Big dreams, small salaries

February 13, 2009
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Update: The jobs in politics seminar has moved from March 11 to April 8.

From IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger, who attended a session of the Alternative Legal Career series at Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington this week.

During a discussion about careers in marketing, communications, publishing, development, and consulting Feb. 11, six panelists explained how their career paths twisted and turned to get them where they are.

The panelists made many valid points, including:

- Find a job that makes you smile everyday.

- Consider your values, including how much time you want to spend with your family.

- Network with a diverse group of people from your life and in multiple cities.

- Talk to someone in a job you’d like to have.

- Volunteer for something you like; it may lead to contacts or new interests.

- Be open to any and all new opportunities.

- Take heart the job you have right out of school may not be your “forever” job.

So when I asked the panel for advice for students who have large loan payments who want to go into a career that pays only a fraction of the starting salaries at the large law firms, I wondered if the students were also curious about this.

Panelist Robyn M.H. Schuster, the law school’s assistant dean for communications and marketing gave a good answer – that students should consider a repayment option based on income.

My hope for anyone with an interest in this field is they have a realistic understanding of how little these jobs tend to pay – no one does this for the money. And take it from someone with her master’s in journalism – an advanced degree doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger paycheck; it just means you might need to explain how your school work applies to the job and that it wasn’t just “time off.” Not to mention these jobs are highly competitive, considering the large number of jobless journalists out there.

But if you’re persistent and follow the guidelines above, and don’t mind a small apartment (or roommate) and pot pie dinners every once in a while, it’s not so bad.

The alternative legal careers series has included a panel about jobs in banking and finance. Future panel topics include jobs in higher education, Feb. 25; and jobs in politics, March 11. All are free and open to the public at the law school’s Bloomington court room at 211 S. Indiana Ave., noon to 1 p.m.

A story about the subject will be in a future Indiana Lawyer. If you’d like to weigh in, e-mail me at rberfanger@ibj.com.

The audio of this panel discussion is now available online and worth a listen: http://www.law.indiana.edu/media/digital/20090211_ocpd_alternatives_24m.mp3
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  • I thought that the panelists gave good advice, but sometimes I would like to hear from someone with average credentials like myself - it seems like often the speakers have top notch academic credentials which led to a stellar first legal job which led to other career options. I want to hear from the guy like me - middle of the class, some experience, involved in extracurriculars, but lacking the top 10% credentials that set up others for success...
  • some of my post got cut -

    I want to hear how the average guy/girl has faired in the legal market and in particular, the floundering economy.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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