Author Topic: Career Ideas  (Read 6609 times)

Rebecca Stapler

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Career Ideas
« on: August 15, 2013, 07:06:27 PM »
I just got laid off, effective in 6 weeks. Boo hoo. Now to figure out where to direct my job search ...

Right now I'm a consumer litigation attorney. I'm not sure that I want to continue on that track, as there are aspects of the job that bore me to tears, like doc review and dealing with opposing counsel's responses to discovery requests. I like:
  • exercising my brain with legal research and writing, and problem solving. I love solving tangled problems and crunching numbers (if this tells you anything about my interests, in my free time I'm an extreme couponer)
  • in-person activities like client interviews and advising, negotiations, taking depositions, court appearances, and teaching. I think I would be happier in a job that has more client/personal interaction.

Here are some options I'm considering ... do you have any insight into whether they sound like a good fit for my interests or other suggestions for something that aligns with my interests? And if you have any experience in these areas, any tips on how to break into them in a mustacian way?
  • teaching -- either high school or higher education. I would love a clinical legal education job but realize how hard those are to get (although, there are a lot of law schools in my area). I have informal teaching experience as a community health educator and a financial literacy educator, but no education in education.
  • personal financial advisor -- I don't know much about the day-to-day of this kind of job, particularly if you're not selling a particular product (selling just your services; I don't want to sell a product I don't believe in). But I could take the CFP exam bc I'm admitted to practice law, and I love resolving problems / coming up with a plan to resolve them.
  • blogging -- I'll be trying my hand at this anyway, focusing on couponing, personal finance, and frugality
  • trusts and estates attorney -- I'm wondering how much of this is grunt work and how much is actually working with people and providing solutions. I would need more training in trusts and estates laws.
  • tax attorney -- this usually requires an LLM if I don't have experience. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to enroll in a program (I'm guessing it's not); mostly I want to know if I would actually enjoy the job that results from an LLM
  • Some sort of hybrid tax / trusts / estates / personal finance role -- ???
  • Some sort of business management role -- my spouse is launching a website and I have been getting really involved and focused when I'm digging into the details of pricing, marketing, negotiating, etc.
  • ETA: My spouse wants me to get into programming. I'm not sure I'll like it, but I'm signing up for a "Beginning Python" meetup.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 07:55:25 PM by stan »

Daleth

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2013, 08:47:30 PM »
Financial advisor sounds like a good fit for your background and the things you like to do. And being a lawyer gives you a leg up, both in terms of perception (there's a credibility/authority factor inherent in being a lawyer) and in more practical terms. I remember looking into starting an Edward Jones financial advisor franchise several years ago and one of the things they regarded as a qualification was being a lawyer.

I wonder if you could combine that with being an estates and trusts attorney. It makes sense to me that the two positions could go together, because as a financial advisor you might be suggesting they do X with their estate (a la, "to ensure your disabled daughter is cared for after your death without endangering her ability to get Medicaid, you want to create yada-yada type of trust"), and then as an estates and trusts lawyer you could then provide the person with exactly X.

I don't think a tax attorney position would be as good a fit, given your desire for more in-person activities. I'm totally biased here but when I think "tax attorney," one thing that comes up is "lots of activities similar to doc review, but EVEN MORE BORING because you're reviewing financial documents instead of people's emails." And it would cost you tens of thousands of bucks to get the qualification! Ack! Whereas you don't need anything but some CLE's to reinvent yourself as an estates and trusts lawyer-slash-financial advisor. And for that I don't think you need to be a CPA; you're not doing or auditing people's books or doing their taxes, you're just advising them.

James81

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2013, 08:53:51 PM »
Just as an FYI, if you wanted to go into teaching/education there are many one year programs out there that'll get you certified as long as you have a bachelor's in something.

Daleth

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2013, 08:59:36 PM »
Just as an FYI, if you wanted to go into teaching/education there are many one year programs out there that'll get you certified as long as you have a bachelor's in something.

As a lawyer with law schools nearby, he may be able to adjunct right away (no further qualifications needed). That would provide far more $$ per hour of teaching and prep time than high school teaching; it could be a great buttress while he builds up whatever next step he wants to take (financial advising, private practice, whatever).

