The biggest problem, and why idiots still "believe" in the law is that the law doesn't work under normal economic rules.Yesterday's discussion of Failing Law Schools is here.
The first illusion is career trajectory. While you may start at $160k, there is a 90% chance that is the most money you will ever make. The only other career where that applies is athletics. Most careers have their peak earnings in the 40s and 50s, and law students likely assume that even if start at 160k, it's only more from there, or that even if you START at 50k, you'll keep going up.
The second illusion is starting associate salaries. Under normal economic rules, no associate position would be paid more than 40-50k. Why would they? There's literally 2-3x the applicant pool as there are jobs. But law is different. Big firms aren't paying for someone to sit at the desk and do mundane work; they're paying for your credentials that they can sell to clients to justify high billing rates, even if the work is pedestrian. They're also paying a premium to scout partnership material and find the next rainmaker, which they can't do by paying 40 year old washouts to do said crap work.
The third illusion is the hierarchy. People think if you just miss BigLaw, that you'll easily get in at a government agency or smaller firm or legal aid (LOL). Baloney. After the primo jobs have hired, it's purely about who you know. Similarly, the idea that the top [x]% of students are the ones who get the [x]% jobs is unfounded. I was top 6% at a T2/3. I have had three interviews in the last six months. There are people from my class who are objectively slow-witted who are working at solid firms making 70k.
The fourth illusion is the associated optimism bias/graveyard effect. People do not see the top 6% grad sitting on his butt writing blogspot comments. They see the middling grad making bank. It is VERY easy, when you are 22 years old, to believe that you will NOT be a failure, and to discount objective evidence that you're walking into a minefield. Cuz if you were in WWI, you just would've traipsed right through no man's land without getting shot. In twenty years, all these cocky little brats are going to be JUDGES and not SOLOS looking for opportunities to GET OUT. But these special snowflakes will never, ever be in the really high amount of attorneys who take up drinking, drugs, or unethical conduct. Oh, no, not them. They'll be arguing international civil rights cases before SCOTUS.
The related 5th illusion is that law has a stable career path, that even if you struggle now or can't find a spot, they'll be one for you in time and that once you have a position, it'll be easier to find them in the future. Oh, heck, no. Look at job listings and see how many you can find that look for people 10+ years out. I dare you. The last call for associate hiring seems to be when you hit 8-10 years of experience. After that, everyone expects you to have your own book of business or start your own firm. Not a businessman or salesman? You're screwed.
The 6th illusion is that EVEN IF law doesn't work out, the JD won't inhibit you from finding generic work in another field, because there's just no way the JD is as toxic as people say it is, and surely the deans aren't lying when they claim it's versatile, and surely even if it WERE toxic, I can overcome it because I'm SPECIAL. No one can truly understand how awful the JD is perceived until they've been rejected for a completely mundane job requiring only a high school education. When you can't find a legal job, you WILL be rejected for jobs you are "over"-qualified for. HR people do not see you as a well-rounded person. They see you as butt-fucking lawyer who wants to make hay and bide time until a Boston Legal job comes open.
The 7th illusion is that this is worthwhile, life-affirming, interesting work. There's a reason the law schools don't want you working until you're a 2L.
The 8th illusion is that IBR/PAYE minimizes the financial risk involved in taking out gobs of debt. No, no, and no. Also, many employers can legally look at your credit report and their eyes will dart out of their heads when they see that you have $250k in debt. Many think 60k in debt is risky, and many (especially older) have very strong moral objections to "deadbeats."
The Grand Illusion is [failing to see] that going to law school will probably make you a deadbeat at some point in the next 40 years. Today, you might get a job in BigLaw. In 5 years, they will probably spit you out. You might land somewhere, but unless you're in the anointed few who get govt/in-house for life, you'll be expected to float on your own some day, and your JD will not save your imploding financials and mental health.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
The grand illusion
I'm reprinting a long comment from Craig, who graduated in the top 6% of his class from a mid-ranked law school, and who has had three interviews in the last six months:
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I thought I would post this. True response from the recruiter at a major corporation in response to my efforts to get out of a contracting practice area where I have worked for years and into a non-legal job in an area where there is likely more demand for services of any type. I am currently a solo.ReplyDelete
“Thank you for your interest in [employer I applied to] and your recent application to our __________________ role. While we always appreciate candidate interest, your application concerned me. I have a few clarifying questions as we continue to evaluate your candidacy. You clearly have a very established legal career; why would you be interested in a _________ role that only requires 2 years of experience? Similarly, could you please outline what your compensation expectations are (base and bonus)?”
I responded three times, including explaining I expected to be paid the market rate for the job, but no interview yet. I do have relevant legal experience that would make me well qualified for this job.
At least this person responded to me. I have applied to many of these non-legal jobs where I have relevant experience and something to contribute that less experienced people might not have, with no response at all.
