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Considering a Career in Law
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Hello All, I'm considering going to Law School (would probably be about 40 by the time I take/study for the LSAT, complete the application process etc) with the goal of opening my own family law practice or joining a very small and flexible one. DH and I have two kiddos; 1 and 5.
Has anyone out their pursued law as a second career? I would love to benefit from your experience! A little more about me: Over the last 15+ years I have enjoyed moderate success in an industry I really like (mid/upper management position). I'm hoping family law would be a good way to harness my passion about children and families, get the intellectual challenge I so enjoy, and also allow me to have evenings and weekends with my family while making a decent wage.
I know joining a big or even moderate sized law firm would not be for me. Those long hard hours would not work for my family. Also, I don't need to be on track to make $200,000+ a year. Although, $100,000 or close it is where I am aiming. I envisioning a law practice focused on child custody, divorce, adoption, and surrogacy.
How important is it to get into a ''good'' law school to pursue the dream of a private practice? Is this a realistic plan? Thanks for your insights!
The ABA recently posted an article on their webpage about the problem with law loans. Basically, I highly recommend going to the least expensive school with the best rankings, and networking like crazy. It's not the case that you get good grades and everything will work out-- I graduated cum laude with almost no job prospects. unemployed cum laude attorney
Law school itself is very demanding and I personally would be incredibly stressed to handle that plus two young children. I completed law school before I had kids, now that I have 2 kids under 6, I can't imagine doing full-time (or even part time) school or entering a competitive job force. FYI - the folks I know at smaller firms work more than 40 hours a week. anon
As to your question about the law school, I would go visit campuses of law schools, take tours, and sit in on some classes. While any law school is demanding, you really want a law school that is going to prepare you to take the bar because in the end that is kind of the whole point.
Hopefully that gives you a realistic perspective. Good luck whatever you decide! Autumn
The one person I know who did succeed at a niche job was a very smart and personable young person who was a paralegal at a family law firm, and her boss loved her as an employee and eventually promised her a job if she went to law school. I've heard the job market for new law graduates is brutal right now (from a law professor). Just an idea, is trying for a non-lawyer job in the area you are interested in, to investigate further. anon
I suggest talking to some attorneys who have solo practices in family law and get their advice on how realistic this is. If you want to meet family law attorneys, the county bar associations have family law sections which have regular events.
Going to a ''good'' law school has advantages besides prestige. Some of the ''not-so-good'' law schools automatically flunk the bottom 10-25 percent of the first-year class (most law schools grade on a curve and give people a class rank). Or they'll offer scholarships to half the class and you need to be in the top third to renew for the second year (so a bunch of people will automatically lose their scholarships). They're trying to weed out people who they think will fail the bar (to improve their bar passage rate and their USNWR ranking). Good luck with your decision! Anonymous
1) Law school is a huge financial committment. Tuition rates keep going up and you are losing 3 years of income. Bar prep classes (which are highly recommended) also run several thousands of dollars. If you are planning to be self-employed, your income the first few years out likely won't be very high either and you will have a lot of expenses associated with starting a business, obtaining malpractice insurance, etc. Consider whether your family's finances can handle the debt and several years without significant income contributions from you.
2) You will not learn what you need to know to practice law in law school. Practicing law is essentially an apprenticeship. You learn by doing and personally, I can't imagine not having mentors the first few years to explain things and correct my mistakes. I don't know how common it is to dive right into a solo practice, but I would not have felt competent to do that straight out of law school. I went to UC Berkeley, but I think this is true anywhere.
3) I question whether a solo practice would necessarily give you the lifestyle you describe. I work at a firm and yes, the hours can sometimes be long, but I work part-time and have colleagues who can cover for me when my kids are sick or when I go on vacation. If you are in a solo practice, your clients will be dependent on you all the time and you will need to coordinate your schedule with their needs, court dates and opposing counsel.
4) Again, I don't know about a solo practice, but if you think you might need to look for a job as an attorney some day (perhaps with a small firm, or with the government), where you go to law school matters a lot. Look at employment statistics for any school you are considering and try to talk to alumni.
