Brett has come up with a cool group writing idea at The Frugal Law Student called Blog Scouts. Each month he’ll encourage us to write a blog post around an actual Boy Scout merit badge. This is my entry for the personal management merit badge.
As an aside, I was in Boy Scouts, what seems like an eternity ago. I only earned one merit badge (in 5 years!). It was for first aid. In my opinion, that’s a good one to earn.
For the personal management merit badge, I’m analyzing my chosen career path, per the 10th requirement on Brett’s post.
I’m going public service
I’ll be graduating from law school in May (41 days!!). After passing the bar, I’ll be the general counsel for American Life League, a great non-profit organization.
My duties are not entirely clear at this point, but I’ll be doing lots of legislative analysis, lobbying, and possibly some litigation. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
Pros of public service
The best part of not being with a firm is that I don’t have to bill hours. Tracking billable time is probably THE biggest complaint among practicing attorneys. Most public service jobs get to bypass this horrid annoyance.
Another cool thing is that I’ll get to attend conferences, be a speaker at different events, and do some grassroots work with supporters and volunteers. In that way, public service lends itself to keeping your feet on the ground better.
Loan forgiveness is the last thing I want to highlight. Not all schools have a solid program, but if you can get it, loan forgiveness is worth it’s weight in gold (literally). You won’t come out rich, but this can help you actually afford to take a lower public service salary.
The first issue with public service careers that people think of is the salary. It’s no surprise that I won’t be earning $150,000 per year. But that isn’t the whole picture.
I won’t be working 80 hour weeks. I won’t be on-call practically 24/7. My future won’t hinge upon bringing in new business.
My job will be roughly 8-5. There will be some traveling, and I’m sure I’ll have to work more sometimes, but nothing compared to Big Law.
Another downside might be a future career limitation. There is a fear that it’s hard to get into a law firm if you don’t start out with one right from law school.
If you really want to be in a firm, public service might not be for you in the first place. But if you want to keep your options open, public service isn’t really a dead-end.
One reason is the networking opportunities through public service. I envision connecting with lots of people, including:
- Volunteers, donors, supporters
- Politicians, legislators
- Business people
- Religious leaders
The big key will be making these connections count. I’m not talking about using people, but creating real relationships. If I someday want to leave public service, I can tap this network to help locate a suitable position.
Maybe I’m missing something vital, but I don’t see a real downside here. I’m pumped about my job, and I’m not sorry that I won’t be lining the pockets of Big Law partners.
Have you considered public service? Why, or why not? Hit up the comments, or drop me a line.
[tags]public service, law firm, brett mckay, the frugal law student[/tags]
Get more legal tips