Author Topic: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?  (Read 3800 times)

barrelomonkeys

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BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« on: September 16, 2017, 08:26:55 PM »
Hi there Mustachians,

I have a sister and brother-in-law whom I adore, but who just can't seem to get on top of things financially.  They have 4 kids (ages 10, 7, 5, and 2), live in a 4 bdrm/2 bath house (worth $180k, payment is ~$950/month), and they have virtually no net worth. 

Sister met BIL as he was finishing a master's in TESOL (he got his undergrad in Chinese), and he spent 3 years overseas teaching English, where they pretty much broke even.  Wanting to be able to support a big family, he went to law school, racked up $225k (borrowed from my parents), and has taken the bar at least 3 times and failed (just found out about failing the bar this last July a few days ago).  BIL is smart, but has never been a great test taker.  He is totally heartbroken.

When he failed the bar the first time, he lost his post-grad law job and has been selling insurance (particularly whole life) ever since (for the last 3+ years).  The pay is poor and extremely variable--often not enough to make ends meet.  I'm not surprised, though, since I don't believe in whole life insurance at all.  He is turning 40 this year, and my sis is turning 36, but in the thick of being a mom (she doesn't have a very marketable set of skills other than teaching piano).

I HATE to see them suffer like this.  They are the kind of people that will give you the shirt off of their backs, so it sucks to see them hurting/stressed so much financially. 

What would you guys do?  Retake the bar in a few months?  It would be a shame to "waste" that law school degree, but it also takes a whole lot of time to study that could be put to more productive ends.  Anyone else been through this? 

maizeman

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2017, 08:37:09 PM »
Does he get numerical data on how close he is to passing? Being off by a couple of questions is probably different from being off by a mile.

Another option would be to move to a state with an easier bar exam. Start on page #3 (numbers at page 16) in this PDF: http://www.ncbex.org/pdfviewer/?file=%2Fdmsdocument%2F205 generally a higher percent of people passing the bar means an easier exam.
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barrelomonkeys

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2017, 08:51:33 PM »
It's a good idea, but he is already in the easiest state (passage rate is 78%).  He hasn't taken the bar for a few years, and he was 10 points away.  The last time he took it, he was ridiculously close (5 points away).  So close!! 

I failed to mention he has a knack for languages.  He speaks Chinese and Danish fluently, and he's pretty darn good at German and Spanish.  Too bad it doesn't pay...

CU Tiger

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2017, 05:27:42 AM »
How about looking for work in a law firm/corporation as a paralegal or offering himself as someone who speaks four languages and has a law degree... I have to believe he could do better than selling insurance.

He has skills/knowledge that would make him valuable, even without passing the bar.
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Hula Hoop

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2017, 06:39:06 AM »
I would say just forget being  a lawyer but then there's that huge law school debt.  It would be hard to pay that back with 4 kids as an English teacher.  Does your sister have a well paying job at least?

One thing he might think about with all that international experience and Chinese skills is the foreign service - although I've heard that with the current administration they're not really hiring.

I passed the bar exam on my first try without bar/bri (too expensive) but doubt I would have passed if I'd done it after my kids were born.  It was an extremely intense couple of months of studying.  I have a friend who failed repeatedly who ended up becoming a real estate agent.  But she didn't have law school debt.

Nowadays, the legal job market is not what it was when I finished law school.  I've heard that it' very hard to find that first job and I imagine it would be even harder if he has failed the bar exam repeatedly.  That would be hard to explain away in a tough job market.  Sorry.

Laura33

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2017, 07:25:18 AM »
If he's that close, committing to a paid study course and re-trying is always an option.  But if he's failed multiple times and graduated several years ago, not sure that will really lead to a high-paying job anyway.  More likely he will end up working for a lower-pay position or hang out his own shingle.

For immediate cash, I agree that a paralegal job at a big firm is a good idea.  And then he can keep selling insurance in his spare time.
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CheapScholar

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2017, 08:30:41 AM »
Sounds to me like a really bad situation.  I'm a JD but never took the bar myself.  You need to understand that as a country we produce more than twice the number of JDs that we need.  I know you say BIL is smart, but the legal market is still tough and 40 year olds who failed the bar 3 times aren't  exactly in high demand.  Even if he does finally pass, I doubt he will ever have a decent legal career.

I ended up working as a policy analyst (think tank) and now work in higher ed.  I was lucky that I found lucrative work that I love, and I only had about 75k in law loans and have since paid most of those off.

