Hi all,

I've a question about interviews that I'd like some advice on. I've been lurking on here for a while but just started posting - if you'd like to know more about me, see my post in the 'Introductions' section by clicking here.

I'm a 23-year-old law graduate who hasn't been able to find a job in the legal field thus far. I'm currently working in a hotel but applying for other jobs in a variety of fields.

However, when I go to interviews, the interviewer invariably asks something to the effect of 'Why aren't you pursuing a career in law'.

I'm not entirely sure how to answer this and would appreciate any advice anyone can offer. Thus far I've tended to say I want a change of career but I don't feel this is very convincing. How do I answer it somewhat truthfully but not give the impression I will be off at the first hint of a legal job?

Thanks

Drew

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"Legal training can be applied in a variety of contexts outside the typical situation of representing individual or corporate clients in transactions and disputes.  What appeals to me about your industry is..." or "The advantage of a position like you're offering is..."

But it's not what you say as much as it is how you say it.  You have to be convincing, which means you probably have to convince yourself first.

FWIW, my friend who also graduated from law school in 2008 just told interviewers that the economy was that bad.  She got a job that related somewhat to her experiences as a teen and young adult.  If you can tie the ends of the sentences I suggested to something else on your resume, so much the better.

I would have suggested he say that it's because it's half the money and twice the work that I thought it would be. 

I agree with this line of argument. You must highlight that law is a skill set that is relevant to the position that you are applying for, not a knowledge base that limits you to a specific field.

For example, you can explain that you strengthened your critical thinking and negotiation skills while studying law (if those are relevant to the position you are applying for), but that you have no interest in writing briefs and pleading in court as a career. 

In addition to what Rebekah and J-F recommended, throw in whatever combination of the below statements that you're comfortable with:

I'm looking for an opportunity to use the knowledge and skills that I acquired in law school. Of course I'd be interested in doing that at a law firm but the fact is that the economy is rough, it's hard to get into that industry and I've realized that my background can be applied in almost any type of industry. Working for your company would allow me to apply my legal background in an industry that I'm genuinely passionate about. (Insert some yadda yadda about how / why you're interested in what they do.) I would much rather apply my background for a company / in an industry that I'm genuinely passionate about than work for a firm simply because that's the default expectation. Let's face it: Not all accountants work for accounting firms. Not all doctors work at clinics or hospitals. A lot CEOs have science and engineering backgrounds.

Depending on the culture of your prospective employer, you could also go here:

Not to mention that the reality is that working for a law firm is extremely challenging; I'm definitely up for a challenge and I'm ready to work very hard for any employer but I also want a certain level of work-life balance. Law firms generally don't offer that type of balance. So that, among other reason, is why I'm looking for career opportunities outside of the legal profession.

Hold the phone.  You're in Scotland, which explains how you were able to get a law degree at 23.  Doesn't Scotland still have barrister v. solicitor tracks?  Which were you?  And how many years of post-secondary education did that involve. The US has only one legal track, and it requires 7 years of post-secondary education.

Not that these really change our advice.  Scotland can't be too different from the non-major legal markets in the US, which is where I assumed you were.

You can get a law degree in Québec very quickly, too. In Québec, you finish high school in grade 11, then you have the option of doing two years of cégep and then you can jump right into a droit civil program. In fact, if you apply as an adult (rather than someone streaming right out of high school and cégep), you can jump right into the droit civil program if you meet all the other requirements. 

Pros: It's short.

Cons: You can only use it in Québec and other droit civil countries. 

Mitigation: You can add on an extra year of studies to also get your diploma in common law.

23 doesn't sound all that young.  I was 24.

 

JB

You can't start kindergarten at 4 or 5 and complete all grades, a 4-year bachelors, and a 3-year JD by 23.  Obviously, people skip grades, do 6-year combined BA+JD programs, etc., but I'd be surprised by this question coming from someone that driven.

For the very reasons raised here, to the high schoolers and undergrads reading this, I'd also recommend against getting through formal schooling as quickly as possible unless you're both driven and connected.  Better to have some experience and skills.  It makes you a better candidate as an associate, and lays the foundation for a Plan B.

I don't know about you guys but, in my wife's case, she wasn't obligated to complete her BA; after her second year she applied and was accepted into the common law LLB / JD program. Most people complete their BA first but, from what I gather, depending on your performance and the program's policies, completing the BA isn't necessarily required. (In the same sense that "adult" students with substantial enough work / life experience can apply directly without having a BA.) My wife was 23 when she got her degree and started articling.

I know of no accredited US law school that would accept a 20-year-old without a bachelor's, except those law schools that have 6-year BA+JD programs with undergraduate institutions.

I actually knew several students at my law school who would get their degrees before age 24.  One had skipped more than 1 grade as a teen.  Several were international students who were not required to have the equivalent of a bachelor's because a law degree in their home countries was the equivalent of a bachelor's.Just because someone's always excelled and always been driven and is now in a rough patch doesn't mean we don't help him, of course, but people who have taken non-traditional tracks need different advice.

There's another possibility: He might be saying "law" but actually mean a pre-law undergraduate degree / BA in legal studies.

Some people accidentally or purposely refer to those as law degrees even though that's not what they are. (They're BAs with majors/concentrations in law.) 

What are you studying?

Law.

Wow! So you're in law school?

... nyesish . . .

EX: http://admissions.carleton.ca/programs/law-ba/

 

Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is: Will I be off at the first hint of a legal job?

The answer to the above question will tell you how to approach the interviewer's question.

Are you going to bolt at the first hint of a legal position? 

Are you interested in finding a career, regardless of your legal training?

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