Author Topic: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?  (Read 1153 times)

ebella

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« on: December 10, 2018, 03:13:00 PM »
I am a lawyer currently working in a short-term position clerking for a federal judge that's up this summer.  Next year I'll be making $97k/yr before taxes/benefits and I owe $83k in federal student loans.  What I thought was a casual networking thing turned into an offer to start at a small firm in January with a salary between 120-140k and possible annual bonus of 10% of that.  So just shy of $160k max.  They also pay 3% of salary into 401k.  It's a small labor and employment firm that relies primarily on 2 clients, 1 in auto parts, which makes me nervous for stability.  Also I want to make $180k, so I can pay off my loan in 1 yr, and be at a larger firm, so I have more exit opportunities when I leave.  I don't want to be a partner at a firm doing this kind of work. I've run the numbers through my spreadsheet and, my current expenses remaining modest and stable (which they will, except maybe property taxes and HOA will go up), I won't be able to pay off the student loan in 1 yr with that salary.
In raw, economic terms this is obviously more money than my current job and taking it will help me pay off my loans faster in the short-term. But I'm not excited about this job and just (as in the last few weeks) started looking elsewhere (at bigger places that pay more).  I'm told I can get more at other firms but I'm worried if I don't jump on this now and wait for other offers, I'll end up with nothing when my term is up in 5-8 months.  But I also worry that I have this tendency to take the first job, or apartment or whatever that I get offered and it's been an unrewarding life trend for me.  I don't want to start this job, and then hate it and have it be another short term job on my resume. But I'm also worried about the economic outlook for job in 2019 and beyond and that is gonna be a bigger and badder recession.
So, given the things I can know (i.e. this job will give me x amount of money and I have x amount of debt and expenses), should I just take the money and leave my current job and keep looking for other jobs with the hope of landing something better?  I am worried the additional money might not outweigh the difficult to quantify potential damage to my resume and goodwill (if I leave my current job early). 

herbgeek

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 03:48:55 PM »
Quote
Also I want to make $180k,

Is this realistic for a position for someone with your experience to make this amount?   Also if you've been clerking, is that directly related experience for a private sector position?

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2903
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2018, 09:17:33 PM »
So you very recently graduated and the clerkship is your first job? Were you going to start applying for jobs next summer?

Quote
But I'm also worried about the economic outlook for job in 2019 and beyond and that is gonna be a bigger and badder recession.

It's unlikely that a great depression/recession like the one that happened in 2008 will happen again in 2019. The stock market will go up and down. But only 2 clients would make me nervous as well.

When I was in grad school for accounting I was offered a job at a non-profit doing accounting. Most people I talked to said it was better to work at an audit firm and I can go work for a smaller company or non-profit down the line. I turned down the non-profit job and started applying to other jobs. I applied to an audit firm that specializes in non-profits/government and got that job. Thank goodness I took that one because it was fall of 2007. The economy did fall apart the next year.
Taking an audit job did make it easier to get other jobs and did give me more options down the line.  On the other hand the non-profit probably would have probably been fine. I still might be there, but instead I got burned out and quit.

The thing about this job offer is that they will probably treat you well. So what do you want ten years from now? Do you aspire to work for big law for 2 or 3 years and then start your own practice? Settle down with a small firm now? If you did could you see yourself in that area of law for a long time? There is no wrong answer here.

I wouldn't worry about whether you can pay off your loan in 1 year vs two years.

Quote
I don't want to be a partner at a firm doing this kind of work.
This is the most important statement.

cchrissyy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 732
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2018, 09:57:48 PM »
wouldn't it reflect badly on you if you leave this clerkship halfway through the year instead of making your move in the summer?

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1605
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 05:19:31 AM »
Assuming I am reading your post correctly and you agreed to clerk for a federal judge for a specific time period, you need to stay at the clerkship until the scheduled departure time. Your reputation is your most valuable asset and leaving a federal judge in the lurch is not a good way to begin a legal career.

hoodedfalcon

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
  • Location: Deep and Dirty
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 06:11:52 AM »
Echoing the sentiment that leaving a federal clerkship is not a good idea. You are just starting out your legal career and you will find that your reputation can make or break you. I am surprised a local firm would even suggest ditching a clerkship especially if there is any chance you would appear before that judge or in federal court, which makes me wonder about them. You need to look at the big picture here. And trust me, I get the money bit. I am many years out as a public interest lawyer and I still have every dime of federal student loan I left law school with (waiting for PSLF) but I wouldn't be where I am now without some valuable relationships with some heavy hitters in the legal community.

ebella

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 08:25:07 AM »
Quote
Also I want to make $180k,

Is this realistic for a position for someone with your experience to make this amount?   Also if you've been clerking, is that directly related experience for a private sector position?

It depends.  I have peers with similar credentials making less and making more and recruiters have told me it's not unreasonable.  It just depends on the size of the firm; it's unreasonable at a firm of that size though. So it's not like I can negotiate a higher offer.  I think partners there only make 200k

ebella

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 08:30:41 AM »
So you very recently graduated and the clerkship is your first job? Were you going to start applying for jobs next summer?

I graduated in 2014.  I worked for a small firm right out of law school and was let go when the partners split, which really set my career back. Then I clerked with a federal judge who retired due to health reasons, then I got this clerkship.  So my resume lacks consistency; I've never been anywhere more than 18 months and, although it's through no fault of my own, it makes my resume look weak and I don't want to be at another place that's just a gap filler and have even more hopping around on there.


