Author Topic: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?  (Read 27427 times)

Aigeus

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Second post today after just joining the board--this one on a totally different question (my other post was about caring for aging parents).  I'm a lawyer, and we have this extra fun thing in our careers called "up-or-out," which means that if you can't convince major corporations to trust you (a 30-something with only a few years of experience) with multi-million dollar cases (when they could hire people with three times your experience given that there is a glut for legal talent), you will ultimately lose your job.  Even if you're technically qualified and do good work, at some point firms think it doesn't make sense to keep you on the payroll unless you can bring in business.  Not that I blame them really.  But it's not good for us.

Now I know your first piece of advice is going to be "learn to bring in business" and your second might be "apply the principles of mustachianism, then you can retire by the time the up-or-out problem hits, and you won't have to worry about it."  My response would be that I will try my best to do the former, even though it will be tough since I'm not a natural people person.  And I do take comfort in the fact that I might be able to retire if I'm careful about my finances.  But even if I get to that point, I probably would not want to sit around the house all day without some sort of purpose.  I would likely want to take my 'stache and go back to school, start a business, write, or do something else that at least would make me feel productive.

So my question to you:  If you knew that you were going to be unemployed at about 35-40 with maybe $300-700K in cash saved up and a family to support, and you wanted to change careers, what career would you pick?  Note that I have a liberal arts degree (yay).  The ideas I am kicking around now:  getting an MBA or a BS in engineering or computer science (artificial intelligence is the thing I'm really interested in, although I say that without knowing much about it), teaching myself computer programming, management consulting, blogging, working as a local politician (i.e., like city council), and FBI agent.

Dee18

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2013, 10:26:45 PM »
One area to think about that is just taking off is the intersection of data forensics and law.  I teach law school and have a student who had a couple of years of computer engineering undergrad, before switching to economics and then coming to law school.  Through an internship with a large corporation he discovered the fledgling field of e-discovery using predictive coding.  There are apparently few attorneys comfortable enough with computers and few computer engineers or programmers who know a lot about law, so there are not many qualified people in this new and exciting field.  He currently has fabulous opportunities and says the work is fascinating.

There are also many law jobs not in private practice as well.  But given your stated interests, you might think about trying to learn more about this area, perhaps through online courses or conferences.  Of course, it might make you so valuable to your firm that you won't be out...but you may want to be out anyhow.  I have many friends who made partner and then decided to leave the firm anyhow because they just wanted more time for their other interests (like family) in their 30s.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2013, 06:15:45 AM »
Can you tell me more about his situation?  This is one of the reasons I'm interested in AI; I think it's about to revolutionize the legal industry.  Predictive coding seems to be only the beginning; improving legal search will be the next step, and from there I can think of tons of other interesting applications (and there surely are many more that I haven't thought of).  But I'm not sure exactly how this interest would translate into gainful employment--i.e., would I have to go back to school, would I even be useful when compared to someone who knows less about the law but is a natural born programmer/mathmatician, etc.

nktokyo

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2013, 06:37:29 AM »
I would buy 4-6 foreclosed rentals somewhere, clean them up and get them well managed. Try to have little or no debt on them.

Then... actually it doesn't matter what you do next. You and your family are set for life and you can tell your law firm to where to stick it at a time of your choosing.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 06:38:48 AM »
Government thing is tough now ... their hiring is minimal due mostly to sequestration and the agencies' other budget constraints.

plantingourpennies

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2013, 07:20:06 AM »
You noted that you may wish to start a business or be a consultant but I'm worried because you are also shying away from learning how to actually make a sale! I'm not sure if you realize that one is required to have the other =)

Buckle down and learn how to sell. You may or may not stay with your law firm, but selling is probably the single most useful skill you can learn. If you're really interested in e-disco or forensics, you can jump to a software company that sells that sort of thing and make good money with no additional schooling.

Disclaimer-I've been in enterprise sales for 3 years; have a philosophy degree, and am not a "people person."

Best,
Mr. PoP

madgeylou

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2013, 08:00:33 AM »
Quote from: plantingourpennies link=topic=5286.msg80066#msg80066
Buckle down and learn how to sell.

I'm not the OP, but have been thinking about this for a while. I make good money as a software designer / implementer, but if I got good at selling, I think I could probably do a lot better. Do you know of any good resources for learning how to sell?

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2013, 11:20:30 AM »
"Buckle down and learn how to sell. You may or may not stay with your law firm, but selling is probably the single most useful skill you can learn. If you're really interested in e-disco or forensics, you can jump to a software company that sells that sort of thing and make good money with no additional schooling."

I'm not saying that I don't want to learn how to bring in business.  Learning to do that and sticking with a big firm would certainly be the most lucrative route for me--I'm thinking more about what I would do if, despite my best efforts, I ultimately am not successful enough at bringing in business to make partner.  (Most people aren't.)  Also, not sure that I'd want to sell software, etc. to law firms ... if I went into software I think I'd rather be the person writing/designing it, not the one selling it.

