed in touch and they all emailed me. On the same note, know what your limitations are and don’t tarnish your name by being that annoying 3L who has applied for every law firm, office, organization and government in a 1,000 mile radius. If you know you have no interest in tax law (like me) and never took tax law (like me) no matter how tempting the salary of 100+ is don’t apply for the job. You won’t get it and you will just feel more discouraged about not getting it even though you know you don’t want it and would hate it.
Best of luck, if you need any advice or have questions feel free to message me. I just passed the bar in Feb and just got a job so I know how it goes. Hang in there!
Post # 13
As a recent grad whose studying for the bar (and enjoying procrastinating on things like weddingbee) ithe only thing I would add is to be flexible geographically if you can. I was lucky and my fiance was willing to relocate. I ended up getting a job with a regionally big firm in a smaller town that I’m super excited about. Now all I have do is take that pesky bar.