Should I quit looking in the legal field and become a stock broker?
October 12, 2009 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Out of work law school grad thinking about looking into another career...looking for about a stock broker trainee...?

Some background info. Living in NYC area. Recent law grad from 2nd tier school, crappy grades. Majored in finance as an undergrad. Failed the bar first time, worked for a year (non-legal field), out of work for another year before I retook and passed three state bar exams. Since then I've been out of work for another year+. I havent been completely out of work during those 'out of work' times but nothing that I'd put on a resume.
The legal job market seems esp. tough. Amazingly, I've interviewed with a couple of firms for entry level attorney jobs since passing the bar but I know for a fact that two of the firms hired people with 5-6 years experience. Ugh. Have also applied for a bunch of attorney fed/state jobs with no luck. I've known that my prospects for finding a an attorney job in this climate was slim, but I wanted to at least get licensed and was hoping for some luck but I'm now more than ready face 'reality'.... so I'm looking/thinking about a new career path.

Two main questions:
1.Suggestions on a new career path? I know this a ridiculous question to ask to strangers but I'd love to hear some new voices/opinions.
2. There've been alot of stoker broker trainee jobs listing recently...What exactly does a stock broker trainee do and is it worthwhile? Would my law degree/finance degree help at all at getting and keeping this job?

Looking for nonlegal work as a JD was tough, I imagine it'll be the same with a law license. Should I mention that I'm licensed to practice law or that I even went to law school? I definitely dont mind starting from the ground up in a new field but I'm hesitant to switch fields and 'waste' my law degree/license. How hard would it be for me with become an attorney again after working in another field for 4-5 years without any legal experience? Despite how it sounds I dont feel like I HAVE to be a lawyer, I just would like to give it a shot but I'm tired of waiting and not making steady income! I'm not necessarily looking for suggestions in finding legal work, but suggestions or advice would really be welcomed. Thanks.
posted by xspot to Work & Money (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not necessarily looking for suggestions in finding legal work,

1. Put on suit.
2. Go to courthouse.
3. ???
4. Profit.

I'm only half joking. Just going to the courthouse (muni, county, state, federal, whichever) is a good way to meet busy lawyers, meet judges (who might eventually appoint you to cases or mediations), meet the court clerks and law librarians (they know who needs help), and put yourself in the frame of mind that you can do this job. Litigation and spending a career in the courthouse isn't for everyone - not even every lawyer. But if you've got some time on your hands, I'd recommend spending some time there.

Heck, I'd recommend it everyone as part of their civic education, In fact.
posted by GPF at 10:53 PM on October 12, 2009

The reason there are a lot of stock broker trainee positions is that this job sucks. The stock broker is going on the way of the dodo mostly. With the advent of such things as e-trade, people are doing this all on their own these days without intermediaries. I'm not totally sure, but I think the majority of your day would be cold calling prospective clients.
posted by josher71 at 4:48 AM on October 13, 2009

How about hanging your shingle and going into business for yourself as a lawyer? I have a friend who did that straight out of law school. He seems to make a nice living specializing in traffic ticket / DUI defense work. He works out of his house and uses a coworking facility for the rare times he needs to have a pre-trial meeting with somebody.
posted by COD at 5:45 AM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do some pro bono work. The state bar association can hook you up with organizations looking for help. It pads the resume and gives you some real legal experience that you can talk about during interviews.

Yeah it's tough out there now. Good luck.
posted by That takes balls. at 6:30 AM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you've thought of this already, but have you looked into being a contract attorney?
posted by naju at 8:11 AM on October 13, 2009

I don't know what field you're interested in, but I think one of the successful tactics is this job market is to look for a position where having a JD/bar admission is a bonus, not a basic requirement. Yes, to be blunt, you're not going to get any legal job these days just having passed the bar. On the other hand, there are lots of jobs that don't require a law degree, so having one is a bonus. You need to look for these. Policy/contracts/financial jobs at small to mid size companies and nonprofits.
posted by mercredi at 8:27 AM on October 13, 2009

xspot, I'm in a similar position to you - except that I have 6 years of experience as an attorney. Finding an associate position with a firm, though... ugh. I've been doing the contract attorney thing to pay the bills. I also hung a shingle, but money is tight everywhere, including in potential clients' wallets.

I've been meeting local people, such as the city councilman, professors and admin folks at the county college(s), various people at the local hospital, etc., in an effort to expand my network. Eventually, I'm hoping to turn these contacts into a position where I can be a non-law advocate for the residents in my area (there's a large population of economically disadvantaged folks here; mental illness and lack of education abounds).