I wouldn't worry about whether you can pay off your loan in 1 year vs two years.

Quote
I don't want to be a partner at a firm doing this kind of work.
This is the most important statement.

Yeah I am just not jazzed about representing their clients. My goal is to one day go to a non-profit or govt so representing anti-union low-wage employers might jeopardize that.

ebella

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 08:32:41 AM »
Echoing the sentiment that leaving a federal clerkship is not a good idea. You are just starting out your legal career and you will find that your reputation can make or break you. I am surprised a local firm would even suggest ditching a clerkship especially if there is any chance you would appear before that judge or in federal court, which makes me wonder about them. You need to look at the big picture here. And trust me, I get the money bit. I am many years out as a public interest lawyer and I still have every dime of federal student loan I left law school with (waiting for PSLF) but I wouldn't be where I am now without some valuable relationships with some heavy hitters in the legal community.

Do you feel like you'll get PSLF though?  FedLoan recently did some sketchy shit on my payments (capitalized interest after I recertified) and if govt runs out of money.....  I just don't know if I can rely on it.  That's the only reason I'm considering law firms.

hoodedfalcon

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
  • Location: Deep and Dirty
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 08:48:07 AM »
Echoing the sentiment that leaving a federal clerkship is not a good idea. You are just starting out your legal career and you will find that your reputation can make or break you. I am surprised a local firm would even suggest ditching a clerkship especially if there is any chance you would appear before that judge or in federal court, which makes me wonder about them. You need to look at the big picture here. And trust me, I get the money bit. I am many years out as a public interest lawyer and I still have every dime of federal student loan I left law school with (waiting for PSLF) but I wouldn't be where I am now without some valuable relationships with some heavy hitters in the legal community.

Do you feel like you'll get PSLF though?  FedLoan recently did some sketchy shit on my payments (capitalized interest after I recertified) and if govt runs out of money.....  I just don't know if I can rely on it.  That's the only reason I'm considering law firms.

At this point, I have 29 months to go for PSLF. I spent the majority of the last ten years making between 40-60K. I just paid off my private loans last year, so it's not like I would have been able to pay the federal loans (90K) off before now anyway. What I am doing is saving the equivalent of what I owe, so if PSLF hits the fan, I will simply pay off the loans. However, I would think hard if I was a recent grad about entering into PSLF now. If I was making the amount you are making, just pay off the loans. Unless you are a die-hard public interest person (I always knew it would be public interest for me, but PSLF didn't exist until after I graduated so it was a happy turn of events). I max out my 401K and get my MAGI as low as possible to minimize payments. But even now, 10+ years post graduation, I am not making what you are making in your clerkship.

And if you are planning on going non-profit, it may be difficult to transition if your history is representing adverse interests. I have been in charge of hiring, and trust me, law firm folks generally have a hard time getting in the door of a non-profit and are not taken seriously as applicants (at least in my experience). With gov't it won't matter so much. Just something to think about. Depends on your market as well, of course.

historienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 346
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 12:52:28 PM »
Am I reading you right that the firm wants you to leave your federal clerkship early to start?  Don't do that. Multiple reasons, including:
1 - it will burn bridges with the single most important line on your CV right now
2 - it will be read as unprofessional to most future legal employers, and
3 - it is far enough outside the norms of legal professionalism that you should probably take it as a red flag about the potential employer

If they are willing to wait until the clerkship is over, that's another question entirely, although I'd still be concerned that they asked you to leave early.   But don't leave the clerkship early for anything short of your absolute dream job.

ebella

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2018, 12:18:19 PM »
yea, I took the advice and wrote this:

"Sorry it's taken me awhile to get back to you; I've been thinking long and hard about whether it's possible to leave my clerkship in January and I just can't leave any earlier than April, and certainly not as early as January (or before we complete the next motions list).  My relationship with Judge and co-clerk is too important to me and I know how insane the docket's been for them the last few years and, now that they finally have a handle on it, I don't want to jeopardize that for them or my (or your firm's) long-term relationship with the Court.
I don't know what this means in terms of the offer and I would never ask you to hold it for me until Judge finds my replacement.  I tried to call you just now to discuss but decided to email you so that I could let you know right away (in case you need to find someone for January).  I'm sorry that your timing needs and Judge's don't match up at this point, but please let me know if you'd still be interested in hiring me after April.
Thank you so much"

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1605
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2018, 07:40:26 PM »
You said earlier that your clerkship ends in the summer.  How many full months will you have worked in April?

ebella

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2018, 12:28:26 PM »
You said earlier that your clerkship ends in the summer.  How many full months will you have worked in April?

Of this job?  almost 2 full years.  But I talked to the firm yesterday and they understood; they said they couldn't guarantee a job later in April but I should get back with them in February because they still want me to work there.  It would just really screw my coworker and judge over if I left now and I'm not 100% sure this is the job I want so I felt like the relationship/reputational damage of leaving early wasn't worth it

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1605
Re: Take first (and low/not ideal) unexpected job offer or wait?
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2018, 05:24:23 AM »
I think you are smart to wait until you have completed your two years.  As a federal law clerk you should have plenty of opportunities.