Hey everyone. I’m currently working in public interest & making about 60k. My job gives me retirement & health insurance. I’m also in the loan forgiveness program. An opportunity to go into private law for 60-70k WITHOUT insurance or retirement has arisen. It’s potentially a partnership track & I was told that it could be “worthwhile for me to take a risk” and go into private. I wanted to gauge what those in private practice thought. It’s a small firm. Would the switch be worth it overall?

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Personally, I see little value in going from public interest to a firm for an overall compensation decrease, unless: 1) you really dislike the current job and feel like your skills are not developing as a lawyer 2) you really want to eventually make partner and this is literally the only shop in town where that's going to be an option 3) staying at your current gig will irrevocably pigeon hole you in a way that you are not comfortable with

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Thank you, I really appreciate it!! Any and all advice helps.

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Don’t do it.

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Would going into private practice make you ineligible for the loan forgiveness program, in which case loans would eat up a chunk of your salary? I see no reason to take this offer unless you’re unhappy in your current role. If that is the case, I’d look for a private practice role that gives you a pay bump. Also, I‘d be skeptical of anyone selling promises of partner track unless it’s a clearly defined and/or short path. Can you try and speak with more people in the firm to get their honest perspective on the work and promotion path there?

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Yes it would make me ineligible. Thank you! I appreciate the advice !

Is it a similar practice area or a pivot? If a pivot, I would take it. Especially if it’s something you really want to do (an opportunity of a lifetime) If it’s in the same realm, I’m not sure You should go unless there is a chance for you to make a bonus that can help take care of those insurance fees. Don’t be too hasty! If it’s not an opportunity of a life time, You should wait.

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How far along are you in PSLF and what's the ultimate amount you'll have forgiven? Those should be big considerations in leaving your current job.

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I agree with everyone here. Don’t do it. I work in public interest and have turned down opportunities in private even for big pay bump because of PSLF, benefits, stability, work/life balance, and of course the fulfillment of doing what I think is the most important work we can do as advocates. Agree with all here. If there was a big pay increase, the analysis would be different.

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No. I was with a large private firm for many years then in-house with a major corporation. I am now with a private firm representing cities. The value of retirement benefits is HUGE. The cost of insurance is going up and will continue to do so. Loan forgiveness is also a huge benefit. If you include the value of all of those benefits, you’re making a very good amount. In addition, you don’t have to really worry about layoffs and presumably your hours are set. There is no assurance to make partner and if you do you have to pay for your insurance and save for retirement on your own. You are nuts to leave!

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Thank you for your advice!!

I worked for a public interest firm for awhile before going into private practice years ago and got my friend a job at that same public interest firm. I left, feeling like my career was stagnanting, viewing it as a dead-end job, while she stayed. Now, I am a partner in a big firm, and she is executive director of that same public interest firm--two very different paths, but we are very different people. I always thought she didn't have much ambition or passion for her career. I love being a lawyer, love being challenged, a leader in my profession and having my compensation tied to my performance. She treats her position as a J.O.B., putting in as little time and effort as possible, counting pennies for retirement--not who I am! I paid off my student loan and have saved for retirement just like her, but did it on my own. So, it depends on what your career objectives are. Everybody has to find their own path!

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I’m not sure how there could be no insurance. You can find a private sector job for they salary with insurance so I would hold out.

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Unless you’re aware that partnership is worth it, then why bother? If it’s too unprofitable to pay a decent salary or benefits, then it’s not worth being a partner there to share in such low profits right? Many lawyers are terrible businessmen and while partnership sounds appealing, its sometimes better to not tie yourself to a sinking ship

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Almost every private firm will dangle partnership track in front of you. You’ll probably break even at best once you pay for your health insurance.

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