Probably shouldn't have bothered with the triple response, but I sympathise.Delete
The recruiter wrote to me twice, so I had to respond twice. Then I decided to give a brief synopsis of the state of employment in the legal profession and my practice area on the third try. Has not worked so far.Delete
Law is not versatile. You cannot get a legal job unless you have done the exact same work to every minute detail. You cannot get a non-legal job unless you are working. I am talking about outside applicants. There is nothing versatile about law or legal experience if you do not have a job.
Clear as anything I've read on here in the past year and a half.ReplyDelete
Additionally, you'd be surprised how many recruiters ask you, with a straight-face, "Why did you never become an associate?" as though one ordinarily choses not to simply out of pique.ReplyDelete
Also, the pigs want you to believe that you will be making use of your overpriced, watered-down JD, for the next 30-50 years. Apparently, if you are a door greeter at Wal-Mart at age 75, then your law degree is still paying dividends.ReplyDelete
I am 1:50 and think this post is excellent because it describes so accurately the career trajectory of many lawyers, even from the best schools. The career trajectory is something your law school never told you about. They want to keep it hidden, because once the cat is out of the bag, many law schools will close and many fewer 0Ls with top schools and LSATS will want to take the risk of going to a top law school.ReplyDelete
Also, employers rightly view law school graduates as being more litigious than the general population, so one of the things you have to consider when hiring a law school graduate is the increased probability of being sued over some employment matter.ReplyDelete
Do you have any empirical evidence that JD holders are more litigious than the general population? More problematic at the work-place? Make more complaints?Delete
I think 2:06 was saying it was a perception not true in fact.Delete
He did say "rightly." I'd actually expect the opposite. JDs put up with so much bullshit in the legal field, particularly bad working environments, up to and including illegal labor practices; why would this change in a non-legal industry?Delete
I'm thinking that no one actually knows what legal career trajectories look like.ReplyDelete
I don't think law schools are hiding them.
I don't think that law schools have really thought about them because it has always been assumed that for most people law is a Path to Greater Glory because it is The Law and The Law is a Profession For the Learned.
If you do make it to BigLaw and believe that it is a stepping stone to something else, think again because in your first few years you are unlikely to learn independent skills that translate to smaller firm, in-house, or solo-practice. You may become really familiar with one small step in the assembly-line process, but you will not know the recipe or have a deeper understanding of how the sausage is made.ReplyDelete
I ran into a former classmate a few months ago, and when I asked her what her practice area at Goodwin was, she said, "oh, I do due diligence." I asked her what that meant. (I'm at a small, specialized practice and I was not familiar with "due diligence" as a practice area.) She said, "well... I go to the client and I do due diligence." I tried to dig deeper and perhaps find out what kinds of "deals" she was "working" on, and I got this explanation: "well, when a client needs due diligence because they are buying a bunch of things, I'm am on the due diligence team." I have no clue what skills she is learning other than organizing paperwork, and this is three years after graduation. Inspiring stuff.
Due diligence is just checking on an acquisition to make sure everything is as represented..contracts, employee agreements, etc. It is mindless but no doubt well paying.Delete
prob didnt want to tell you since due diligence requires lots of client confidence and non-disclosure stuff.Delete
No, NDAs don't stop you saying what you do in general terms. Basically she couldn't tell you because it's basically just checking that representations made are true - paper workDelete
She just didn't want to admit that she is a paper-shuffler.Delete
FOARP - I'm not 4:03 above but I'm pretty sure that was sarcasm.Delete
I sit in a depressing document review caseroom and this is all I hear about all day. People desperately sending out resumes by the thousands, trying to claw their way out of the $25 an hour lawyer dungeon. The psycho associate constantly teases us about we better find another line of work fast, because the predictive coding software will soon be replacing us by the thousands. I guess I should be grateful, because I am marginally employed (at least for now), but it is hard to keep the faith when you have $150,000 hanging over your head, and your credit situation will make having kids or owning a home nearly impossible.ReplyDelete
" The psycho associate constantly teases us about we better find another line of work fast, because the predictive coding software will soon be replacing us by the thousands."Delete
That's one of the more f'd up things I've read on this blog, and that's saying something. That's the kind of person who tears wings off of flies. That's a bad person. F that guy.
From what I've read about predictive coding, that may be true. It really has that much potential. So much for document review as the last hope for all those underemployed lawyers hoping to cling onto the legal profession.Delete
Another Illusion: intelligence or past test taking aptitude equates to success in the legal profession. After a pretty low threshold, it does not.ReplyDelete
If you score a 160 on the LSAT, you are in the 83.5 percentile -- top 17 percent of all LSAT takers. (Scale it up from there.)
I can see why a 22 year old who's done nothing else besides take tests his whole life would be proud of such a score. After all, you're better at the standardized test than 4 out of 5 takers -- a pool of 4-year degree holders.
