Home Forums Law School Admission Job Outlook In Estate Planning

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    Hi Everyone,

    My situation is a bit atypical. I’m 43 years old, and have been working as a Software Developer my whole career. I just recently finished the courses for the Certified Financial Planner Certificate, and I’m planning to take the certification exam next March.

    I started out thinking I’d be a CFP with an emphasis on Retirement Planning and Investing,but I really enjoyed the Estate Planning course, which is one of the 5 areas that make up the CFP certification.

    I like Estate Planning much better than all the other material, but the problem is that I can’t do most of the actual Estate Planning work without a law degree.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1)I’ve read a lot about how many people with law degrees have been unable to find jobs in recent years, even before the mess of the last couple of years. Does anyone know if the job prospects in Estate Planning are as bad as law in general? Worse? I’m sure the economy isn’t helping right now, but in general, are Estate Planning positions hard to come by? Is the competition as high as in other areas of law?

    2)I’m wondering if the prestige of schools matter much for me. I hope to have my own practice eventually, and be a CFP, with an emphasis on Estate Planning. But I’ll probably want to work for someone else for a few years to get some experience, before going off on my own. I know the competition is fierce for corporate law positions with big firms, and that the law school you attend matters a lot. Does anyone know if the situation is different for Estate Planning? I guess I have the same question about grades. Do you need top grades in Law School to get a job doing Estate Planning, assuming I’m willing to work for just about any firm that knows what they’re doing, and is willing to teach me the ropes? I don’t have the undergrad grades to even worry about the top schools. I’m probably looking at tiers 3 and 4.

    3)This one might be for a forum with people actually working as Estate Planners, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to be get a decent paying job(let’s say 80K or up) as an Estate Planning attorney, if I’m mostly interested in designing Estate Plans, and don’t want to get involved in litigation.

    4)This again, might be a question for people already working at a law firm. How does compensation work for newly hired attorneys? One of the problems I’m having trying to figure out how to make the transition from my current job to a financial planning position is that most entry level positions pay only 40 – 50K in salary, and the rest is all commission based. I can’t afford to support my family on a salary like that. I’m sure law firms want their junior associates to bring in business, but I haven’t heard of any kind of commission type structure. Do they just do bonuses at the end of the year if you bring in business, or is it just expected, and you get a pat on the back? Is it unrealistic to think I could get a job paying 80K or up out of law school, and have it guaranteed, with no pressure to sell?

    OK, thanks. Any help on any of these would be greatly appreciated.


    I would advise you not to go to law school unless you can get into a top school and make excellent grades in law school. Prestige matters to almost all lawyers whether they’re in big or small firms.

    Estate planning is one of the hardest areas to get a job in. You would be lucky to find a job in the $40,000-50,000 range. Making $80,000 right out of a lower tier law school with average grades is unrealistic. Many solos who have been practicing for a while don’t even make that much.

    Your age is a negative as well. Older law school graduates have a harder time getting a job than younger ones.

    If you go to a 3 to 4 tier law school and get average grades, you are virtually guaranteeing that you’ll have to open your own practice right after law school. The hardest part won’t be learning the law; it’ll be getting clients. If you don’t have a sales type personality, your chance of success goes down considerably.

    How do I know all this? I’ve lived it.


    I think you should weigh things out. If you think you can get clients to be interested, you should go for it.


    Same here. Unless you have contacts or tons of referrals than can be your clients, it will be difficult to be an attorney.

    1. Finish at a well known school.
    2. Get very good grades if not on the top 10 of the license exam.


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