Public school teaching isn't something you can just parachute into--it's a competitive field. It's also a fairly high-burnout field. I'm not saying to exclude it, but some serious research would be in order: what qualifications does your state require (some may require you to do a degree in education--potentially an entire new bachelor's in education! I kid you not)? What subjects could you qualify to teach? How's the local job market in that field?

James81

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2013, 09:06:54 PM »
Just as an FYI, if you wanted to go into teaching/education there are many one year programs out there that'll get you certified as long as you have a bachelor's in something.

As a lawyer with law schools nearby, he may be able to adjunct right away (no further qualifications needed). That would provide far more $$ per hour of teaching and prep time than high school teaching; it could be a great buttress while he builds up whatever next step he wants to take (financial advising, private practice, whatever).

Public school teaching isn't something you can just parachute into--it's a competitive field. It's also a fairly high-burnout field. I'm not saying to exclude it, but some serious research would be in order: what qualifications does your state require (some may require you to do a degree in education--potentially an entire new bachelor's in education! I kid you not)? What subjects could you qualify to teach? How's the local job market in that field?

Actually, the adjunct positions I've seen at local community colleges are pretty terrible pay. I've seen as low as $1500 for an entire semester for each class. That's horrible.

As far as school teaching, with the advent of the common core, if you can get certified in Math you are a shoe in for a position. I actually did this...went back to school and got certified in Math (took me a year) and I had a job within a month after graduating. The other two math people int he program with me both got jobs before me, and the one dude had two different job offers.

Given the legal background, they'd probably try to put him in social studies. But some states will let you tack on other certs to teach other subjects if you can pass the praxis test in that subject area. If math is not your thing, taking the middle school math praxis would be a great "in" to get you in the door right away. There's also a HUGE HUGE HUGE demand for Special Ed right now.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2013, 09:21:14 PM »

Public school teaching isn't something you can just parachute into--it's a competitive field. It's also a fairly high-burnout field. I'm not saying to exclude it, but some serious research would be in order: what qualifications does your state require (some may require you to do a degree in education--potentially an entire new bachelor's in education! I kid you not)? What subjects could you qualify to teach? How's the local job market in that field?

It's definitely a competitive field here. I'm not sure I could snag a teaching job without an education degree unless I were willing to do part-time or long-term substitute jobs. I could get a 5-year license if I pass the state test, and they give tests daily but I'm not sure how quickly the turnaround time is from passing (if I do pass) to licensure. The layoff is shitty timing -- if they did it a month ago I would be in a better position for a teaching job.


I don't think a tax attorney position would be as good a fit, given your desire for more in-person activities. I'm totally biased here but when I think "tax attorney," one thing that comes up is "lots of activities similar to doc review, but EVEN MORE BORING because you're reviewing financial documents instead of people's emails." And it would cost you tens of thousands of bucks to get the qualification! Ack! Whereas you don't need anything but some CLE's to reinvent yourself as an estates and trusts lawyer-slash-financial advisor. And for that I don't think you need to be a CPA; you're not doing or auditing people's books or doing their taxes, you're just advising them.

Thank you for the LOL! I do hope that I can find some sort of trusts and estates / financial advisor kind of role. I am hesitant to continue in the legal field because I feel like most of my legal jobs haven't been great fits for me, except the one where I was in court, negotiating, and advising a handful of people -- on a weekly basis. That was such a rewarding job. Unfortunately, we moved away from that job, so I couldn't go back to it; and in our current location it would pay $40k/year at best, which is just not workable for us.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2013, 09:24:02 PM »

As far as school teaching, with the advent of the common core, if you can get certified in Math you are a shoe in for a position. I actually did this...went back to school and got certified in Math (took me a year) and I had a job within a month after graduating. The other two math people int he program with me both got jobs before me, and the one dude had two different job offers.

Given the legal background, they'd probably try to put him in social studies. But some states will let you tack on other certs to teach other subjects if you can pass the praxis test in that subject area. If math is not your thing, taking the middle school math praxis would be a great "in" to get you in the door right away. There's also a HUGE HUGE HUGE demand for Special Ed right now.