But that LSAT score is quite a run of the mill score at many of the top 100 schools, and well below average at T-25.
The LSAT itself thus reinforces to snowflakes that they're special. But all snowflakes are special. Employers are shopping for interchangeable special snowflakes at the special snowflake store.
With the exception of Biglaw, who is looking to use Harvard Law Review to extract premium billing rates from dupe clients, after you're "book smart enough" you're just another commodity special snowflake.
I can relate to this. I got a 160 and was pretty pumped that I was in the 80th percentile. But it did get me into a law school that would give me a full tuition discount that wasn't hard to keep (because of a lack of competition), so I guess that is pretty "special" (lol).Delete
I'm an eighth year at an AMLaw100 firm. I went to a T14 and of the five people hired by my office my year (all five from T14), we are currentlyReplyDelete
b) Fed Gov attorney making $140k
c) Fed Gov attorney making $100k
d) Contract Attorney supervisor at different firm making $60k
e) In house making $100k
so not quite the 90% making less than a 1st year, but close.
If you're really an eighth year at a biglaw firm you would see why that comment misses the mark.Delete
So 4/5 good enough to make an AMLaw100 firm are still killing the median US household income, the other is a little above it. 100k fed gov / in house is a pretty sweet gig, especially for non-shitboomers.Delete
Depends on where you went to college and where you live. If you went to Yale or Swarthmore or Stanford for college, you would be making over $100,000 10 years out of college on average without law school. If you went to Yale undergrad and are making $60,000 in NY or LA, you are doing pretty badly and your law degree was a mistake. Remember, you are supervising doc review.Delete
Law school scam hits Twitter:ReplyDelete
At least they have jobs. I do not know where you live, but if it is a high cost metropolitan area like NY City, the $60K guy has been defrauded and the $100Ks are not in wonderful financial shape. How do these schools get away with advertising $160 when most of their experienced grads cannot get that.ReplyDelete
That's the thing though, most biglaw jobs are in big cities and post-biglaw jobs are spread throughout so even if your salary is less your COL is lower. It's really not an apt comparison.Delete
When I graduated from law school in the mid- 1970s, there was much more of a balance of supply and demand of lawyers. I did not know any unemployed lawyers, even among my parents and their friends and relatives, and I knew a number of lawyers. Not every lawyer made bank, but every lawyer I knew had a legal job.ReplyDelete
Up or out back then consisted of giving a lawyer the 6 to 9 months of time it usually took to find another job. The lawyer would be working for full pay and looking. My major law firm had financial problems back then, but to their credit never fired any lawyer on account of the financial problems. All of the associates in that law firm got very good jobs in a recession because the firm gave them enough time to find other jobs.
There were ample midsized firms in my practice area and ample in house jobs to go to. If you got fired, as all of my female friends who went in house in my practice area did back then, you could do temp work or just get another job in the practice area after a little while. That was the begining of the influx of women in the law, which may explain these firings of women lawyers by large corporations back then.
Fast forward to today. BigLaw gives two or three months notice, and if you cannot get a job in that time you are out on the street. Not everybody leaving BigLaw gets jobs. There is almost no market for experienced lawyers in my practice area and in many other practice areas. My practice area is filled with experienced lawyers formerly at Biglaw who are unemployed and seeking work. Many but not all of the unemployed are older women. My practice area for some unexplained reason has few minorities.
By the way, some big firms give no notice and just severance, and small firms give neither notice or severance. These are firings to make room for all the new law grads. Remember the Citibank report on Biglaw for 2012/2013. Business is flat. Firing is a business necessity at all these big firms. After all these firms need to collectively bring in 5,000 new grads, so out with the old and in with the new.Delete
I bet in the past, biglaw avoiding firing associates one or two yers out of school. The actions most firms took by firing all the associates at the beginning of their careers was the worst. At least many firms instituted deferrals so people weren't entirely out of a career forever.Delete
Most large firms give three months severance and an additional three months of employee status. It's not like it was in the old days but it's certainly not terrible.Delete
I think that biglaw is going to be cutting class sizes. That report made it clear that even biglaw firms are over capacity and under productive. They are going to be very careful about hiring, in addition to ruthlessly firing associates with almost no experience.Delete
4:28 Not all big firms give as much as 3 months severance and not all give any notice. The problem is that these terminations are the way BigLaw firms routinely make way for their new associates.Delete
That's probably why I said "most" instead of "all".Delete
I have personally worked at one firm that gave no notice to associates. Only counsel got notice. Both back then got three months severance. I know definitely of a major firm that only gives 2 months notice. I suspect the others may have gone to 2 months because they are all advised by the same financial advisers.Delete
This whole "law school scam" situation is so simple:ReplyDelete
Potential lawyers (i.e., law school applicants) can now, for the first time, thanks to Law School Transparency and others, see data on employment outcomes for the schools they are interested in.
