Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Stay in Sketchy Job or Take Snowflake Job?

So I am a big law wash out (hated it and don't think I was p loser1202/16/18
Is this ADA class action work? There are dime-a-dozen ADA sh khazaddum02/16/18
I don't find it boring. It's just very low brow. loser1202/16/18
It is all about perspective. ADA work can be low brow too. H khazaddum02/17/18
Can you tell us more about your side gig of LSAT/bar teachin rubbersoul1402/16/18
Private. Not interested in revealing my identity. I charge b loser1202/16/18
I guess the question is, how much value do you ascribe to do jd4hire02/16/18
Yeah, that's what they said - they'll do whatever I need to loser1202/16/18
I, too, work in a very laid back “low brow” almost mindl mcacollector02/16/18
Even at 100k, I'd still need/want to earn more so would stil loser1202/16/18
5 year commitment? that's very long. you sound like you n whiteguyinchina02/17/18
Are you debt free? That’s my first concern. You can’ qdllc02/17/18
I don't know if by "mid 6 figures" eventually at your curren inho2solo02/17/18
Latter. That seems like peak potential. He said he could mak loser1202/20/18
Better the devil you know that gives you time to do your own isthisit02/17/18
Don't join a disability firm. You won't just be representin anonattempt02/17/18
Be careful. If you work at the type of firm that sends out p guyingorillasuit02/17/18
How would that be unethical if the violation can't be disput jeffm02/17/18
Duty to know. The young associate was a pawn of the partners khazaddum02/17/18
I think it's a niche market for the deaf community so that's loser1202/20/18
Think I'm going to stay put. I come with a lot of baggage. I loser1202/21/18
It shouldn't be too hard to find out what cases this firm ha superttthero02/22/18
If you want to help people with disabilities, represent fami jorgedeclaro02/22/18
What kind of disability discrimination cases are we talking onehell02/22/18

loser12 (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:34 am)

So I am a big law wash out (hated it and don't think I was particularly good at it), and I started at a company that does class action claims management back in September at 60k. I was the only good writer on staff so wound up writing most of the contracts, and many letters so was quickly promoted to 80k (though I had to ask for this). I also get bonuses and will probably be grossing 100k soon with promises that I could earn mid-six figures, and potentially much more if I stick around for a while. There'd be the potential to run the operation so that the investors can focus on other businesses.

I don't know how much stock I can put in these promises, but everyone treats me well, particularly the passive investors who think I add a lot of value to the business. It's a very lax environment without bad hours (9-6 but I can generally show up late, and there's a lot of office conversations without a ton of pressure).

I also net close to my income teaching the LSAT and bar, which I am very good at so working big law hours, I gross a similar amount without the abusive treatment. However, the work is very simple and the business is very easy, which can make the work boring but also prevents me from burning out so I can focus on side hustles. The overall nature of our business is sketchy, but the actual people aren't.

Situation: I may be able to get a job practicing law at a firm that specializes in representing people with disabilities, which is something I feel passionately about. I wrote a lot about the ADA in law school, and felt strongly that it was the part of the market that the law hasn't helped - there's still a ton of discrimination against people with communication disabilities and physical abnormalities. I just never assumed it could pay well. The hours seem to be long - the partner I interviewed with was okay doing like a 9 PM interview, and everyone stays very late.

They haven't discussed pay yet, but my sense is they work big law like hours, just for a more meaningful purpose. I don't see a situation where I'd be netting what I do now, because I'd have no time for side hustle but I'd be arguing in federal court.

There's also the risk of maybe not being great at this.

Thoughts?

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khazaddum (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:40 am)

Is this ADA class action work? There are dime-a-dozen ADA shops in my area. They have 10-15 plaintiffs they send to local restaurants and bars, then you send a threatening letter to the business owner demanding a settlement. It is not very glamorous work. It pays the bills, but these lawyers aren’t crusaders of the bedraggled masses.

Claims management is boring but if you are drafting all their contracts and notices to comply with standards and procedures , its not like they can replace you with a robot.

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loser12 (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:51 am)

I don't find it boring. It's just very low brow.

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khazaddum (Feb 17, 2018 - 11:07 am)

It is all about perspective. ADA work can be low brow too. Hassling movie theaters who won’t accomodate the deaf, hounding the small town coffee shop that doesn’t have ASL service.

Those are your bread and butter cases.

Not every class action is against Big Utility dumping toxic waste in the town swimming hole. Not every ADA case for the deaf is stopping an oppressive employer from endangering the vulnerable employees.

It may be different in your district, but most judges have an apprehension on these ADA claims. The plaintiffs always try to start in state court, then when venue moves to federal things go sideways.

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rubbersoul14 (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:52 am)

Can you tell us more about your side gig of LSAT/bar teaching? Do you work at a tutoring center? Private clients? How much do you charge? Thanks.

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loser12 (Feb 16, 2018 - 11:18 am)

Private. Not interested in revealing my identity. I charge between $70-100 depending on the number of hours purchased, but may be increasing this as a lot of my students made double digit score improvements. I've got a 5-star yelp reputation, but it's a small business.