Sorry to be negative, but I have a lot of colleagues who went into law with unrealistic expectations and now wish they had done more homework before making their decision. It sounds like you already have a great career and if you are looking to branch out a little, you might try a less radical change. At any rate, I would suggest approaching some solo practioners in the area to ask for an informational interview. I'm sure you can find some who would be happy to tell you all the pros and cons. There are also numerous law blogs out there, probably some focused on solo practictioners. Good luck with your decision.
I've been a lawyer for over 15 years, practicing primarily in the nonprofit and small firm world. But even there, with more flexibility and less of the downsides of big firm practice. it's been a lot of hours and sacrifice. I did negotiate a more flexible deal after I had kids, but by then I had a proven track record. As a brand new lawyer that would be much more difficult. And I always had to deal with court deadlines and client emergencies, which didn't always respect my ''day at home.'' I would definitely do a bunch of informational interviews with people actually doing the kind of practice you want, to make sure your vision is feasible.
I love my work and am very happy with my choices, but there has been one particularly critical element for me: I didn't graduate with huge debt. My classmates who did had to take jobs with very long hours and low quality of life in order to make enough to pay down loans. The NYT article points out how difficult the job market is becoming and how hard it can be to make enough to deal with debt. The advice I always give people thinking about law school is ''if you can't go to a top school, go to a cheap one.'' Look for an in- state tuition option or a place that will give you a scholarship or has a gold- plated loan repayment assistance program. The article makes clear something I have thought for a long time - low-ranked private law schools with high tuition can be a terrible economic trap for students, who won't be able to a get a job that justifies their investment.
Good luck with whatever you choose, and please do your homework. Law school is three years of your life and a lot of $. It can lead to a very rewarding career, but there is no guarantee. J.D. Mom
Hi, What advice do you have for going into law without a law degree? I've had a great career as a number cruncher. I have steady work, but after so many years I am ready for new challenges. I am very good at reading and interpreting rules, and excellent at navigating large bureaucrcies and being an advocate. I am organized and love planning. I would like to work as a legal advocate, or do research for law firms. What careers are there? What is being a paralegal like? Are there other careers in law besides a lawyer and paralegal? I am interested all experience -- good and bad. Thanks ahead of time! career changer
I am looking for some good, honest, and non-judgemental advice. I am a 30 old SAHM of two who wants another child within the next 5 years. I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was 13, but decided to ''take a break'' after college and pursued a teaching. I want to apply to USF law school's part-time evening program to begin during the 2011-2012 school year. My children would be 5 and 2 years old at that time. I would want to take a year off to have another child, and would time it so that child would turn one about the time I was returning to law school.
I figure I would need child-care for 4-5 hours a day to prepare for classes. I also figure I would need to dedicate 6-8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday for my studies. I have a very supportive husband who is encouraging me to follow my dreams.
I am hesitant to follow through with my dream of being an attorney beause of the following fears: I really want 1) To work in the non-profit or government sector 2) Prefer to work part-time until my children are older 3)think that I might be crazy to think that I might find such a job and am 4) scared to end up like a lot of my lawyer friends: miserable in high paying jobs or miserable and laid off or miserable and just scraping by because of loans. Most of them tell me not to go to law school and regret their decisions.
1) Is my plan for attending law school part-time in the evening while having young kids and having a baby realistic? Or, should I wait until the kids are older?
2) Do part-time non-profit law jobs really exist? I hear they are terribly hard to get.
3) If they do exist, is USF law school's reputation strong enough to get me employment in those jobs?(I don't know if it matters, but I have an ivy league undergraduate degree. Not mentioning that to be snotty, just wondering if it will help in the job application process.)
And to top it all off...because of the economy and job loss, I filed for bankruptcy a year ago. My father has offered to co-sign any graduate school private loans that would be necessary. Does anyone have experience with getting private loans for law school (or any other graduate programs) with a co-signer after declaring bankruptcy? Who do I even ask for more information about this?
Thanks. --Will i ever get to law school?
My only advice is to really consider whether you want to put yourself in that much debt. You can go to a less expensive top tier school and rely on only federal loans and scholarships and still get a good job without the stress that could come down the road from having to pay off huge loans. Good luck! Happy Law-school Mom
Do not go to graduate school if you expect to get a job right out of school. Do not pay out the nose or sign loans and expect to get a job to pay for school, especially an super expensive school like USF.