My advice for you BIL:  Apply to a lot of (non-lawyer) federal jobs on USAJOBS.  Try to find something remotely interesting at an agency he can move up in.  File for income based repayment and hope to have these loans taken care of by age 55.  As you already know, this situation is very bad.  My heart goes out to him.  He wanted to do something to help support a big family but he actually stepped in a bear trap.  Hope he figures something out.

FireLane

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2017, 09:16:49 AM »
I failed to mention he has a knack for languages.  He speaks Chinese and Danish fluently, and he's pretty darn good at German and Spanish.  Too bad it doesn't pay...

It doesn't? Whether or not he decides to retake the bar, I would think he could find work as an interpreter or at a translation agency. Especially with Chinese. There ought to be demand for that, I know people who make a living that way.

LeRainDrop

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2017, 09:24:18 AM »
It's statistically unlikely for someone who has failed the bar exam multiple times to subsequently pass it, but it can be done.  And that massive debt hanging over his head from law school, oh man, I wouldn't want to be in his position :-(

Has he taken the Barbri bar exam prep course?  It is expensive, but it is well worth it.  This is basically what "everyone" from top-to-good law schools takes before taking the exam.  It really helped me to have that system for organizing and studying the huge amount of subject matter that a candidate needs to know for the exam.  There are lots of tips, tricks, practice questions, etc.  For someone having so much trouble passing, but who is smart, like your BIL, this well-organized system of studying could be the key.

Hula Hoop

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2017, 10:01:06 AM »
Sounds to me like a really bad situation.  I'm a JD but never took the bar myself.  You need to understand that as a country we produce more than twice the number of JDs that we need.  I know you say BIL is smart, but the legal market is still tough and 40 year olds who failed the bar 3 times aren't  exactly in high demand.  Even if he does finally pass, I doubt he will ever have a decent legal career.

I ended up working as a policy analyst (think tank) and now work in higher ed.  I was lucky that I found lucrative work that I love, and I only had about 75k in law loans and have since paid most of those off.

My advice for you BIL:  Apply to a lot of (non-lawyer) federal jobs on USAJOBS.  Try to find something remotely interesting at an agency he can move up in.  File for income based repayment and hope to have these loans taken care of by age 55.  As you already know, this situation is very bad.  My heart goes out to him.  He wanted to do something to help support a big family but he actually stepped in a bear trap.  Hope he figures something out.

I agree with the advice to apply for federal jobs but if the loan is to your parents rather than normal student loans I'm not sure if he will be able to take advantage of federal government income based repayment etc.

This is so painful to read as it really sounds like he made a huge mistake going to law school when it was that expensive since these day law school no longer guarantees a well paying job.  I know lots of law school grads who passed the bar who are doing very badly paid legal temp work etc.

How prestigious a law school did he go to and how good were his grades?  Maybe he could do like CheapScholar and just say "I'm not taking the bar as that's not my interest" and instead go for non legal jobs. Maybe some kind of federal job as Cheapscholar said.  Are there any where they need Chinese skills and/or you get posted to China?

Kwill

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2017, 10:17:13 AM »
If nothing else, you could introduce your sister and brother-in-law to this site and help them learn to live on less.

Maybe BIL should start looking at any available jobs for smart, multi-lingual people anywhere, even if it means relocating. Maybe start doing informational interviews with people whose jobs sound interesting. I found What Color is Your Parachute helpful. An administrative job at a college / university wouldn't necessarily pay well, but it could be stable and could provide free or greatly reduced tuition to the children. A law librarian job might be difficult to get without a library degree, but the combination of a law degree and multiple foreign languages would help.

bridget

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2017, 10:21:06 AM »
Normally, I would agree with the other posters that with little legal experience since graduating, he is unlikely to get a good job as a lawyer anyway.  BUT, if he can stomach the work and goes to a city where there is demand, there is good document review money for people who have the combination of a law license and language skills. For one of my investigations recently, I needed to hire 10 Portuguese-speaking contract attorneys to review documents full time for 3 months. I was told that there were a few other cases that were sucking up all the Portuguese speakers, and I either needed to raise the per hour rate substantially and get in a bidding war (already paying a higher rate for CAs with language skills) or move the review from D.C. to NYC.

