Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

first job after law school

I am graduating this year in the summer. I don't have a job mera8801/01/18
It took a few months. I can't even remember now what I start cocolawyer01/01/18
Here's what you need to do, op. Find a rural part of your s lawlyer8201/01/18
this makes sense if, and only if, you want to have a focus ( themapmaster01/02/18
Simplicity on my law school job website. $60,000.00. I was ambulancechaser201301/01/18
Also look at Idealist, PSJD, Indeed, BYU Job Bank. dharamsala01/02/18
I would not be too worried, as the job market is still relat ambulancechaser201301/01/18
Symplicity, transactional RE, 50k. It sucked but I learned a 3lol01/02/18
My first job after law school was working as a part-time cas aknas01/02/18
Doc review at $25/hr. Money was tight so I picked up some e pauperesq01/02/18
Oh, I also worked for cash delivering pizzas for a friend's aknas01/02/18
"What is the statute of limitations on reported/imputed inco onehell01/02/18
Trusts and estates/elder law associate at a small firm. 60k. junkwired01/02/18
I continued to work ~20 hours a week while studying for the lilgub01/02/18
Worked at small firm I had clerked for during LS. Don't anothernjlawyer01/02/18
"Can everyone share when they first found their job after gr dharamsala01/02/18
I wish someone had told me this when I was looking for my fi blackholelaw01/02/18
NJ state trial court clerkships now pay close to $50K, and t dharamsala01/02/18
I don't mean to be a jerk, but I hope this isn't the first t dietcoke01/02/18
Completely agree. Law school is not about sitting back and bankofmouse01/02/18
I dont want to say too much as I might out myself. But yes I mera8801/02/18
You're behind the 8 ball but getting a job isn't impossible. pauperesq01/02/18
Graduated in May 2011 Passed bar in November 2011 First notthedroidyo01/02/18
Does $7.50/hour as a prof's research assistant (better to ga wolfman01/02/18
Graduated in May of '90 from a Tier 1 LS, south of the Mason cacrimdefense01/03/18
I moved out to Hollywood after law school to work in the mov blakesq01/03/18
Graduated May 2014 Passed the bar November 2014 First le flyer1401/03/18
I had a hard time after graduating. I took only 10 credits bittersweet01/03/18
Sorry about your parent. Did you pass the bar exam and was i mera8801/05/18
I had the bar in the state I left, and I picked up another, bittersweet01/05/18
It's not that hard. It's really just rigging the system in y giants092401/07/18
I think that's how Chris Sacca did it as well giants092401/07/18
I didn't have a real, salaried job for just over a year afte banana01/09/18

mera88 (Jan 1, 2018 - 9:38 pm)

I am graduating this year in the summer. I don't have a job after I graduate. I am a little worried. Can everyone share when they first found their job after graduation and what was the starting salary? Thanks!

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cocolawyer (Jan 1, 2018 - 10:49 pm)

It took a few months. I can't even remember now what I started at. The market was worse then.

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lawlyer82 (Jan 1, 2018 - 11:59 pm)

Here's what you need to do, op. Find a rural part of your state with high crime, few attorneys. Take all the appointments (crim, juvenile). Slowly become the go to attorney in town. Enjoy being a big fish in a small town.

New attorneys in my state that do this can easily make $75k+ their first year. Some clear $100k their first year. The key is to do your homework and find a few rural counties with compatible court schedules (and obviously do your job well).

If you can do that, I see no reason to be a wage slave working 2000 hours for the other guy.

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themapmaster (Jan 2, 2018 - 1:06 am)

this makes sense if, and only if, you want to have a focus (exclusive or perhaps accompanied by s-law areas like low asset family law) in criminal defense, or get experience and move to a prosecutor's office or public defenders office a few years out of law school. You aren't becoming an estate planner in the next ten years by being well respected by local indigent criminals.

Netting 75k plus in the first year based solely upon contract work (rates are from $50 per hour to $80 per hour) seems extremely unlikely if not impossible

You are right to be worried, OP. If you want a job that requires a JD, apply everywhere that requires a JD and a license. If you are more interested in making money, especially in the next five to ten years, than practicing law, explore alternative careers and try to get an entry level job with a corporation.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 1, 2018 - 10:18 pm)

Simplicity on my law school job website. $60,000.00. I was bottom half a second tier. Nothing special credentials.

I would recommend LinkedIn Jobs, Simplicity or Craigslist (though Craigslist is a bottom feeder for the most part).

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dharamsala (Jan 2, 2018 - 11:07 am)

Also look at Idealist, PSJD, Indeed, BYU Job Bank.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 1, 2018 - 11:31 pm)

I would not be too worried, as the job market is still relatively strong.

Just remember, your first job will define a lot in your career.

If you want to do business litigation you may need to suck it up and work for a solo (as a mid size will probably not hire you). If you want to do personal injury or insurance defense then go do that. Some jobs will pigeon hole you and you may not want that: i.e. administrative law like workers' compensation, social security, or immigration. Criminal law is not bad if you can parlay it into trial experience. I know the rush to "take any job" if you have a lot of debt, but remember you can wait 2-3 months, unless you have family obligations.

