Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting Started

Okay, this is my first post specifically chronicling my attempt to secure non-legal employment - the stated purpose of this blog. I'm going to resist the temptation to give you more background or curse the law school industry.

I think there are several fields outside of law to which my background lends itself : politics, computers, writing, research and business. I'm not qualified for anything in the arts, skilled labor, science or medicine. I really don't want to be in sales (insurance, financial or otherwise). It would be pretty easy for me to get a real estate license, but the market is bad, and the industry is still very sales oriented.

Let's take a look at the fields that are feasible for me to enter:

Politics: Like many of the fields I'm willing to explore, this is a broad area. It could include working on campaigns, lobbying, working for an elected official, or writing about politics/government. Unfortunately, most of the campaign jobs I've seen require past experience (of which I have very little). I could volunteer, but I'm really trying to find long term paying work. I'm also a bit uneasy about having my career tied to a field as controversial as politics. I don't really want to introduce myself as a flunky for Party A or for Cause B.

Computers: As I mentioned in a previous post, I should have probably pursued this route further. I really love working on computers and fiddling with software and web design. Unfortunately, I never really kept up with it in recent years. I really never bothered learning the intricacies of any OS after DOS/Win 3.1. I know HTML pretty well, but I only have a working knowledge of PHP. I don't know much about networks. I think I could learn a lot of this easily, but I really don't want to go back for an IT or CS degree. Maybe I can get some certifications some day, but I don't know where to get the relevant work experience. I may be able to transition to this path at a later point, but for now, there aren't really too many jobs that will take on someone with a working knowledge of computers/IT and train him. Alas, if only this were the 90's.

Writing/Research: I've considered looking into writing positions, but the compensation is really low. It is an area that is usually considered fairly "intellectual" - usually good writers are college educated. The J.D. may also not be a barrier. I'm going to hold off for now. There aren't too many good jobs at this point, anyway. As for research, I'm referring to collecting data and then analyzing it - kind of like what I did before but perhaps dealing with more interesting subject matter and working for a more meaningful company. It's a possibility, but I would need to make sure it's the right fit this time.

Business: Much like the same category on law school employment reports, this is a very broad field. Business could be anything from being a sales associate in a big box store to being an executive at a corporate headquarters. My hope is to either get hired for an entry level job with solid prospects for advancement or maybe spin my couple of years of work experience (and maybe even my JD) to help me get something a little more advanced.

I think the business world offers me the best hope of eventually working my way into a meaningful job and career. I initially went to school to try to land such a position and took a detour (or should I say a wrong turn through the bad section of town) on the way. There's the possibility that I could even acquire some of the computer/IT skills I've been looking for and may be able to move in that direction.

Now that I've narrowed things down a bit, I'll keep you posted on my next steps.



    Go to OCS, Become an Army Officer! The Signal Corps (Communications and IT) would be a good opportunity. An OCS enlistment only incurs a 3 year service commitment. Afterwards, you have veterans hiring preference (a big deal) for federal jobs and the new GI Bill for advanced studies. Alternatively, you can get student loan repayment.

    P.S. Your JD would actually be viewed very favorably by peers, superiors and subordinates.
    Service as an officer would be a boon to any aspiring political career - either as a candidate or as a staffer.

  2. Do you have any connections in IT, business, or politics? It can be hard to get into the last category. However, I am a lobbyist and I did not have any real connections in that area.

    Now, that you know what you areas you want to work in, it will be easier for you to zone in on those fields. Good luck! You obviously do not regret dropping out of the law industry. It is a disgraceful sham.

  3. I'm not sure I'd call the legal industry a "disgraceful sham", but it certainly isn't for everyone.

    I never practiced full time after getting my JD in 2001--I went into education instead, teaching in private schools, where I found: 1)it was a kind of work to which I was much more well suited, 2)there were not an insignificant number of other expatriate lawyers, 3)my JD was valued, more or less.

    I have read a great many stories like yours online and know that not all is dark skies.

    I also feel very, very fortunate that my degree is from a top 15 school and I have no student loans, both of which I realize make a world of difference (a kind of good fortune I never understood until I discovered there was such a thing as a TTT school, and that many people are snookered into them at the cost of great financial pain upon graduation).

    Leaving the law is a great decision. You will find any other professional culture to be considerably more gracious.

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Voodoo - I think you may have missed my self description as a "nerd". :) I think the physical requirements (and other aspects) required for being an officer just isn't for me. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

    Nando - I have loose connections to all of those fields (at least in my current location). More about this in later posts.

    Anonymous - Thanks for sharing your success story. You're definitely right that it's one thing to come out of law school with no debt and shrug one's shoulders over the wasted time and another to worry about paying back big bucks for virtually nothing.

  5. Esq.,

    Actually the Army is pretty desperate right now. They've had nearly a 100% selection rate for civilian OCS candidates since early 2005. Besides, we need leaders of all types - particularly in the Signal Corps and Military Intelligence.

    Another option would be to hit USAJOBS pretty hard in the non attorney fields. Do an advanced search for the following series' (job categories) - 0301 and 0343. You want to look for positions that are open for at least 2 weeks as ones open for shorter than that are likely posted as a legal formality for an "inside candidate."

    GAO would be another good place to look for entry-level analyst positions.

  6. Hmmm, well, maybe I'd do some more investigating re: OCS. I think I'll definitely take your advice about USA Jobs.


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