This isn't a cure-all, but IF your BIL failed by a small margin, can commit to pay for bar help and commit a lot of time and resources, and IF the idea of a career of doc review using language skills appeals to him ... that could be a good career option that requires a law license.

crimwell

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2017, 10:37:26 AM »
^^and some document review contract jobs don't require bar membership. The language skills are particularly important to finding the rare high paying ones


Do they live anywhere near a major military base or other federal job source? Someone already mentioned usajobs, but in particular I can say that there is huge demand for contract specialists in the government. These are not necessarily high level jobs that would only be found in think tanks in northern Virginia and DC. It's a business type job that requires a college business/accounting/economics/pre-law degree normally (tbh a lot of it is low level stuff that a high school grad could do, but the job has qualification requirements) but having a jd would make him competitive for such a position. There is a lot of turnover in these jobs in my experience because the job sucks (but also because it trains in skills that are in demand in other government and contractor jobs) but it pays quite decently especially in low cost of living areas.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2017, 02:13:57 PM »
File for income based repayment and hope to have these loans taken care of by age 55.
I believe the OP's brother-in-law borrowed money from family to pay for law school, so income based repayment is probably not an option.

shelivesthedream

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2017, 02:27:40 PM »
Your BIL has not been very smart. He doesn't have any money and is not good at taking tests - so what does he do? He takes out MASSIVE, VAST, COLOSSAL loans to do a course whose entire worth rides on a big test at the end of it.

I concur with other posters who have said that genuine language fluency pays very well. That is his major skill right now, especially having lived abroad and having some cultural experience. He needs to realise what an asset he has, ditch the law (except as a generic "I have a degree") and start looking fo jobs in sales or communications for companies with an international footprint.

He also needs to read MMM and cut his expenses. But doesn't everyone?

CheapScholar

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2017, 02:29:25 PM »
OP, if your parents can afford to lend him $225K to attend law school, can they afford to forgive him of the debt altogether?  That might be his only way out of this dumpster fire.

Hula Hoop

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2017, 02:43:31 PM »
Not only does the entire worth of the degree depend on a giant test at the end but tests throughout law school determine your class ranking and thus your employability. 

Poor guy and poor kids.  I hope that they have enough to pay for expenses now at least while he takes the bar exam over and over and aren't going into more debt.  Does your sister have a decent income?

With 4 kids it's true that you need a good income but it's been all over the news that law school is no longer the golden ticket.

Kwill

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2017, 03:10:52 PM »
I concur with other posters who have said that genuine language fluency pays very well. That is his major skill right now, especially having lived abroad and having some cultural experience. ...

Language skills plus a specialty (law, engineering, computer science, etc.) can pay well. Language skills by themselves are hit or miss and often not well compensated at all.

If he was 5 points from passing (out of how many total points?), maybe it's worth it to do lots of practice tests, work through a guide, review what he missed if possible, talk it through with friends who've been successful, and take it one more time when he feels ready. The job search shouldn't wait for the exam pass, though.

Goldielocks

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2017, 04:08:41 PM »
OP,  all you can do is buy him a beer, have a listening ear, and step back.

For BIL,  one area for his skillset is as a buyer for a large international corporation.   Buyers at Fortune 100 size companies can make a lot of money ($80k to $150k) because they negotiate for their pay so well (it is the skillset, after all).  Language skills?  Check.  Ability to negotiate? Check.  Ability to keep emotions out of it?  Check.  Ability to understand contracts?  Check.


barrelomonkeys

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2017, 07:21:58 AM »
Wow, really interesting to read the posts.  Yeah, law school seems boring as heck to me, so until seeing my BIL go through all of this, I didn't know that it wasn't really the golden ticket to the six figures. 

It's true that it's not me, so I can't do all that much, but he does tend to listen to our advice, so I wanted to have any lawyer mustachian input that I could get.  I will definitely mention some of those possibilities when I see them this weekend.  I think he was hoping to pair his language skill in Chinese with law.

Holy cow, though, so much debt/risk all riding on one huge test at the end.  And CA has a 40% pass rate!!!  I really don't understand the draw to law school...

As an aside, my parents are also incredibly generous people, and their mantra is to never lend anything out with the expectation of getting it back.  I think BIL desperately wants to pay it back, but my parents aren't expecting it.


Laura33

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2017, 07:36:02 AM »
Well, he could certainly look for legal translation services -- I just don't know how much those pay.  I imagine most firms with a big Chinese business have native speakers on staff to manage those types of things, so I don't know whether he could find a specific full-time position doing that.  But there are a number of translation services that may have openings, or he could do it on his own as a side business -- I would think his knowledge of legal terminology and concepts would help set him apart a bit.