Thanks for this insight. I love to crunch numbers, yet a math test does make me cringe a little. I'm very very rusty. But I'm up for the challenge if I can find good practice materials.

neoptolemus412

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Re: Career Ideas
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2013, 10:59:47 AM »

    Here are some options I'm considering ... do you have any insight into whether they sound like a good fit for my interests or other suggestions for something that aligns with my interests? And if you have any experience in these areas, any tips on how to break into them in a mustacian way?
    • teaching -- either high school or higher education. I would love a clinical legal education job but realize how hard those are to get (although, there are a lot of law schools in my area). I have informal teaching experience as a community health educator and a financial literacy educator, but no education in education.

      I know it's tough to get into unless you get certified or get a masters.  STEM fields are easier.

    • personal financial advisor -- I don't know much about the day-to-day of this kind of job, particularly if you're not selling a particular product (selling just your services; I don't want to sell a product I don't believe in). But I could take the CFP exam bc I'm admitted to practice law, and I love resolving problems / coming up with a plan to resolve them.

      Low barrier of entry.  You still have to take the required course to sit for the CFP.  The law degree gets you out of most of the classes though.  99% of guys starting out are pure salesmen & most are commission based salaries.  Law degree could be aid you in the process, but won't really help gain clients.  At most outfits, there is a high burnout rate b/c you need to hit the phones, countryclub, or do night seminars to get clients

    • blogging -- I'll be trying my hand at this anyway, focusing on couponing, personal finance, and frugality

      Competing with Mr. Money Mustache.  Pat Flynn at Smartpassiveincome.com is a good guy to research regarding making money in this space.  I know people that make money in this world, but they seem to be outliers.

    • trusts and estates attorney -- I'm wondering how much of this is grunt work and how much is actually working with people and providing solutions. I would need more training in trusts and estates laws.

      This would leverage the law degree.  Trust & Estates can be real rough legal work.  However, it's legal work & grows upon your prior education
    • tax attorney -- this usually requires an LLM if I don't have experience. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to enroll in a program (I'm guessing it's not); mostly I want to know if I would actually enjoy the job that results from an LLM

      LLM is not necessary.  It is something that makes you competitive in the field.  LLMs are pretty much diploma mills that say you took an extra year of tax classes.  The real value is in experience.  Breaking into taxes is the easiest route.  You can easily find dozens of tax attorney/cpa firms within a 50 mile radius.  you can specialize in tons of areas (bankruptcy, estate, SALT, corp, ect.)  donwside is if you don't like taxes, it's a bad career.

    • Some sort of hybrid tax / trusts / estates / personal finance role -- ???

      If you are early in your career, this is tough.  Real value comes through experience in one of these areas.  Most tax advice is going to come from a cpa for personal finance b/c they do the taxes.  Personal finance in general is tough to monetize.  You can give advice as a CFP/CPA.  You can start a website.  Tough to find entry level roles that combine tax/pf, unless it's a CFP sales focused gig. 

    • Some sort of business management role -- my spouse is launching a website and I have been getting really involved and focused when I'm digging into the details of pricing, marketing, negotiating, etc.

      Business management is tough to swing without relevant business experience.  Best bet is to try to get into the legal department of a company & switch.  Or get into the legal department, then get an MBA at night to switch to another firm.  Either way, you need to do something to get relevant business experience.  If an MBA is in your sights, running a business will help in the application process.


    • ETA: My spouse wants me to get into programming. I'm not sure I'll like it, but I'm signing up for a "Beginning Python" meetup.

    low barrier of entry.  you can teach yourself.  might want to try codeacademy, udx, coursera for free online courses.  would not utilize your prior education. 
    [/list]

    ArtieStrongestInTheWorld

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #8 on: August 16, 2013, 11:33:52 AM »

    tax attorney -- this usually requires an LLM if I don't have experience. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to enroll in a program (I'm guessing it's not); mostly I want to know if I would actually enjoy the job that results from an LLM

    LLM is not necessary.  It is something that makes you competitive in the field.  LLMs are pretty much diploma mills that say you took an extra year of tax classes.  The real value is in experience.  Breaking into taxes is the easiest route.  You can easily find dozens of tax attorney/cpa firms within a 50 mile radius.  you can specialize in tons of areas (bankruptcy, estate, SALT, corp, ect.)  donwside is if you don't like taxes, it's a bad career.