Another issue is the market is artificially saturated with bad tutors who don't know what they're doing charging $50/hour. Then you have companies charging $200+. Having a website counteracts that, but my prices are low enough that I'm drawing in people from the lower classes who are thrilled, and post stellar reviews but have very little value in terms of drawing in subsequent business because their friends are blue collar.

Yelp hits me up daily trying to solicit money for advertisements, and I suck at marketing but I'm good enough at it that if I was better at business, it could be a 300k/thing. Where I struggle is getting people to sign up with one of the other tutors I have. I have people who can tutor throughout the country, but skill level varies and people are hesitant to sign up with a no name company for a comparable price.

Income is 90% LSAT. Bar tutoring sucks, because A.) it's not a fixed thing. If I quit LSAT for a decade, I could come back and still crack a 99th percentile score. With the bar, you forget that crap so wind up having to restudy before teaching to be effective. My bet is even the professors who teach for barbri sans Freer would fail if they took it cold, because they won't know enough law outside their area. B.) People taking the bar have no money, especially if they are retaking it and private tutors are largely limited to retakers. C.) I wind up sleeping with bar students, because of my awkwardness and loneliness and their awkwardness and loneliness in addition to being about the same age. This creates potential trouble that I don't need.

Having tutored for Barbri, there is a BIG gap in that market. Their tutoring program is a joke - there is no training, if you have a question about how to teach something you've never seen before the response is to figure it out (or no response) and they charge $350/hour. In a normal economic market, that creates opportunity but the problem is that Barbri has the big law contracts (many allow students who request to hire tutors). Big law firms aren't going to give those to a non-proven entity, and saving a thousand bucks is irrelevant to them.

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jd4hire (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:42 am)

I guess the question is, how much value do you ascribe to doing something you may feel passionate about? I.e., if the pay is 80k, would the satisfaction you receive helping disabled make up the difference in pay, in work/life balance? Also, I would consider the fact that helping some people makes you feel great, at other times you might look at the person and have the opinion that they are trying to milk money for a bogus situation (maybe that wouldn't be an issue at the firm, but I do some plaintiff work now and I had a grown man crying in my office when I handed him a modest settlement check that he deserved where as yesterday I was calling a client who was receiving a settlement check by mail to confirm she received it as I was nervous she was going to try some phoney baloney and forge the check and try and add numbers, or give it to a friend to try and steal so she could double collect - and this client was full of BS and didn't deserve a penny, yet I got her quite a few pennies...).

The other consideration seems to be (1) do you trust the promises you are receiving and (2) will this "sketchy" business come crashing down due to its sketchiness?

As to (1), money talks. They gave you a significant raise and will gross nearly 100k when you were hired at 60k...that's pretty darn good IMO. As to (2), I have no clue.

My advice based on the minimal information I know, stay where you are and try and excel.

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loser12 (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:48 am)

Yeah, that's what they said - they'll do whatever I need to make me happy, and will take care of me. Boss basically said they want me to commit for 5 years.

It's not ADA class action work - mostly working with deaf clientele. To reiterate, the business itself isn't sketchy - just the general nature of what we do. I have a very high IQ and short attention span so get bored quickly, but like the variety of the work because I'm always reading different types of cases to find opportunities so am not tied to the same case for too long. On the other hand, our business model, which I can't go into is simple and the analysis is always very superficial with little depth.

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mcacollector (Feb 16, 2018 - 11:14 am)

I, too, work in a very laid back “low brow” almost mindless area. I have often thought about going into some sort of public interest law or something that would allow me to make up for the fact that I’m probably going to Hell.... jk. I’ve also thought of leaving, but the money and low stress is more important to me.

Have you thought about keeping your job and doing some pro bono to make yourself feel better?

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loser12 (Feb 16, 2018 - 11:46 am)

Even at 100k, I'd still need/want to earn more so would still do tutoring. I generally work ~70 hours a work, try to keep fit and read a lot.

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whiteguyinchina (Feb 17, 2018 - 7:06 am)

5 year commitment? that's very long.

you sound like you need variety. i'd suggest using your low brow decent paying job as a base and then do side projects. also you always have opportunities in any organization to do more interesting work.

eventually any job will become routine and slightly boring. what keeps people there is the lifestyle and money.

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qdllc (Feb 17, 2018 - 8:38 am)

Are you debt free?

That’s my first concern. You can’t put a price tag on a job that gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, but if it won’t get the monkey off your back, you won’t enjoy it as much as you should.

If your current gig was definitely unethical (or skirting the edge of unethical), it would seem wise to switch to avoid blowback if and when it goes south, but that doesn’t sound like your case.

I recently worked at a firm that did defense work for workers’ compensation claims. Our job was to try to screw the worker out of every dime he was otherwise entitled. You can be more politically correct about what the job entailed, but that’s really what our clients were paying us to do. Perfectly legal. Perfectly ethical. Not really a career one might brag about with any honesty.

