Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Major Metro City Attorney

Went for an interview at a Major Metro City attorney gig (pr sjlawyer03/14/17
I spent a decade in a political office through both parties bigbossman03/14/17
The city attorney gig will probably offer a better work/life mrtor03/14/17
My wife just went through this calculus and went with the no jd4hire03/14/17
Thanks. This is the sort of review I intend to do if I get sjlawyer03/14/17
This is a no brainer -- take the job. It's actually a pay r disappearedattorney03/15/17
Government job trumps non government job almost always. Ther trollfeeder03/15/17
Sjlawyer - I am a city attorney for a major agency in NYC. cityattorneynyc03/15/17
Work for the man, bro. You always can transfer within your c adamb03/15/17
I went from an insurance defense firm to a city law departme e36m303/15/17
Thanks for the advice guys. Got a call back - any advice? sjlawyer03/24/17
UPDATE: Got the offer. Took a decent hit in salary, whic sjlawyer04/07/17
Congrats. And as Fred Jung said to his young son in Blow, " jd4hire04/07/17
NYC law dept? Went for an interview and had radio silence un yankeebirdie04/07/17
Sounds like entry level NYC. I am at "five years" - that is adamb04/07/17
Have an interview coming up with NYC law department (entry l goorange88804/08/17
take it if you get it. more stability than private sector. mrlaw04/08/17
Wasn't Metro City where Final Fight took place? 3lol04/07/17
It's not NYC guys. But thanks. sjlawyer04/07/17
sjlawyer (Mar 14, 2017 - 11:18 am)

Went for an interview at a Major Metro City attorney gig (probably obvious). Seemed to go very well. Interviewer advised that the salary would be less than I'm making now (about 8% less). But City benefits, etc. Salary growth is slow, but automatic (relatively speaking) and advancement is possible.

I like the interviewer, I liked the job and it gets me into the heart of the major metro. I'm currently at a small firm about 45 minutes outside. I enjoy what I do, but there's not a ton of guidance and I'm a true generalist. Salary is okay. However, firm is also politic and subject to the whims of politics. Plus, I have to bill a decent amount and I probably am in the office 10 hours a day plus more when needed.

I've never worked for a larger government outfit before. Thoughts versus a small private gig? I also have significant loans so PSLF would be nice although who knows w/ current admin. Please try not to guess what major metro (even though you probably can) or where I am now, etc. Thanks.

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bigbossman (Mar 14, 2017 - 11:41 am)

I spent a decade in a political office through both parties at the top. When I left the current administration was a mess. But I'd also been there long enough to have a decent position.

So this right to the point - new hires were virtually (not 100% though) immune to these types of whims/changes. I had worked at small firms before it and it was a really nice upgrade in terms of support/environment. If you're worried about "winds of change" or whatever, don't be - that's a problem that affects you more the more you move up. And I'd guess at many government jobs you don't just skyrocket past everyone.

There were/are people at my old gov't job that intentionally refused promotions just so as to work out their days as cogs in the machine. So that's an option too.

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mrtor (Mar 14, 2017 - 11:44 am)

The city attorney gig will probably offer a better work/life balance, but your salary growth and advancement prospects will be compromised. Most governments are strapped for cash these days. Any money they can scrounge up will go to public safety and other unionized workers. You'll be lucky to get the leftover scraps. With regard to advancement, how many managing attorneys are there? One? A handful? You're probably not going to advance until they retire.

Local government jobs are also notoriously political. A new administration may clean house. An existing administration may make cuts to promote itself as fiscally responsible before an election. Some kid may take your job simply because his uncle was a valuable campaign donor. You get the picture. Unless you're unionized (which you didn't mention), you're still political bait.

All that being said, if you just want to put in your hours and go home at night, it could be a good gig. You just need to taper your job growth expectations accordingly.

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jd4hire (Mar 14, 2017 - 1:56 pm)

My wife just went through this calculus and went with the non-profit gig to avail herself of the PILF plan. She works at a private firm with tons of flexibility, okay salary, no retirement benefits, 100% insurance covered (he cuts her a check each month for the cost of carrying insurance on the private market - not permissible, but it happens), unlimited vacation (within reason), but a dead end career wise - the principal of the firm is up there in age (70s), terribly unhealthy (pops like 15 nitroglycerins a month), and does nothing to generate business or work on files. He operates at a slight loss due to my wife's salary and said he plans on staying until he is dead. He can't stomach the idea of spending time with his wife. He has no succession plan or funds to offer for her to operate post death. She has 285k in loans.