    You're right that an LLM is not strictly required to practice tax law, but a tax LLM is one of the few that is not just a meaningless extra diploma.  For a lateral hire with no prior tax experience, this would be a good idea.  However, to the OP, what makes you interested in tax law?  It's an extremely technical field, and as you kind of imply, the $30,000+ for another year of tuition is an expensive way to decide whether you like something.

    Rebecca Stapler

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #9 on: August 16, 2013, 11:55:53 AM »

    tax attorney -- this usually requires an LLM if I don't have experience. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to enroll in a program (I'm guessing it's not); mostly I want to know if I would actually enjoy the job that results from an LLM

    LLM is not necessary.  It is something that makes you competitive in the field.  LLMs are pretty much diploma mills that say you took an extra year of tax classes.  The real value is in experience.  Breaking into taxes is the easiest route.  You can easily find dozens of tax attorney/cpa firms within a 50 mile radius.  you can specialize in tons of areas (bankruptcy, estate, SALT, corp, ect.)  donwside is if you don't like taxes, it's a bad career.


    You're right that an LLM is not strictly required to practice tax law, but a tax LLM is one of the few that is not just a meaningless extra diploma.  For a lateral hire with no prior tax experience, this would be a good idea.  However, to the OP, what makes you interested in tax law?  It's an extremely technical field, and as you kind of imply, the $30,000+ for another year of tuition is an expensive way to decide whether you like something.

    I'm interested in estate and financial planning, which piqued my interest in tax law. I have zero interest in corporate taxes -- just personal tax issues. The last thing I want is $30k more in debt, so it's pretty unlikely I'll pursue this option. But some estate-related tax knowledge would be very useful if I pursue the financial planner / estate planner route.

    Daleth

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #10 on: August 16, 2013, 06:19:21 PM »
    Just as an FYI, if you wanted to go into teaching/education there are many one year programs out there that'll get you certified as long as you have a bachelor's in something.

    As a lawyer with law schools nearby, he may be able to adjunct right away (no further qualifications needed). That would provide far more $$ per hour of teaching and prep time than high school teaching; it could be a great buttress while he builds up whatever next step he wants to take (financial advising, private practice, whatever).

    Public school teaching isn't something you can just parachute into--it's a competitive field. It's also a fairly high-burnout field. I'm not saying to exclude it, but some serious research would be in order: what qualifications does your state require (some may require you to do a degree in education--potentially an entire new bachelor's in education! I kid you not)? What subjects could you qualify to teach? How's the local job market in that field?

    Actually, the adjunct positions I've seen at local community colleges are pretty terrible pay. I've seen as low as $1500 for an entire semester for each class. That's horrible.

    Adjuncting at a law school, teaching law, is a completely different ballgame than adjuncting anywhere else teaching anything else. Well, maybe adjuncting at a business school or other professional school is similarly worthwhile, but adjuncting at the undergraduate level, especially in the humanities, is JUST AWFUL.

    Here's why: lawyers who adjunct at law schools are taking time away from working as lawyers, and law schools know it, and compensate them proportionally. But people who adjunct at the undergraduate level, whether at universities or community colleges, are typically PhD's who were not able to get tenure-track jobs anywhere and are adjuncting while they continue their job search. They have no alternative to adjuncting other than leaving academia completely, and the universities/colleges know it, and compensate them accordingly.

    James81

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #11 on: August 16, 2013, 06:33:10 PM »


    Adjuncting at a law school, teaching law, is a completely different ballgame than adjuncting anywhere else teaching anything else. Well, maybe adjuncting at a business school or other professional school is similarly worthwhile, but adjuncting at the undergraduate level, especially in the humanities, is JUST AWFUL.