I think the thing is; I'm curious about what careers I should think about moving into if I am able to save up enough money so that I don't really need to work anymore (after following MMM's advice for several years).  And the things that I'm thinking about are things that would be (I think) intellectually and personally rewarding.  Building stuff.  Helping people with problems.  Etc.  Sales doesn't quite meet that criteria, even if it is lucrative and wouldn't require that much additional schooling. 
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 11:31:04 AM by Aigeus »

Welmoed

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2013, 01:04:56 PM »
My husband faced this exact decision 11 years ago, at age 44. He had been in the IT business, very high stress stuff. The job took a huge toll on his health and our family. Fortunately he saw the light and left that particular treadmill before it totally consumed him. Then he was faced with the Big Question: Now what? At first, he looked for other jobs in the same field, but soon realized that if he stayed in the field, it would soon become the same soul-crushing treadmill. So a complete break was needed. But what?
It took many evenings of discussions (and many bottles of wine!), based around the topic of "I can be anything I want to be. What is that?" It was actually a lot of fun to discuss various career options, visualizing the future in each. We talked to many, many friends to get input and insight. We managed to narrow it down to a few important features of a career: first, it had to have variety. Second, it had to help people. Third, it had to identify and solve problems. Fourth, it wouldn't involved long, contracted jobs with the same customer.
One friend looked at the list and said, "You should become a home inspector." And he did, and it's been fantastic. He always says that if he won the lottery he would still do home inspections, only he would hire someone else to do the attics and crawl spaces.
The takeaway from all this is, identify what features your dream job would have, and then find the job that fits those features.

nktokyo

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2013, 03:59:36 PM »
I would buy 4-6 foreclosed rentals somewhere, clean them up and get them well managed. Try to have little or no debt on them.

Then... actually it doesn't matter what you do next. You and your family are set for life and you can tell your law firm to where to stick it at a time of your choosing.

Hi Mate, I would seriously look at this with your asset base. It will give you the freedom to pick and choose a career or volunteer work on your terms.

jfLip

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2013, 04:37:08 PM »
Hey Aigeus,

I started a similar thread not too far back, as I'm in a very similar position.  Someone suggested I take a personality test and it's helped tremendously as far as what career paths to look into.  I took this one (it's free) and it was very accurate.  This lead me to research job titles that suit my personality type.

I'd say keep an open mind about sales and perhaps shifting your perspective.  I work with a lot of CEOs/entrepreneurs/VPs as a personal trainer and I've learned that sales is the driving force behind business.  I asked one guy what his line of work was and he replied, "Sales."  Deeper conversation uncovered that he's the founder of an architectural systems company that engineers/designs construction pieces for some pretty big projects (i.e. the glass at the USA Today building).  I automatically thought "used car salesman" when he mentioned "sales," but now I understand it goes much further.

You mentioned you like helping people and doing stuff that's rewarding and that sales doesn't meet that criteria.  However, what if you were selling something that helped hundreds or thousands of people?

I just started To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink and so far it's an interesting read that goes into how it's in our nature to sell.  Picking up what I learned from the first couple of pages, if I've convinced you to take a personality test to research careers - I've just sold you :).  Like others have mentioned, it's a fantastic skill to develop if you were to start your own business.

Keep us updated!  I'm on the same boat you are lol.

Undecided

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2013, 05:28:45 PM »
I dont think you said what your practice area is, but what about the traditional "outs" like a smaller firm or an inhouse position? I'm not sure whether you're implying that you'd only continue to practice if you make partner at your current firm, but by the point where it's a serious possibility, you'd be walking away from (the most direct financial realization of) some very valuable skills if you leave the law. Although I was interested, in a general way, in getting out of law when I was a senior associate at a very large firm (and had no interest in being a partner at a very large firm), I decided that on balance, it wasn't worth the huge paycut to leave the law altogether.

ScubaAZ

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2013, 05:57:32 PM »
Consider the e-discovery aspect.  We have one lawyer in our office who developed a specialized expertise in e-discovery, which has essentially solidified his position as an non-equity partner in the firm for life if he wants it.  No biz dev required.  If that interests you, that may be the way to go.

Anything you would tell a brand new BigLaw lawyer, finances-wise, anyway?  My plan is not get get caught up in the spendy lifestyle, and hopefully get to FI in 10 years, allowing me to work the hours and develop business if I want, and if I don't, I can do something else.  Right now, I like the work (that granted, I see this much of the big picture at this point who that may be a little naive), and come from a sales background of sorts, so I enjoy the biz dev part of the process (though I conveniently have few biz dev expectations right now as a 1st year).

Thoughts?


JJ

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2013, 06:15:42 PM »
And the things that I'm thinking about are things that would be (I think) intellectually and personally rewarding.  Building stuff.  Helping people with problems.  Etc.  Sales doesn't quite meet that criteria, even if it is lucrative and wouldn't require that much additional schooling.
I think you would be surprised at how rewarding (not just financially) sales can be, provided you are selling something you believe in.  There's the thrill of the chase, of course. Selling a vision which, when implemented, dramatically improves a business most definitely helps people.  As a very simple example, and one you may be familiar with, consider document management systems.  How many million man-years of tedium have they taken out of industry?  (yes, yes, I know - some people probably lost their jobs filing and retrieving stuff as a result).  It took a sales guy (or gal) a lot of thought, a lot of work and a lot of creativity to pull this off.

I have worked in the technical software space for a couple of decades (last day before semi-retirement is July 1st ;)) and done everything from software development, implementation consulting, project management, product management, sales, sales engineering, training and buying over that time.  I am not a natural extrovert, but I find the sales and sales engineering (also known as presales) to be the most rewarding.  Software development is "long-cycle creativity" - it can take a couple of years or more to see something of importance come together.  Solution-selling is "short-cycle creativity" - rather than solving a problem for a market you are solving a problem for a single customer and often you can see results very quickly.

You do hear of sleazy sales guys who are totally coin-operated.  This does mean it is a dishonourable profession in general.  Some of the most thoughtful and ethical people I have met work in sales.  Some of the most unthoughtful and unethical people I know also work in sales.  Perhaps it magnifies character traits?  I hadn't thought about that until typing this post.  To be good at sales you need to have self-awareness on steroids - every conversation with a potential customer has some kind of impact - good or bad.  There aren't many careers where you get to plan and review most conversations. From a personal development point of view you soon learn how your interactions affect others.  Every sale and every commitment also has long term implications, good and bad.  You soon learn about how a business works, what makes a business robust, a new take on risk management etc.