I just don't know if the pay is going to be sufficient to tackle that massive debt.
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Fishindude

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2017, 07:54:25 AM »
At 40 years old after multiple failures, it's probably time to give up the lawyer dream and just knuckle down at something that will give him the best chance at earning a decent living.  Some good suggestions in these responses, but ultimately it's up to BIL to grow up and get a handle on his situation.   It's been my experience that someone in this situation is very unlikely to take any constructive advice anyway.   

Freedomin5

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2017, 08:53:47 AM »
If he is fluent in Chinese, another area to consider is immigration law...or in non-lawyer speak, helping Chinese people get their documents in order so that they can come to the U.S. He may not be able to do the actual law stuff without a degree, but he can make a TON of money helping wealthy Chinese come over on business visas, or the wealthy visa -- I can't remember it's name (I'm not a lawyer), but it's the one you get when you have a ton of money and you basically buy your visa to a developed country. Oh right, I think they call it an investment visa or something like that. It's a complicated process, especially if English is not your first language and you don't fully understand the detailed application process and instructions, so many Chinese people find it overwhelming. Many people also get turned away at the consulate because they're missing documents. Having someone guide them through the process is likely something a lot of wealthy Chinese would pay for. I know at least a few Chinese-speaking non-lawyers who work in the visa/immigration field helping companies and individuals with visas and other types of official documentation. It can be a very lucrative business.

Also, your sister does have a marketable skill. I'm assuming she speaks American-accented English. Why not teach English online, part-time, to (mainly Chinese) kids for $20-$30 per hour?

CheapScholar

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2017, 10:53:16 AM »
Your parents can just write off a 225K personal loan?

Do you have any other sisters who might be single?  Asking for a friend.

ringer707

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2017, 11:38:08 AM »
I second that he needs to hang up the lawyer as a career dreams. He will not be marketable even once passing the bar. I had a friend who took the bar twice and failed both times and she is now a paralegal for my state's attorney general. I think it would be worth it to encourage him to look into this. Many people like to hire experienced paralegals (for obvious reasons) but he may be able to sub in his law school experience for that. If not, he could start at a smaller firm and work his way up. If he's in an area with Big Law firms, some of those paralegal positions can be very well paid.

freeatlast

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2017, 01:50:49 PM »
Insurance companies hire J.D.'s to serve as liability adjusters to manage litigation for complex claims - fraud, employment cases etc....  The pay is pretty good and most companies don't require an active bar membership. Also, I found that Universities also hire lots of J.D.'s for various kinds of work - union labor relations, HR, etc.... There's many jobs where being able to understand the law comes in handy.  I wish him the best of luck!

LaineyAZ

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2017, 04:26:48 PM »
....  one area for his skillset is as a buyer for a large international corporation.   Buyers at Fortune 100 size companies can make a lot of money ($80k to $150k) because they negotiate for their pay so well (it is the skillset, after all).  Language skills?  Check.  Ability to negotiate? Check.  Ability to keep emotions out of it?  Check.  Ability to understand contracts?  Check.

Second this.  I retired from a megacorp which liked to hire those with legal education for the contract department.  Definitely check that out.

human

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2017, 05:57:27 PM »
Paralegals aren't exactly well paid. I think everyone suggesting something with respect to his language fluency are fooling themselves, he would have to work for a lawyer and and immigration lawyers are not well known for paying their staff well at all. Unless the U.S. has Immigration Consultants like in Canada I really think the Immigration angle will be just a dead end unless he passes the bar. Having all these languages are good if you are a lawyer, in real estate, investment etc. not so much if you don't have those skills.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 05:59:27 PM by human »

Hadilly

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2017, 06:37:24 PM »
I know a lot about teaching music lessons and making money. Would be happy to chat about it if your sister is interested.

Laura33

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2017, 08:27:59 PM »
Paralegals aren't exactly well paid. I think everyone suggesting something with respect to his language fluency are fooling themselves, he would have to work for a lawyer and and immigration lawyers are not well known for paying their staff well at all. Unless the U.S. has Immigration Consultants like in Canada I really think the Immigration angle will be just a dead end unless he passes the bar. Having all these languages are good if you are a lawyer, in real estate, investment etc. not so much if you don't have those skills.

Our paralegals make mid-to-high 5 figures.