    Here's why: lawyers who adjunct at law schools are taking time away from working as lawyers, and law schools know it, and compensate them proportionally. But people who adjunct at the undergraduate level, whether at universities or community colleges, are typically PhD's who were not able to get tenure-track jobs anywhere and are adjuncting while they continue their job search. They have no alternative to adjuncting other than leaving academia completely, and the universities/colleges know it, and compensate them accordingly.

    This makes sense.

    Funnily enough, adjunct teaching is exactly what I'd like to do when I retire. I'd love to do like one or two classes a week (just two days) and that would be all I'd ever work. It's not amazing pay, but if I'm retired I wouldn't be in it for the pay really.

    totoro

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #12 on: August 16, 2013, 07:09:59 PM »
    I like tax law.  Just sayin'   It is more dynamic than it sounds and working with clients to save money is interesting.

    As far as financial planner goes - I think this may be a good option if you model it on this type of approach but for the US market:  http://canadiancouchpotato.com/   He has a blog, a book (I ordered a copy :)) and offers flat fee FP services.

    I would analyze where you are currently financially, how much you need to make, and what you really enjoy.  Put them together and the realistic choice may become clearer.



    Rebecca Stapler

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #13 on: August 17, 2013, 02:11:58 PM »
    I like tax law.  Just sayin'   It is more dynamic than it sounds and working with clients to save money is interesting.

    As far as financial planner goes - I think this may be a good option if you model it on this type of approach but for the US market:  http://canadiancouchpotato.com/   He has a blog, a book (I ordered a copy :)) and offers flat fee FP services.

    I would analyze where you are currently financially, how much you need to make, and what you really enjoy.  Put them together and the realistic choice may become clearer.

    That is what I'm picturing in my mind as one of my ideal set-ups -- diversifying the business through blog income, book income, personal services, and maybe some seminars -- plus less-complex estate planning.

    I am doing some career self-assessments to see if I can pinpoint what type of work would be satisfying, and so far helping people, lots of human interaction, intellectual stimulation, and being involved in my community are coming up as big factors (I would like to start the practice in my town or the next town over -- not in the big city nearby)

    MKinVA

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #14 on: September 02, 2013, 06:13:02 PM »
    You should try lobbying. No, not the slimy kind, but the good kind who work on policy issues for clients (community groups, government entities, etc). You could use your interest in tax and your love for digging into problems to solve them. I would for a state level legislature and love working with "real" issue oriented lobbyists.

    lhamo

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #15 on: September 02, 2013, 11:39:46 PM »
    The book "Do What You Are" is a really interesting resource/planning guide if you put any stock in the Myers-Briggs inventory.  I chose to take my current position largely as a result of things I learned from reading that book in the context of a career planning workshop I took -- realized in that process that I was shifting from being a strong INTJ to an INFJ (something that often happens at mid-life/mid-career, apparenty), and decided to take this position because it had a significant networking/mentoring component that I thought would be good for the next stage of my life/career.  That has been one of the aspects of my job that I most enjoyed/excelled at, and has also been one of the strengths that has positioned me well for the next stage in my career, which i hope will come to fruition later this year. 

    Rebecca Stapler

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    Re: Career Ideas
    « Reply #16 on: September 04, 2013, 11:55:40 AM »
    The book "Do What You Are" is a really interesting resource/planning guide if you put any stock in the Myers-Briggs inventory.  I chose to take my current position largely as a result of things I learned from reading that book in the context of a career planning workshop I took -- realized in that process that I was shifting from being a strong INTJ to an INFJ (something that often happens at mid-life/mid-career, apparenty), and decided to take this position because it had a significant networking/mentoring component that I thought would be good for the next stage of my life/career.  That has been one of the aspects of my job that I most enjoyed/excelled at, and has also been one of the strengths that has positioned me well for the next stage in my career, which i hope will come to fruition later this year.

    Thanks for the book rec! I have been doing some workbooks on finding the right career niche, and I do value the Myers-Briggs. I re-took an M-B evaluation tool that I used about a decade ago and found that I had NOT changed! This time around, the key is to pay attention to those tendencies, instead of being lured by something that looks interesting but isn't in line with some of my biggest tendencies (e.g., the job I'm in now).