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inho2solo (Feb 17, 2018 - 11:20 am)

I don't know if by "mid 6 figures" eventually at your current job you meant 400-600k or more like 150k.

Even if the latter, I don't see how the potential new job will work for you, given it will kill your side income, and overall income seems important to you (as is the case with many of us).

My 2 cents, keep doing what you're doing (except the sleeping with students part), rake in enough cash to semi retire early, then serve the underserved.

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loser12 (Feb 20, 2018 - 1:11 pm)

Latter. That seems like peak potential. He said he could make me a millionaire, and he has millions himself but I don't put stock into that. Employees are all very young (at around 30, I'm one of the oldest) presumably because they work hard and don't demand as much money. There's a value cap on what I do - I basically break down cases, and apply them to our business model. I also do anything that requires a competent writer (draft all contracts, and write all letters and marketing materials). On the legal end, they could probably get 2 paralegals and be as efficient as me, and the other part time legal work could be outsourced for like $50k a year. I think it'd cost them about $150k to replace me, but also don't think I will ever be more valuable.

Although the big gun told me he can make me a millionaire, he also told me in the same conversation someone left because they were doing a bad job when it was clear they were leaving for more money. The fact he felt he needed to lie to me is promising, but the fact he lied makes it hard to put stock in his word.

On ADA work, what is the bottom line? It's sketchy, non-glamorous work? I thought I would be fighting for people who are discriminated against? Personally, I observe much more discrimination against the disabled than against minority groups, which is why I feel particularly drawn to their rights. Very few people fight for them the same way, because blind people, for instance, don't feel as connected to each other as, say, black people. But if it's mostly sketchy demand letters then it's not doing something for the public good. It's just working like a dog for sketchiness, which is like big law but more sketchiness and less money.

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isthisit (Feb 17, 2018 - 2:36 pm)

Better the devil you know that gives you time to do your own thing than the devil you don't know which will suck up most of your time and energy.

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anonattempt (Feb 17, 2018 - 4:52 pm)

Don't join a disability firm. You won't just be representing disabled people. You will also be representing people who aren't disabled but want money.

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guyingorillasuit (Feb 17, 2018 - 5:46 pm)

Be careful. If you work at the type of firm that sends out plaintiffs to local businesses, you could end up in deep trouble. State bars are now starting task forces to look into these firms, and they are not long for this world. They are going to go the way of the loan modifiers, including public shaming, bankruptcies, disbarments, etc. I know a young woman who started her legal career at a loan mod shop, and she ended up being disciplined by the bar for doing what her boss told her to, without even knowing that it was unethical.

Don't get me wrong - there are many respectable ADA advocacy organizations. Just make sure you don't join a firm that churns out demand letters by the dozen to local businesses hoping to extort a settlement. Also, if you see the same plaintiff's name appear over and over, run and don't look back.

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jeffm (Feb 17, 2018 - 6:06 pm)

How would that be unethical if the violation can't be disputed?

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khazaddum (Feb 17, 2018 - 7:56 pm)

Duty to know. The young associate was a pawn of the partners but the competent attorney would have known it was unethical and refused to file the case/send the demand letter/send the plaintiff to the next soup kitchen that you plan to sue.

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loser12 (Feb 20, 2018 - 3:07 pm)

I think it's a niche market for the deaf community so that's not an issue. I indirectly brought that up, but it does seem like the same issue over and over again. Doing class action claims is easy, and pretty low stress with low billable hour requirements. It just sometimes feels a little demeaning, and I'm not proud of what I do. I wasn't proud in big law either.

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loser12 (Feb 21, 2018 - 5:21 pm)

Think I'm going to stay put. I come with a lot of baggage. I tend to show up late, read ESPN and ancient history a lot during the day and go for long walks. I can get a lot of work done very quickly, but suck at billable hours. A lot of the antics that wouldn't be tolerated elsewhere are tolerated in an environment that only cares about work product so maybe traditional legal practice isn't for me - though I'd be better suited for the plaintiff's side or somewhere where performance is measured by performance itself.

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superttthero (Feb 22, 2018 - 12:49 am)

It shouldn't be too hard to find out what cases this firm has filed.

Known devil would be my advice.

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jorgedeclaro (Feb 22, 2018 - 2:25 am)

If you want to help people with disabilities, represent families of people dealing with state HHS offices. Nobody treats disabled people like dirt more than social services.

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onehell (Feb 22, 2018 - 3:51 pm)

What kind of disability discrimination cases are we talking about? If the plaintiffs are disabled employees allegedly denied reasonable accommodations by their employer, then that could be good work. But if it's public accommodation cases where the plaintiff hasn't really been damaged and you're just in it cuz the state has provided for fee shifting, those firms are basically shakedown operations and the work can feel scummy AF.

In either case, it's really not a "snowflake job." A snowflake job would be for some nonprofit or something. But this is either a plaintiff civil rights shop at best, or at worst they're using career plaintiffs to extort local businesses in a manner that is only barely more ethical than a protection racket.

TLDR: If it's employment cases and the pay is good, I'd take it. If it's public accommodation cases, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

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