She was offered a job at a legal aid agency and took it. Slight pay cut, but benefits are great (union gig), can't get fired without cause (or budgetary issues, but agency has a contract with the state to provide the services for conflicted individuals at other state agency's and she works within that unit - still scary though), has expected raises equivalent to COLA (1,500 - 2,500), works 8:30 - 4:00, has 5% match in a 403(b) plan, and gets PLIF (the calculator suggested that at payoff, her loans would be ~ 400k).

Based on loans alone, she took the job. She could pay until she is 53, or take the gig and have them forgiven at 40. Further, the tax bomb on the 25 year plan would come to about 140k (nearly the amount of the loans at the outset). I know this is subject to politics, but both her and I agreed that it would be insane if the government tried to cut the program without grandfathering in current participants. Who knows though.

We also plan on starting a family soon. The agency has amazing maternity benefits (will hold the job for up to a year without working), and allows mothers to work all sorts of alternative arrangements. Once we have two kids, she'll most likely work the bare minimum to qualify for PLIF. At this point, my salary is stronger than hers and has plenty of room to grow and is on a good trajectory.

Good luck. It's a tough decision. If you're like my wife, run the loans. What will your tax bomb be at the end of IBR, how many years on non-PILF are you, where do attorneys go after the government job?

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sjlawyer (Mar 14, 2017 - 2:50 pm)

Thanks. This is the sort of review I intend to do if I get an offer. The office seems great and it moves me into the major metro and a review of linked in promises some decent exit strategies. But yeah, the PSLF benefit (and avoiding the tax bomb), as long as it's there, seems very promising. I think I actually already have a year in from clerking.

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disappearedattorney (Mar 15, 2017 - 10:43 am)

This is a no brainer -- take the job. It's actually a pay raise on a per hour basis, plus the increased job security, quality of life, vacation days and holidays, and benefits. Take it take it take it -- and thank the lucky stars for a career outcome at about the 90th percentile of all law school graduates.

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trollfeeder (Mar 15, 2017 - 11:12 am)

Government job trumps non government job almost always. There is literally no job that someone can offer me to leave the system. The only thing that remotely interests me would be changing beaches or running for Judge.

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cityattorneynyc (Mar 15, 2017 - 4:49 pm)

Sjlawyer - I am a city attorney for a major agency in NYC.

Prior to my current gig I worked in the private sector - moving to govt was the best decision I ever made (quality of life, PSLF, type of work, etc.)

Feel free to ask any other Qs you might have.

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adamb (Mar 15, 2017 - 5:36 pm)

Work for the man, bro. You always can transfer within your city system, and generally you will be favored once you have commensurate experience.

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e36m3 (Mar 15, 2017 - 11:34 pm)

I went from an insurance defense firm to a city law department gig almost 7 years ago and have no regrets.

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sjlawyer (Mar 24, 2017 - 2:32 pm)

Thanks for the advice guys. Got a call back - any advice?

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sjlawyer (Apr 7, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

UPDATE:

Got the offer. Took a decent hit in salary, which hurts, but 3 weeks vacation, plus another week of personal and significant sick time as well is nice. Other benes sounds very very good. Plus, I'll be PSLF eligible in a gov't job.

I'm almost a little afraid my present firm is going to counter with a decent amount of dough. Tough call right now, but I'm leaning moving on. I've got about a week.

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jd4hire (Apr 7, 2017 - 1:45 pm)

Congrats. And as Fred Jung said to his young son in Blow, "Money isn't real, George. It doesn't matter. It only seems like it does."

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yankeebirdie (Apr 7, 2017 - 2:17 pm)

NYC law dept? Went for an interview and had radio silence until I begged them for some kind of response. They on my sht list now

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 5:24 pm)

Sounds like entry level NYC. I am at "five years" - that is how I entered. You get five weeks vacation, and your low starting salary will jump when you get promoted. Take it. Much better than small law LI/NJ/Westchester. And the bennies alone are worth it - it is better than an extra $10k or whatever the firm may try to throw at you since they can jettison your pay or job whenever. Not so in the city system.

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goorange888 (Apr 8, 2017 - 11:25 am)

Have an interview coming up with NYC law department (entry level) and curious to know if I were to get an offer, should I accept it. Currently working for a large insurance carrier as staff counsel as a first year attorney (normal hours, $76k, small year end bonus). I have a lot of debt ($200k), so PSLF would be appealing, but I would be taking almost a $10k pay cut and I would have a bit of an increase in cost of living. Would you make this jump? Or just wait and jump to an ID firm and just ride out IBR for the next 20 years? Curious to know your thoughts.

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mrlaw (Apr 8, 2017 - 10:10 pm)

take it if you get it. more stability than private sector.

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3lol (Apr 7, 2017 - 5:45 pm)

Wasn't Metro City where Final Fight took place?

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sjlawyer (Apr 7, 2017 - 7:57 pm)

It's not NYC guys. But thanks.

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