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What do Lawyers do immediately after law school?

This question is asked in the context of opening their own practice or joining a firm #law-school #lawyer #attorney


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Kim’s Answer

Hi Henry!

Do you have any idea what kind of law you want to practice? If you want to one day have your own firm, you will need to have clients so you can pay the bills. As a fresh law school graduate, you won't have that. No one will be referring people to you, because, you have not proven yourself. It would be difficult. Not impossible. Most grads go to work for a firm, or, a gov't agency, such as the District Attorney's office. If you want to someday start your own firm, you will need to learn about the business side of the operation. (Including, how to get money from clients who have "no" money!) So, you could consider working for a small established firm with hopes of learning how to run the business. (without telling them you plan to head out on your own!). Or, you could look for a firm that is being sold, or about to be sold, such as a retiring solo practitioner.

In my opinion, there is so much to learn about law after law school, I would not want the added stress of trying to operate a business! Of course, nowadays, there are attorneys who work from their homes, there are shared office spaces available to rent, etc., so there are possibilities. You would want to do your best to set yourself up for SUCCESS.

Best of luck!
Kim

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Randolph’s Answer

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a position already secured, lawyers who just passed the bar exam are going to be looking for employment at some firm. I wanted to be a prosecutor so I applied to every district attorney’s office in California.
Eventually I started my own practice in family law. I was only able to do this because I had a good friend who offered to mentor me. There is a lot involved in starting your own practice, especially financially. Things you need to think about are: rent, business license, business cards, stationary, supplies, various machines (fax, copier, computer), and most importantly, customer acquisition. It takes money to inform the public of your services and trying to get them to choose you. Plus you need to think about your monthly living and business expenses until your practice is up and running smoothly.
With all of that said, I believe that once you have gone through all of those growing pains and have your business running like clockwork, the effort will be more than worth it. Owning your own business can be extremely rewarding in many ways.
Good luck to you!!!

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Lisa’s Answer

Henry,

I would do a internship while you are still in school to see what type of law you like. After law school, I recommend that you initially work for a firm or government entity before going out on your own. Most firms and government agencies provide free on the job training. You would be paired up with a more experienced lawyer which would enable you to learn more than you would on your own.

Best of Luck!
Lisa

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Aram’s Answer

What you do after law school will depend on a lot of things, where you went to school, your grades and, most importantly what you want the focus of your career to be. If you are interested in working for the government, either as a public defender or prosecutor your best bet is to try to get internships, work on a clinic and otherwise network while you are still in school so that you have some connections when you graduate. Another fantastic choice (which I did) is to get a judicial clerkship. These usually last one or two years and you work full time for a judge. The experience is extremely valuable and even 15 years later I still look back fondly on my time with Judge Lagueux. Because there is so much value in a clerkship, don't be afraid to apply to as many judges as you possibly can, even if you don't wind up clerking where you want to practice, the things that you learn and the connections that you make will be invaluable. For example, I clerked on the Federal Court in Providence Rhode Island but now have my practice in Miami, Florida. The other option is to apply to private firms, this can be done while you are still in school through the OCI (On Campus Interview program), or just on your own by sending around resumes and cover letters. If you can grab a summer associate position you may even graduate with a job already lined up. Unless you have a mentor, like Randolph, I would not recommend opening your own firm, the learning curve is steep, and you are always better off working under supervision until you are comfortable with the practice and have a real understanding of the business, law school most certainly doesn't teach you the business side of things. In conclusion, I guess the one thing I wish I had known was that there is more out there than just going into a clerkship or big law and becoming a litigator, really think about what you want to do, and try to find something that fits your interest, if you find yourself doing what you love and you're good at it, the money will follow.

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Timothy J.’s Answer

I started my own firm directly out of law school.

It has been quite challenging for a couple of reasons: (1) as mentioned above, there is a high learning curve. Practicing law is much different than finishing law school And passing the bar; (2) working both on and for my firm is very time consuming. What I mean by this is not only do I have to engage in the actual “practice” portion of my firm (representing clients, etc) but I also have to spend time on marketing, administrative tasks (answering calls, doing my own books, etc). The upfront costs (both financial and time) are more than I anticipated; (3) I have a great mentor, but I think it would be nice to have multiple mentors.

For these reasons, I think it’s smart to start out with a firm. You’ll learn how the legal system works and will have multiple mentors to help you along the way!

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Paul V.’s Answer

Immediately after law school, lawyers-to-be prepare for and pass their jurisdiction's Bar Examination, a really hard test that every law school graduate must pass before they can become a licensed lawyer.

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Richard’s Answer

My wife is an attorney and says that although there are huge benefits in starting your own firm, she thinks it is helpful to start in a small firm. The practice of law is nothing like law school. If you are going to start your own firm, you definitely need a good mentor. Joining groups is a good way to get to know experts to consult as well. For example, my wife is a bankruptcy attorney so she joined our local group as well as the National Association of Bankruptcy Attorneys. This group has been helpful because she can ask questions on-line to get help.

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