When evaluating a school, it is good to look at the rate at which students pass the bar. USF is pretty strong there, but it is brutally expensive. With huge law firms closing on both the west and east coasts, there is even more competition for the less appealing jobs...
One situation (expensive school) without the other (job market being crappy--even for folks who pass the bar) might be survivable. But both seem-- frankly crazy.
I would try to get into a public school such as Hastings or Boalt. If you have a great undergrad degree, why not apply and see what happens?
Loans for graduate school are really expensive and are more like a credit card (as far as interest rates, etc.) then an undergrad loan. I've got the Grad school Blues
2-Having another baby in law school could cause a lot of delay in your timely graduation. Check with a law school admission advisor for info on their matriculation. I actually waited until my last year to get pregnant and studied for the bar being about 4-5 months pregnant.
3- Just like any other professional fields, if you want to work for non profit, then pay your dues by doing clerkship, internship, and volunteer at those organizations. Of course in this abysmal economy, any job is hard to come by. Once you get a job, probably it might take some time prior to you being able to fulfill the wish to work part time in law. BUT I want to emphasize: There's no guarantee of a part time job in law. Simply put, why would employers give you any love when they can hire someone else, non attached, childless who is willing to put in more than 40h/w?
4-Don't wait! You would get less energy and enthusiasm you have for law school the older you get.
5- I suggest you speak with a financial aid adviser at law school about the private loan in light of the bankruptcy issue. Good luck - anon
Outside of nonprofit jobs that don't pay too well, the field of law, for the most part, is very bad at the work-home balance. My husband has a pretty ''cushy'' job compared to his other lawyer friends (but makes much less), and he still needs to bill 2000 hours and we still have a very hard time managing the house, time with the kids, spouse time, etc. I'm a SAHM, I don't know what kind of work your husband does, or if he'd plan on staying home.
I don't know about USF specifically, but the pedigree of your school counts A LOT. Second to that, it matters quite a bit where you rank in relation to your classmates. Not to say that you shouldn't follow your dreams if this is what you want, but go into it with your eyes open. It is great that your husband is so supportive, but I think you'll need much more. You'll need grandparents, friends, lots more, as well as taking a good hard look at what kind of role you'll have as a mother. Good luck! jisun
Generally, going to law school will put you in a big financial hole unless you work at a big firm doing corporate work when you graduate. So it's not a good idea unless you get a lot of financial aid, and by that I mean grants and scholarships, not loans. USF is not a very well- regarded school (sorry!), so you will have trouble finding any type of job after graduating unless you do very very well there. You will not have your choice of jobs unless you graduate in the top 1-5%. I would not recommend going to law school unless you go to a top 20 school. Otherwise, your options are limited. Back when I went to law school you could justify going to a less-well regarded school if it was public, since it was so much cheaper, but now the UCs charge almost as much as Stanford.
To answer your specific questions:
(1) I don't know; I went to law school full-time, before I had kids.
(2) There are no ''part-time'' jobs in law that I know of. I work an 80% schedule, which means I work about 45 hours a week. And it's hard to progress wihout being full-time.
(3) I think I already answered that question, above. I don't think most legal employers care where you went to undergrad. they do care what school you went to, and if it's not a top 5 school what your grades at law school were.
(4) I can't answer your question regarding obtaining loans, but I should warn you that in some states you may not pass the ''moral character'' portion of the bar admission process if you've had financial troubles. You should call the bar association of the state you plan on practicing in and inquire what their standards are.
Sorry to be so discouraging, but it's really not a very glamorous field! -anon lawyer
I did not have a family in law school, but the year I graduated, one of the women who graduated top in my class had a baby the week of final exams. She was reading her text book in the delivery room! Then she had a second baby in her 3rd year! Other people at USF also had children or were pregnant during their time there, although the vast majority of students don't have kids and are in their mid 20's. To be honest, I don't know how they did it because I barely had time to eat and sleep myself. But they did it, so it is possible.
USF is a pretty well recognized school, especially locally, and certainly you find the graduates of USF in all types of legal jobs in the bay area. Of course top tier school are more prestigious and therefore provide more opportunities, but I have found people to generally have a good opinion of USF. If there is a certain area which your interested, like child welfare, it would be a good idea to ask someone who works in the field about their opinion on schools and hours.
