Any Mamas with a Law Degree? Need Career Advice...

Updated on September 05, 2011
J.R. asks from Culver City, CA
10 answers

After 35 years, I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Right now, I am happy being a SAHM, but I am looking at my options once the kids are in school. I have an MBA and experience in IT and marketing. I'm not sufficiently interested in either to want to consider going back - and when I'm nearly 40, I won't want to work at a job where I will have to work my way up to what I consider an acceptable salary. I imagine this will probably be the case considering that, by the time I go back, I will have been out of the workforce for nearly 10 years.

One thing I always go back to is going to law school. It's something I've always been interested in doing, but the time had never been right in my life. I would love to be able to fulfill that dream, and I know I would be good at it, but I wonder what sort of job can I realistically get after I graduate that will also allow me the flexibility to be here for my kids. A part-time, work from home, or job share situation would be ideal. But how realistic is this? I know that I will never make partner in a law firm. That has never been an ambition of mine. The aspects of law that most interest me have to do with the behind the scenes stuff, like the writing and research. I don't want to argue cases in court.

So I'm wondering if there are any moms (or dads) out there with a law degree that can chime in with some career advice for me? Are there career options that I'm not aware of? Is this something that I should even bother pursuing? Or should I look elsewhere to find the color of my parachute?


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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all your input, everyone! This is exactly the type of reality check I was looking for. I will admit that the idea of law school is more appealing than the idea of being a lawyer is, but it's not so appealing that I would just do it for the heck of it. I have zero interest in being a paralegal or legal assistant. While I have no doubt that I would enjoy aspects of it and be good at it, ultimately I know that my ego wouldn't let me be happy at a job where I have absolutely no possibility of ever being the boss. Right now, being a mom is my number one priority, but sometimes I do worry about wasting my education and any potential I ever had. I think ultimately I may need to resign myself to the idea that I left it too late to really find my passion in life, but I guess that's a discussion for another time...

Thanks again!

Featured Answers


answers from Kansas City on

are you talking about becoming a Paralegal, who is usually the one doing all the research etc for the lawyers, or an actual lawyer?

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answers from Kansas City on

I have the same ambitions as yours. So I am planning on starting school next year towards a BS in Legal Studies. It's a little above a paralegal on the pay scale if we take a job with that behind us. BUT, it's basically paralegal work and there are websites dedicated to people that can work from home freelance. I absolutely plan to do legal research and writing from home. If I have to go and work out there for awhile first to make the contacts, then so be it. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Doing research and writing is for litigators and with that you would have to be in court. You will not likely find job sharing (I am a lawyer and have not heard of that with lawyers). Working from home maybe, but definitely not as a new attorney. The market is really bad now. Sorry, but this does not seem like the best option for you. Good luck.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I started law school at 34, but I wouldn't recommend it for you. Your criteria doesn't exist in this climate. Jobs are scarce as it is and many people coming out of top tier law schools are having trouble finding a job. Job sharing is already hard to find, but no one will give you that option right out of law school when you basically know nothing. Since you don't want to go to court, the only option as a lawyer that meets your criteria is to hang your own shingle and try to hook up with lawyers who want to hire you to do law and motion or appellate work. It seems like you might be better suited to going back to school and getting a paralegal certificate from an ABA certified school. You'll still have billable hour requirements, but more quality of life.

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answers from San Diego on

Hi Jae-

I have been a lawyer here in San Diego county (north county) for 6 years and a mom for 3 of those years. Although part-time work is available (and more so now due to the economy-some firms are reluctant to commit to a full-time associate until they are sure there is sufficient work), in general, it is hard to come by. That being said, there are alternatives, such as part time general counsel (in-house) or opening your own firm and setting your own hours. My husband, who is also a lawyer, opened up his own firm last year. It is hard work, but possible (especially if money isn't an issue). However, I think you would need to get some experience working for another attorney before opening your own shop.