If you are financially independent already, how about getting involved in selling a game changing technology to the world from a startup you believe in?  If you are FI you can take low base, high commission and help get something special off the ground.

I'll stop my ramble - I could go on.  I just wanted to make the point that sales doesn't have to be a brain-dead occupation.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2013, 06:23:31 PM »
"I dont think you said what your practice area is, but what about the traditional "outs" like a smaller firm or an inhouse position? I'm not sure whether you're implying that you'd only continue to practice if you make partner at your current firm, but by the point where it's a serious possibility, you'd be walking away from (the most direct financial realization of) some very valuable skills if you leave the law. Although I was interested, in a general way, in getting out of law when I was a senior associate at a very large firm (and had no interest in being a partner at a very large firm), I decided that on balance, it wasn't worth the huge paycut to leave the law altogether."

I'm a litigator.  I haven't picked a specialty beyond that, but part of what I'm trying to think through is whether it's OK to pick one of the less practical litigation specialties that is more interesting to me as opposed to one that would give me an easier time transitioning to in-house or a small firm  but that isn't all that interesting.  And I'm leaning towards doing the interesting thing, saving a ton of money, and then just restarting my career if the interesting path doesn't work out.  The thought of doing the uninteresting specialty for 30 years is not super appealing to me.

And actually, I might restart my career in any event.  I originally got into the law as a way of going into the government--but now that looks really unlikely.  I will continue to apply to government jobs over the next few years, but if that doesn't work, I think I likely will just save up a ton and try to move into something different.  My main motivation for going into the government was to help people, but I don't really get that "help people" feeling from being a lawyer at a big firm.  Sure, you help large businesses avoid legal problems--or deal with them when they arise--and in an indirect way, that likely does help people in some sense.  But it's not quite as satisfying.  I really am getting the itch to build something--and that's why I keep coming back to business or something with computers.  (Although I readily admit that I know very little about those paths and might be making them out to be better than they are.  And I'm not sure if I could start over in the tech industry at 35.) 

Also, I just have zero desire for the money after certain expenses are met--and those expenses take nowhere near the income that partners make.

I'm curious--what path did you ultimately take?  Do you think it was the right move?


Kriegsspiel

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2013, 06:24:52 PM »
The military is always hiring more lawyers.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2013, 06:33:35 PM »
"Consider the e-discovery aspect.  We have one lawyer in our office who developed a specialized expertise in e-discovery, which has essentially solidified his position as an non-equity partner in the firm for life if he wants it.  No biz dev required.  If that interests you, that may be the way to go.

Anything you would tell a brand new BigLaw lawyer, finances-wise, anyway?  My plan is not get get caught up in the spendy lifestyle, and hopefully get to FI in 10 years, allowing me to work the hours and develop business if I want, and if I don't, I can do something else.  Right now, I like the work (that granted, I see this much of the big picture at this point who that may be a little naive), and come from a sales background of sorts, so I enjoy the biz dev part of the process (though I conveniently have few biz dev expectations right now as a 1st year).

Thoughts?"

I have thought about e-discovery.  It's also a useful skill if you want to go in-house.  It's boring though.  When I talk about being interested in computers, I'm talking more about writing computer programs, which seems intellectually challenging.  E-discovery, from the standpoint of a practicing lawyer or an in-house litigator, is a lot more like answering the following questions every day:  can we delete these documents?  Where else do we keep relevant documents?  Do we have to search there for X case?  Exciting! 

My advice for you:

(1) Go into transactional if you have the opportunity and don't hate it. You'll open up a lot more doors into the business and in-house arenas.  And you won't lose much in the way of going into the government, since that looks like a tough path at this point and I don't see it changing much in the next 2-3 years.

(2) Work really hard.

(3) Have a great attitude and be nice to everyone. 

(4) Try to get to know the partners and (not quite as good) the senior associates.

(5) Start coming up with a plan for bringing in business so that you can lay the foundation now.  Figure out what you're going to specialize in, join some relevant groups, read the relevant books/blogs/etc., write some articles.

I don't have any great insights on the spending side--the MMM blog posts are good, and there are tons of other websites of course too.  The only semi-unique thing that we face is that all of our law school friends generally start spending like crazy, and you need to kind of wall yourself off from the pressure to match them. Although I think that pressure is reduced a little bit by the fact that you don't need to spend to prove that you're making a lot of money, since everyone knows that we all make roughly the same amount of money anyway given that our salaries are set by class year.

Dee18

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2013, 06:44:40 PM »
Can you tell me more about his situation?  This is one of the reasons I'm interested in AI; I think it's about to revolutionize the legal industry.  Predictive coding seems to be only the beginning; improving legal search will be the next step, and from there I can think of tons of other interesting applications (and there surely are many more that I haven't thought of).  But I'm not sure exactly how this interest would translate into gainful employment--i.e., would I have to go back to school, would I even be useful when compared to someone who knows less about the law but is a natural born programmer/mathmatician, etc.
You are correct that predictive coding is only one component.  From what I understand, ediscovery of huge quantities of documents is becoming a regular practice and predictive coding is the "next step."  Large corporations, such as banks, are beginning to handle this in house for control and cost reasons.  My student is planning to go with a large company for a couple years, but ultimately will probably work as a consultant to law firms to help them through this discovery process.  He reported to me that some law firms also now have their own specialists, who must have a j.d. and significant understanding (though not a degree) of computers.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2013, 07:04:22 PM »
"You are correct that predictive coding is only one component.  From what I understand, ediscovery of huge quantities of documents is becoming a regular practice and predictive coding is the "next step."  Large corporations, such as banks, are beginning to handle this in house for control and cost reasons.  My student is planning to go with a large company for a couple years, but ultimately will probably work as a consultant to law firms to help them through this discovery process.  He reported to me that some law firms also now have their own specialists, who must have a j.d. and significant understanding (though not a degree) of computers."