Yes, schools were begrudgingly forced to reveal the true details about their employment results only recently (think about that for a minute) during the worst recession in recent history, but, the current legal employment environment is the state of the world we live in, and is relevant to those who might graduate in the next 5 to 10 years.
So applicants are rightfully cautious, opting to wait it out rather than jumping in on incurring six figs of non dischargeable debt at schools like, oh, let's say, Case Western, notwithstanding assurances from its self-interested dean that the current employment situation is a blip on the radar screen and that there is no oversupply of lawyers.
All the talk about sensationalism of the situation (LEITER), the "scam" and what not are now beside the point.
Bottom line: I, a potential applicant hoping to get a permanent full time job at a law firm consisting of more than 15 attorneys, at, oh let's say, Ted Seto's prestigious school, where my numbers put me at below the 50th percentile of the preceding class, and as such, give little hope for a full ride or more than 50% tuition discount, now have access to DATA, REAL DATA, and see that i've got less than a fifty fifty shot at realizing my goal. I prudently abstain from applying/attending. Scam be damned, its a simple cost benefit analysis.
But the career trajectory information that is out there is not adequate for good students with good records and scores to evaluate whether they should go to law school. Compare it to being an academic with a PhD. You know you are taking a risk that you will not get tenure even if you go to a top program that places most PhDs in tenure track positions. You can talk to people in the area and evaluate the risk. Once you have tenure, of course, you are golden.Delete
In law, there is not enough information out there on the career track beyond 9 months to make an educated evaluation of whether a 0L should go to law school. This is especially true of 0Ls that would have many other career options in fact.
As you acknowledge, the data aren't out there to make an informed decision on whether i should go to law school, so why the hell would i jump in on large debt on a whim and a prayer?Delete
Your comments support the notion that one should, indeed, wait, given the lack of long term informaiton available to assess whether the cost is justified...
You've made my point for me. Kids are prudently holding back on attending.
Not enough people are holding back. If the information on real employment outcomes were out there, many fewer people would go to law school.Delete
Slowly the information is getting out.Delete
This is what I was referring to earlier today when I said that a student with a 167 and a shot at a better school than previous cycles should still not go.
The drop in applications is due to the beginnings of the crack in the wall of lies that law schools promoted regarding employment.
But the fact that people feel this year is a great year to apply shows that they still believe in the scam.
The "scam" part of the scam is the decades of false employment data. Now the truth is starting to be known, applications are plummeting. When everyone gets the word, law schools are going to be in dire straits.Delete
The data on how poor law school is for most people has been out there for years - but hard to find. The problem is most prospective law students, even a couple years ago, were *convinced* that law school was a golden ticket. The carefully crafted employment figures were just window dressing for this blind assumption - they weren't meant for serious analysis.Delete
But now many more students (but still not enough) no longer just automatically assume law school is a sure bet. When that doubt is there, people will look twice at those employment numbers and see they are simply too good to be true.
Honestly, I read this post and almost had a panic attack. He's right about the nature of the legal profession. We're like strippers in a sense- we are destined to be replaced by younger ones when we reach a certain age, at which point we'd better have an exit strategy.ReplyDelete
I might feel better about that situation if it weren't for the fact that law schools lie to us and young attorneys like myself won't even have years of prosperity to pay off our student loans and achieve some sort of financial stability.
You got it. If you are lucky, you stay in the game for a long time. If you are not lucky, you are a solo, doc reviewer, unemployed or underemployed.Delete
What is so incredible is the age discrimination that is accepted as lawful practice in the legal profession. The EEOC has been asked to challenge the whole shebang- up or out, class year hiring, experience caps on associate positions, no associates working in a bigfirm over the age of 40 and only 5 non-partner lawyers in a firm of 300 allowed to stay past the age of 40. They believe this is a bona seniority policy, and not age discrimination. Those of us who are in the legal profession and see that most top law grads in their 30s have jobs, but the percentage having jobs drops off from there, know better.
This is age discrimination and the U.S. government and especially the NY Office of the EEOC, which has looked at this issue many times, are doing the legal profession and the public a huge disservice by allowing this business model to continue.
Just to be clear, the EEOC's inaction has contributed greatly to the 900,000 law graduates in this country who do not have real legal jobs, as compared to the 500,000 who do. That 900,000 number is growing each year.Delete
The system takes 25,000 young lawyers a year in but spits many or most of these law grads out into the abyss of joblessness.
How else do you define age discrimination, if it does not occur when younger lawyers get better jobs at higher salaries and have a higher employment rates than most older lawyers, and most older lawyers are unemployed?
