Tutor after law school

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Wumbo

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Tutor after law school

Postby Wumbo » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:17 am

I'm currently a 3L at YHS, and despite having an offer from a firm, I'm considering just tutoring after law school instead if I can get a job at one of the higher paying companies (or perhaps just go solo).

I got 99+ percentile on LSAT, so that would qualify me for the better companies, and I also happened to score above 99th on GRE, so that would me to get more hours if I did get a job at a place that teaches both.

As for the reasons why, the main reasons are flexibility, job satisfaction, and good pay, with the latter two obviously being orders of magnitude superior to big law, and the latter being still pretty high in absolute terms, especially if I got a gig paying 100 an hour.

For example, at that rate, even if I only worked an average of 10hrs a week, 50 weeks a year, I would be living as well as a public defender (50k) who basically got 4 free sick days a week. At 20hrs a week, I would be making more than a successful small law attorney (100k), and at 30hrs a week (150k) I'd be approaching biglaw numbers. The only thing I'd be lacking is the "prestige" of being a practicing attorney, but then again (a) I don't really give a shit, and (b) I already have plenty of fucking prestige from going to YHS.

Also, I don't have any debt, and never wanted to practice (I'm pursuing other "JD advantage" opportunities in case anyone cares, though tbh even compared to those tutoring seems pretty desirable).

Is there something I'm missing? Is there a reason more of those who don't want to practice don't go this route for reasons other than the sunk cost fallacy (which undoubtedly some of you will likewise commit when asking me why I want to do this)?

Thoughts would be appreciated.

AJordan

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby AJordan » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:47 pm

Being qualified != able to get paid. The market isn't exactly free from flooding. Sure, it's possible, but it's not like everybody working for these companies gets ten hours a week. I work for one, have a niche, and while I have months where I can get 40+ hours fairly easily I also have months where I have a big fat donut. If anybody has an hours guarantee I would love to hear about it.

Maybe solo would be better? That's probably location dependent more than anything else. Getting that initial set of business is easier said than done on your own I imagine. Companies make you sign a non compete so it's not like you can supplement the former with the latter.

Wumbo

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby Wumbo » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:55 am

AJordan wrote:Being qualified != able to get paid. The market isn't exactly free from flooding. Sure, it's possible, but it's not like everybody working for these companies gets ten hours a week. I work for one, have a niche, and while I have months where I can get 40+ hours fairly easily I also have months where I have a big fat donut. If anybody has an hours guarantee I would love to hear about it.

Maybe solo would be better? That's probably location dependent more than anything else. Getting that initial set of business is easier said than done on your own I imagine. Companies make you sign a non compete so it's not like you can supplement the former with the latter.


Thanks. I thought about testing the waters through solo (as in advertising as a tutor and seeing how easy it is to land business) before trying to work for a company, but tbh I don't think I'd make a good tutor right now anyway, so I thought it may be more optimal to work for company, get good training, then quit and breach the non-compete if I can't get enough work, since they're not enforceable in most states anyway as long as you don't work for the company anymore.

Weird that it's so unstable though. Are all these guys part-timers? Seems difficult to believe that companies could reel in so many 1% test takers without providing them a semi-steady income. Anecdotally, I do know of a guy here that works 20 hours a week for a better paying company, and supposedly would work more if it weren't for the school policy to work less than 20 as a student (though perhaps that 20 hours a week isn't every week but rather only when he gets that much work).

AJordan

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby AJordan » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:53 am

Part of me just thinks that if it was that easy and that lucrative the jobs would never come open. I agree that going company first is a good way to learn how to teach the test. I want to say it took me a year before I was completely comfortable adjusting on the fly during 1-on-1s and that was the point I felt genuine confidence in my ability. But there are also times where I compare my payout to the price the students are paying and definitely contemplate how to go solo. If you know a guy and have a way in to 20 hours a week I say go for it. Not all gigs pay 100/hour btw.

