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CaptainLawyerDude354 karma

Hi folks, I took and passed the July 2014 bar exam and passed no problem despite the crashed pass rates across the country. Loads of my fellow students did not. What do you think is the #1 thing that causes folks to fail bar exams?

CaptainLawyerDude152 karma

Hi Harold! First of all, thanks for working with such as great organization like ASAN. In my own disability advocacy work, I've had the pleasure of working with a number of their board and staff members.

I have two questions: 1) You've had the opportunity to be part of some absolute classic movies and television shows. Is there a roll on a classic show you weren't a part of that you feel would have been perfect for you?

2) How have you (if at all) dealt with pushback from members of the autistic community that feel your role should be played by an autistic person?

CaptainLawyerDude119 karma

More or less. There are a ton of sizable law firms in the cities you expect (NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, DC). The biggest firms all typically pay the same rate for first year associates and then ladder it as you progress. For BigLaw firms in the big cities it has been $160k/yr for the first year for a while. Assuming you are good enough at your job and actually manage to hit your billable hours (insanity) you might expect a sizable bonus as well. After a few years, you'll be making quite a bit more but unless your are partner-tracked, you will likely be subtly or not so subtly shown the door.

As for getting in with those firms - sure, for the best odds you'll want to have attended a top-14 school and done well. Meaning top 10-20% of your class and law review. Even then, so much of it is dependant on your grades while you are a first year student since they all typically fill their associate classes with students that worked as summer clerks. Beyond that normal track it gets less simple and direct.

There are large firms in lots of other cities and they typically get to choose from local folks who are returning home from one of those top schools. But not every kid graduating from a well-heeled school wants to return home to say Seattle or St. Louis and would rather practice in NY. That means firms, even large ones, located across the country will also likely choose top students from the best local schools. There are also a lot of other traits students can bring to the table even if they didn't attend the tippy top schools. Specialized experience such as engineering background for IP lawyers or past governmental/legislative experience in heavily regulated fields, and foreign language fluency can make average applicants much stronger.

Of course, knowing people makes a difference too. I was offered jobs with two BigLaw firms that shall remain nameless despite average credential from a regional school because I had done volunteer and legislative work with people that worked at the firms. I turned them down knowing how much I would hate the work load and how difficult it would be with my health. I'm much happier with my federal gig than I likely would be in BigLaw but I do sometimes wonder about how nice one of those fat paychecks would look.

It's also important to note that even going to an amazing school and kicking ass academically isn't a sure-fire way to land that BigLaw gig. The market has been wobbly since the recession hit and sometimes shit happens. I had a friend with a damn near perfect GPA and review credentials. Unfortunately they choose a firm to summer at that ended up deciding to freeze hiring and no-offered their entire summer clerkship class.

CaptainLawyerDude13 karma

Thank you for this. Im someone who turned down BigLaw for GovLaw and a muuuuuuch smaller paycheck and this helps me know I made the right decision for myself.

CaptainLawyerDude7 karma

For early career folks (less than 3 years service) you accrue annually 104 hours (13 days) of regular leave, 104 hours of sick leave. You also get 10 paid holidays. I’m not sure how holidays play with those that have to work them like ATCs but I suspect they get a compensation day in lieu of the actual holiday off if they have to work it. Some agencies give the option for taking time off rather than money for performance bonuses. So for example, rather than a bonus check I usually take 40 hours of paid time off.

So total, it is 36 days off annually across the different types of leave. After three years you begin accruing 160 hours (20 days) of regular leave. The sick accrual stays the same, though.

I’ve been with my agency for almost 4 years. I currently accrue 20 days regular pto, 13 days of sick leave, 10 paid holidays, and 5 days of bonus pto. I’m fairly content with my 48 days off each year.

That all said, the US absolutely needs paid parental leave and better leave policies/compensation for sickness beyond the garbage unpaid FMLA and short-term disability coverage we have. Universal health care would also go a long way towards people getting more preventative care and thus avoiding harder to treat conditions down the road and needing more time off.

I’d also say there is a strong argument that 40 hour work weeks are no longer necessary given the increased productivity by workers in most sectors.