Yeah, I've seen that too.  I've seen it come in two forms:  partner (equity or not) level lawyers who specialize in counseling clients on e-discovery issues and in-house legal techies, who help litigators figure out how to use all the tech that is proliferating.  As far as I can tell the latter don't usually have law degrees though.

But ... this isn't quite what I'm envisioning for myself.  I think I'd rather be the guy who creates the business that revolutionizes the legal industry.  A tall order, I guess.  But if I'm dreaming up career paths to follow if I don't need money, then why not?


Blindsquirrel

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2013, 08:03:25 PM »
  I would vote either work for the federal government ("My boss prints the money!") as my friend who makes a ton at the CDC says while doing almost nada)  or sue a bunch of people or corporations with money.  Only need to win one big one to be set.

oldtoyota

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2013, 08:40:23 PM »
You mentioned the MBA degree. I have thought on and off about the same degree. My dream program costs $90K. I have not been able to get motivated to spend that sort of money. I have calculated how long it would take me to pay back the money--and how much interest would cost--against the uncertainty of how much it would increase my income, and I can't justify the expense.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2013, 09:23:53 PM »
You mentioned the MBA degree. I have thought on and off about the same degree. My dream program costs $90K. I have not been able to get motivated to spend that sort of money. I have calculated how long it would take me to pay back the money--and how much interest would cost--against the uncertainty of how much it would increase my income, and I can't justify the expense.

Yeah, I know there are a lot of drawbacks to the MBA.  I've read online that a lot of MBA grads struggle to find jobs.  And there is a big drawback that is a little unique to me:  b-schools are reportedly reluctant to admit practicing attorneys, especially litigators--even ones who have good stats.  The other alternative for me would be to try to move to transactional law, which can often be a springboard for business.  But for me that would likely mean changing cities (which would also mean selling our house), changing law firms, and taking a pay/seniority cut.  So ... it might be possible, but not something I'd take lightly.

Let me ask one question for MMM forum members, since I'm guessing there are a lot of software types here.  Is it possible to start a career in software engineering at 35-40?  I would have a family at that point, so I wouldn't want to live in Silicon Valley (cost too high) and would likely not be interested in 100-hour weeks (remember, this is me thinking about careers for a world in which I don't need the money).  Also, at this stage in my life I have little in the way of relevant experience--I haven't, for example, been coding on the side while going through law school.  I did take AP computer science and also learned a little BASIC when I was a kid.  But that's about it.  And I'm not someone who is really super-passionate about computers for their own sake--it's more that I see how software is being applied in the world and like the idea of being able to create software that handles complex problems (as described in articles like this:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576512250915629460.html).

Also--and this is going to sound really silly--back when I had free time and played videogames, I was really impressed with how users could create programs that would make games better in various ways.  For some reason, the thing that impressed me the most was user-interface improvements.  And as apps have become more important and sophisticated, I really think it's interesting how people can create apps to improve others' quality of life.  For example, I like how there something like 50 apps that help you become a better runner.  I would really take great pleasure in building an app like that, since I would enjoy creating a product that a community would find useful--especially if the community shares my goals or interests in some way. 

For example, what if I did some kind of accelerated degree in computer science (like this:  http://engineeringonline.ncsu.edu/PS/CPC.html) and taught myself programming on the side?   Would I be able to make myself employable after about 2-3 years?
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 09:52:02 PM by Aigeus »

ScubaAZ

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2013, 10:01:48 PM »
"My advice for you:

(1) Go into transactional if you have the opportunity and don't hate it. You'll open up a lot more doors into the business and in-house arenas.  And you won't lose much in the way of going into the government, since that looks like a tough path at this point and I don't see it changing much in the next 2-3 years.

(2) Work really hard.

(3) Have a great attitude and be nice to everyone. 

(4) Try to get to know the partners and (not quite as good) the senior associates.

(5) Start coming up with a plan for bringing in business so that you can lay the foundation now.  Figure out what you're going to specialize in, join some relevant groups, read the relevant books/blogs/etc., write some articles.

I don't have any great insights on the spending side--the MMM blog posts are good, and there are tons of other websites of course too.  The only semi-unique thing that we face is that all of our law school friends generally start spending like crazy, and you need to kind of wall yourself off from the pressure to match them. Although I think that pressure is reduced a little bit by the fact that you don't need to spend to prove that you're making a lot of money, since everyone knows that we all make roughly the same amount of money anyway given that our salaries are set by class year.

Thanks, Aigeus.  Good luck to you!

Alex in Virginia

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2013, 05:52:32 AM »
Dear Aigeus...

I'll tell you what I did at about that age.

I was a corporate marketing and sales manager.  In working my way up, I had also become a workforce manager, ending up with about 12 people reporting to me.  Along the way, I had also become skilled in writing news releases and newsletters.  Long story short, I burned out like a bad lightbulb on the job I had at the time.  Couldn't stand it any more.  Switched companies and it did not get any better for me.  I needed a drastic alternative.

I looked into myself to identify life areas of strong interest to me.  Once I managed to do that (and how long it took and how I did it is a story for another day), then I looked at my skillset and arrived at a job description that matched my interest areas and my hirable "talents."  Then I went out and got a job to fit.

In my case, I ended up managing a nonprofit dedicated to marine conservation.  I got all charged up again.  Kept charged up for 20 years.  Then I burnt out again.  At that point, however, I had piled up a stash that allowed me to walk away.

