Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scrooge

Scrooge paid Bob Cratchit a miserly wage. But at least Cratchit earned something. Students and new lawyers report an increasing number of employers who offer only unpaid positions. Since implementing a hiring freeze for paid jobs, the United States Department of Justice has retained more than a hundred unpaid prosecutors. A federal judge recently advertised for an unpaid judicial law clerk who would "morally commit" to at least one year of uncompensated work. And a quick search of sites like internships.com reveals dozens of private lawyers seeking unpaid assistance.

Is any of this legal? A new paper by Eric Fink explains that, surprisingly, many of these positions don't violate federal minimum wage laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts "any employee employed in a bona fide . . . professional capacity" from minimum wage requirements. A good lawyer, of course, could argue that many aspects of law practice are routine rather than "professional." But the Department of Labor has forestalled that type of argument by declaring that "any employee who is the holder of a valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law . . . and is actually engaged in the practice thereof" counts as a "professional" exempt from federal minimum wage laws.

Licensed lawyers, in other words, have no federal right to a minimum wage while practicing law. Thankfully, they can still claim minimum wage protection while pouring coffee or selling shirts. And it's possible that some state or local laws offer better protection to professionals. But if a licensed lawyer wants to practice law, federal law offers no minimum-wage guarantees.

For law students, the situation is a little different. They are not yet "professionals" so they can invoke minimum wage protections. But Congress and the Department of Labor have broadly exempted government agencies and nonprofits from the minimum wage laws; those employers can accept law students as "volunteers" rather than employees. Like LawProf, I think this exemption far exceeds the original spirit of the Fair Labor Standards Act, but we'll leave that issue for another day.

Federal law at least seems clear that private, for-profit employers must pay students for their work rather than push them into unpaid positions. But an increasing number of employers are shirking that responsibility by inviting law students to participate in "internships." As Professor Fink explains, the regulatory exception for internships is quite narrow. The Department of Labor has established six criteria for defining an internship; these focus on a training environment, direct benefit to the intern, close supervision, and lack of immediate advantage to the employer. Courts have adopted similar tests, which Fink explores at greater length.

Under any of these tests, many unpaid "internships" at for-profit organizations blatantly violate the law. Here are just a few suspects I found while cruising the internet:

  • Price Benowitz, a four-lawyer firm that bills itself as "mid-sized," is seeking several part-time interns to perform "Superior court filing, processing legal documents, [and] office admin support." The firm throws in "shadowing attorneys in court" for an educational twist. But the bulk of this internship will advantage the employer rather than the intern. It's doubtful that any of the office support work will benefit the student. The same is true for the court filings and document processing: After the first few filings or documents, the intern will be working--not learning. The firm, though, does care about the interns' financial welfare; it notes that the internship "can accompany restaurant or retail job."
  • An unnamed company in Santa Monica, California, wants an unpaid intern who is "organized, computer competent, and great with legal research." Oh, yes, the intern must also "smile often." Those skills clearly will benefit the company. But if the intern already understands how to use a computer, excels at legal research, and knows how to smile, what exactly will the internship teach the student? 
  • The Jonak Law Group, which appears to have a single member, needs "law students with excellent research and writing skills," to work on a Ninth Circuit brief. The position lasts only as long as the appeal, and "telecommuting is fine--you can be based anywhere in the country." With those constraints, it's hard to believe that Jonak  has structured the internship to offer close supervision of interns and an educational environment, rather than immediate advantage to the employer. Note that this is a private law firm engaged in civil litigation; the lawyer does not appear to be handling the case pro bono. So why do the students have to work for free?
Internships like these may, in fact, offer valuable experience: Professionals develop much of their expertise while working. That's not the problem. The problem is that law students pay for three expensive years of law school and also work for free during and after that schooling. Legal employers now demand compensation for the supervision and expertise they offer aspiring lawyers. The interns don't (yet) pay employers cash for the privilege of that workplace experience; instead, they pay through their free labor.

For this, I blame law schools. Consider the situation from the typical employer's perspective. For two decades, law schools have raised tuition ruthlessly--far beyond the rate of inflation. At the same time, schools remain disdainful of clinical training, telling students that this education is "too expensive" to provide and that practical skills are "better learned in the workplace." Law schools, in other words, have signaled employers that (1) law students are willing to pay high prices for a chance to enter the legal profession; (2) teaching people to practice law is labor-intensive and costly; and (3) this type of practical education is so expensive that we can't afford to offer much of it even for $20,000-50,000 per student per year.