On the negative side, being a lawyer is not a guarantee of financial stability in any way. It is very difficult to find non-profit or government jobs, especially for new law graduates. You may want to look at Craigslist and see what is out there for availability and salaries, you may be very disappointed. One friend who works in a nonprofit fund raises her own salary - she has a passion for the cause so she is OK with it, but she is as wealthy as a starving artist. Similarly, at the moment there are not a lot of legal job in government and considering that the State/country is broke, I don't expect there to many more in the future.
If you have a very strong passion for a certain area of law, then being a lawyer can be rewarding. On the flip slide, when you consider the money, time, energy which is put into being an effective lawyer, there are many easier ways to make money.
Good luck to you!! Sarah
The job market now is terrible, but may be (hopefully, will be) different by the time you graduate. It is always very difficult to find a non-profit job. Always. You will need to show dedication to the cause, good grades, etc. I'm not sure about USF's reputation in that respect -- you might try to get information from their career services folks or current employees. But you should know that it's going to be difficult to find that dream job.
It is also very difficult for newly-minted attorneys to find part-time jobs. I know very few attorneys at any level who find part-time, intellectually-stimulating jobs, and don't know any who did it as new grads. (It may depend, too, what you mean by ''part time'' -- I know many more attorneys who work 80% than who work 50% time). You need to remember that most of your competition for jobs as a new grad will be other new attorneys, who will mostly be single, kid-less, and in their mid- to late-20s. Best of luck!
That said, I strongly encourage you to go to the best law school you can get into. If that's USF, great, but if you can swing Hastings or Berkeley, you will find your job prospects to open up much more widely. (Sad to say, but lawyers can be kind of snotty about where you went to law school -- even if you have a great undergrad pedigree, they will just question why you ended up outside a top- tier law school). I didn't have kids while I was in school but knew plenty of people at Boalt with small kids who made it work. Studying is certainly time-consuming but very flexible -- you can do it wherever, and get a lot done after the kids are in bed, etc.
Also, wherever you end up applying, make sure to investigate the school's loan forgiveness program. I only know about Boalt's, where if you end up at a nonprofit or gov't job they will help pay off a substantial part of your loans. I'm sure other schools have similar programs - - know what the parameters are and how it can affect your future job choices. And if you're dedicated to seeking employment outside the big firm setting -- it's doable but you have to be MUCH more entrepreneurial than going the ''traditional'' route. You need to apply yourself early to find out who's doing the kind of work you want, network like crazy, and be prepared to wait in uncertainty while your classmates line up their firm jobs in advance of graduation. My friends who ended up in gove't/nonprofits all seem really happy with their choices, but it took a lot of work and anxiety for them to get there. I hope this doesn't all sound negative -- again, I think you should go for it, just make sure you know what you're getting into!! I really had pie-in-the- sky ideas about law school that did not serve me well, but you already sound like you're thinking a lot more about the path in front of you than I did. Good luck! Lawyerette
Now let's talk money. Unless you have a trust fund or a spouse/partner who makes plenty of money, if you are a public interest lawyer in the Bay Area with a family, you will be poor. That would be true even without law school loans, and even more so with a big debt. That debt will dictate many of your choices. Do not underestimate what that will mean. Now let's talk about what it is like to practice law. If you litigate, you will spend your days fighting with the nasty lawyers on the other side. Do you enjoy conflict? And I do not mean elevated, academic writing in an appellate brief; I mean having someone yell at you over the phone or write you an extremely nasty email at 4:45 pm on a Friday afternoon that totally ruins your entire weekend. If not, do not become a litigator. How well do you handle stress? Do you like to work for people who have way more money than you will ever have, and are not nearly as smart or as hardworking as you, but who will treat you like crap? The people who rise to the top in this profession are frequently not very nice. Do you like to spend your days sitting at a computer writing letters and briefs about things that are not very interesting? All of this is to say that you should think about the reality of what it means to be a lawyer on a daily basis, in terms of what you will actually spend your time doing and what your life will be like. There are very real reasons for why many lawyers are miserable; do not let your dream keep you from facing that reality. Best of luck in your decision. Anon
My husband, who is 28, is about to finish his undergrad in Spring of 2003. During his college career he has had a career in financial services and is now part owner of a small company, which demands about 60 to 70 hours a week. He has been considering law school for graduate school. We have a 10 month old daughter and would like to have another child soon. Has anyone experienced such an intense grad school experience with a young family? Did one spouse work and support the family while the other spouse attended school? What was the most challenging part? Was it worth it? I would appreciate any advice or insight.
