From the TLS employment forum, Sept 22 (emphasis added):Hi Professor,I have been reading your blog since it's inception. Thank you so much for shedding light on this terrible situation which is ruining lives of so many of our brightest, best, and most ambitious. Honestly, morbid as this sounds, I cannot believe that more people aren't jumping off of buildings. I think the only thing allowing many whose lives have been ruined from doing so is their own cognitive dissonance about their situation, which I will explain further below and will tie into the title of this email. First, a little bit about me...I am a 2008 graduate of [middling public law school], middle of the pack class rank, who wound up with a job in a 2 person firm in smallish town/city (population about 150k) salary in the 35-50 k range. My lower than average debt load from a public school, coupled with a low COL, has allowed me to service my loans as well as contribute a modest amount to retirement savings. So, all things considered, I feel extremely fortunate about my situation. Knock on wood, I will make it out of this and be okay while so many others will be ruined for life. Although your blog mainly focuses on Biglaw, a majority of the students who actually get jobs as lawyers get jobs like mine. And it finally dawned on me what these jobs really are:Most people enter the law with the idea of law as a career. And, to most people, a career means this: start out entry level, gain skill sets, get promoted with proportional increase in pay, broaden skill sets. Repeat. This is how the corporate world works, and almost every other vocation works, even the trades (start out as an apprentice, learn trade, become tradesmen, move up to foreman, etc.). Although I have no first hand experience, this appears to be the track in BigLaw as well, assuming you can hang on and notwithstanding the up or out nature of the business.So, what about these small 2-10 attorney jobs that pay in the 35-50k range? Recent grads understand how to the job market is and many are grateful just to have paid legal employment. However, suffice it to say that many graduates had higher aspirations and had to settle for these jobs, and the pay is nowhere near what was expected or what it needs to be for a graduate to service their loans. In fact, these salaries only provide enough income to pay rent and utilities, eat, put gas in the car, make your minimum student loan payments, and have a few dollars left over for beer money/fun. Basically, holders of these jobs are treading water.And I think that recent grads, aware of the bad legal job market, are content to tread water at this point because they see law as a career. The belief is that the legal job market is bad, and that these jobs are a "foot in the door" and a way to "gain experience" to move on to bigger and better opportunities. Basically, they see these as entry level jobs as described above, and believe that, once the appropriate amount of experience is gained, greater opportunities will open up with appropriate increases in pay, etc., like in the corporate world. If the small law associate can just tread water for a few years and get over the entry level hump, eventually they will move up and have the income to pay down their loans, purchase a home, begin saving for retirement, and overall living the middle class lifestyle they envisioned.That may have been true in the past, and it will probably still hold true for a few graduates. After all, someone has to become judges, state's attorney, the (fill in the blank type of small law) king of a particular community. But, for the majority of small law associates, the experience in their small law area of practice just means that they have a skill set in that small law area of practice. Your 3 years experience as a consumer bk attorney is not going to give you a leg up when a mid-sized commercial litigation firm is hiring. If you are currently making 40-50k litigating custody battles and baby daddy cases, and have your Friday afternoons blocked off for collection calls to beg these people for money, if we fast forward 10 years, guess what you will still be doing? And guess how much that service will be worth to potential employers?From www.wikipedia.com :McJob is slang for a low-paying, low-prestige dead end job that requires few skills and offers very little chance of intracompany advancementUnfortunately, there is no pot of middle class lifestyle at the end of the small law rainbow for the vast majority of associates.Law school is a scam, and I am (thankfully) on my way out of this "career".
I feel really sad writing this... but I've been trying to find "real" legal work for a long time now, and have turned to applying for document review positions, and am not getting any responses there. My resume isn't that bad (graduated top 1/3 from a T30, with exec position on LR), so I am not sure if I am not going about getting contract/temp work the right way? Should I be calling to follow up after sending in my resume, or just waiting until they get in touch with me?Updated last night:
Does anyone have any experience getting doc review work, and how can I get an interview with a doc review company? I need cash to start paying off my nearly $150K in loans in about two months here, and to pay rent, and to eat...
I don't know how things ended up this way. I didn't realize until spring of 2L that the legal market was as unhealthy as it was. I have only gotten one interview this entire last year. I'm tired of sitting at home; I just want to be doing something legal, so I don't feel like such a waste of space, even if it involves running doc review software 40 hours a week. At least I'm touching a case that way, and making some money.
Any advice on how to obtain such work would really be appreciated. I'm at wit's end, and don't know what to do from here.
OP Update - Got an interview with a small firm in Dallas. They said that "if the work is there," then I will have a job! It's far from an offer, but it feels really, really good to know that someone out there saw my resume, thought it was decent enough to want to speak with me, and liked me enough to tell me that I could work for them if they have enough work. I'm just going to hope and hope that this firm somehow has enough work. Expecting a final decision from them in the next week or two!
In the meantime, I did join the local bar association, and recently spoke with someone who was at a doc review agency here about a year ago, so I may have a way to get my resume looked at there now.
Thanks everyone for the advice!