CS career megathread / AMA

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wizzy
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by wizzy » Tue Dec 15, 2020 6:32 pm

But I think the point about upward mobility is a good one because the $90k IBM dude can make the jump to $200k in his mid 20s more easily than someone who worked at a small law firm trying to jump to biglaw after a few years.

And even if you're not focusing on the Bay Area (biglaw equivalent of NY), you probably have more geographic flexibility than someone in biglaw too since biglaw generally ties you to a few major cities (NY, DC, LA, SF, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Philly, Boston).

Then when you leave biglaw, you get hit with a paycut, while as a SWE, you can have a suralin path and keep growing comp. Or at minimum get some nice equity that will grow for you, which provides a functional raise at vesting as long as your stock is generating market+ returns.

rustyshackelfordd

Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by rustyshackelfordd » Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am

Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.

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jingosaur
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by jingosaur » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:10 am

rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
You won't make 400k in tech law until at least 6 years at a firm and you will most likely be working 60+ hours a week. If you make partner after like 10 years, you could start making 7 figures but that's a huge if. I would rather be in your spot. I started in big law out of YHS with the intention of making partner and I was out after 3 or so years against my will. Now I make significantly less than first years and people at big firms still ask me how I got my job and how they can get a similar gig.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:49 am

jingosaur wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:10 am
rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
You won't make 400k in tech law until at least 6 years at a firm and you will most likely be working 60+ hours a week. If you make partner after like 10 years, you could start making 7 figures but that's a huge if. I would rather be in your spot. I started in big law out of YHS with the intention of making partner and I was out after 3 or so years against my will. Now I make significantly less than first years and people at big firms still ask me how I got my job and how they can get a similar gig.
yeah, I would choose working 30 hours a week for 400k over literally any law job...partners who make seven figures generally have terrible lives and $400k is well past the point where you're hitting diminishing returns for each additional dollar. And since there's no world in which you clear a $400k/year salary faster than 8 or 9 years in law (including school), better to just dump a ton of that comp into the market and let compound interest do work for you. Definitely don't become a lawyer for the career prospects, unless you think that you won't be happy if you don't do law (but you're almost certainly wrong about that).

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wizzy
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by wizzy » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:10 pm

jingosaur wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:10 am
rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
You won't make 400k in tech law until at least 6 years at a firm and you will most likely be working 60+ hours a week. If you make partner after like 10 years, you could start making 7 figures but that's a huge if. I would rather be in your spot. I started in big law out of YHS with the intention of making partner and I was out after 3 or so years against my will. Now I make significantly less than first years and people at big firms still ask me how I got my job and how they can get a similar gig.
Agree with this. If you like your comp and work-life balance, then I would stay in tech. As he said, you'd be trading 400k and 30 hours/week for 200k and 60+ hours/week as a first-year associate after three years of law school.

Also, you'd be giving up your extremely generous benefits. If you enjoy your $9750 401k match, mega backdoor Roth, free health insurance, free food, HSA seed money, fertility/surrogacy assistance, baby bonding bucks, etc. then you might get some sticker shock when you show up in biglaw and see that your comp is effectively just base + bonus with almost no benefits. Zero 401k match, expensive health insurance plans, and forget all the other stuff.

There's no guarantee you make it 6-8 years in biglaw just to get back where you are now but with way worse benefits and hours. And if you're going for biglaw partner upside, then I would think you'd have around the same odds of making it to L8 / director in tech (or you could join a tech company with high upside and have your RSU grant go from 500k/4 to 6M/4 like snap did from $5/share to $60/share).

But the difference is that you could still plateau at L5/L6 for the rest of your career and make good money, while in biglaw, there's a high likelihood you'd burn out or be pushed out.

How dead set are you on becoming a lawyer? Could you achieve some of your goals by pivoting to another job within tech (PM or TPgM on a legal team)?

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wizzy
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by wizzy » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:13 pm

BlendedUnicorn wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:49 am
jingosaur wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:10 am
rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
You won't make 400k in tech law until at least 6 years at a firm and you will most likely be working 60+ hours a week. If you make partner after like 10 years, you could start making 7 figures but that's a huge if. I would rather be in your spot. I started in big law out of YHS with the intention of making partner and I was out after 3 or so years against my will. Now I make significantly less than first years and people at big firms still ask me how I got my job and how they can get a similar gig.
yeah, I would choose working 30 hours a week for 400k over literally any law job...partners who make seven figures generally have terrible lives and $400k is well past the point where you're hitting diminishing returns for each additional dollar. And since there's no world in which you clear a $400k/year salary faster than 8 or 9 years in law (including school), better to just dump a ton of that comp into the market and let compound interest do work for you. Definitely don't become a lawyer for the career prospects, unless you think that you won't be happy if you don't do law (but you're almost certainly wrong about that).
And the best part about tech imo is that tech does this for you with their huge stock grants that grow over your time with the company. Suralin has posted some of his offers here, and you can easily track the companies he's talking about where $400k/4 years or $500k/4 years in an RSU grant turns into $2M/4 years using the vest prices.