My final word of wisdom is that the legal market is extremely competitive right now-once you finish law school, yu will noit only be competing with new admittees, but also all of the unemployed over the last several years. There still are not very many associate positions available in San Diego. Either way, if you find the right niche, being a lawyer can be very fulfilling.

Good luck with your decision!


answers from Los Angeles on

One of my best friends is going through law school. She is in debt big big time and barely has any time for herself with all the studying, tests, blah blah. It would be an amazing career, but it will take up a lot of your time. What about doing paralegal stuff? You can work in that environment, make a lot of money, and wouldn't have to worry about the insane amount of school.


answers from St. Louis on

Okay, not an attorney though my brother is. When I went back to school I considered law. After I crunched the numbers, tuition v earning potential, I went with accounting.

When you look at the earning potential and the difference in tuition I would have to practice for 15 years before law started to exceed accounting. At that point I would be 58 years old. Considering I want to retire around 70 there would have been five years of marginally earning more and seven years of good earnings.

My brother is an excellent attorney and has practiced for 15 years. He makes around $100,000 a year and works on average 55 hours a week.

What I am saying is what you are describing you would have about 150,000 in student loans just for law school and part time you would be making less than 30,000 a year.

Ya know, with accounting I actually know more about tax law than my brother. He consults with me if he has a quick question though his firm keeps a tax attorney on staff.

You may want to consider accounting but even then at your age it is tough to find the challenging jobs. If I had to do it over again I would have used my math skills to be an actuary. Number one for employee satisfaction but you do have to be a nerd.



answers from Dallas on

Unless you go full-time at a law firm, I can't imagine you will ever make back the money you put into law school. I hate to bust your dream, but law school will set you back at least 50K to 100K for the three years. Most firms that will even take on part-time lawyers won't pay much per year and with your other expenses you will be paying off student loans forever. However, what type of flexiblity are you looking for? Do you want to be home when they get home from school, or do you want the flexibility to be able to go to games or school functions or take a day off when they are sick? If you just want to be available and not necessarily home all the time, you can find a full time job that will give you the flexiblity to work from home some days and be able to take time off to attend functions. I would recommend staying out of litigation as it can be extremely time consuming and take time away from family. I worked in the litigation department at a lawfirm as a secretary and quite frequently, I would have to work late and some nights I would be there after midnight, and I was the secretary, the lawyers always stayed later. However, I was fortunate to be at a firm that valued weekends. So a big reason for working late during the week was to have the weekends to ourselves. I didn't have a family then so it wasn't a big deal and the money was great, but now with a toddler and babies on the way, I would never go back to those hours. I would assume the pay would be similiar in California as it was in the DC area, but I worked as a legal secretary working 9-5, without overtime and still made 55K starting out. I was lucky to find a law firm that was flexible with my time as long as I worked hard. It maybe something to look into.



answers from Tulsa on

My friend went back and got her law degree. She has no kids and easily remembers everything she reads. She moved and had to give up a government job that only paid $55,000 plus benefits. She signed up to be a public defender and really kissed up to the court employees who assign the lawyers. She made $12,000 in one month. Then they implemented a rotation of lawyers so some could not get most of the cases. She made $1400 after expenses that month. She works out of a home office and meets clients in the courthouse meeting area. Her expenses include yearly legal training among other things. She had been told she could work out of her home and make up to $230,000, but it has not happened for her. I should add, she is attractive and popular. She is answering her phone 24 hours a day/7days a week. She is also considering not working anymore as she is on call always yet not making the bucks.



answers from Cleveland on

I like the paralegal option and it sounds like it would fit you well and be a quicker education.

Not sure but isn't there something where people are payed ( or volunteer not sure which) to accompany people to their hearings. Sort of like emotional support. Is that aspect appealing at all???

What about trying to get a job working the records office or the place you apply for marriage lisences and file your deeds??

It just doesn't sound like the expense of law school would ever be justified if you don't want to at least shoot for making a parnter. Money isn't everything, but you'd be old for the field by the time you finished and the monetary investment doesn't seem lilke it would pay off. Paralegal sounds like a better fit.

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