Maybe you can do something similar.  Maybe easier.  You've got legal skills and a liberal arts education.  Lots of ways to match that skillset to life interests.

So... good luck!

Alex in Virginia

shadowmoss

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2013, 09:10:21 AM »
If being impressed with what you see in the computer industry hasn't motivated you to go to your computer and start learning how to write code, at least short scripts, then I'd say you will have a difficult time getting into coding.  It is something you pretty much have to really like, enough to figure out on your own.  If you 'think' you would like to learn to code, there are many different free courses online.  Start a blog and figure out how to use CSS and HTML to make it unique.  If that doesn't sound interesting to you, or if the online courses seem boring, my advice is not to plan on suddenly becoming a master coder at 35.

Just my $.02 as someone who works in the computer industry and is tired of people thinking it is an easy path to riches when they don't care enough to learn it on their own.

plantingourpennies

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2013, 10:59:46 AM »
Quote from: plantingourpennies link=topic=5286.msg80066#msg80066
Buckle down and learn how to sell.

I'm not the OP, but have been thinking about this for a while. I make good money as a software designer / implementer, but if I got good at selling, I think I could probably do a lot better. Do you know of any good resources for learning how to sell?

You could be right! The resources are likely inside your organization already; you might try reaching out to a sales manager and tell them that you are interested in learning more. My two favorite "sales" books are "How I raised myself from failure to success through selling" and "The Art of the Sale." Start with the latter, the former is somewhat of a Ginger talk.

I could go on for days about sales as a career choice. We are all selling-some of us are honest enough to admit it and good enough at it to choose to be rewarded solely on our performance.

JJ-I love the idea of working 100% commission on a start up that I believe in!

Best,
Mr. PoP


Undecided

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2013, 11:51:26 AM »
I'm curious--what path did you ultimately take?  Do you think it was the right move?

PM sent.

Jack

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2013, 01:21:04 PM »
The ideas I am kicking around now...working as a local politician (i.e., like city council)

I don't think you'd fare well in politics if you're not a people person, given that the only job qualification for a politician that matters is "ability to get elected."

I sympathize, by the way: I'd like to run for city council too, but I don't think I have a chance either.

Southern Dude

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2013, 11:05:07 PM »
Aigeus, awesome post. Sorry, I donít have a good answer for you. In fact, Iím in a very similar situation, and am searching for the answer myself.

I'm 35 and a corporate lawyer with a large law firm. I dislike my job for a variety of reasons, and the only reason I go to work every day is to collect a paycheck. The upside is that I am in a good place financially. I'm debt free and have assets (mostly stocks and bonds) worth roughly $350k. The downside is that I know this is not what I want to do with my life, and every day that goes by I feel like I'm just wasting my precious time in the rat race.

My plan is to move on in the first or second quarter of next year. At that point my warchest will probably be up to $450k. I'm single and am not tied to any particular place, so I have a bit of freedom. The problem is that I have no idea what to do next. I begin to feel anxious if I feel like I'm not working towards a goal or doing something engaging, so I need to figure out a plan.

I enjoy creative activities that involve building things or solving problems. When I was in college, back when the internet was just blasting off, I enjoyed designing websites. I could log hours in front of the computer, sometimes forgetting to eat or even use the restroom, working on projects in early versions of Flash and Dreamweaver. I sometimes get this feeling in my legal work. For example I (somewhat) enjoy drafting custom contracts that meet the needs of a particular transaction. The problem is that there is so much other bullshit that you have to put up with, especially in a law firm setting. I am generally more of a thoughtful introvert than an aggressive go-getter lawyer-type, so I don't see myself succeeding in this environment, or enjoying my life even if I do succeed.

These are the options I'm considering:

1. Regional firm - I could move to a smaller market (like my hometown in South Texas) and try and join a regional firm. I think with a regional firm I might be exposed to more of a variety of hopefully interesting projects and generally enjoy a less-stressful career as a lawyer. I could use this as a stepping stone to something in-house for a local company, or to solo practice. I think this is the conservative option. Less likely to substantially increase my happiness, but not a bad move career-wise.

2. Government Work - I could try and find an interesting public sector job, such as working as a prosecutor or public defender or city attorney. I would take a huge pay cut, but I might be able to get fired up and passionate about the work. Also, I don't have any litigation experience, so I could expand my legal skill-set. The downside of this option is that there's a huge risk that I will not enjoy the work. At the end of the day it may probably end up as just another tedious, and lesser-paid, slog that requires dealing with asshole lawyers all day.

3. Solo Practitioner - I could try and set up my own small shop in a smaller market, maybe work out of my house and try and attract clients on eLance. I think this is a good way to maintain freedom and flexibility. Assuming I get any business, I could only take on matters that are interesting to me, and pursue other projects on the side.

4. Non-law - I could try and find something else I enjoy, outside of the law. This is the option that most intrigues me, but is also the most intimidating. I have no idea where to begin. Real estate, web/graphic design, non-profit work, teaching, FBI agent (fuck yeah!)...someone mentioned home inspection. These all sound like they might be interesting fields, and there are probably a ton of other options that could work. Where do I start?

Maybe a combination of option 3 and option 4 is where it's at. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2013, 09:26:39 PM »
Aigeus, awesome post. Sorry, I donít have a good answer for you. In fact, Iím in a very similar situation, and am searching for the answer myself.

I'm 35 and a corporate lawyer with a large law firm. I dislike my job for a variety of reasons, and the only reason I go to work every day is to collect a paycheck. The upside is that I am in a good place financially. I'm debt free and have assets (mostly stocks and bonds) worth roughly $350k. The downside is that I know this is not what I want to do with my life, and every day that goes by I feel like I'm just wasting my precious time in the rat race.