Why shouldn't employers conclude that they are providing students a valuable educational experience by inviting them into the workplace? And why shouldn't the employers assume that they, like law schools, are entitled to hefty payments for whatever training they provide?

None of this excuses the employers, either legally or ethically. But I think law school attitudes help explain the explosion of unpaid internships. Practitioners are protecting their bottom line, but they're doing so in a way that has become culturally acceptable. Law schools have suggested that it is appropriate--even admirable--to exact the heaviest possible toll from people who want to be lawyers. If that's acceptable for full-time educators, then why not for the practitioners who are expected to complete the educational track?

It's time to rethink the burden that both educators and employers are laying on the next generation. Marley's ghost will be busy tonight.

94 comments:

  1. No excuse for greed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Greeeeed is Goooood".

      Delete
  2. AAAAAAAAAAGH!

    Just second!

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  3. I know a Law School grad that found temporary work in a mall during this holiday season, and for minimum wage.

    That's one the ghost of Christmas present can show you right now.

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    Replies
    1. And the Ghost of Future Statistics calls that "full time employed/business" with an unreported salary.

      Here's part of the exchange that will take place:

      Dean of Admissions: What does that MEAN, anyway, "minimum wage?"
      Head of CSO: They vary so much from state to state, the variance could be quite high.
      Dean of Admissions: We have no way of concluding what this person was actually paid.
      Head of CSO: No, no. Unreported! No need to drag down the $140k median on SPECULATION.

      Delete
    2. "No need to drag down the $140k median on SPECULATION."


      Just remember, it's sometimes better to speculate, than never.

      Delete
    3. My crystal ball is clear and foolproof, bro.

      Delete
  4. Uh, Scrooge was an honest businessman and an unfairly-maligned champion of economic morality, at least says this esteemed law professor:

    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/law_prof_says_bah_humbug_to_scrooge_detractors/

    Mayer is presumably paid much, much more than minimum wage to come up with piffle like this.

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  5. I work in a legal services agency and my agency, and many others, increasingly rely upon the unpaid labor of volunteer attorneys. This is not new as we have done so in the past. What is new is that in the past it was often a way for a person to get some experience and have a legal job while looking for employment, whereas now there are no jobs and many "volunteers", not all, stay until they give up hope of ever finding a job as a lawyer. At least for the unit I am in we try to do this as ethically as possible by offering supervision, not asking volunteers to do support work for staff attorneys, etc. However, I do employment law and the irony of supervising "volunteers" to represent low wage workers in wage and hour claims is obvious and uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Do you require these "volunteers" to work full time, or are they allowed to schedule their availability around their barista/retail job hours? I hope the latter. The former seems pretty indefensible.

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  6. i cannot believe that people are still considering LS.

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  7. You say you blame the law schools.

    So what will you personally do, DJM, to change this at your law school?

    Other than quote articles from a professor who 'enjoys Cosmic American Music, slow food, fly fishing, and a good kvetch.' (Oh for such a luxurious life at the expense of students...)

    Will you do anything?

    Or will you just sit back and continue to take that paycheck, and pretend that Marley's ghost wasn't talking to you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dude - send your message to the 99.9% of law professors who do nothing. They all have to know about the scam now and where are they?

      Either defending law schools or ignoring the plight of their students.

      A law professor has a moral obligation to get the truth out to the students. There are less than five who are actively engaged in making a difference.

      So complain to them about what they are not doing to change the status quo.

      Delete
    2. Next to Painter's ramblings, the most irritating theme on this board is that PC and DJM must renounce their positions in order to have credibility. It's a complete distraction.

      Delete
    3. Distraction is the whole point though. The 99.9% of law professors who do and say nothing while year after year sending thousands of naive, foolish kids into hellish futures of underemployment, debt servitude, and painful regret don't have anything positive to say in support of the "work" they do for a living. So what else is there but to point fingers and try to distract.

      Delete
    4. Distraction is the whole point though. The 99.9% of law professors who do and say nothing while year after year sending thousands of naive, foolish kids into hellish futures of underemployment, debt servitude, and painful regret don't have anything positive to say in support of the "work" they do for a living. So what else is there but to point fingers and try to distract.