If you don't mind the soul-sucking mindlessness of the contract attorney route, explore getting on with an e-discovery company. (BTW, being a contract attorney is a mixed blessing: the money is decent, when you can find an assignment - which is harder than ever b'c of all the staff attorneys who were laid off; but the work sucks b'c it's boring and being in a room full of bored attorneys induces insanity).

As for just showing up at the local courthouse and schmoozing with judges and attorneys? It doesn't quite work. The judges are (a) on the bench or (b) behind closed doors; the attorneys are there to do their job: represent a client. The times I've gone to court (hanging the shingle brought in a couple of small clients), there's been limited chitchat between the attorneys. Volunteering your services for the pro bono/public defenders' office might be a better way to go on that (contacts plus experience eventually equals a job).

Good luck!
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 9:14 AM on October 13, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses and well wishes.

I'd kill to do contract work or do doc. review but I havent even received so much as a response. I've thought about hanging a shingle but I dont think I have the right frame of mind to do so right now (aka I dont want to f'up someone else life as well, lol) One of the reason's I've been thinking about a broker trainee job is that perhaps my degrees would be of some help but it does seem like it's more sales than anything else. I'll keep in mind the pro-bono stuff, though I really have no specific knowledge that could help anyone.

I'd love to hear some more suggestions.
posted by xspot at 9:59 AM on October 13, 2009

I can't really comment on the broker track, but you may have some luck clerking for a judge, either at the trial or appellate level. Like everything else, publicized openings are going to be competitive, but if you have some time you can probably land a gig clerking for a judge as an unpaid clerk. You would get some real world experience and, more importantly, you can tap into the shared knowledge of the court to hunt other job openings, and letters of recommendation from judges carry a lot of weight since you work with them one-on-one on issues that can often get quite complicated.

Also, you don't name where you went to school, but look into the alumni networks from both your undergraduate school and law school. The power and influence of these networks vary, but at the very least it's a nice opening to try and get other attorneys/etc. to go out to coffee with you so you can pick their brains. Set them up as informational meetings, and allow them to extend an offer of help if they're feeling generous.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:44 AM on October 13, 2009

Broker trainee jobs are sales jobs in which you cold call a bunch of people from a list provided to you by the firm. This can either be a legitimate enterprise or a pump and dump scheme. I hope your legal training will allow you to make the distinction between the two if that's the route you choose.

That said, you shouldn't be under any illusion that these are glamorous jobs that will pay you big bucks. They are generally straight commission, you don't spend time developing relationships with clients, and you will quickly lose your job if you don't close sales.

If you are interested in working with clients to help them manage their finances, you may want to look into wealth management jobs. Your JD could be useful here, thought you will need to figure out how to sell yourself to people interviewing you.
posted by dfriedman at 10:48 AM on October 13, 2009

Consider document review. There is something on craigslist every couple days.
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2009

xspot, you're in a tough situation and I wish you luck.

I'm probably going to sound like a jerk here so forgive me if so and if this is already your approach but...

You need to work as hard at your job search as the hardest job you've ever done. You should be looking for work and doing things towards that goal between 50 and 60 hours a week, at least. You should be networking with everyone you know, going to any (preferably free) events you can in your community to let people know you're out there and you should be pushing and selling (yourself) all the time.

Again, I could be completely wrong, but you sound a bit like me when I was in a similar position: pretty lazy, feeling a bit sorry for yourself and wondering where that magic bullet is that will make it alright. There is no magic bullet other than hard work. And getting a job is possibly the hardest work there is, especially now.

Forget about becoming a stock broker, or a chef, or a dog trainer or whatever else you're thinking about. You've worked long and hard to get qualified as you are and you need to leverage that position as best you can. Look local, look national, look international (not every country is suffering as much as the US). Look in-house, look at contracts and doc review, look online and voluntary, government and private, military (JAG?) and civilian. Look at completely non-law related jobs where your qualifications will simply give you an edge. Look everywhere and get going on it now!

Seriously, you're in a phenomenally priveleged position, use it.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 7:45 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

In this economy, every field is tough. You need contacts. Hang out a shingle, do family law - wills, etc., and do some pro bono. Call Legal Aid and offer to help. You'll meet other attorneys, courthouse staff, etc.

You sound totally confused, unmotivated, and maybe depressed. You got into law school, got through it, passed the bar. Why waste that? And, honestly, would you really be more motivated at something else? There have been many's about depression and motivation. Research yourself an action plan to deal with your lack of motivation; find a life coach, whatever.
posted by theora55 at 8:22 PM on October 14, 2009

« Older Seeking the Uber-Sharpie   |   The best way for a fully disabled, good sized male... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.