QI graduated from a tier-1 school in 2003. I spent the entire three years of law school fighting with my (now ex-) wife, and my grades suffered for it. I finished in the middle of my class with a 2.75.
Though I concentrated heavily on international law classes, I simply did not have the GPA to get one of those BigLaw jobs out of school. Following an internship, I landed a job as a prosecutor—even though I never cared for criminal law.
Now, seven years later, I am still prosecuting people and can’t stand the job. However, I am surprisingly good at it. I’ve only lost two jury trials in my career.
I have looked for opportunities in other areas of law that I’m more interested in, but despite what I was told in law school, law firms STILL only consider applicants with better class ranks. They could care less about what I’ve accomplished since. So, after some time, I gave up and began looking for a way out of the profession entirely.
Then, I found a niche that sparked my interest in the law again. Because I did not have the necessary background for it, I began a Master’s program at an Ivy-caliber university part time. I’m now almost finished, and I’m looking for jobs in that sector. However, all of the ads still require a high class rank and a law school transcript—even after 10 years of experience.
It seems like I am wasting my time. Am I doomed to a limited practice no matter what I do from here on out? Should I just save my money and get out of the Master’s program? Must I leave the practice all together? Thanks.
ANewsflash: The legal profession is snobby. However, it’s never snobbier than when you’re coming out of law school and trying to land your first job. As for your question, you say you’re a prosecutor, but you don’t like criminal law, yet you’re really good at it…
To he honest, I have no goddamn idea what kind of job you’re looking for (or what type of law you want to practice), so it’s tough to give specific advice here. But I’ll assume you’re tired of making government wages and want a job in the private sector.
Hate to say it, but I can see the 2.75 GPA in your writing? It’s vague, ambiguous… Not great attributes for a lawyer. Especially a lawyer looking to work in BigLaw.
Anyway, here’s the deal: Being a prosecutor for seven years gives you great courtroom/life experience. It makes you an interesting chap to hang out with at a dinner party, but it doesn’t make you an interesting chap to a BigLaw Hiring Partner because courtroom experience is damn near irrelevant for associates.
BigLaw wants associates with writing and research ability. That’s the skill set they covet for litigators—and that’s the skill set that prosecutors don’t develop well. For the most part, criminal law motions are very standard and pro forma. Courtroom presence and “thinking on your feet” are valued more than elegant and nuanced legal writing. So, unfortunately, your years at the DA’s office don’t count for much in the area you’re looking.
My advice is to look for a job at an insurance defense firm. They’re in court all the time, trying cases and arguing motions. It’s not glamorous, but you can make decent money—and your DA background will actually help you get in the door.
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