      Delete
    5. 8:06. Agree.

      The next step for our sub rosa Dean Mitchells is to argue that until PC and DJM donate to strapped grads all assets--savings accounts, investment accounts, real property, stocks, cars--that are in any way attributable to their LS salaries over the years, they are hypocrites. I mean, how can they enjoy their putative ill-gotten gains and still criticize the LS scam?

      Delete
  8. However, I do employment law and the irony of supervising "volunteers" to represent low wage workers in wage and hour claims is obvious and uncomfortable.

    This is beyond satire.

    I am from Australia and cannot believe the intern 'system'. It is a disgrace and I don't believe it is justified in any circumstance.

    But you guys on the receiving end of this bullshit knew that anyway....

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    1. It's almost as good as when I worked for a labor union during law school that paid its attorneys as independent contractors. No benefits, and they had to pay their own SS taxes. These were full time employees with no outside jobs. (but back then, I was at least paid for my intern work...so now I guess it's even worse.)

      Delete
  9. Given the "confluence" (love that word) of factors, and/or or/and labaryinth of problems, I don't think DJM and LawProf can practically change anything. But they at least have their hearts in the right place, and realize that all is not well in camp.


    But speaking of "A Christmas Carol" here is the Law School Song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5zr9pklSF0


    Merry Christmas Everyone!

    Caroling out in the snow! Scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago!

    Plum pudding, apple, pumpkin, mince, and rhubarb and kidney pie, champagne and rum, spiked egg-nog, braciole and sausage bread, stuffed mushrooms, yams and mashed potatos, turkey n'stuffing, lots of gravy and cranberry sauce, and razleberry dressing!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYLq5kVqoR0

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  10. For anyone who thinks that the message isn't getting out: look at recently released numbers from UIUC- they maintained their median of 163 on the LSAT. But to do so they lowered class size and upped their acceptances rate to 43%.

    That's right, over 40% of applicants were admitted- and that is a 20% increase over previous years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "UIUC... they maintained their median of 163 on the LSAT"

      Yeah, right; who's gonna believe numbers coming out of UIUC?

      They probably pulled what's-his-name out of his semi-retirement as a real estate agent in B-N to cook the books for them again.

      Delete
    2. no one cares about those trap schools.

      Delete
  11. Micheal Ray RichardsonDecember 24, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    "The levee is breaking."

    The Ship Be Sinking.

    (Oh? How far can it go?)

    The Sky's The Limit.

    - Micheal Ray Richardson, Poet Laureate and Knickerbocker Extraordinaire.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Um, if offered an unpaid position, just say no. If offered 250K of non-dischargable debt to finance a degree, just say no. Simple that.

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  13. C - your posts reflect the anger and despair that exists among those burned by the law school scam. I feel badly for you, and am in your camp.

    But hollow cries to have DJM and Campos return their assets or refuse their salaries accomplish nothing.

    Campos and DJM are the "good guys". They have helped bring this problem to light. And it strikes me that they might be in the minority of professors willing to teach five classes and devote considerable energies toward teaching.

    Venting anger at Campos and DJM is a good coping mechanism, but it won't solve problems. We must close a significant number of law schools, and the only way to do that (we can't count on the feds) is to have vastly fewer numbers of students attend law school.

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  14. Was a great man.

    Doncha fergitit.

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  15. Plumbers don't work for free. Illegal alien dishwashers don't work for free. The kid on the autism spectrum who collects shopping carts at my local supermarket doesn't work for free. And here we have thousands of lawyers falling over themselves to "work" for free. If that's not a red flag for anyone thinking about going to law school, I don't know what is. But still they go, like moths to the flame.

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    Replies
    1. "local supermarket" - Publix?

      Delete
  16. Fortunately for law schools and law firms, neither are run by people capable of experiencing shame. So, whatever.

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  17. It is perhaps a great justice. We were told college was the way.forward, yet for most it was a great disaster, eclipsed only by the mistake of law school. Im going to my friend's 800k house today for Christmas Eve. He works for the city. When we were young I always remember everyone lecturing him on doing well in school, being patient, not partying so much, etc. Yet, despite how this annoyed him temporarily, he did what he wanted to do. He cut classes, he partied his balls off, he dropped out of high school, and he just chilled until his early 20s.