1) If he goes to Boalt, live in family student housing. we lived in both the village (pre-baby) and Smyth Fernwald. You then have a built in support network...someone in every family is a student, and every one has a family, so they're all dealing with the same issues. I found the village more community oriented (the courtyards are a great playground), but Smyth Fernwald was a LOT closer to law school. Things have obviously changed, but check out what the community seems to be like now. When we were there, S-F had more grad sudents and the Village more undergrads. S-F has that beautiful track at Clark-kerr, and some apts. have gorgeous views...but I think I'd choose the Village for me, in retrospect.
2) Establish a routine for when he will be with the family. What we did was dedicate 6-9 **every** night to the family. He'd come home, help with dinner prep & bedtime, then go back out and study/work on law journal until 2-3 am. We tried to save one day every weekend also for family time, but that only worked for the first half of the semester...usually, i was on my own on weekends. but having him there EVERY night kept it all together. I actually miss that schedule...now that he's a lawyer, he comes home much later. And, with him going back out every night, I actually had at least an hour to myself every day.
I did work during this time, and it was the only income (except for summers & loans). We didn't have much money, but i think we both look back fondly to this time. (it was over 7 years ago, so I guess we can count the passing of time as a factor!) We borrowed a fair amount of money, and Boalt actually gave us some very good financial aid. I think tuition may have gone up a lot, but, if your husband wants to work for a big firm, you'll be able to afford to pay all the loans back.
I would also think about whether your husband really wants to me a lawyer. my husband loves his work, but it seems that job satisfaction is low for most lawyers. the hours are very long, and it can be hard finding a satisfying job. Good luck! meghan
I am considering leaving my government attorney job to try to work as a ''contract attorney,'' i.e., as an independent contractor doing legal work. I'm wondering whether others out there are doing this... Do you tend to work for one firm on a contract basis, for several firms, or for a middleman/agency that hooks you up with firms that need short term help on work on a contract-basis? How do you market yourself/find the work? Do you specialize? What is the pay like? Any advice and/or leads appreciated! Working Mom needs change of pace
A cautionary note: while you can make better $$ in private practice (I have), it is quite nerve-wracking not to have a guaranteed paycheck or paid benefits Think positive! Still Thriving
Questions for estate planning attorneys: I'm a former trial attorney who contemplates a new practice in estate planning. Some practitioners advise that I need to take at least income tax and estate gift tax courses to have the sufficient knowledge prior to start this area of practice. My issue is whether I can gain this knowledge from CLE or similar type of education (i.e. paid subscription to certain programs); OR I do need to head back to take those classes from law school. Any recommedations would be greatly appreciated. anon.
Will and trust litigation seems to be a hot area these days, if your not totally trying to get away from the litigation aspect of the work, that maybe an easier transition for you. Good luck ANON
The law firm where I have worked for 5 years just informed me that in June, the partners will consider me for partnership in the law firm. I have no doubt that I will be offered partnership. I like my co-workers, clients and the kind of law that I practice, but the firm seems like it is in financial disarray and there are lots of reorganization plans that I have no information about (as a mere associate). I don't want to leave (or be a stay-at-home mom), but I do not even know the factors I should be considering while I weigh this decision. Has anyone else out there faced this question and thought it through like this? Up until this point, I thought this would be a straightforward decision, but now that I face it, I do not feel like I have the tools to think about it. My husband is supportive of whatever I want, but has not faced this himself, so really just listens well more than anything. Any thoughts? Thanks a lot.
1. You typically have a period of time, after you make partner, to decide whether you will buy in. Accordingly, you do not have to make this decision right away and certainly not before you get the proverbial tap, punch, nod, or whatever they call it at your firm. Don't make yourself crazy over-thinking it now.
2. At the time you are tapped, you should ask the managing team a series of questions, including a) the price of the buy-in b) whether the firm provides financing for it; c) whether the firm will buy you out if you're unhappy, and if so, at what rate; d)whether there are part-time options; e)what your business development commitment will be; f) what the firm's commitment to you is if you don't produce.
