REPURPOSING THE JURIS DOCTORATE
What to do you when you realize you’re not going to become a lawyer smack in the middle of law school? That’s the dilemma Christopher LoGalbo, who graduated from Brooklyn Law School last year, had to come to terms with. The thing is, he’s very happy with where he is now and has few regrets. Forget law students—that something most people in the working world can’t say.
Of course, he took a few twists and turns to get to that sweet spot. First, LoGalbo realized he didn’t want to be a litigator, which was his original plan. “While there’s a lot of great jobs out there in the public sector that would allow me to do what I wanted to do—like being a prosecutor or public defender—I realized that with $200,000 of student loans, it wouldn’t be possible for me to live the life that I wanted to lead and work a job like that,” he says.
The next step? Big law. “I worked as hard as I possibly could to get an offer at a large law firm,” LoGalbo says. He excelled at school, joined law review, et cetera. The work paid off—he got into the summer associate program at Moses & Singer—but the victory was short-lived. “I got a summer associate position that was really hard to get, and I was like, ‘I’m going to be happy there,’ and then I realized that I just wasn’t as happy as I thought,” he says. Big firm life didn’t fulfill the desires that led him to law school in the first place. “Instead of representing Joe Smith from up the block that’s in a contract dispute with a guy that screwed over his business, you’re representing a multi-billion dollar corporation that is litigating for the next five years,” LoGalbo explains. “So it’s not really the same experience that I wanted, and I felt like I had to take that path to make the money that I needed to make to pay down my student loans.”
The final step? Abandoning all standard protocols and figuring out what he actually wanted to do with his life. “I went to every networking event that I could possibly go to, I reached out to every alumni that potentially had a connection to Binghamton [his undergraduate college] and my fraternity, and tried to find people in all different walks of the earth doing all different kinds of jobs,” he says. He estimates that he met with or shadowed more than 30 people during his last year of law school.
After crossing off many, many careers, LoGalbo finally found what makes him tick. He used LinkedIn to search for people who were using their JDs in unconventional ways and eventually shadowed a trader and an investment banker. “I came to find through that process that finance and the public markets made me happy,” he says. “It’s fast-paced, intense, every day is different, everything is changing at all times, you’re surrounded by very, very smart people that are doing very incredible things, and it was just fascinating, and I absolutely fell in love with it,” he gushes.
He spent some time roaming New York City in a suit and tie, resumes in hand, before he landed his current job. He found out about Susquehanna International Group (SIG), a global trading firm, because all the founders had gone to Binghamton. “I figured it was a good opportunity to attempt to knock on their door,” he says. He doesn’t think that connection got him hired, though. “I never ended up speaking with any of the founders, and I don’t think they even saw my resume, so I don’t think it made a difference in the end,” he says.
What did make a difference was knowing how to market his JD. LoGalbo highlighted his organizational skills, attention to detail, writing ability, and persuasive speaking experience. “Find things that law school hammers into your head and makes you focus on and find ways to shape those skills into the context of the job that you’re applying for,” he advises. “And the only way to find out what the job is really like is to speak with contacts, find connections in the industry, and shadow if you can. And if you can’t shadow, just offer to meet them for coffee and pick their brain. Try and find a way to get information about what that job is really like, so that you can go in the interview with an edge and be able to pitch your experience based on the information you’ve gleaned from those people about the job.”
All things considered, LoGalbo is glad he went to law school. “Everyone’s a CFA or an MBA that I work with, and the fact that I have a JD kind of makes me stand out,” he says. “Even though I may not be as qualified as the guy with the MBA from Yale or Harvard, the fact that I have a JD gives me a different perspective.”
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