Reason Not to Go to Law School #47

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on May 23rd, 2010 by bl1y

The legal hiring donut.

Wow, look, two pink slips.  One for me and one for…hm… T-Pain.

I missed the boat, and
I’m unemployed, and
Moved in with the parents and gotta take the bar again,
Should’a been king of the world pullin’ one-sixty kilo,
Maybe happened for you, but not for me-oh.

Never thought I’d miss the boat,
It’s one big downhill road,
Sally Mae, stop calling meee.

This question comes from a reader, “That Guy,” who posted it in response to Reason #42 Not to Go to Law School.

I find it surprising that you know of people who were unable to find big law employment at NYU a T5 (T6) school. As someone questioning whether to go to law school, BL1Y, is it true that you’re pretty much fucked if you can’t land a big law position right out of law school since most big firms don’t hire unemployed recent gradates?

Yeah.  Pretty much.

Law firms have two roads in, you can either be recruited from your law school, or you can join as a lateral hire.  Law student recruiting usually goes through an on campus interview (OCI) week  where you’ll get a job for your second summer (few firms hire summer associates in their first summer).  At the end of the summer, you’ll probably get an offer for full time employment after graduation, starting around October (but with deferrals January, or even the next January).  In a good economy, about half of the firms that do on campus interviews will also consider 3L students who either didn’t get an offer from their summer gig, didn’t want to take it, or did a non-firm job for their summer.  Doesn’t mean half of the 3Ls that are looking for jobs will find them this way, just that half of the firms are willing to hear them out.

Then there’s lateral hiring for experienced attorneys.  These positions are aimed at either midlevel or senior associates, and typically ask for 3-5 years or 6-8 years of experience, and they generally are seeking people with very specific backgrounds, such as 3-5 years of international natural gas pipeline contract litigation experience.

This creates a gap for people in the 0-2 years experience range.  You either have no experience, or what little experience you have is fragmented across a dozen areas of law, so you don’t have in depth knowledge of anything.  There’s not really anything you bring to the table that’s different than a fresh graduate.

But, hiring a junior associate outside of the normal model creates a lot of extra work for law firms.  You’re not fitting into the training schedule they had set up and all the little meet’n'drinks they plan for the new arrivals.  Why bother with making special accomodations for someone when there’s a hundred clones that are less trouble?  Plus, you have the smell of unemployment on you, so firms will suspect there’s something wrong with you.  It’s like having a dry spell and then trying to get laid.  Girls can tell, and they assume there’s a good reason other girls have been staying away from you.  Why risk it?

That’s not to say there are zero law firm job opportunities for these people, but they are extremely rare.  And, when they do pop up, the people with 3-5 years of specialized experience are going to be your competition, not just other people who missed the law firm boat.

And don’t think you can go to a midsized firm, get some experience, and then transition into big law.  The type of work you do at a midsized firm can be entirely different from big law work.  You’re not going to be handling any multi-billion dollar mergers at Fred and Jack’s Law Firm and Tire Center.  It’s not just years of experience, but the kind of experience you’re getting.

I hope this helps you make your decision.  If you’re still on the fence, try to come up with two good reasons you want to be a lawyer.  If you can’t, that’s a good sign you should be doing something else.

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Not the Health Care Reform I Want

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9th, 2010 by bl1y

13One of the best things about being unemployed is I don’t need permission from anyone to stay home sick.

One of the worst things about being unemployed is I don’t get out of anything for being sick.

It’s just like any other day, except that I’m sick.

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Unemployment Means I Won’t Do Your Job For You

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11th, 2010 by bl1y

Despite getting laid off, moving to a state where I can’t yet practice law, and not having anything remotely resembling a legal job (or a job at all), I still get former coworkers and people I know who work at other firms asking me legal questions. “How do I dissolve a non-profit in XYZ jurisdiction?” “Do you think PQR Statute means blah blah blah?” “What should I do about this partner who’s asking me to find some case that doesn’t seem to exist?”

Well, from here on out, I’m not helping anyone employed in a legal job with their work unless they’re willing to pay me for it. I used to help my coworkers quite a bit (and of course, I don’t get any credit in the final product, so other people appear smarter and more productive, which might have spared them from layoffs and put me on the chopping block, but damnit, it helps the client, and so it’s the right thing to do), but now, no more!

It’s not like I just realized I shouldn’t be doing this, but it’s been an act of habit for a while, so I start giving people advice before it even occurs to me not to. From here on out though I’m going to work on making a conscious effort to tell these people to piss off and do their own damn jobs. I am not a charity, and if you can’t do the work, get out of the way and let me collect your pay check.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #8

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on January 11th, 2010 by bl1y

There’s too many God damn law students.

The New York Times has reported that since The Economy Happened there has been a 20% increase in LSAT takers. Naturally, this is leading to an increase in students applying to law school (some schools have reported more than a 50% increase in applications).

On the other end, law schools are not rapidly expanding their lecture halls and hiring new professors. Nope, the available seats in good law schools is going to remain pretty much the same. So, getting into a decent law school is going to be a lot harder, and you can expect your future class mates to be even more competitive and douchebaggy.

Just to make things worse, third and fourth tier diploma mills have been cropping up all over the place thanks to the ABA practically endorsing degrees not worth the Kinkos paper they’re printed on. And unlike the good schools, they will be more than happy to widen their doors to take in more suckers. So, if you go to a mid-ranked school, when you graduate you’re going to have a huge number of kids from crappy schools competing for the same jobs.

Now, you might be thinking students at shit schools won’t hurt your job prospects, but some 30,000 students graduate from TTTs every year, and the numbers are going up. A 20% increase in those students, means another 6000 hungry lawyers in the job market. If you only have to compete with the top 5-10% from those schools (and you probably will), that’s 300-600 fewer job opportunities for you.

If you happen to be one of those TTT students…I’d feel sorry for you, but I don’t feel sorry for dumbasses who should have known better than to go to such a shitty school in the first place. However, I will offer you a gratuitous hottie as a consolation prize.

And look, she’s upside down! It’s practically a metaphor for how the rest of your life will turn out if you decide to go to law school.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #7

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on January 11th, 2010 by bl1y

Delusions of Grandeur

Many young law students and law school applicants have dreams of earning the coveted $160,000 salary (or whatever happens to be the going rate at big New York law firms), or the equivalently high amounts offered in DC, Atlanta, or other secondary markets.

The vast majority of people who apply to law school will never make that much money. Visualize Law has provided a chart breaking down the fates of applicants into the law class of 2008.

This chart, unfortunately, presents an overly rosy view of your future career opportunities. Going by these numbers, over 20% of law school graduates will find jobs earning top dollar. And, if you assume that a large amount of the people making less than $160,000 are in markets that pay a lower amount that is still equivalent (or better) after taking cost of living into account, it looks like almost everyone makes bank.

However, anyone who’s applied for a big law job can tell you that unless you go to a top 20 school or are in the top 10% of a school ranked 21-100, you’re pretty screwed. Tier 3 or 4? don’t even think about it. And, remember, being at the top of your class or in a top school just gets you the interview. Many of those students still don’t land the fat big law jobs.

So where did Visualize Law go wrong? First, I’m assuming they got their data based on where law schools report their students end up. But, that data suffers from a self-reporting bias. Students who earn $160k are more likely to report back on their job offers than students who earn less or don’t land a job at all. But, good luck getting a school to disclose how many students didn’t respond to the surveys.

And, it doesn’t take into account the huge number of lawyers in the class of 2008, myself included, who were laid off and unable to find another big law job. I’m part of that magical 10% at the top, and I’m pulling in unemployment checks.

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