    He joined a local trade union and works for the city. Suckers like me go to work everyday in this depressed private sector, with all that that entails, i.e. depressed wages, threats of outsourcing, etc., to pay for his exorbiant salary.

    My life was markedly different. I busted my ass woeking and going to college and law school. Because of those decisions, I will probably not have much in life.

    I know this post sounds like sour grapes, perhaps its is, but all I am trying to do is shed some liight on what is the craziest brainwashing of this era.

    When my friend first joined the trades, with no education, military experience, no student loans, and a minimal work history, he had to work for 12 bucks an hour. Everyone said this was an injustice. Everyone placated him when he complained. Its a similar story for guys I know who became cops and firemen in their early 20s, making in the low 30s and 40s. Everyone said it was an injustice.

    Yet, for some kid who did exactly what he was told for his whole life, with close to a decade of formal education and 250k of student loans, minimum wage is too much.

    I suppose its just. I suppose the smart ones saw through the BS and they did the right though. I cant say I didnt wish I went down that road as I sit here during the holidays with very little, punished for being a stupid sheep. However, the gravity of the injustice bothers me. Its not just that I am taxed through the nose to pay for the better life of my uneducated betters, its that said.betters and the rest of society are content not just at coming out on top, but utterly destroying those like me (many of whom do not have the good fortune of even making minimum wage).

    This is getting really crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. In many parts of the entertainment industry, fashion, tv, film, etc. its long been accepted that to break into them you have to pay your dues by working an indefinite period of unpaid internships. Anyone wanting to get paid at that start would be viewed as arrogant and entitled and unsuited to the industry. It seems the legal industry may be headed in the same direction.

    The next step beyond that of course is to require aspiring lawyers to pay a large amount for the privilege of being an intern. If this becomes widespread it will effectively restrict the practice of law to those from wealthy backgrounds.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Clearly, the solution to this potential crisis is to make it possible for postgraduate interns to borrow the payments they must make to the employers they pay for the privilege of interning.

      Otherwise access to and diversity in the legal profession might be compromised.

      Delete
    2. The difference is that most of those seeking to enter those industries were not already charged $250k for the privilege of the unpaid internship

      Delete
    3. Even these industries are starting to face backlash against this practice. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/24/black-swan-intern-lawsuit_n_1828206.html

      Delete
    4. "In many parts of the entertainment industry, fashion, tv, film, etc. its long been accepted that to break into them you have to pay your dues by working an indefinite period of unpaid internships."

      How is going to seven (7) years of schooling not "paying your dues" for a job that is basically paper-pushing for rich people?

      Delete
    5. As a matter of principal we do not take unpaid interns (we do take some high school kids unpaid for a week or two who want to see how a law firm works, mostly to deter them from legal practice - during these periods we try to be uncool) but that said I do not in principle see the issue in paying a junior lawyer or intern a "living wage" their first year, while they learn the basics of practice. However, what is a living wage runs into the problem of law school debt as well as a high cost of living.

      That is to say no one should be working for free, but the old starter salaries have been made impossible by the cost of a legal education.

      From my iPad, which I cannot log in on - MacK

      Delete
    6. As a matter of principal - I.e., the principals of the firm all agreed

      Delete
    7. How is going to seven (7) years of schooling not "paying your dues"....

      It doesn't make any sense in the entertainment or other industries with entrenched traditions of "internships", and it wouldn't make sense in the legal industry. But once this gets established it becomes a tradition which people just accept without question. And anyone who questions it is seen as a lazy slacker trying to get around having to put in the due effort. Hopefully this doesn't happen.

      Delete
  19. One of the lessons one eventually learns that anything worth doing deserves to be compensated. If someone does not want to pay you for your work, it means that they do not value the services you are willing to provide.

    One of the things I learned owning my own store is that if someone really wants something, they will pay for it. If they don't really want it, they expect a big discount.

    The people looking for free interns do not value the services being provided by those inerns. In their minds, the work done by the interns is worth what they are paying them: nothing.

    Once someone ralizes this, decisions become a lot clearer.

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  20. Yesterday's New York Times had a fascinating article on higher education and the lower class.

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  21. Ironic the midtown manhattan murder victim was a law student killed in a drug deal gone bad.

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    Replies
    1. guy had a rap sheet as long as your arm. Should never have been admitted to LS. Not even the dump of a LS he was admitted to.