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wizzy
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by wizzy » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:14 pm

Even if you don't hit a 4 or 5 bagger with your company, you're still likely generating QQQ returns with your tech company effectively investing all of that money up front for you. And lately that has meant your stock doubles during your RSU grant period.

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waldorf
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by waldorf » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:22 pm

rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
I graduated law school in 2020 and am in a relatively good position compared to most: no student loan debt, biglaw job at a relatively humane firm/group working with people I genuinely like, etc. and I still regret going to law school instead of doing STEM and going into tech. You're netting almost half a mil and only working 30 hour weeks. I would cut off my left arm to be in your position.

Edit: also, tech benefits are amazing and biglaw benefits are terrible, as someone else mentioned. The health insurance is awful--I'm on a very expensive plan with a very high deductible, so I'm paying for insurance every month + like $2000 in healthcare costs so far this year thanks to the deductible (tbf, this is unusual for me, I've had a few health issues recently). Only 12 weeks of paid maternity leave which isn't even enough time for many women to fully recover physically from giving birth, let alone focus on spending time with their new baby. I think paternity leave is like 2 weeks which is just lol. No 401(k) match sucks too.

I definitely don't hate my life/job or anything like that, but I'd never leave a tech job for it.

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by icechicken » Fri Apr 16, 2021 1:17 pm

waldorf wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:22 pm
Edit: also, tech benefits are amazing and biglaw benefits are terrible, as someone else mentioned. The health insurance is awful--I'm on a very expensive plan with a very high deductible, so I'm paying for insurance every month + like $2000 in healthcare costs so far this year thanks to the deductible (tbf, this is unusual for me, I've had a few health issues recently). Only 12 weeks of paid maternity leave which isn't even enough time for many women to fully recover physically from giving birth, let alone focus on spending time with their new baby. I think paternity leave is like 2 weeks which is just lol. No 401(k) match sucks too.

I definitely don't hate my life/job or anything like that, but I'd never leave a tech job for it.
This underscores the massive subjective difference between working in law and tech: tech employers are desperate to retain top talent, or even just competence in some cases, whereas legal employers (at least the ones that pay a lot) are fine with 25% turnover.

So tech compensation is too-good-to-leave whereas biglaw compensation is barely-enough-to-not-quit-on-any-given-Tuesday

rustyshackelfordd

Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by rustyshackelfordd » Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:22 pm

Wow, thank you for the response everyone! This is super realistic. I do have a follow-on -- is it possible to make the lateral switch from something like BigLaw into in-house counsel in tech? I'm interested in a fairly specific niche in the technology sector (machine learning, cybersecurity, AI) and am curious about legal roles that deal directly with that. I'm early-mid 20s, if that helps, and am definitely curious about leadership roles in technology companies as a lawyer, such as a GC role (but please correct me if I'm missing anything, I haven't actually gone to law school).

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by icechicken » Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:32 pm

GC of a major company is a late-career stretch goal which you can't really plan around. It's like getting into accounting so you can be the CFO. Being a random in-house lawyer at some tech company is realistic assuming relevant SME, good law school, and a stint in biglaw, but that's a lot of manure-shoveling just to get to a job which, on balance, isn't really any better than where you started.

Also, if you really mean roles that deal directly with, say, machine learning then you're probably looking at patent lit, which I'm not going to pretend to understand but which I'm pretty sure is not what you have in mind.

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:25 pm

icechicken wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:32 pm
GC of a major company is a late-career stretch goal which you can't really plan around. It's like getting into accounting so you can be the CFO. Being a random in-house lawyer at some tech company is realistic assuming relevant SME, good law school, and a stint in biglaw, but that's a lot of manure-shoveling just to get to a job which, on balance, isn't really any better than where you started.

Also, if you really mean roles that deal directly with, say, machine learning then you're probably looking at patent lit, which I'm not going to pretend to understand but which I'm pretty sure is not what you have in mind.
This, plus also I’m kind of skeptical that even high level lawyers at tech companies are the ones doing the really innovative thinking. Like best case scenario for a lawyer who wants to work on AI is that you’re working on telling the business unit why they can’t do x, y, and z of their AI plan. More likely you’re going to be overseeing litigation resulting from the follow on effects of the business unit doing thing x anyway, or drafting contracts so that your company can finance a purchase of a start up that does thing y, or figuring out how to design a click wrap arbitration agreement that stops you from getting sued for thing z. Business schools probably a better bet for that sort of stuff.

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by wizzy » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:56 pm

I'll offer a slightly more positive perspective and say that I think you *can* advise on ML/AI-related products as pcounsel. It typically will be yes, you can implement X feature vs. no, you can't implement Y feature. But I do think that for someone with your background, PMs and SWEs would respect your expertise, and you might be able to find creative workarounds knowing the tech stack where you can provide more of a "no, but" answer: No, your product won't work if you do it like currently described in your design doc, but have you considered this alternative design to mitigate some of the legal risk?

Companies like Google, FB, and Snap have a lot of interesting product counsel work in the ML space and do pay 320-400k for 4-5 years of experience (obviously can go higher with stock appreciation if you join in a bull market). I'd imagine you'd also be somewhat of a unicorn for those companies understanding both the code and the legal side of things. That said, you're still looking at putting in 3 years of law school and several years of biglaw to get back to where you are now at 400k. The opportunity cost / time spent in biglaw is pretty huge.