Also, they're not all hiring just 1%ers. One large company, for instance, has a reputation for hiring instructors who scored in the low-mid 160s which, to me, is part of the reason why they have such a poor reputation. But the name carries weight so they don't need to hire 170+. *shrug* economics.

Wumbo

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby Wumbo » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:38 am

Thanks for the advice. Just as a clarification, when you say there are some months where you can get 40+ hours, is that per week or for the whole month? Assuming the latter, are there other instructors that consistently get more, and if so, how are they able to do so?

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UBETutoring

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby UBETutoring » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:21 pm

Hi, I don't want to give too much away so as to retain some level of anonymity, but between a 9-6 in-house position and 20 hours of LSAT tutoring a week I do very well - with relatively low stress, because I don't "need" $200k a year and it's not exactly $200k or $0 like it is in big law. If I lost my in-house job, I'd still have tutoring and if tutoring fell, I'd still have my in-house job. These are the positives.

Drawbacks:

For starters, my earning potential is capped to some extent. You can't really have a f/t 9-5/9-6 and tutor for 40 hours a week, there's no paid parternity/maternity leave for part-time jobs and there's only so much you can realisitically earn as a tutor. There's no million dollar potential the way there is if you're a partner. Granted, this isn't available to 99% of lawyers, but with this course of action you're basically punting on that 1%.

I work about as many hours as a big law associate, and any vacations are lost revenue. I would actually say tutoring is misleadingly draining, because it's 1:1 work. When you work at an office, you can also have your phone and gchat on and check ESPN and that good stuff from time to time. There's also a good deal of schmoozing, and time is never really 1:1. Tutoring is by its very nature work that requires you to be 100% present for an entire chunk of time. Nevertheless, I am very lucky to be successful at this and to have a reputation that allows me to earn more power than I would working at any law firm.

Another drawback is that you get much better the more that you tutor, but that it can take years to reach a point where you understand the nuances of the test so well that you can start to identify individual question writers in the LR section, break the test down like a science and be able to identify what a student is thinking (they may not even be aware of it), and mold that thinking in a way that's productive yet respectful. The issue is that by the time you become a great tutor, the test is boring - it's like playing a video game you've already beaten over and over again whereas in big law there are at least new challenges. The positive is that students, even the less agreeable ones are always easier to get along with than partners.

General notes:

I'm personally of the mindset that if you're good enough and have marketable credentials, working for a large company is a losing effort because (1) you're limited to the clients they give you, which means you need to play office politics and bet that their marketers are talented enough to drive in more business for you than you can independently, (2) most require a non-compete and (3) most require you to use their copywritten methods, which is going to make it difficult to ever branch out without risking subjecting yourself to liability. I'm saying this as someone who also trains and outsources tutors so this is against my self-interest, but I think there's a cost in working for a company rather than working for an individual student.

There's also a positive in being paid by the student directly, and in my experience, the general public and clientele are much more trustworthy and considerate than large companies. When I tutored the bar exam for a large company, it took months and months to get paid and if I wasn't annoying about it, I don't think I would have gotten paid. In addition, their tax forms initially stated they paid me more than they did and if I didn't catch this, I would have paid add'l taxes on money I didn't make. It was sorted out, but these are headaches that don't happen when you're an independent tutor. The worst thing that happens is you get last-minute cancelations, but these are rare and an impromptu night off is never a bad thing.

I'd also say that if you are a racial or religious minority or have a disability, being an independent tutor is also much better because companies, law firms or otherwise are more likely to discriminate than the general public. Companies are more concerned with your marketabiltiy than your skill level, and tend to overestimate how discriminatory society is. You may get hired if you wear a burqa or are in a wheelchair, but you aren't going to get as many students from them as you would if you didn't have the disability or looked like their conception of society's conception of a tutor. 99% of students just care about one thing: are you good? The free market is very kind to people who are good at stuff.

