Your First Five Years as a Junior Attorney is All About Skill Building and Not Compensation
[00:00:00] Should I be worried about my salary overall compensation, now that I'm considering making a switch from litigation to the corporate practice area?
No. People are always interested in salaries and stuff and it does matter. Really your first, one to five or six years are just training. You're basically getting paid to be trained. And the training you get during those years is really the most important thing. You'll learn skills during that time that will be with you for the rest of your career. You're basically getting paid to be trained. Unless your salary is dramatically off the mark.
The name of the game when you're a young attorney, now it is for a lot of people, 'cause that's how they're evaluating their worth and everything, but at the same time, your salary really is not something you should be that concerned about if the salary is within striking range. But competitors and so forth are paying.
That's fine not be switched from litigation to corporate. You're probably going to drop down and your class year. So again, you're getting paid to get trained and that's fine. You've made that decision and there are trade offs, which we talked about in this meeting.
And that's that. That's how I would think about that. You're basically getting paid to [00:01:00] get trained and that's that.
I hate to put it that bluntly, but the idea is that that you junior attorneys often worry about the difference between 20,000 or 30,000 or compensation, or even more than that. But for the most part, the most important thing for you is experience because it's early in your career. And I've said this before,
it's not what you get. It's what you get to become.
What that means is that, the experience you get is going to make you into something that's very positive. And if you're worried about your salary, all you're doing is sending the kind of the message that you're only concerned about the short-term things.
Is it possible to change my mind later if things turn out differently than expected, or do I need to make this decision, in corporate versus litigation, during law school?
No. It is very difficult to change your mind later. You need to really do what you can. What's unfortunate is people will do one year of law school and then they'll wind up in the summer of their second year, after there's fall interviewing at a law firm where they're expected to corporate or litigation. So, when you do get into a summer program you need to really [00:02:00] try to get into the practice area you want, and you may not have a choice.
I think it's a very important decision. You may not have a choice, but again, litigators like writing, they like reading, to some extent, drama.
Corporate attorney is a different type of job. You should do something that makes you happy. If you really want to be a litigator and you're in the corporate practice group in the summer, and you get an offer as a corporate attorney, obviously, a smart thing to do too, is during your second year, which would be right now.
I would recommend, probably applying to clerkships to the extent you can. If you have a clerkship and you really want to do litigation, even if you are offered a corporate job you'll be in good shape with that clerkship. Because, coming out of a clerkship, people will always expect you to be a litigator.
If you have experience in the summer as a corporate and you learn on the job with this kind of stuff, you will learn how to be a litigator if you clerk. Anybody who wants to do litigation, I always recommend, if you can't get a clerkship, it's the smart thing to do