And the path to GC is basically still impossible. You're looking at counsel, lead counsel, associate general counsel, director, VP, maybe another VP, and then GC as rungs on the ladder for these tech giants. Most people will top out in the L7 / associate general counsel range.

The gist is that this might be a dream path for somebody who already went to law school but not for somebody like you who already has much better options (without needing to go to law school).

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by Johannes » Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:48 pm

Yeah just echoing all of the above.

Only point that hasn’t been hit on yet that I’d add is I think you are glorifying/making law out to be something it’s not.

Talk to some of the product counsel at your company and ask about their jobs day to day. I don’t really see the overlap with someone working in AI/ML and law. The creativity you get to push is so different from law. You’re basically working in an unbounded field that just hit NN breakthrough many thought impossible 15 years ago (my laymen understanding from reading) and you’d be transitioning to law based on foundations and principles 100 years old that’s mostly all settled. For every 2 hours of cool tangential work on AIML you’d be doing, you’ll be spending 15 hours of time in meetings and managing email about bs.

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by Johannes » Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:49 pm

TLDR: what about the law is appealing to you as you understand it??

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by app » Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:07 pm

rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
In the same boat regarding tech work and interests, except no admission.

Which type of company and work in tech do you do? Swe area? App stats/profile?

Dont think you'd make more money from law school, but not sure if thats your goal or if its your only aim.

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by app » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:00 pm

waldorf wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:22 pm
rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
I graduated law school in 2020 and am in a relatively good position compared to most: no student loan debt, biglaw job at a relatively humane firm/group working with people I genuinely like, etc. and I still regret going to law school instead of doing STEM and going into tech. You're netting almost half a mil and only working 30 hour weeks. I would cut off my left arm to be in your position.

Edit: also, tech benefits are amazing and biglaw benefits are terrible, as someone else mentioned. The health insurance is awful--I'm on a very expensive plan with a very high deductible, so I'm paying for insurance every month + like $2000 in healthcare costs so far this year thanks to the deductible (tbf, this is unusual for me, I've had a few health issues recently). Only 12 weeks of paid maternity leave which isn't even enough time for many women to fully recover physically from giving birth, let alone focus on spending time with their new baby. I think paternity leave is like 2 weeks which is just lol. No 401(k) match sucks too.

I definitely don't hate my life/job or anything like that, but I'd never leave a tech job for it.

Waldorf, what major in stem? Which law school?

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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by app » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:07 pm

rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:22 pm
Wow, thank you for the response everyone! This is super realistic. I do have a follow-on -- is it possible to make the lateral switch from something like BigLaw into in-house counsel in tech? I'm interested in a fairly specific niche in the technology sector (machine learning, cybersecurity, AI) and am curious about legal roles that deal directly with that. I'm early-mid 20s, if that helps, and am definitely curious about leadership roles in technology companies as a lawyer, such as a GC role (but please correct me if I'm missing anything, I haven't actually gone to law school).
btw, I'm in a similar niche area as well. The good thing is ai is still very underdeveloped imo as far as legal issues regarding it are concerned. At your age you'd be able to ride that wave if it comes.
How important is good money similar to tech comp a consideration for you?

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waldorf
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Re: CS career megathread / AMA

Post by waldorf » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:35 pm

app wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:00 pm
waldorf wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:22 pm
rustyshackelfordd wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:17 am
Hi!

Kind of a strange question, but I have a quick question about pivoting from a career *in* tech to a career in law school. I was really lucky and able to net roughly 400K+ this year in tech and am having a few second thoughts about whether a legal career is appropriate, primarily because I work maybe 30 hours a week and have extremely generous benefits. Is it possible to exceed this range in a substantial way as a lawyer? Are there a lot of examples of people like me who switched out and became lawyers in the legal tech space? I'm very interested in tech policy and am hoping for a good "lateral", and law school seemed like the most appropriate slot. I am going to a to HYS, but am able to pay out of pocket so will not be taking debt.
I graduated law school in 2020 and am in a relatively good position compared to most: no student loan debt, biglaw job at a relatively humane firm/group working with people I genuinely like, etc. and I still regret going to law school instead of doing STEM and going into tech. You're netting almost half a mil and only working 30 hour weeks. I would cut off my left arm to be in your position.

Edit: also, tech benefits are amazing and biglaw benefits are terrible, as someone else mentioned. The health insurance is awful--I'm on a very expensive plan with a very high deductible, so I'm paying for insurance every month + like $2000 in healthcare costs so far this year thanks to the deductible (tbf, this is unusual for me, I've had a few health issues recently). Only 12 weeks of paid maternity leave which isn't even enough time for many women to fully recover physically from giving birth, let alone focus on spending time with their new baby. I think paternity leave is like 2 weeks which is just lol. No 401(k) match sucks too.

I definitely don't hate my life/job or anything like that, but I'd never leave a tech job for it.

Waldorf, what major in stem? Which law school?
I went to Wash U for law school. I wish I did computer science or engineering

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