Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

How Do I become a Transactional Attorney?

Long story short, I just passed the bar on my 2nd try, and h hucklebee05/05/17
So you want to work in contracts and such, want to make some trollfeeder05/05/17
Shoot for the moon OP if you miss you'll land amongst the st isthisit05/05/17
You can't have your cake and eat it too. Given your circumst mrtor05/05/17
You can do anything you set your mind to. Many of the lawyer lawyer205/05/17
OP if you discover how to get such a jerb given a situation themapmaster05/05/17
I know it's a cliche but I networked into my first in-house barelylegal05/05/17
The only pure Transactional law I can think off is Biglaw (w irishlaw05/05/17
Buddy, if you're posting questions here, your chances aren't patenttrollnj05/05/17
It can be done. Go work for an estate planning solo for a co guyingorillasuit05/05/17
In fairness, aren't most practice areas, and professions, 90 loblawyer05/06/17
Many hospitals are nonprofits and therefore have volunteer d onehell05/05/17
NYU Tax LLM is pretty competitive for admission though since loblawyer05/06/17
I got my start in residential real estate, which is all tran 3lol05/05/17
I'm about to go fully transactional in my practice as I tran sjlawyer05/05/17
If you need need Cash Now, do some monkey click work. Otherw triplesix05/05/17
You should consider working for a government contractor (wor beat12305/06/17
Local government seems like your best starting point. Offer molawmo05/06/17
OP, there is a lot of opportunity in the area of contracting hairypalms05/06/17
I don't want to be too overly negative but many contract man jdtrash05/06/17
And many do, definitely something to look into. pherc05/06/17
Wow! Some of you are soooo Negative! Literally two weeks aft hucklebee06/17/17
Congrats on the job! I like seeing good news around here. I thirdtierlaw06/17/17
Congrats on your success! junkwired06/17/17
Congrats. Let us know how it shakes out once the contract en isthisit06/17/17
Good job, I was in a similar position as you and am doing fi mtbislife06/18/17
It ain't the most exciting thing, but it pays the bills. hairypalms06/18/17
Don't forget to look at government work. That's how I start beaubaez06/18/17
Thanks everyone, I'll keep you posted. hucklebee06/18/17

hucklebee (May 5, 2017 - 3:19 pm)

Long story short, I just passed the bar on my 2nd try, and have not worked since graduating (almost a full year ago). I want nothing to do with going to court or standing in front of a judge. I just want to work with contracts and such. However, the only transactional attorney jos I can think of are real estate, in house counsel, and trusts and estates. (I know its almost impossible to get an in house job right after grad). I contacted some companies to ask if I can volunteer, no response, but a local legal aid center said they could use my help, I meet with them on Monday. What stepping blocks can I take to get into the transactional world. The only places that seem to be hiring people with no experience are public interest jobs that involve going to court (plus I need a job that pays a little more, my loans are through the roof) Any suggestions?

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trollfeeder (May 5, 2017 - 4:01 pm)

So you want to work in contracts and such, want to make some decent money, and there is a year gap in your resume? I don't want to be a jerk, it took me a while to get a job after passing the bar myself, but I think you have to get perspective here. What do you bring to the table? What experiences in law school make you a good candidate for a job?

Lastly, given your situation, you need to apply to as many places as possible, the longer you go without legal employment, the less likely you are to ever get a legal job.

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isthisit (May 5, 2017 - 5:12 pm)

Shoot for the moon OP if you miss you'll land amongst the stars.

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mrtor (May 5, 2017 - 5:38 pm)

You can't have your cake and eat it too. Given your circumstances, you're probably going to have to take anything you can get -- which will likely be undesirable, entry-level litigation. In a few years, you may be able to jump into an opportunity that is more transactional in nature. However, few attorneys are able to completely avoid litigation. It's the basis of the profession.

A lot of low level transactional work is declining with the rise of automation. Basic contracts, fill in the blank estate work, etc. is largely unskilled monkey work. Fewer and fewer people are paying attorney rate to have it done anymore. Complex transactional work sounds largely unreachable given your situation. Consider non-attorney contract positions, compliance, etc.

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lawyer2 (May 5, 2017 - 5:49 pm)

You can do anything you set your mind to. Many of the lawyers here at my firm couldn't tell you what the inside of a court room looks like. Associates are never put in front of a judge.

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themapmaster (May 5, 2017 - 6:11 pm)

OP if you discover how to get such a jerb given a situation like yours, please notify me so that I can either successfully mimic you, or unsuccessfully mimic you but then be able to more thoroughly enjoy sulking in my own misery.

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barelylegal (May 5, 2017 - 6:19 pm)

I know it's a cliche but I networked into my first in-house gig.

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irishlaw (May 5, 2017 - 6:22 pm)

The only pure Transactional law I can think off is Biglaw (where if something goes wrong either the client isn't going to want you for litigation, or you just shove everything off to the litigators) or in house, where you just hire a firm to do litigation.

Real Estate and Trust and Estate, the realm of small law imo, you wouldn't do it unless you were ok going to court.

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patenttrollnj (May 5, 2017 - 6:25 pm)

Buddy, if you're posting questions here, your chances aren't all that great.

I don't mean to sound condescending, but rather I'm just being realistic. The situation for lawyers today is very dire, and people need to understand this point. If you don't have a job at the time of graduation, you're looking at contract work and/or a job at an insurance mill. Both these options are toxic work environment, and they generally don't do much for your career trajectory.

Also, let's presume you do find a job. Given the current climate, there is no guarantee that this job will last, or that you'll be able to get another.