      Delete
  22. Maybe the Law School Scam, and, it's ugly and obnoxious cousin, the Student Loan Scam, will be viewed someday as historical odditys over which scholars that have yet to be born will cluck their oh- so- thick and moral tongues.

    And how wonderfully they will pontificate aas the light of selfless moral and human consciousness will radiate and illuminate their ivory towers from heaven on high, and in that someday future day when all students shall transition into the world of adolescence and into the world of adulthood without being beset by a barrage of gypsy scams every step of the way.

    When the underground banking Morlocks will cease to snatch the cattle bred Eloi underground, to devour them.

    Sincerely,

    HG Wells

    (A stab at an idea I whipped up :)





    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU'RE the "Morlock," you deadbeat.

      The taxpayers (and your parents) are the Eloi.

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    2. @4:53

      Actually you are literally correct since he lives underground in his parent's basement.

      Delete
  23. Will the Law School Scam go the way of Prohibition or Rotary Phone, or the Manual Typewriter, or the the the the the Electric Waffle Iron?

    Me, I seem to get a lot of advice from oil industry people about careers.

    Now, and lest we forget, the enemy of metal is SALT and WATER!

    And the friend of metal is OIL.

    Remember that kids.

    OIL is the friend.........of......metal!


    Oh, if the law schools only had a Heart!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-RHfXZkT1g

    I've held this SL axe up for ages and rusted solid and been that way ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stop posting, you idiot. Keep your promise.

      And while you're at it, stop mooching off your parents.

      Delete
    2. Also get a job and stop mooching off society.

      Delete
    3. And remember this kids:

      The enemy of work is JD Painterguy.

      Delete
    4. Why do we have to be constantly bombarded with the thoughts of a mental midget. As I've said on numerous occasions, find a creative writing blog - a place that will accept you for your idiot ways. Also, sign up for a Match.com account so we don't have to endure your sad attempts at romance, or God forbid (yeah - I capitalized God for you) listen to your stoopid banjo playing. It's enough to make me sick. Now get lost fool.

      Delete
    5. "Now, and lest we forget, the enemy of metal is SALT and WATER!"

      Better inform the US Navy of your important findings. They have been using steel ships for years on the ocean.

      Delete
  24. Law students think they need to work full time for free so as not to have a break in legal employment if they cannot get paying jobs after law school. That is crazy. If someone is working for free, they already have a break in legal employment.

    The smarter thing to do would be to try to get a paying job, and look and volunteer on the side. Once someone hits the January after graduation with no job, and volunteers full time, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

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  25. The enemy of social progress is cowards that attack John Koch Painterguy who is not anon, and has invited 5:40PM PM onto National media and TV to discuss the situation.

    Painterguy's parents are both elderly and have very upsetting illnesses, and because of that Painterguy has pleaded with this person to stop taking cheap shots at Painterguys parents.

    Why oh why cant this person that hates me so much just come clean and say who he or she is?

    Please and one last time, I am John Koch/AKA Painterguy and Touro Law School Graduate of Oyster Bay Long Island, NY begging you on my hands and knees to say who you are and why you want to remain ANON when you attack me so mercillesly?

    What are you hiding from?

    Sincerely,

    Painterguy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you read the 4:42 PM post, the person wasn't taking shots at Painterguy's parents, the person was taking shots at Painterguy for mooching off of his ill parents.

      Delete
    2. And by the way Painter, it's not just one person that can't stand you - quit trying to make this about one person. Do you need some attention tonight? No Santa Claus for you???

      Delete
    3. @Paintroach,

      If by "social progress" you mean the taxpayers paying your bill, then I stand guilty as charged. I am the enemy of that.

      You are a straight-up liar. You lied to the lenders when you promised you would pay them back. And you lied to us when you promised to quit posting here.

      You are a liar and a parasite. Stop doing it and get a job.

      Delete
  26. Fuck it.

    This is the inherent flaw with blogging. It is largely without controls and ineffective as a result.

    If I put my phone number here it wouldn't matter.

    I promised to round out two years of blogging and this is it.

    Campos will always look at life with a moral squint, as well he should, and DJM will flitter and fly within her compass, as well she should :)

    They know my email and so does Nando.

    So does Cryn.

    Damned if there isn't a slow working and plodding nature of economics and world politics that will turn most anyone into a plodder in the end anyway, be they young or old.

