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. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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