And I would advise him to focus the translation idea on business documents -- contracts, leases, etc. -- for international companies, or law firms who serve those companies. 

At this point, he needs to follow the money.  And the money is most often with large corporate entities who need your services to help them make even more money.
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human

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #30 on: September 18, 2017, 08:32:28 PM »
Paralegals aren't exactly well paid. I think everyone suggesting something with respect to his language fluency are fooling themselves, he would have to work for a lawyer and and immigration lawyers are not well known for paying their staff well at all. Unless the U.S. has Immigration Consultants like in Canada I really think the Immigration angle will be just a dead end unless he passes the bar. Having all these languages are good if you are a lawyer, in real estate, investment etc. not so much if you don't have those skills.

Our paralegals make mid-to-high 5 figures.

And I would advise him to focus the translation idea on business documents -- contracts, leases, etc. -- for international companies, or law firms who serve those companies. 

At this point, he needs to follow the money.  And the money is most often with large corporate entities who need your services to help them make even more money.

Like I said not much, I'm guessing the high five figures come after quite a few years and he still has the whopping 225k to pay off. Not exactly a great return.

human

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #31 on: September 18, 2017, 08:37:53 PM »
Oh and big firms would outsource the translation of documents to translation companies who have real translators on staff is this guy an actual translator or just have a good grasp of the language?

I find a lot of the suggestions we see in these types of threads are too pie in the sky. The magical legal translation job without a degree in translation or a law degree is not going to happen. He either needs to be a lawyer or a translator. I've managef legal translation projects so I have some experience.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 08:40:49 PM by human »

Laura33

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #32 on: September 18, 2017, 09:05:09 PM »
Paralegals aren't exactly well paid. I think everyone suggesting something with respect to his language fluency are fooling themselves, he would have to work for a lawyer and and immigration lawyers are not well known for paying their staff well at all. Unless the U.S. has Immigration Consultants like in Canada I really think the Immigration angle will be just a dead end unless he passes the bar. Having all these languages are good if you are a lawyer, in real estate, investment etc. not so much if you don't have those skills.

Our paralegals make mid-to-high 5 figures.

And I would advise him to focus the translation idea on business documents -- contracts, leases, etc. -- for international companies, or law firms who serve those companies. 

At this point, he needs to follow the money.  And the money is most often with large corporate entities who need your services to help them make even more money.

Like I said not much, I'm guessing the high five figures come after quite a few years and he still has the whopping 225k to pay off. Not exactly a great return.

The $225k is a sunk cost.  As of now, that investment is making him jack shit selling insurance.  $50k+/- as a paralegal doesn't sound like much compared to Biglaw starting salaries, but it's a damn sight better than where he is now.
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Undecided

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #33 on: September 18, 2017, 09:25:57 PM »
Paralegals aren't exactly well paid. I think everyone suggesting something with respect to his language fluency are fooling themselves, he would have to work for a lawyer and and immigration lawyers are not well known for paying their staff well at all. Unless the U.S. has Immigration Consultants like in Canada I really think the Immigration angle will be just a dead end unless he passes the bar. Having all these languages are good if you are a lawyer, in real estate, investment etc. not so much if you don't have those skills.

Our paralegals make mid-to-high 5 figures.

And I would advise him to focus the translation idea on business documents -- contracts, leases, etc. -- for international companies, or law firms who serve those companies. 

At this point, he needs to follow the money.  And the money is most often with large corporate entities who need your services to help them make even more money.

Senior legal assistants and legal assistant supervisors at the "top" of big law can make nearly what a first-year associate makes, but at least some of those firms will not higher non-admitted JDs for those roles.

OP, what kind of legal practice does your BIL envision for himself? Transactional, litigation, family law,or what?

shelivesthedream

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2017, 02:27:02 AM »
International sales, guys. He already has experience in sales (even if he's shit at it). He just needs to squeeze into a megacorp and start getting an actual salary.

Inkedup

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2017, 05:24:34 AM »
A law librarian job might be difficult to get without a library degree, but the combination of a law degree and multiple foreign languages would help.

One might think so, but in reality law librarian jobs are difficult to get WITHOUT a JD. From what I have observed in my area, if there is a job opening in which candidate A holds only an MLS and candidate B holds only a JD, the latter is going to be far more competitive.