My plan is to move on in the first or second quarter of next year. At that point my warchest will probably be up to $450k. I'm single and am not tied to any particular place, so I have a bit of freedom. The problem is that I have no idea what to do next. I begin to feel anxious if I feel like I'm not working towards a goal or doing something engaging, so I need to figure out a plan.

I enjoy creative activities that involve building things or solving problems. When I was in college, back when the internet was just blasting off, I enjoyed designing websites. I could log hours in front of the computer, sometimes forgetting to eat or even use the restroom, working on projects in early versions of Flash and Dreamweaver. I sometimes get this feeling in my legal work. For example I (somewhat) enjoy drafting custom contracts that meet the needs of a particular transaction. The problem is that there is so much other bullshit that you have to put up with, especially in a law firm setting. I am generally more of a thoughtful introvert than an aggressive go-getter lawyer-type, so I don't see myself succeeding in this environment, or enjoying my life even if I do succeed.

These are the options I'm considering:

1. Regional firm - I could move to a smaller market (like my hometown in South Texas) and try and join a regional firm. I think with a regional firm I might be exposed to more of a variety of hopefully interesting projects and generally enjoy a less-stressful career as a lawyer. I could use this as a stepping stone to something in-house for a local company, or to solo practice. I think this is the conservative option. Less likely to substantially increase my happiness, but not a bad move career-wise.

2. Government Work - I could try and find an interesting public sector job, such as working as a prosecutor or public defender or city attorney. I would take a huge pay cut, but I might be able to get fired up and passionate about the work. Also, I don't have any litigation experience, so I could expand my legal skill-set. The downside of this option is that there's a huge risk that I will not enjoy the work. At the end of the day it may probably end up as just another tedious, and lesser-paid, slog that requires dealing with asshole lawyers all day.

3. Solo Practitioner - I could try and set up my own small shop in a smaller market, maybe work out of my house and try and attract clients on eLance. I think this is a good way to maintain freedom and flexibility. Assuming I get any business, I could only take on matters that are interesting to me, and pursue other projects on the side.

4. Non-law - I could try and find something else I enjoy, outside of the law. This is the option that most intrigues me, but is also the most intimidating. I have no idea where to begin. Real estate, web/graphic design, non-profit work, teaching, FBI agent (fuck yeah!)...someone mentioned home inspection. These all sound like they might be interesting fields, and there are probably a ton of other options that could work. Where do I start?

Maybe a combination of option 3 and option 4 is where it's at. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Easy--I'd go in house and then try to move to the business side.  That's what I would do if I had a corporate background.  As a litigator, that route is tougher for me.

pbj

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2013, 10:07:02 AM »
Hi Aigeus, first of all, thank you for posting this (I had to read your OP a couple of times to make sure I wasn't writing it!). I'm also a litigator who shares similar sentiments and the responses (particularly about e-discovery) in your thread have really struck a cord.

Have you looked into labor & employment? It seems like that doing lit in that area would be conducive to going in-house.

Please keep us posted as to what you decide!

ScubaAZ - Aigeus has some really good advice. I'm a few years ahead of you, but if you look on my first post on this forum, I had similar questions about FI/finances in biglaw. You may want to check out that thread - it had some really awesome responses.

If I might add to Aigeus's suggestions, to the extent you want to make partner in biglaw, consider how being in the main office (or another office with a large headcount) will greatly help your chances. I say this having practiced in a satellite office before and comparing the experiences of a first year in a very small office (mostly doc review) to that in a large office (going to court/meeting the client in your first 2 weeks at the firm). In addition, the people making the decision for partnership are going to be at HQ/those large offices.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions/want to discuss further.

totoro

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #31 on: May 11, 2013, 10:27:42 AM »
Hey, you have a law degree.  This is a really big asset in whatever you want to do... I would use it.  If you are thinking of spending time and money in school again maybe you should first invest some time and money in developing a niche in law that actually fits you rather than fitting into what you don't like.

I left a law firm to go on my own eight years ago.  I work part-time and make more than I did at my previous firm and I'm quite happy.

Some of the key things for me were understanding myself (motivation, what I wanted my day to look like, how much I wanted to work or not), having a written plan, and having a bit of financial safety net in the form of savings.

I personally hate sales.  I don't do it in the traditional way of competing based on marketing and promotion.  I create value and win:win for clients and then I feel good about working with them.  How do I do this?  I find funding, I innovate and provide service in a more direct and cost-effective manner because I have minimal overhead.   

The bottom line is that law is a big field and you can find a better fit.  Spend some time talking to people who are doing things you would like to do.  Do a vision board.  Come up with a written plan.  Take the steps. 


pbkmaine

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2013, 01:21:02 PM »
First of all, having a JD is an asset. Look at it as such. No need to get your MBA. You already have a graduate degree. Your JD says you are analytical and detail-oriented. These are great traits in many fields. The world is full of JDs who do not work in law firms. There are many consulting firms who would be happy to have your skills. HR and HR consulting has tons of JDs, because contracts and legal requirements are a big part of what they do. But take the advice already given to find out your personality type. If it says you are not a sales type, then don't be a sales type.  Work with who you are.

If you do decide to get better at sales, here's the best advice I can give you. Never eat lunch alone. The best sales people have the best Rolodexes and are really persistent. (By persistent I mean they never give up, not that they annoy you.) Get business cards from everyone you meet. Become active in your college and law school alumni associations.  Help people out. Make connections between others you know. Speak to groups who might need your services. Write columns for the local newspaper or start a blog. Get your name out there.