Thus, my humble advice to all young lawyers is to find some other profession to get into ASAP. Best to cut your losses while you're still young, before you become (like me) 40+ and your options become far more limited.

Good luck!

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guyingorillasuit (May 5, 2017 - 6:30 pm)

It can be done. Go work for an estate planning solo for a couple years. Learn the job, go to MCLEs, and sit in on consults. See how the solo gets and sells his clients. Then, you'll be ready to go out. Be careful, though - estate planning is 90% sales. The job itself is not very hard, but you are competing with a gazillion other people, all of whom want to make an easy $2,500 - $3,000 for typing up a bunch of documents. If you are not a natural networker and salesman, it'll be tough going.

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loblawyer (May 6, 2017 - 2:58 pm)

In fairness, aren't most practice areas, and professions, 90% sales? I can easily say the same thing about PI (maybe that is 90% marketing, but still have to close the deal).

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onehell (May 5, 2017 - 6:58 pm)

Many hospitals are nonprofits and therefore have volunteer directors, so I networked my way out of legal aid litigation and into in-house work by joining such boards. But there was a hell of a lot of luck involved there, and I'd been litigating for quite some time before it happened.

Honestly, if you don't ever want to step foot in a courtroom or deposition, I think there are basically only three ways to go:

1. Search for "law related" jobs like contracts specialist. You'll never be a real transactional attorney because you aren't seen as really practicing, but you'll have avoided litigation I guess. There's probably 100 applicants for every gig, but you could just keep plugging away on usajobs and indeed.

2. I shudder to mention LLMs, but you are kinda the ideal candidate for NYU Tax (which is the only LLM that is ever worth anything). Coinflip chance (at best) of success coming out, but at least you get another whack at OCI. Tax lawyers hardly ever go to court.

3. Ditch the law completely. Go do a post bachelor premedical program or sign up for a coding bootcamp or something. You won't be working with contracts much but even better, you might be able to get into something that doesn't have this miserable glut.

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loblawyer (May 6, 2017 - 3:00 pm)

NYU Tax LLM is pretty competitive for admission though since it is universally recognized as the best. You do not just walk into that after a year of being unemployed and I'm guessing less than stellar grades.

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3lol (May 5, 2017 - 7:51 pm)

I got my start in residential real estate, which is all transactional and no billable hours. It's also relatively easy to learn, noncontentious and light on stress. I do some litigation and have to bill hours at the firm I'm at now, but they're also getting me into some more complex transactional work and commercial real estate, as well.

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sjlawyer (May 5, 2017 - 8:15 pm)

I'm about to go fully transactional in my practice as I transition from Private Practice to large local gov't. My advice for your position is to go general practice. You'll get a ton of experience, including transactional and after a year, you can probably spin that into a transactional gig on an interview. As far as avoiding the Court room? Suck it up, buttercup. You'll be fine.

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triplesix (May 5, 2017 - 8:21 pm)

If you need need Cash Now, do some monkey click work. Otherwise, get ready to be had from behind in legal profession's meat grinder of entry level jobs. **** Law wages, big law hours, bruised egos and plenty of cheap booze. Good luck.

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beat123 (May 6, 2017 - 7:03 am)

You should consider working for a government contractor (working on government contracts) or a software company (as a contract manager or contract negotiation).

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molawmo (May 6, 2017 - 7:18 am)

Local government seems like your best starting point. Offer to work for peanuts at a city attorneys office

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hairypalms (May 6, 2017 - 8:41 am)

OP, there is a lot of opportunity in the area of contracting. I work in house, but started off as a contracts associate and then promoted to counsel position. Your ability to be promoted to an attorney slot depends on the organization so there is no guarantee that you would wind up in a lawyer role. Nevertheless, after working document review for a number of years, I found myself taking a step back to be able to move forward. It worked for me, but I also had a few years of law firm experience and a technical background. Possibly consider contract management or contract analyst positions. Best of luck.

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jdtrash (May 6, 2017 - 2:24 pm)

I don't want to be too overly negative but many contract manager positions don't hire JDs. You may be considered overqualified.

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pherc (May 6, 2017 - 2:45 pm)

And many do, definitely something to look into.

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hucklebee (Jun 17, 2017 - 11:28 am)

Wow! Some of you are soooo Negative! Literally two weeks after I made this post I got a job in-house. It's a temp position, but I am doing exactly what I want to do: draft, revise, and negotiate contracts. :) I am hoping it turns into a permanent position (it is a temp to perm) and if it doesn't, at least I will have something to put on my resume to land me my next job. Thank you God! :)

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 17, 2017 - 12:02 pm)

Congrats on the job! I like seeing good news around here. I hope it becomes permanent. Even if it doesn't, you at least have real experience. It is amazing what happens when you actually habe experience.

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junkwired (Jun 17, 2017 - 12:19 pm)

Congrats on your success!

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isthisit (Jun 17, 2017 - 12:21 pm)

Congrats. Let us know how it shakes out once the contract ends.

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mtbislife (Jun 18, 2017 - 2:18 pm)

Good job, I was in a similar position as you and am doing fine at the moment. A lot of the doom and gloom on here is well founded but if you have a negative mentality all day every day then you deserve your self fulfilling prophecy of crap jobs.

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hairypalms (Jun 18, 2017 - 2:46 pm)

It ain't the most exciting thing, but it pays the bills.

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beaubaez (Jun 18, 2017 - 7:36 am)

Don't forget to look at government work. That's how I started my career--all transactional.

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hucklebee (Jun 18, 2017 - 6:04 pm)

Thanks everyone, I'll keep you posted.

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