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3lol (Jan 2, 2018 - 12:45 am)

Symplicity, transactional RE, 50k. It sucked but I learned a valuable skillset, before getting hired by a firm I worked for in LS in a completely different area.

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aknas (Jan 2, 2018 - 8:49 am)

My first job after law school was working as a part-time cashier at Sears for $4.75 per hour, plus an employee discount.

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pauperesq (Jan 2, 2018 - 8:56 am)

Doc review at $25/hr. Money was tight so I picked up some evening and weekend shifts at a local pizza shop for another $8/hr. Mercifully that only lasted 3 months and then I got a clerkship.

Doc review is miserable but it's a viable last option. If you end up doing it, get out ASAP.

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aknas (Jan 2, 2018 - 9:04 am)

Oh, I also worked for cash delivering pizzas for a friend's pizza shop. Included free leftover pizza and psychoanalysis tips. (What is the statute of limitations on reported/imputed income to the IRS???)

Interestingly, I also delivered a pizza one late night to one of those Big Law TV Personal Injury attorneys. Unfortunately, I was too embarrassed to milk this contact as a networking opportunity.

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onehell (Jan 2, 2018 - 1:18 pm)

"What is the statute of limitations on reported/imputed income to the IRS???"

I assume you mean UNreported income. There are significant exceptions for significant (25%+) under-reporting, for crime/fraud, and for people who never filed at all. But for most people (who filed their returns on time but just left off a little bit of side income) generally they can't audit returns more than 3 years old.

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junkwired (Jan 2, 2018 - 9:08 am)

Trusts and estates/elder law associate at a small firm. 60k. I didn't like the practice area so now I'm clerking and looking to get into lit. I spent all of my last semester looking for a job and got the offer via phone call during a graduation party.

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lilgub (Jan 2, 2018 - 9:41 am)

I continued to work ~20 hours a week while studying for the bar at a small firm. They agreed to keep me as a clerk until I found real employment. At least it was something.

Got a State trial court clerkship 3 or 4 weeks before the bar exam. 1 year term.

Got a gig at a small firm about 4 weeks before the end of my clerkship.

Got a job at big local gov after ~3 years at my small firm.

Just keep firing off resumes as small firms, working connections and meeting folks at bar events, etc.

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anothernjlawyer (Jan 2, 2018 - 10:35 am)

Worked at small firm I had clerked for during LS.

Don't limit your search to legal positions. If your undergrad degree has any value (i.e., finance, not gender studies or something), start applying to non-legal positions within your degree area as well.

Having a non-legal, "real" entry level job is light years better than doing doc review or working in sh!tlaw.

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dharamsala (Jan 2, 2018 - 11:06 am)

"Can everyone share when they first found their job after graduation and what was the starting salary?"

February of my 3L year.

Judicial Clerkship.

~$45K but super low cost of living area and AMAZING hours (my Judge literally disallows me from working >37.5 hours a week).

Definitely apply to state trial court clerkships.

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blackholelaw (Jan 2, 2018 - 11:17 am)

I wish someone had told me this when I was looking for my first job after graduation... Don't be scared by the paltry salaries of state court clerkships. $35k is better than $0 while unemployed, and it will open the door to many opportunities after the year is up.

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dharamsala (Jan 2, 2018 - 11:22 am)

NJ state trial court clerkships now pay close to $50K, and there are nearly 500 openings a year. It's a huge leg up if you wanna work in NJ.

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dietcoke (Jan 2, 2018 - 12:01 pm)

I don't mean to be a jerk, but I hope this isn't the first time you've asked this question.

You're 2.5 years into a 3 year program. You should have been seeking employment for a long time.

It's not too late, but you should think of finding a job as your current full-time job.

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bankofmouse (Jan 2, 2018 - 12:19 pm)

Completely agree. Law school is not about sitting back and "learning the law" for 3 years. From day one you should be focused on one thing only--employment after graduation.

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mera88 (Jan 2, 2018 - 1:50 pm)

I dont want to say too much as I might out myself. But yes I have asked this question before.

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pauperesq (Jan 2, 2018 - 2:26 pm)

You're behind the 8 ball but getting a job isn't impossible. It may require you to step outside your comfort zone though. If you want to be in the courtroom, don't shy away from opportunities that will give you litigation experience even if it's not in the practice area you want.

Going into law school, I wanted to do corporate work and business/commercial litigation. I'm doing both now, but I had to go through doc review, criminal work, and plaintiff's PI to get there. I never envisioned doing any of those things but that's where the opportunities took me so I made the most of it.

My experience is not the norm and I certainly do not recommend following my career path. I say this only to illustrate that you can get where you want to be if you work at it.