I know several people offhand that are over 40 working in large law firms.Delete
The numbers in many firms are small relative to total lawyers. Few older nonpartner lawyers are kept on. Not none, but these are heavily quotaed positions.Delete
Didn't the citi report address those attorneys as being the least productive? Maybe I misread it, but the analysis seemed to be that keeping people who will never be partner is less cost effective than using people who are incentivized to bring in business for the firm.Delete
These are older people that are junior associates. It's an experience cap, not an age cap.Delete
Seriously, very few people go to law school after age 29. For people who are 45 and older, they may be experience caped out of most paying legal jobs, and the firms will not retain them with no portable business.Delete
I suspect the median salary for lawyers over age 45 might be lower than the median salary for younger lawyers.
Corrected - mean median earnings.Delete
^^ EXCEPT for patent lawyers, many of whom have PhDs and not some silly UG in basket weaving. But if you want to knock me for being in my mid 30's than so be it.Delete
This blog tends to focus on the "losers" of the law school game (as it should, since the vast majority of us are either "losers" or adversely affected by the "losers" in terms of driving down the cost of legal services). However, we lose perspective if we completely ignore the top 1% of the 1% (the "winners" of the law school game). Considering the tremendous risks of entering the legal profession, the "winners" who make partner at BigLaw firms must make tens of millions of dollars, right? Nope, across what most people would consider BigLaw (defined for these purposes as Am Law 200-, NLJ 350- and Global 100-size firms across the United States), equity partners averaged $896,000 in compensation. This is a lot of money, but what percentage of law school graduates even reach this point? Perhaps 1-2% at most. Finally, even if you work your butt off, catch some lucky breaks, and actual make equity partner in BigLaw, you're still more Sherman McCoy than Mitt Romney. Your douchebag investment banker clients still make 20x what you make.ReplyDelete
A lot more people make partner than stay partner. The published PPP numbers are fiction, and not what partners make. Most are paid much less.Delete
Plus, large firms are now finding ways to oust partners, and it's become increasingly harder to get partnership at the most profitable firms.Delete
And of course, winners winning is nothing unique to the law. The top 1-2% of writers make millions. That doesn't mean you should take out tens of thousands in debt to write.
It is not millions for most partners in most big firms. Much less.Delete
The numbers who make partner and stay partner and earn more than $400,000 - much less than 1% of all law grads.Delete
Whether you realize it or not, the vast majority of us are on the way to becoming "losers," we just don't immediately realize it or we fail accept it. After you've worked in biglaw, and then the only job you can get is a document review position that lasts 3 months, you realize you're now one of the losers. I've certainly become much more humble over the past 6 years since I lost my big law job. I think all the smarmy little shit ivy league grads should go through this process. They'd probably turn out to be better people and appreciate their fortunate position in life without making others feel like insignificant pieces of shit.Delete
wow, what a great fucking post.ReplyDelete
You appear confused. The post relates to the legal profession, not that other adjective you mentioned.Delete
"My practice area is filled with experienced lawyers formerly at Biglaw who are unemployed and seeking work."ReplyDelete
What is your practice area? It would certainly be helpful for all of the younger lawyers/law students on here if you could give us all a heads up on what fields to aviod.
They can't tell you, it would identify them...it's super secret!!!Delete
Right now, the only practice area I know of that is good and done at many big firms is employment law. I think some litigators do well. Corporate is oversaturated at BigLaw billing rates and is cyclical. Real estate is coming back but is very cyclical.ReplyDelete
There are successful lawyers staying in BigLaw, or going in house. You just never know on which side of the line you will fall. The point is that you are taking a big risk by going to law school.
^Except corporate is the most sought after skill set for in house positions.Delete
My minority colleagues who were top grads and booted from short-term BigLaw partnerships were not able to make a go of it. Very respected guys, great lawyers, but unfortunately there are too many people like that. One was lucky enough to get an administrative position in a large law firm after years of unemployment. Another HYS is still unemployed after several years of losing a short-term partnership. Other corporate lawyers I know from BigLaw had to move out of the United States to Asia to get a job or suffered years of unemployment before getting a temp job. These are all corporate attorneys suffering from the overproduction of lawyers by one major law firm that trained them.Delete
At its bare essence, it all comes down to supply and demand. I never knew what the word fungible meant until I went to law school. In many respects, I wish I had stayed in science. It may not have paid as well, but the jobs were generally very stable, and interesting. The law schools and big firms have been in bed together for years - the law schools get rich by pumping out as many graduates as possible while collecting all that federal money, and the law firms get a steady stream of fungible, dare I say disposable, cheery, wide-eyed legal eager beavers with big tits to do their scut work for a couple years until they're shown the door. If the schools reduced the total graduate output to say something on the order of 20,000 graduates, I suspect it would take at least 5-10 years before things would improve to something approaching normalcy.ReplyDelete
"The law schools and big firms have been in bed together for years.."Delete
This is why I also love watching biglaw firms struggle and close. It's the beginning of the end for them as well. Good riddance to this "profession."