When you get your name out there, people assume you are an expert. This is useful. The other day I heard a friend tell her financial advisor: "I am going to take Paula's advice instead of yours. She's been on NPR."
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 01:23:22 PM by pbkmaine »

Soccermom2b

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2013, 02:15:45 PM »
if you are interested in the gov't route, I agree with the assertions that it is very difficult to find such a job right now (particularly this year).  However, boomers are retiring in droves (beginning of this year was a boom and due to some changes in retirement rules for sick leave, the end of next year will be the next boom).   Personally, I can't substantiate the statement that we all "make a ton and do nothing" (my experience is just the opposite), and young attorneys (and those new to the gov't) need to be cautious before thinking they have great job security.  As someone told me, "Furlough one year, RIF the next", and generally under RIF regulations, last one in is first one out.

If you can stomach/survive that environment, the thing about working as a lawyer for the gov't is if you don't like (or feel passionate about) the practice of law, your feelings aren't going to change if you work for a firm, or a corporation, or in the gov't.  Gov't jobs are substantially similar to in-house or biglaw work (aside from the whole having to bring business in part).  It really sounds like to me that you have a lot of interest in software and predictive coding, and I'd encourage you to chase that dream. 

if you are interested in the gov't, I'd encourage you to look for jobs in obscure locations (e.g. middle sized/smaller cities located in flyover country).  Get your foot in the door in an agency and there are opportunities to move elsewhere in the gov't a year or three in.  And FBI/law enforcement is always an often-overlooked career choice for JDs.


MMMdude

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2013, 09:46:06 AM »
My husband faced this exact decision 11 years ago, at age 44. He had been in the IT business, very high stress stuff. The job took a huge toll on his health and our family. Fortunately he saw the light and left that particular treadmill before it totally consumed him. Then he was faced with the Big Question: Now what? At first, he looked for other jobs in the same field, but soon realized that if he stayed in the field, it would soon become the same soul-crushing treadmill. So a complete break was needed. But what?
It took many evenings of discussions (and many bottles of wine!), based around the topic of "I can be anything I want to be. What is that?" It was actually a lot of fun to discuss various career options, visualizing the future in each. We talked to many, many friends to get input and insight. We managed to narrow it down to a few important features of a career: first, it had to have variety. Second, it had to help people. Third, it had to identify and solve problems. Fourth, it wouldn't involved long, contracted jobs with the same customer.
One friend looked at the list and said, "You should become a home inspector." And he did, and it's been fantastic. He always says that if he won the lottery he would still do home inspections, only he would hire someone else to do the attics and crawl spaces.
The takeaway from all this is, identify what features your dream job would have, and then find the job that fits those features.

Interesting as i'm an accountant and don't like it. One area ive thought of getting into is home inspections. Dd he start his own company or is working for an inspection company? If he started his own, how did he get clients?

Welmoed

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2013, 12:24:36 PM »
Interesting as i'm an accountant and don't like it. One area ive thought of getting into is home inspections. Dd he start his own company or is working for an inspection company? If he started his own, how did he get clients?

Once he decided on becoming a home inspector, and started with the training class, we sat down and discussed the options. The first was: Go on his own or join a multi-inspector firm? He decided he wanted to have his own company. That led to the next question: Start from scratch or buy a franchise? He elected to start from scratch. Next came: Be independent, or market to realtors? He elected to be independent.
We started with lots of discussions on corporate identity: logo, website, vehicle signage, etc. Told all our friends that this new venture was starting, and made sure to have business cards handy everywhere. It took several years for the business to gain traction, and we had just started to see some healthy income when the real estate market did its nosedive in 2007. The next three years were brutal; the local ASHI chapter lost more than half its members due to companies folding. But it is now turning around again, and we are busier than ever. I got my own home inspector's license in 2011, so we're now officially a multi-inspector firm.
We rely on referrals from past clients, and have a very high rating on Angie's List and a high organic ranking on Google. We are actually not permitted to market to realtors -- can't even buy them donuts! -- because of our membership in the Independent Home Inspectors of North America.
It has been a challenge, and we were fortunate to have a cushion that allowed us to not resort to subsisting on ramen and peanut butter. But the work is great; every day is different, and we have the satisfaction of knowing that our work can save peoples' lives (when we find serious safety defects) and help them be fully aware of the condition of the property they are buying.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2013, 07:50:03 PM »
Hey, you have a law degree.  This is a really big asset in whatever you want to do... I would use it.  If you are thinking of spending time and money in school again maybe you should first invest some time and money in developing a niche in law that actually fits you rather than fitting into what you don't like.

I left a law firm to go on my own eight years ago.  I work part-time and make more than I did at my previous firm and I'm quite happy.

Some of the key things for me were understanding myself (motivation, what I wanted my day to look like, how much I wanted to work or not), having a written plan, and having a bit of financial safety net in the form of savings.

I personally hate sales.  I don't do it in the traditional way of competing based on marketing and promotion.  I create value and win:win for clients and then I feel good about working with them.  How do I do this?  I find funding, I innovate and provide service in a more direct and cost-effective manner because I have minimal overhead.   

The bottom line is that law is a big field and you can find a better fit.  Spend some time talking to people who are doing things you would like to do.  Do a vision board.  Come up with a written plan.  Take the steps.

Would be curious to hear what you did!

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #37 on: May 12, 2013, 07:57:06 PM »
if you are interested in the gov't route, I agree with the assertions that it is very difficult to find such a job right now (particularly this year).  However, boomers are retiring in droves (beginning of this year was a boom and due to some changes in retirement rules for sick leave, the end of next year will be the next boom).   Personally, I can't substantiate the statement that we all "make a ton and do nothing" (my experience is just the opposite), and young attorneys (and those new to the gov't) need to be cautious before thinking they have great job security.  As someone told me, "Furlough one year, RIF the next", and generally under RIF regulations, last one in is first one out.