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notthedroidyo (Jan 2, 2018 - 3:48 pm)

Graduated in May 2011
Passed bar in November 2011

First legal-ish job in state government September 2012 ($55K)
First actual attorney job in state government December 2013

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wolfman (Jan 2, 2018 - 3:57 pm)

Does $7.50/hour as a prof's research assistant (better to game the employment stats with, my dear) count? The prof is somewhat of a celebrity and makes a quarter mil a year the last time I checked... which hasn't helped me one bit.

I never got an atty job so can't speak to that...

"Transitioned" from a research assistant to a dead-end JD-preferred state job (41K) to a doc reviewer (varied but not much) to a gubmint paralegal (55K now)... haha fml

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cacrimdefense (Jan 3, 2018 - 12:07 am)

Graduated in May of '90 from a Tier 1 LS, south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I stayed in that state after graduation, and started my first job as a law clerk, earning $11 an hour, at a poop law firm that mostly did Soc. Security Disability work, in January '91.

I had not sat for a BE before I landed that position, and I ranked in the bottom half of my graduating class.

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blakesq (Jan 3, 2018 - 9:42 am)

I moved out to Hollywood after law school to work in the movies. My first job was as a production assistant on a commercial, probably made $12/hour. Next I got a job as an office assistant for a financial manager, probably $9/hour. finally after about a year in L.A. I got a job at a law firm which did a lot of copyright infringement, probably made $45k. Then got another job with a general practice litigation firm, started at $60, left after 3 years making around $75k. 5 years out of law school got my first job in patent law, at 6 figures, and now make about twice that as a solo 20 years out of law school.

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flyer14 (Jan 3, 2018 - 10:30 am)

Graduated May 2014
Passed the bar November 2014

First legal job as a clerk for a solo, August 2014, $15 an hour
Hung my own shingle in November 2014, made $22k before expenses over a 9 month period
Left law, work in defense contracting ever since July 2015

Now making far more than what I made in law, less than three years out.

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bittersweet (Jan 3, 2018 - 1:01 pm)

I had a hard time after graduating. I took only 10 credits my last semester and put a lot of time into job searching, but there wasn't much out there.

It took me until August to find anything beyond a 10 hr/week research asst gig (a glorified photocopier). Even that was just a temporary paralegal position that paid only $3 more than minimum wage (granted, this was in low COL flyover country). That was a paralegal assignment where the biggest job was assembling jury notebooks to help prep for a trial. When that ended I got a temporary office job to have something coming in to pay rent, plus I did telemarketing part-time. I quit the office job with only a day's notice to take a doc review job. It paid better, but only lasted for 6 weeks. And then there was several months of nothing but the telemarketing - and 16 hours a week telemarketing wasn't cutting it.

That whole time I was actively searching. I occasionally got nibbles and interviews, but they were crappy positions for thing like bankruptcy mills, PI, etc. I would have taken any of them, even though they paid less than the job I quit for law school.

Then (14 months after I got out of law school) one of my parents had a major health crisis and I wound up moving home for 5 years, dealing with that and still actively looking. While there I got on the doc review train. It sucks, but it's SO much better than not having work.

And I've been on the doc review circuit since then ('99). I keep looking for ways out, but while still owing over 50K in student loans it's really tough to do something else. I've gotten stuff outside of DR occasionally, but it hasn't been long term stuff and doing doc review allows me to pay rent. Well, most of the time anyway.

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mera88 (Jan 5, 2018 - 12:31 pm)

Sorry about your parent. Did you pass the bar exam and was it still hard for you to find a full-time position? How come you didnt hand a shingle?

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bittersweet (Jan 5, 2018 - 5:31 pm)

I had the bar in the state I left, and I picked up another, but not at home. Dealing with a bar exam, looking for work, and dealing with the stress of a parent needing a lot of therapy didn't mix well. I don't recommend doing all 3 at the same time. I was a couple points shy of passing the bar, twice.

Not having the bar at home is why I have't gone the shingle route. I don't think I have the contacts or finances to do it away from home. And after capitalizing interest, I don't have a way to stall the loans any more. I can't afford it.

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giants0924 (Jan 7, 2018 - 12:03 pm)

It's not that hard. It's really just rigging the system in your favor and knowing who to contact. For example, I wanted a 75k salary after law school with no experience. So what I did was I contacted the managing director of a large consulting firm and had an informative phone interview with her and she forwarded my resume to HR. I think she received a nice check for referring me, so i figured she gets her check and I get the job I wanted. It's who you know.

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giants0924 (Jan 7, 2018 - 12:04 pm)

I think that's how Chris Sacca did it as well

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banana (Jan 9, 2018 - 1:34 pm)

I didn't have a real, salaried job for just over a year after graduation. Even posted on here about it a time or two. Don't let this scare you though. I moved to a different state (other than where I went to law school) and took a different bar. I had zero connections. If you stay local, you'll likely find something. You're also a lot more marketable once you pass the bar exam.

When I finally got a full-time job one year later, it came at $70k, benefits, and a laid back office. Hang in there if it doesn't work out right away. It can be worth the wait.

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