For those who wonder why someone would go through law school only to end up in a much lower-paying professional field, trust me...I see it often.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #36 on: September 19, 2017, 05:45:00 AM »
The starting salaries of JDs are quite bi-model with 1 in 6 or 1 in 7 getting a six-figure big law salary while the majority are in the 50k range.

As expected, the big name law schools dominate big law, so chances are someone graduating from a second tier law school with significant debt is going to be struggling financially.

Pigeon

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #37 on: September 19, 2017, 06:44:07 AM »
A law librarian job might be difficult to get without a library degree, but the combination of a law degree and multiple foreign languages would help.

One might think so, but in reality law librarian jobs are difficult to get WITHOUT a JD. From what I have observed in my area, if there is a job opening in which candidate A holds only an MLS and candidate B holds only a JD, the latter is going to be far more competitive.

For those who wonder why someone would go through law school only to end up in a much lower-paying professional field, trust me...I see it often.

I hire librarians and there  are a ton of people who have both a JD and an MLS.  I generally only need people with an MLS, but have lots of people with both degrees applying for jobs.  I don't think he's going to be competitive as a law librarian without an MLS.

barrelomonkeys

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #38 on: September 19, 2017, 07:51:02 AM »
I appreciate everyone's input.  A lot of this advice seems conflicting, though, so I admit I'm a bit confused (spouse and I are scientists, so we don't really know squat about the business/law world). 

FYI, BIL graduated from a top-20 law school, he didn't get amazing grades but they weren't horrible either, and I think he's hoping to get into more estate planning (to go with the life insurance thing).  The reason he has a hard time taking tests is because he has ADD, but he's on medication that has helped.   

I know some responses on here are skeptical of the idea of "changing" anyone.  I'd like to think that we can all change for the better (or else what's the point of reading blogs like this?), but my approach with BIL is more suggesting alternate routes he may not have considered.  Overall, BIL is the eternal optimist and very happy-go-lucky guy, which is great for parenting (he is incredibly patient, but not to the point of indulgence), but has been sucky for making big career changes.  I think, though, this has been a hard enough knock to make him open to suggestions, and he and sis have made some significant life changes recently as well to a more mustachian way, so I am hopeful.

ZMonet

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #39 on: September 19, 2017, 09:46:59 AM »
I think you've gotten some good suggestions on your BIL using his language skills and combining those with his law degree.  I disagree with those that say to give up on the attorney dream.  He can pick a path, such as some of those mentioned, that allow him to move forward while still keeping the dream alive.   Yes, there is significant study time but, other than that, what does he really have to lose by continuing to take the test?

If he is happy-go-lucky this might not apply, but I've seen a few people who failed the bar who had a great deal of shame over it.  The shame and feelings of failure kept them from meeting their full potential on subsequent retakes.  If this applies to your BIL, you might suggest that he get some help for that.

CheapScholar

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #40 on: September 19, 2017, 09:49:20 AM »
One of my friends in law school had ADD.  He had his disability recognized by the university and was given time and a half to complete all law school exams, and the Michigan Bar also gave him extra time.  I assume your BIL has done the same. 

FWIW, the happiest people from my law school days are the ones not practicing.  I'm very happy in higher ed administration, I have a friend who is a senior mortgage guy (he does very well), a friend who is a personal financial consultant, government workers, and some non-profit people.  Most of the people actually lawyering are damn miserable and I'm so glad I avoided it!

historienne

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2017, 10:21:51 AM »
Still curious if you know how he prepped for his previous exams.  If has not done a full prep course, I would strongly recommend trying that (and getting on top of his ADHD). 

trixiebelden

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Re: BIL keeps failing the bar. What would you do?
« Reply #42 on: September 20, 2017, 08:19:06 AM »
Well, he could certainly look for legal translation services -- I just don't know how much those pay.  I imagine most firms with a big Chinese business have native speakers on staff to manage those types of things, so I don't know whether he could find a specific full-time position doing that.  But there are a number of translation services that may have openings, or he could do it on his own as a side business -- I would think his knowledge of legal terminology and concepts would help set him apart a bit.

I just don't know if the pay is going to be sufficient to tackle that massive debt.


Oh man! Legal translation pays SO much. Like stupid amounts of money and you work on your own schedule. My mom is a court accountant that does payroll. Trust me on this. Like, they make more than a lot of lawyers.

The second I read OP's post I thought of this. Go to your local court's website and get going!

There's also international business translation that pays good money. You could even start on UpWork.

Knowing languages pays bank. You just have to know the legal/technical terms too.