You're an idiot if you think the overproduction of lawyers has any impact on Biglaw.Delete
The overproduction of lawyers gives biglaw a huge pool of desperate strivers.Delete
It pays by far the highest salary of legal jobs out there, Biglaw will always have a huge pool of desperate strivers even if the ratio of law grads to jobs was 1/1, many would compete for Biglaw.Delete
You're missing the BigLaw business model.Delete
They have cheap labor now, but they don't take it. Why? Clients don't want desperate strivers.
BigLaw's entire business model is designed towards appeasing the needs/requirements of "elite" companies and public institutions. If those "elite" companies and institutions realize that BigLaw is scamming them on 80+% of legal issues, those clients are going to go elsewhere.
And the truth will get out there because BigLaw margins are already falling, which means that competition will be fierce, which means rainmakers will jump from firm to firm and clients will hear sales pitches about all the firms' use of cheap, crummy labor.
Read the Citi report. The whole Cravath model of BigLaw is broken, in part because of the serious overproduction of attorneys and the market reality that causes.
The really fun thing about this is that some big firms will try to make sure that all or most of their associates get jobs. Others do not care and tons of associates just disappear each year.ReplyDelete
The good firms will stretch out notice periods, keep associates on the website and keep them employed even if they are not working or being paid. It is very hard to get a legal job without a legal job, and they know it.
The meanies among big law firms have killer mandatory arbitration policies which strip their associates and employees of every possible legal right to challenge a termination. Mandatory arbitration means you cannot go to court. No one will ever hear about your termination because it is a private matter - just the way the meanie law firm wants it. The killer mandatory arbitration policies that strip associates of all legal rights are iron clad - any challenge to them in court by an associate will be ineffective. Even class discrimination actions may be stopped by the killer mandatory arbitration policies.
Since associates are gone from the meanie firms in a nanosecond and off the website, no one can contact them, unless you remember where the person lived or have their phone number.
The whole system of silencing associates with severance, releases and confidentiality clauses means that no one knows exactly what happened to the associate in the office next to them.
Wonderful system. Really worth it to pay $250,000 for the likely privilege of being fired from your job if you are lucky enough to be hired by Biglaw. If you are even luckier, you beat this by leaving early and taking your chances of being fired someplace else.
If only there was some way to find these people...some type of social network...oh shit, there's LinkedIn!Delete
Anyone who is on LinkedIn and is fired is not going to suddenly change their status to unemployed. Usually the profile retains the BigLaw gig until the person finds another job. That may be a few years down the road or never. Some people start new profiles with a new job. Lawyers do not like to publicize the fact that they were fired and are unemployed on LinkedIn. Honestly, with 900,000 unemployed law graduates, putting that status on LinkedIn may not help a job search.Delete
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I have a question that is unusual and a little off topic. I am hoping a state bar type or law professor might know the answer to this one and am wondering if anyone has ever asked it before or come across it.ReplyDelete
I am a licensed attorney (I use the term as loosely as possible as about the only claim I have to being an attorney is the shiny and utterly useless law license that I used to have hanging up on my bedroom wall - yup - no office to hang it in as I have been unemployed. Yippee - so happy I got a law degree.
I am saying 'hang-it' to the legal profession and would like to move on into a more profitable profession where I can actually have success, a life, and get a job. I do not want any future employers to ever know I was an attorney and would like to completely remove myself from the profession. (By the way, if asked, I would be honest with them, but I don't see why they would ask if they never found any indication that I had been an attorney. As far as they are concerned, I can be the girl who does their filing or the receptionist who answers their phones and actually gets paid for once instead of doing an upteenth legal 'internship' - what a waste.) Does anyone know how I can voluntarily rescind or return my law license? (No, I am not interested in doing something dishonest so that the bar takes the license away - I am not that type. I would like to leave on good conditions and on my conditions for a change.)
Can I write to the bar and enclose my license and request that I be removed from the bar permanently? (Or rather, can I enclose what used to be license, since right now, my license is in tatters at the bottom of the garbage can and I can honestly say, it is the only satisfaction I have ever gotten from it?)
Serious replies only. My state says you can become inactive (you can do this by not paying your dues), but your name will still show up as an attorney, just an inactive one. I would like to erase that I was ever an attorney so that I can put this behind me, move on, and get a job. I no longer wish to have any attachments whatsoever with the legal community and want to be able to say honestly that I am in no way shape or form an attorney, when people ask me.
How can I professionally and courteously, without creating a negative record (ie: become inactive, etc.), remove myself from the legal profession and remove my license in a way as if it had never existed and I had never been an attorney?
Thanks for any info. anyone can give me!
Get married and change your name?Delete
"Serious replies only."Delete
- So... ...what are you wearing? ;-)
" My state says you can become inactive (you can do this by not paying your dues), but your name will still show up as an attorney, just an inactive one."
- More seriously, most states also recognize voluntary surrender of the license, so ask about that. Sure, the main purpose of surrender is to permit someone about to be disbarred to exit more quietly, but that doesn't mean it can't be used in your circumstances as well. In any event, surrenders are normally removed from the rolls.