    Ah Bartleby. Ah Humanity!

    Painter

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    Replies
    1. I really don't care what you have to say Painter, as if what you say makes any sense. Go hang out with Nan Doo Doo and your Cryn.

      Delete
    2. Promises, promises ...

      Get a government job, little Paintroach. Are you a fool as well as a liar? Nope, you're just too lazy.

      Your parents are your Santa. And they deliver your presents every single day of the year. You should be ashamed of yourself. I hope you never get rid of your debt - EXCEPT by paying it off yourself. Even if it takes 50 years.

      Delete
  27. The schools cynically cite to these unpaid jobs as "proof" that members of the "profession" are truly civic-oriented.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How dare you speak ill about "giving back to the community." /sacarsm off

      Delete
  28. Meow Meow asks: When did this free internship shit start? or was it always?

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    1. Well yes. I graduated from law school 30 years ago. During the summer of my second year, I interned at the local district attorneys office where they had me doing extraditions.

      My goal was to work as a prosecutor, so it seemed like a good way of getting a leg up on my competition at the time. The paid internships were a form of financial aid, which I was not eligible for.

      In the end, it was a complete waste. During my third year, I got a job with a public utility firm in another state. My internship had nothing to do with getting this job, and nothing to do with the work I did on the job. I got the job, primarily because I was willing to move.

      The employment picture for attorneys has been bad for a generation and has only gotten worse. For the past 30 years, only fools, myself included, have gone to law school.

      Delete
    2. When I was in law school 10 years ago, free internships were a possibility, but basically only in true public interest positions (that couldn't afford to pay you). Only rich kids took those jobs. Anyone who wanted a paid job in the first or second summer got one. I had paid jobs both first and second summer (research assistant to a prof and interning for a labor union). My second year I had two paid part time jobs during the semester as well. This expectation that law students should work for free is definitely new.

      Delete
  29. Leiter's clammy fingerprints are all over this thread.

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  30. Until recently, "internship" to me referred to a paid position that a medical student took as part of the training required to become a physician. That was all.

    Now it is a general-purpose unpaid position with no particular focus or purpose beyond serving as résumé fodder that may perhaps help one to get a paying job somewhere else. Some "internships" are even sold at élite auctions.

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  31. Geez, why all the seething hatred against JDPainterguy? Being annoyed is one thing, but wanting him to commit suicide is quite another.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. No one stated or even insinuated that PainterRoach do that. This is obviously an ANON message from the JDPainterroach himself trying to garner some additional sympathy. How about this Painter - get lost!

      Delete
    2. Wrong. Look at the messages after "A Good Question and a Sign of Things to Come." Why do you have such a man-crush on JDPainter? As a beta male, do you get off on typing this s**t behind an anonymous facade? Were you never good enough for your mommy and daddy, or your significant other? Yeah JDPainter can be annoying as hell somtimes, but he doesn't deserve to be treated like subhuman trash.

      Delete
    3. Actually if you read the message on this article, there isn't one that says that the author wishes for him to commit suicide. There are however a lot of them that want him to get a job.

      Delete
  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Jodiane, thank you for an informative and insightful post.

      Delete
    2. makes me really angry just reading about it.

      Delete
    3. I decided to move back to my hometown after law school in order to network. A friend's father found a person who was willing to "hire" me doing immigration law. Turns out that this was an unpaid position. I was never told this during the interview. Nor was I told at the interview that the boss was on suspension for two years, and could not practice. The first day, the paralegal told me that both he, and the office manager were doing a 500 hour externship.

      The paralegal had just graduated from paralegal school and did not have any experience. He was very grateful for this "disbarred for two years" individual giving him a chance. He had done 350 hours. The office manager was a lovely girl, who was bilingual. She too was grateful for this chance to prove her self in the legal market.

      On my first day, I learned that I too was expected to do a 500 hour externship and my boss was not allowed to practice law because he had been recently suspended from the practice of law. That was my last day.

      I know I should have asked what the pay would be at some point during the interview process. However, I was the scared recent graduate who could not find employment 8 months after graduation. I did not want to "rock the boat." I just assumed I would get 40-50K, as I believed that would be a low, but fair salary.