3. There are other issues. For instance, as a partner, you may have to pay for your own insurance, your own office furniture, and your own membership fees. Make sure you know the ''real'' financial cost of a partnership.
4. You mention that the firm may have some problems. At the point at which you make partner, ask firm questions. They're not going to take away your offer to join if you do, and it will force them to come clean. If your spidey sense tingles when you hear the responses, consider it a red flag.
5. In addition to financial costs, consider the other things you may be giving up. Your fellow partners' lives will likely give you some insight into your life as a partner. Do they see their kids? Do they work late? Do the associates have more fun?
6. Ask about ''of counsel'' or ''special counsel'' positions if you don't know about them. Explore whether that's a good route for you.
7. Some people thrive as partners. They like the prestige, the responsibility, the chance to create business opportunities. Others do not for very good reasons. They'd rather focus on legal work and not administrative responsibilites; they do not like to do business development; they do not want to devote more time to their career than they already do. Taking on or not taking on the title and the responsibility does not make you a better lawyer.
Keep in mind there is life after turning down a partnership. You can join another firm (Big or small); go in-house, or hang out a shingle. I was with a 600+ law firm, moved in-house, and am now part of a progressive small partnership of women. I have loved each for different reasons. You're probably a decent attorney if you have come far enough to make partner.... Use your legal skills to gather up as much information as you can both about yourself and the firm, and then make your move. Whatever you decide will be the right move.
Good luck and congratulations. T. (partner)
I am looking for part-time work and have some experience in a law office, plus a law degree. I know too much to be a file clerk, and not enough to be a litigation secretary. I am best at research, and the ideal would be a clerking job. I am simultaneously pursing a writing degree at Mills. I have been out of the work force for many years, although I have some recent experience and references. Has anyone out there done something like this? I am getting no response to every job I apply for on craigslist. The attorneys I know have not been able to help. Does anyone have any suggestions? There are so few openings, and every job seems to have its own track the anon
Or what about a law library? (I believe most public and university libraries look for library science degrees, but some large law firms hire people with legal research experience for their in-house libraries.)
When searching listings, law firm and service company job titles
to look for: paralegal, legal assistant, investigator, research
associate/specialist/assistant, and even service representative
or account representative.
Real estate law paralegal
I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last four-plus years and now I am looking to return to the workforce full-time. I became pregnant with my child during my last semester of law school (I am now licensed to practice law in CA) and have been a stay-at-home mom since. My child is now four and due to my impending divorce, I have to return to the workforce. I studied corporate and securities law while in law school and I would like to ''start'' my full-time legal career in that area of law. My problem is this. I have been looking full-time for an attorney position since September. The legal market is extremely tight and I am having no luck whatsoever in my search for an attorney position. I am assuming that the combination of my lack of experience, the time gap between my graduation from grad school till present, my decision to stay home with my child, and the tight legal market have put me at a severe disadvantage as I compete with other candidates. I am feeling extremely discouraged - no - at this point I am really depressed about this situation. My financial situation is critical and I need a job ASAP. Has anyone gone through a similar situation? I am looking for words of encouragement, creative ideas, and/or connections with people who have been in my shoes. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I suggest that you do some research and find a field of law that is more compatible with your status as an about to become single mom. Some ideas that come to mind are estate-planning, transactional real estate or transactional (non-securities) general business law. Also, if you live in the East Bay, you might want to consider options on this side of the Bridge. The commute alone to S.F. can be very time-consuming and stressful.
As for finding a job, be very open and flexible and adjust your expectations. If you can't find a full-time job with a ''status'' firm, try to locate a job with a smaller firm or a solo practitioner. If you can't find a full-time job immediately, try to find a part-time job or several parat-time jobs with smaller firms or solos. And if you are unable to find a job as a traditional associate, you could start as a law clerk/paralegal and then hopefully acquire some experience and contacts.
As for networking, you should exhaust every opportunity. Call all of your friends and acquaintances and let them know you are looking. Your law school alumni office should know about networking possibilities as well as have other resources for job hunting. You could also call headhunters or firms that specialize in placing contract workers (you can find their numbers in The Recorder) and ask them how you might be able to make yourself more marketable.