The law school scam on Twitter at:ReplyDelete
"The last call for associate hiring seems to be when you hit 8-10 years of experience."ReplyDelete
That's because associate is a partner track position moron.
In holds for non-partner track position as well, genius. In theory, all "associate" means is that the lawyer has associated his practice with the others in the firm and is not a stakeholder in the firm's business. In smalllaw, associate positions usually are not partner track, and you can have non-partner track associates. "Associate" is really only a "partner track" position if the firm makes it one, as is the case in most BigLaw and prestigious MidLaw firms.Delete
In any event, the real question is: how many 0Ls understand that? In most businesses, if you're 40 and have 15 years of experience, someone will probably hire you on in a non-ownership role to a salaried position. It's often the perfect time to make a career jump or move to management or what have you.
I can't think of any other white collar profession where at 40/15 you're pretty much out of the running for private sector salaried jobs. In law, that's pretty much the case. With the perfect amount of experience, you might be able to get an in-house gig, but firms really only want you if you are young or have a cluster of clients.
Even in small law, it's extremely rare for a firm to hire on an experienced associate. Usually they want between 1-5 years. As an aside, this should tell you there is little attorney value added after the first few years.
In any event, the sole point is that to a 0L working under normal perceptions of the economy, the person at 40/15 with an excellent record is hitting their professional prime and likely their peek lifetime earnings jumps.
ACC has about 1,000 jobs open right now for people with over 5 years of experience.Delete
You need to be in the right geographic area and have the right experience. As someone who has applied to many jobs on ACC and never gotten an interview, I can only say that 5,000 to 7,000 people are bounced out of Biglaw each year. Even coming from major firms, it is very hard to get these jobs. The supply of job seekers far exceeds the demand. It is not only associates who are already fired, but also those that may well be fired in the next few years that one is competing with for each ACC job.Delete
I guess its true. Law students are really pessimistic. I'm beginning to get a little nervous about going to law school this August. But luckily as a disabled vet ive got the post 9/11 Gi bill, vocational rehab benefits and the yellow ribbon program which should leave me with an obligation less than 20k total. I think ill take a shot, its what I've always wanted to doReplyDelete
What, in particular, about attending law school/practicing law is what you've always wanted to do?Delete
How much exactly? And even 20k will be a lot of debt if you can't find any work after graduation, and will probably be accruing interest.Delete
I graduated from a tier 1 school in the late seventies. I remember back in 1972, when I took the LSAT, already reading of overcrowding in the legal profession. I thought supply and demand would correct; I was dead wrong, it got more crowded year by year. Yes, some do great, just like Hollywood actors; but many are suffering. I got out twenty years back, avoided the truly negative stereotypes with a new graduate degree in a growing field (had to compete with only two other applicants for my first job, not hundreds.) The tragedy is the tens of thousands of law students not going to a top 14 school, not having a family firm to land in, not having a real edge. Unlike smaller youthful errors, the cost in time, negative stereotypes and massive undischargable student debt is truly crushing. Some will never recover.ReplyDelete
One of the best comments/summations I've read on the issueReplyDelete
I'm an in-house lawyer at a large company. I graduated from a tier 4 law school and I was in the middle of my class. I've never worked, as an attorney, in a law firm, but I've landed a pretty decent job and have managed to keep it for almost a decade. My only piece of advice is to be flexible with that law degree. That vast majority of us don't work for a big law firm making $150,000/ year.ReplyDelete
When I took my first job, working in a regulatory compliance capacity for a governmental agency, my buddy told me, "Don't do it! You'll be stranded. Plus, it's regulatory compliance, not legal work. Nothing interesting." My buddy currently works at a legal publisher, writing those case summaries you read when you research case law.
So, after working for the government for a few years -- okay four -- and traveling quite a bit, I landed in a large bank's compliance role. Eventually I left and landed in my current spot. This path isn't for everyone. But once you get out and you see the unbelievable amount of debt (and the interest on the debt), you have to do something.
Finding a job that generates some satisfaction and a steady paycheck is a good thing. Inside the legal profession, most have thought that this only means a job at a big firm. There are other opportunities. Working at a DC-area agency such as the FTC or the NLRB is a good start. I know those jobs are brutally competitive so you may want to consider a state agency or a regional office of a federal agency.
But you have to be flexible. You're probably not going to be taking depositions and representing Target or Nike right away. It sucks because the law schools sell the illusion that you will be doing this. But you can find some satisfaction at work -- you just have to be pretty diligent and forward thinking. There's a lot more to this than a large law firm. Good luck!
^you missed the point.Delete
Maybe I missed the point. I'm only trying to offer a little bit of insight into the job searching process.Delete
Law-job-searching can be a big-time drain on the mind. I understand the "who you know" bias. It's everywhere. But if you can develop some kind of specialized knowledge -- anywhere and in any field -- you can jump ahead.