      The paralegal was living on his brother's couch. He would take public transportation into work everyday, and complained it was too expensive. He bought a Circle K Sandwich for lunch. He was struggling. He too had student debt, about 20K (I asked him). He had no idea what his wage would be if he was offered a job after the 500 hour externship. This man's situation angered me more than my own. I kept thinking, "just give them a living wage. 8 dollars an hour is not going to break the boss". Makes me so angry thinking back on it now.

      Delete
  33. These internships don't pay because: the attorneys are losing their ass and can't afford to pay and kids out of law school are practically worthless. Simple.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh the Silly Billies! We should all get together for a great big group hug :)

    And snuggles and tickle toes :)

    Can't we do that on this earf?

    But speaking of X-Mas, did everyone go and visit their graves and family skillintons? Lay a wreath or two? I sure hope so, and if you did not I take that opprobiously. I DO!

    Which inspires me to add this hum dinger:

    "At midnight the moon cometh,
    And looketh down alone.
    Her song the lintwhite swelleth,
    The clear-voiced mavis dwelleth,
    The callow throstle lispeth,
    The slumbrous wave outwelleth,
    The babbling runnel crispeth,
    The hollow grot replieth
    Where Claribel low-lieth.

    Writtin by Tennisin. I think he played the game? Clay courts of course. I dont think they had invented coal patch back in the olden times by then. When the poem happened?

    I mean?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow Painter. I love your wit. You must be rilly sMaRt usin' all those big words. Why don't you find a fat girl that will coo at your inane musings.

      Delete
    2. He just needs to find one that really needs that green card.

      Delete
  35. Remember kids..........

    It's only money.

    And money comes and money goes, and unfortunately,

    it goeth a lot more than it comes.

    That is as solid a law of nature as the Conservation of Matter and Energy thing, and why perpetual motion will remain a dream for crafy inventors :)

    And the b flat note on the fluglehorn etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Money only "goeth a lot more than it comes" for overspending moochers like you. You refuse to work and you live with your parents. Where does "your" money "go," exactly?

      Delete
  36. My understanding from suing my former boss for unpaid overtime in Superior Court is that to qualify an employee for the professional exemption they need to be earning the equivalent of 150% of the minimum wage. Since I was only paid $10/hr I did not qualify for the exemption and was entitled to overtime and I would think MW too if the rate was even lower.

    If an attorney/employee is unpaid, they would not qualify for the exemption because their earnings would not be 150% of the federal minimum wage and they would be entitled to the protection of the wage and hour laws.

    What am I missing here. Is this just a California thing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What kind of reference did you get?!?

      Delete
    2. Wait- you were working as a lawyer for $10 an hour?

      Delete
    3. Yes, state laws are free to impose more strict standards over the top of federal minimum wage laws. That means that although there are no protections for lawyers federally, CA or other states are free to impost protections for lawyers.

      Delete
    4. @ 8:54: During the exit interview, before I had decided to file suit, I discussed the reference issue with him along with severance, end date, etc. He basically said that he wasn't going to give me a good reference (or severance pay, LOL). So that really didn't factor into my decision at all.

      Note to Employers: If you want to avoid drawing this type of lawsuit, offer to give a GREAT reference during the exit interview.

      @4:44: Yep. I had to beat out probably 100+ applicants and 10+ interviewees for this Associate position at a Personal Injury Law Firm. This was back in 2010. Sign of the times.

      Delete
  37. Federal law, unfortunately, doesn't set a wage threshold to determine whether a lawyer is working as a "professional." The Department of Labor provision linked above states that any licensed lawyer doing legal work qualifies as a professional. There is another provision in the federal regs based on wages, but this one trumps that for lawyers. One fall-back for workers is that they may receive better protection under state or local laws than under the federal one. Looks like that may be the case in California for lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the clarification DJM. I read the article you cited to on unpaid internships and thought it was very timely and well written.

      This is a major problem and there is a major collective action problem preventing the filing of civil lawsuits to address the issue.

      Delete
  38. Heeeeelp! There's a huuuuge "Seton Hall Law" sticking out of the toilet! The janitor keeps flushing and flushing but it won't go down!

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a bunch of tripe with this article "Stop complaining about the legal job market." http://www.pointoflaw.com/archives/2012/12/stop-complaining-about-the-legal-job-market.php

    ReplyDelete
  40. lol.. someone mentioned the minimum wage.. artifically raising the minimum wage will just make things worse because you will drive up costs and destroy low skilled jobs for teenagers and so on.

    ReplyDelete

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