You could try ''informational'' interviewing, whereby you call an attorney (preferably after an introduction) and ask to meet with that person for the purpose of learning more about their practice, rather than asking for a job. You should also join a local bar association and start going to bar events and training programs. Most local bar associations have a young lawyers division. You could volunteer for the bar association's pro bono projects. This would allow you to hone your legal skills as well as make contact with other lawyers. (Many attorneys who volunteer their time are in private practice in other fields.)
Finally, there are several support groups out there for people (particulaly women) who are trying to re-enter the job force. There used to be an organization called Alumnae Resources in S.F. that was focused on women's issues. Also, the Berkeley Parents' Network has groups for parents in career transition. You may be able to find other organizations geared especially to lawyers in the Recorder or other legal publications.
Above all, be realistic and don't get too discouraged. Potential legal employers will not be interested in candidates who appear insecure or less than enthusiastic. Legal jobs are out there to be had; you'll just need to focus your efforts on a lot of different fronts until something comes up. GOOD LUCK!! Another Lawyer-Mom
Hello, I am an out of work lawyer and a mom. Other than volunteering twice a week at a legal services organization for the last year and a a half, I've been happily at home with son since he was born almost 3 years ago. For the last few months I've been trying to go back to work for real, but haven't seemed to find anything. I feel like my resume is pretty decent - my degree is from a top law school, I spent two years at a firm and also have some government and public interest experience. And I feel like I've cast a pretty wide net - I'll go contract or full-time, public or private, almost anything that sounds reasonably interesting, pays for childcare and a little more, and will get me home for dinner most nights (so, no big firms). But either my experience is too limited or I don't speak a foreign language or I've been out of the picture too long for anyone to give me a serious look. To be honest, I never loved being a lawyer. Often, I didn't even really like it. So it makes sense to me to think seriously about doing something else with my life, especially since I would love to have another baby in the near future. But I really don't know what people do with their JDs if not practice law. I would be really interested to hear what people have done after they left the law. Did you end up in a job that credited your degree and the skills you developed as a lawyer? How did you get that job? Are you happier now than you were when you were practicing? Thank you! Why Did I Go to Law School???
A law degree (especially one from a top school, like you have) is generally a plus on your resume. Employers understand the rigor of the education and appreciate the writing skills and logic that are developed.
It's a very tough job market in the legal world. The economic model is changing, firms are letting go of both associates and partners, and there are a lot of people looking for work. So don't feel bad about not being able to find something in law. Best wishes in your expanded pursuits. Once a Lawyer
I've always thought that doing mediation for families who have to deal with an aging parent would also be a good business (since I'm sure our family will need that at some point and I haven't heard of anyone doing it). Anon
There are things to do with a law degree besides practice law. Check out this article: http://law.scu.edu/CareerPathwaysWiki/index.cfm?path=Non-Lawyer_Jobs_for_Lawyers&event=Main&printFormat=PDF and maybe read a few books about alternative careers for lawyers.
Or if you DON'T feel strongly about using your law degree, you can think about a total career change. I liked the book The Unhappy Lawyer: A Roadmap to Finding Meaningful Work Outside of the Law. It is geared toward readers who are currently practicing law, but I think it has valuable advice for everyone.
My current plan is to try to get into legal writing (like for Nolo Press or a legal publication). It might be worth it to sit down with a good career coach to help brainstorm options. Good luck! There are lots of us out here!
I am the parent of two grade-school aged kids who was a lawyer before I became a parent. I left my last attorney job nearly 8 years ago after a series of disputes with my employer made it clear to me that I would be expected to put my job first--over and above my new role as a mom, which was unacceptable to me. Since then I have been resolute about not returning to the legal profession. I am not interested in being a trial lawyer, a corporate or non-profit lawyer, or a brief-writer. I taken temp teaching jobs and have flirted with the idea of going back to grad school. What I would really like is a job where I can still be an advocate. I want something that involves the process of standing up for people who have been injured, abused, etc. I am just not sure where to begin. Does anyone know of any advocacy work that I could do without being a practicing attorney? advocate-at-heart
I have been an inactive member of the California Bar for almost ten years and I am never going to practice law. I'm tired of paying $50 a year for a license I don't use or need. I can think of a lot better uses for the money. Can I ask to be removed from the bar? Or is this a life sentence? Bar-b-Gone
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