Author Topic: Seeking career suggestions for lawyer  (Read 1585 times)

lilactree

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Seeking career suggestions for lawyer
« on: July 06, 2017, 04:28:20 PM »
This question isn't for me, but someone I know, who is a veteran and then went to law school after military service.. He wasn't able to use the educational benefits for law school and has scary 6-figure debt. He graduated at a bad time and hasn't been able to get the valuable experience one needs to build the career. Now he is no longer a "young lawyer", and has a struggling solo practice. At this point he is getting very concerned about his ability to provide for his family (his wife is the main breadwinner). I think part of it has to do with willingness to open up to others he could ask for help or advice. Also is risk averse and not one to "fake it till you make it" (if I am using that phrase correctly). I think he is open to alternative careers but would like to maintain the law license and at least a small niche practice on the side. They live in a high cost area.

Apologies for any typos writing on my phone on the run! I think this community is great and didn't want to put off asking for feedback from you.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Seeking career suggestions for lawyer
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2017, 04:46:31 PM »
From my lawyer friend, heard lots of stories of struggling lawyers. Very common.  Your pal's gonna have to take action, this isn't a problem that solves itself. 

From such discussions, some quick ideas:
1) Prosecutor and public defender offices.  The latter especially are low on the totem pole, but there's work.  At least some.
2) Get advice from vet groups/offices/networks. 
3) Have friend get on MMM forum and ask Nords.
4) The "real" money, other than to get high dollar work at law firms where he appears to have missed the bus,
is in specialized work.  Triangulate with any special experience he has.  Labor law related to military preferences?  Labor law where clients are vets?  Criminal cases of vets?  Contact in-house attorneys at companies that have military contracts, seek any outsourcing work that they do?  (Friend's old company used to hire outside counsel periodically, sometimes for simple work they didn't have time to do).
5) Family law is a common area for lawyers who don't have other work.  Could he represents vets in their divorces?
6) Immigration law.  Lots of business in that area.  Traditionally steady work when you're established.  Find firms that do it, ask for either shreds of business or an associate position or mentoring.  Maybe specialize in immigration cases for vets who don't have citizenship yet?  Or those cases of the translators from Iraq/Afghanistan who need asylum due to their heroic service?
7) Get listed through lawyer referral services.
8) Apply at all open attorney positions in governments he can commute to.  Such jobs are rare and not high paying, but usually steady and have benefits.  Many have vet preferences!
9) Re govt jobs, consider workforce commissions/agencies/boards or any govt agencies that hold hearings.  Possibly they have law positions.  Possibly they have hearing officer positions where the hearing officers act like lawyers but don't have to be; as an attorney, he might be competitive for these positions.
10) Find agencies that hire lawyers to do document review in big commercial cases.  Boring low paid work, very common pay-the-bills option for lawyers needing work.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 04:58:07 PM by Bicycle_B »

Nords

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Re: Seeking career suggestions for lawyer
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 09:07:00 AM »
Thanks, Bicycle_B!

This question isn't for me, but someone I know, who is a veteran and then went to law school after military service.. He wasn't able to use the educational benefits for law school and has scary 6-figure debt.
I'm not sure there's any military benefits or programs which can help.  If his loans are federal loans then he might be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but that also requires a total of 120 months (10 years) of payments while employed at a qualifying job.  It's comparatively easy to find a qualifying occupation for PSLF, but the 10 years and federal loan requirement are challenging.

He might be able to work a loan consolidation through a company like SoFi (consolidation might not be a good solution) and he's probably eligible for Income-Based Repayment.  IBR doesn't always get the loan paid, though, especially at higher interest rates.

I get a lot (no, really, I mean a lot) of questions about military divorce.  It's especially complicated regarding military pensions and VA disability benefits.  It's very challenging to negotiate a divorce agreement to account for these issues because the clients are typically ignorant of the vocabulary and the impacts.  If he's not practicing in this area then (at the very least) he should consider starting a blog for the Google AdSense revenue.  Those keywords have pretty high prices.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Seeking career suggestions for lawyer
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 09:49:57 AM »
Did you see that? Lilactree, Nords already identified the perfect niche: divorce law for vets.  Now all your buddy needs to do is bone up on this type of law and and follow up on The blogging suggestion.  Lots of Google/Reddit/etc on every term that is unfamiliar in Nords's reply. 

If he is impatient during initial phase of building up customers, maybe add some study + implementation on the topic of marketing/ how to be a national expert/ how to promote a professional practice.  Good luck. Let us know what happens.

PS. For some reason I wonder if that specialty will have emotional issues for your friend. If so, good luck also on gently getting him to let the opportunity of facing these In order to push himself forward.. My imagination says that tough guys who open up just a tiny bit on that front blossom hugely, becoming civilian leaders for whole platoons of their buddies.  I think Doonesbury had some cool cartoons on that topic. 

ETA:  You can Google "Doonesbury cartoon vet counselor" and a bunch of good hits come up. You could check them out and see if any of them would interest your pal.  Sorry if I'm overstepping here.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 09:55:24 AM by Bicycle_B »

Jrr85

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Re: Seeking career suggestions for lawyer
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 10:38:00 AM »
This question isn't for me, but someone I know, who is a veteran and then went to law school after military service.. He wasn't able to use the educational benefits for law school and has scary 6-figure debt. He graduated at a bad time and hasn't been able to get the valuable experience one needs to build the career. Now he is no longer a "young lawyer", and has a struggling solo practice. At this point he is getting very concerned about his ability to provide for his family (his wife is the main breadwinner). I think part of it has to do with willingness to open up to others he could ask for help or advice. Also is risk averse and not one to "fake it till you make it" (if I am using that phrase correctly). I think he is open to alternative careers but would like to maintain the law license and at least a small niche practice on the side. They live in a high cost area.

Apologies for any typos writing on my phone on the run! I think this community is great and didn't want to put off asking for feedback from you.

How long has he been practicing at this point? 

The reason I ask, is that if he came out of lawschool and hung a shingle, and has been eking by for 3 or 4 years, there's a pretty good chance he's not competent at really anything yet.  He really needs to find somebody he can partner with, even if it's just someone he can take cases to. 

On the other hand, if he's been eking it out for 10 years he's really at the point where he should be getting some traction now.  If he's 35, he might still be struggling because people tend to not trust young attorneys.  If he's 45, I would think continuing to try at this point would be incredibly risky, and he really should try to find a job. 

Regardless, people that have completed lawschool and the bar and generally more than competent to push paper.  Government entities push a lot of paper and a legal background is extremely helpful.  This is what I'd be looking for if I were him.  HR departments push a lot of paper and a legal background is helpful.  Large companies will typically have a compliance department where a legal background is helpful.  ONe challenge he is going to have is that companies and government agencies often poach associates from their outside lawfirm if the job is desirable.  If the job is desirable, there will be some young associates tired of billable hours that are going to be more competitive than him.  But there will be plenty of jobs that pay the bills that are not going to be attractive to young associates. 


anotherone

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Re: Seeking career suggestions for lawyer
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 11:30:59 AM »
a veteran and then went to law school

If he's willing to leave the country for a spell, the combination of a previous military career plus legal training would make for a great legal advisor with an organisation like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 11:32:33 AM by humanemustache »