Friday, November 13, 2009

Mission Impossible?

In my last post...which I actually just posted, I explained my inspiration for this site: I'm going to chronicle my quest to move beyond my J.D. and try to land a decent non-legal job that will hopefully put me on a more fulfilling career path (such as offering a regular paycheck).

That's a pretty broad goal, so let me try to set forth some criteria that will allow me to land on an aircraft carrier and declare "Mission Accomplished"...or at least let me move out of my parents house.

The Mission: Find a serious, career oriented, non-legal position at reasonable pay despite holding a law degree and having a three year gap in (non-legal) career experience.

Compensation: This is probably one of the most important elements when searching for a new job. I'm not going to be too greedy because I know about the hurdles J.D.'s seeking non legal jobs face. While I have bit more to my background than a crummy liberal arts degree, I also just wasted three years on the law school snipe hunt, so I'm not exactly in a position to demand the big bucks (particularly ITE). (More on both of those points in later posts.)

I'm going to set the bar pretty low at $40,000 per year. I think this is a fair price. If I can make more, great. If I can't, then I don't think I've successfully transitioned to another field. I made roughly this much prior to going to law school. I think it is unacceptable that I should make less even with a three year "gap" in the my resume.

If I do take a salary that pays less than this, then I'll continue with my quest until I find something that fairly compensates me. The only exception I may allow is if the job itself is particularly interesting/rewarding (and non-legal) but the industry or position naturally has (an) unusually low salaries/salary.

I also will not accept a position (as least for purposes of fulfilling my goal) that pays hourly or only offers commission. (Once again, unless it otherwise offers some extraordinary opportunity).

I don't intend to start my own business, but if I do, I can reassess this element of my criteria later on.

Professional: The job should be a professional job. Sure, I could raise the victory flag of finding a non-legal job by selling insurance for some chop shop or strap on an apron and work at the local Whole Foods, but that's not just ignoring my J.D., that's casting aside all of my education and work experience. Not only would these or similar paths most likely not meet my income goals, they also are jobs I would take only out of desperation and not for personal fulfillment.

Let's say that at a minimum, the job must require a BA/BS.

I don't know if I need to have a position where I wear a suit and tie downtown every day, but I'm going to say that any position that could potentially be profiled on one of those "scam buster" websites or where I'm being bossed around by people with GED's isn't what I'm looking for.

Non-Legal: If I land a job as an attorney or go solo, it doesn't count. If I find it rewarding, my perspective about the law will probably change, but I'm trying to see I can land a substantive non-legal job, so in the unlikely event that I find an attorney position I enjoy, it's still a mission failure.

The same goes for document review, paralegal, or legal assistant jobs. It doesn't matter how well any of them pay. If I take any of those jobs (except as brief diversions), it only means I couldn't escape the law - the only difference will be that instead of performing on stage in this industry, I'll be working the concession booth.

Minor Points: I don't want to move, but I won't consider it a defeat if I end up doing so. Reasonable training or certification is okay, but heading off for another degree (MBA, MS in Economics, etc.) is definitely throwing in the towel (and probably making things worse). I can take short term positions (e.g. doc review), but then it's back to the job search.

Marrying into money, winning the Publisher's Clearing House, or selling this blog for millions would be nice, but I think we can all agree that's cheating (and not particularly likely to happen).

So, please join me as I face the post law school demons and seek to find a fulfilling job away from from legal industry. Along the way, we'll mock and ridicule the law school industrial complex and maybe learn a few things about other industries. Will I succeed and open up a bold, new chapter in my life, or will I end up like this guy? Keep an eye on this blog to find out!

Just to be on the safe side, however, if in a few months, some loser calls you up asking you if you have term life insurance, do me a favor, hear him out. Thanks.


  1. Hey, lurker from JDU here.

    I'm actually in a non-legal job myself now. I graduated from a certain overrated T2 in the Philadelphia suburbs and after seeing how awful the legal job market was, moved down to Washington DC area and pretty much applied for any job I could. After a few interviews, I got hired by a government contractor to work as a research analyst at a large government agency. Strangely enough they actually LIKED my J.D. and offered me the position (also struck a good rapport with the interviewer who was from near where I grew up as well.) The pay isn't great (mid 40s for a starting salary) but I'm learning new stuff every day (learning a lot of database management and possibly some programming soon). Also have decent health insurance, paid vacation, and a 401k so I can't complain.

    Basically, just don't give up on the search. I had to get rejected a few times before I found something so it's not impossible, and believe me - my grades were probably a lot worse than yours. Good luck and I'll definitely be following you!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Also, if you get a chance, send me an e-mail (an anonymous one is fine) to I have a small tidbit that may interest you.

  3. Keep plugging away at the machine. I will make sure to support this blog any way I can. I was initially inspired by other jaded bloggers to tell my story. I was also motivated by seeing how many of my classmates (including those on journals and strong grades) were pretty much shut out of attorney work.

    Today, I had had an interview with a business publication regarding the law school industry fraud. I also have an upcoming interview with a freelance writer for a national law magazine about the same subject.

    If you follow my blog, you know that I am working in a non-law position. My job only required a Bachelor's degree. When I went into my third interview, *the question* finally came up, i.e. "Why do you want to work here when you have a law degree?"

    I told them that I saw myself doing this type of work prior to law school, and that I did not want to work for a goddamn bank or insurance company. Plus, it helped that I exhibited that I had command of my undergrad area of study. If you ever want any help on finding non-legal work, you can contact me.

  4. I like everything you said except the last part about hearing out a guy selling term life insurance.

    This snake oil salesman has been calling me every day this week AT WORK and he's name dropping a law school classmate whom I barely knew or spoke with. I'm friends with her on LinkedIn and Facebook, but that's just about it.

  5. Oh man, that is annoying. I guess there are some people who are worse than bottom feeder lawyers. I pledge to do everything I can to not be "that guy".

  6. My situation is remarkably similar to yours, though I've been a licensed attorney for over a year now. I've actually reached the point where I've taken law school off of my resume for all non-legal job applications. Good luck with things.


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