Of course, to me, the reality is that there are just too many of us. The schools have sold this career -- and it's not real for most law school graduates. I know folks selling shoes and waiting tables to pay law school loans. And opening a shop isn't a viable option for the vast majority of these because that's really about who you know (and let's face it: too many lawyers means too many lawyers -- not too many applicants or too many folks looking for work).
So I am only trying to offer an idea or two to the many who are struggling to find work. I'm with you on the grand illusion. It exists -- but once you owe the money and you accept that it's not dischargeable, you may as well try to explore as many legal options as possible.
All of the areas with specialized knowledge are oversaturated today. It does not help to have that. BigLaw spits out many times too many lawyers with specialized knowledge as there are open jobs each year. What I am saying is that you may not get a legal job even with the best schools, training and specialized knowledge.Delete
This is not true. If it were true, I wouldn't be paying Covington hundreds per hour to research an obscure securities issue. There is always room for specialties. But getting the specialty may not come from going to Yale or Stanford (or from working at Covington).Delete
Of particular note is the attorney living paycheck to paycheck and citing her enormous student debt and the stories on education and the hurdles facing it today.
I agree with everything in Craig's post aside from the notion that everyone who gets "spit out" of biglaw is basically screwed. I know a well-credentialed T7 student who is about to start working at a v25 firm in NYC. If he works for 3-4 years and then is given the boot, with a good headhunter/use of his network, he can land at a slightly less prestigious firm (but still biglaw) and even be on partner track there. I just don't agree that everyone who is kicked out of their initial biglaw firm is destined to make less money than they started out making. A cunning lawyer will turn the firing into a lateral hire and continue on partner track at a slightly smaller firm.ReplyDelete
The number of people who can continue working at a high salary decreases each year though. Remember only 7% at non Harvard T4 schools make partner at a T250 law firm and the number is 10% for Harvard. Only 62,000 of the 500,000 non-solo legal jobs are in house. Not clear how many jobs there are at 10+ lawyer firms outside the top 250, but the number of all lawyers at 2+ lawyer firms is 172,000 and this includes associates. All of these numbers include temp and part time. Once you hit 40, there are not many jobs for you unless your practice area is red hot.Delete
What is T7? You mean Penn?ReplyDelete
Don't assume there are jobs at other firms for a lateral or that laterals are easily on the partnership track. Of course some people will get jobs after biglaw, but most of them will take pay cuts.
T7 = MVPDelete
If there are jobs at all. If the in house slot after BigLaw does not work out, there may not be another law job. If the Biglaw Firm spits you out without notice, there may not be another law job.Delete
That is still ignoring the fact that many T7 V25 biglaw associates in a city like New York will leave their first firm after 3-4 years after being kicked out or simply seeing an opportunity, and with the help of a good headhunter or other connections, will land as a 4th year associate at a slightly less prestigious biglaw firm. And then they can do it again as a 7th year and become partner at a V60-80 firm....not saying this is common, but those who are hardworking and smart networkers can probably get this done. I bet 15-20% of T7 V25 associates will end up going this route.Delete
12;51 You are shilling the readers. The percentage of the graduating class at Harvard that becomes partner at any V250 firm is 10%. The percentage of the graduating class at Yale, Stanford and Columbia law Schools that makes partner at a V250 firm is 7%. There are not enough legal jobs to go to later in one's career, so do not count on being employed later in your career from a T7. Some people are employed, but a T7 grad cannot count on having a job later on.Delete
I have no idea why kids are still chasing this illusion. Even when you tell them, many ignore the warnings. When I figured out what the deal was (as a 1L), I doubled down on another field, which allowed me to eventually depart from the industry entirely.ReplyDelete
Last year I asked a guy why he wanted to go to law school. "I want the BMW," he told me. There are so many ways to a BMW that don't involve burdening yourself with $200K in debt. And anyone with that attitude anyway gets what they deserve. . . . But to the kids out there -- if you're 21 and you're thinking of law school -- be willing to accept that it's highly unlikely that you're:Delete
a.) going to land at a big firm;
b.) going to make partner at a big firm;
c.) going to have a job that will allow you to pay your loans on time.
Don't buy what the schools are selling. If you want law school because you think law itself brings some joy, fine. But be prepared to pay big bucks for that joy. And if you can't do it without financing it, seriously consider an alternative field. They exist.
Kids are still chasing this illusion because the illusion started with high school diplomas, then bled into undergraduate degrees, and now is settling firmly in graduate programs. It's an illusion perpetuated by every high school guidance counselor, SAT tutor, college guidebook, and, worst of all, the omnipresent delusional baby boomer parent/dean/potential employer: that more education equals more opportunity and more education equals more money because That's How We Did It Back in the Sixties and Seventies.Delete
I really like this post. Take the JD off your resume. You will get more response, and may actually have a chance of getting out of this shit field.ReplyDelete