If you can stomach/survive that environment, the thing about working as a lawyer for the gov't is if you don't like (or feel passionate about) the practice of law, your feelings aren't going to change if you work for a firm, or a corporation, or in the gov't.  Gov't jobs are substantially similar to in-house or biglaw work (aside from the whole having to bring business in part).  It really sounds like to me that you have a lot of interest in software and predictive coding, and I'd encourage you to chase that dream. 

if you are interested in the gov't, I'd encourage you to look for jobs in obscure locations (e.g. middle sized/smaller cities located in flyover country).  Get your foot in the door in an agency and there are opportunities to move elsewhere in the gov't a year or three in.  And FBI/law enforcement is always an often-overlooked career choice for JDs.

I am looking for government jobs--actively actually.  My whole plan with going to law school was to go into the government--the main reason that I'm thinking of leaving the law is that I don't know if I want to stay in the legal field if I *don't* get a government job.

I hear what you're saying about legal practice not being that different in the government vs. out of it--but I actually don't dislike legal work.  On a day-to-day level, I find what I'm doing at least moderately interesting.  The problem is that, at a firm, I don't get the feeling that I'm actually helping society very much.  I don't think big companies are evil, but helping one big company win in a dispute with some other big company does not make me feel like I'm making the world a better place.  Whereas I think I would get that feeling working for the government, at least most of the time.

So the whole reason why I am thinking of leaving the legal field is because I'm worried that I might not get a government job.  And then I start thinking about software, management consulting, etc.  We'll see.  I am actively looking for government jobs; I just know that it's a very tough market out there right now.  Hopefully you are right that things will improve in a year or two though.

Aigeus

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2013, 08:03:22 PM »
Hi Aigeus, first of all, thank you for posting this (I had to read your OP a couple of times to make sure I wasn't writing it!). I'm also a litigator who shares similar sentiments and the responses (particularly about e-discovery) in your thread have really struck a cord.

Have you looked into labor & employment? It seems like that doing lit in that area would be conducive to going in-house.

Please keep us posted as to what you decide!


Yes, I have thought about L&E.  I know it's the best way for a litigator to go in-house.  However, I'm not all that interested in it intellectually.  One of the main reasons why I started this thread was to think through the process of whether I should pick L&E or another, somewhat less practical type of litigation practice.  I wanted to make sure that I could start my career over if I decided to go into the less practical field and failed.  I am strongly leaning towards going into the less practical field.  I think I can at least stick around in BigLaw for another 2-3 years--and maybe another 6-7.  if I can make it 2-3 more years, I'll have enough money to restart my career without worrying too much (i.e., going back to school, taking a lower paying job, or starting a business or something).  If I can make it 6-7 more years, I might be able to early-retire completely.  We'll see.

Thanks for the support, by the way.  This is a great website.  Right now my decision is to stick it out with the more interesting practice area for a while, then look around again and see if I still feel like making a change.  We'll see ...

Tammy

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2013, 11:17:49 PM »
I did exactly this. Spent a decade at home with small children, went back to school at age 30, and got my bachelor in nursing at age 35. That was 16 years ago. Along the way i picked up an MBA as well while working full time. Git the MBA for about 16 grand, paid for as I went, about half covered by employers. The MBA had a part in my career advancements, but that particular degree can be a big gamble. The BSN is what keeps me employed. Healthcare has given me multiple options all through my career, never unemployed, always moving up in income. I have never regretted my decision to get a BSN. I've worked in management, in quality, in patient care, in offices, in hospitals. Twice I took a job with a different employer in order to double my income. I love what I do.

chesebert

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Re: if you had to start your career over at 35, what would you do?
« Reply #40 on: May 13, 2013, 12:07:05 AM »
Second post today after just joining the board--this one on a totally different question (my other post was about caring for aging parents).  I'm a lawyer, and we have this extra fun thing in our careers called "up-or-out," which means that if you can't convince major corporations to trust you (a 30-something with only a few years of experience) with multi-million dollar cases (when they could hire people with three times your experience given that there is a glut for legal talent), you will ultimately lose your job.  Even if you're technically qualified and do good work, at some point firms think it doesn't make sense to keep you on the payroll unless you can bring in business.  Not that I blame them really.  But it's not good for us.

Now I know your first piece of advice is going to be "learn to bring in business" and your second might be "apply the principles of mustachianism, then you can retire by the time the up-or-out problem hits, and you won't have to worry about it."  My response would be that I will try my best to do the former, even though it will be tough since I'm not a natural people person.  And I do take comfort in the fact that I might be able to retire if I'm careful about my finances.  But even if I get to that point, I probably would not want to sit around the house all day without some sort of purpose.  I would likely want to take my 'stache and go back to school, start a business, write, or do something else that at least would make me feel productive.

So my question to you:  If you knew that you were going to be unemployed at about 35-40 with maybe $300-700K in cash saved up and a family to support, and you wanted to change careers, what career would you pick?  Note that I have a liberal arts degree (yay).  The ideas I am kicking around now:  getting an MBA or a BS in engineering or computer science (artificial intelligence is the thing I'm really interested in, although I say that without knowing much about it), teaching myself computer programming, management consulting, blogging, working as a local politician (i.e., like city council), and FBI agent.

In the same boat as you. I aim to have 1.5M by the time I hit the "up or out" phase. I think you can do better than $300-700K if you are making "big law" salary. There are many things you can do with your experience, including, working part time, teach and go in-house, among other things.

I think BS in engineering may be too difficult if you don't have the requisite math skill. I have a BS in EE and it was not easy when I was young and I was good at math, and I bet it will be be very difficult for me now as I am older. I had my fair share of all nighters as an EE major.