As an HYS grad, my bet would be that you'd do fine on your own. The first question people ask before they go through a company is what are my tutor's credentials, and being an HYS Law grad is extraordinarily marketable to potential students much like it is to legal clients, which is why law firms favor it so much. If you go the company route, I'd opt for one that doesn't require a non-compete agreement.

That said, there are tutors who I would say are probably as good as I am who are underappreciated by the market due to where they are located, having a more bleh personality or a poor marketing sense. Some locations such as Southern California and Boston are overly saturated, and it takes a different personality style to draw in tutoring clientele than to work in big law. In big law, the understated robots with great smiles are great candidates, and socially awkward/shy people can do well as long as they're not weird. One-on-one work is more forgiving to quirky people, but requires much more extroversion and social intelligence - the ability to read people and body language. Marketing is also key, because there are a lot of weirdos in the private tutoring world and those that lie about their credentials who bring down the market for small shops and independent tutors, which is why it's imperative to develop a reputation that isolates you from the general public.

Hope this helps, and if you're interested in maybe getting some experience with me, feel free to PM!

AJordan

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby AJordan » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:32 pm

That's such a good response. I don't have much else to add.

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UBETutoring

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Re: Tutor after law school

Postby UBETutoring » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:05 pm

Thanks. Regarding how tutors stay busy within the company realm, I can speak to my experience both when I worked for a large company and when I started on my own:

1.) It's based on your relationship with your test center's tutoring coordinator. You're never going to know how many students they have, but when work is slow, they are definitely more popular than when it's abundant. It's really no different than getting hours if you work retail or at a restaurant. It's not like big law, because there the assignment coordinator doesn't have the same amount of power.

2.) Most importantly, it's based on your reputation. At most companies, this isn't your the reputation of your skill level. It's the reputation of reliability. The person setting you up with a student wants as close to 100% assurance that it will go smoothly with no drama. The first choice is always going to be the person who is the most reliable so the longer you're there, the greater the percentage of work you'll get simply because you're reliable. Unfortunately, it's much better to be pretty good and very easy to get along with than it is to be really good and difficult or uncomfortable to be around. One of the tutors who once taught LSAT for me was a former college TA of mine who was a genius, had a 178, CCN degree and was getting a phD and could teach anyone but had no confidence and was depressed. Sometimes students would complain about them after a session or two, but sometimes he had 15-20 point improvements in only a few months. Still, I knew going in there'd be a decent, not likely but decent chance I'd have to refund the package and risk a bad Yelp review. If I didn't have a friendship with them, I wouldn't have made them first choice.

The most difficult part of managing an LSAT tutoring company is the constant need to replenish tutors. While I am tiny, wholly unimportant and the majority of it is just me, I'm confident this is the case for large companies too. Effective communicators who are likable and have amazing LSAT scores don't stick around for long. They ultimately go to a great law school, and matriculate into big law/a more lucrative career. What students often don't realize when they sign up for a tutor through a company is there's a very good chance they're getting someone with very little experience. The longer you're there, the more work you are likely to get simply by virtue of the fact that you'd have established reliability, and it's not much of a secret that there's a correlation between experience and effectiveness because most mistakes that people make aren't limited to them.

And regarding thinking on the spot --

I actually don't think this is a bad thing, because the student is able to see how you're breaking down the question and can replicate your approach. It's definitely important to be comfortable with thinking on the fly, and I'd imagine any half-intelligent student, particularly those with pretty strong starting scores won't be that impressed to see you dominate a logic game you prepared specifically for them. I can say in most situations I prefer to work with retakers with strong scores who bring in specific questions, because working through the same structure gets pretty goddamn repetitive after a few years. But after working a 9-5/6 and tutoring from 7-10, that 11-12 AM student who is still working on identifying conclusions can be a blessing. Whenever possible, you always want to schedule your weakest student last as they don't need you to be sharp, just patient and observant.



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