But there is hope. 95% of the families are completely unaware of the issues and problems facing most new lawyers. 95% of the new lawyers are completely unaware of most of the issues and problems facing most new lawyers (if they had been, at least half would have left law for some other career, such as teaching grade school, that has a higher average salary). Also, most people have a hard time understanding solutions until they realize just what the problem really is. Instead, they commonly repeat the old "tried and true" advice that worked for new lawyers 10-20 years ago without any perspective on how that advice fails to provide any useful help to the normal new lawyer. The three most common kinds of advice "if you would just look harder for a job," "accept a low status law job," and "get a part-time job" are not solutions to the problems facing a new lawyer. Most families don't understand that the traditional solutions won't work until they understand the problems. (That there are no realistically open jobs, especially a year or so after graduation, the low status law jobs are now taken by law review graduates and the like, and getting a part-time job means leaving the legal profession and giving up on being a lawyer in almost all ways that a real part-time job works). Well, isn't it hopeless? No, it is not hopeless. But the problems do require a complete rethinking and retraining of a new lawyer's mind and support system. Law schools have barely moved from thinking of themselves as ticket punchers (consider how many of them charge a tuition differential based on the perceived employment benefits of law school) to "if you just work hard, you will succeed" and to "everyone has always thought being a lawyer was tough." That is as far as most of them have gotten. A few now preach "if the State Bar Associations would just pick up the slack, everything would be fine." The party lines taught in schools reflects the complete disconnect between scholastic life and reality -- in my mind, disqualifying the current professors and law school personnel from any legitimate claim to knowledge or the ability to teach anything useful about the law. The result of this disconnect is that law schools are completely clueless about teaching students what they need to know. You adjust to being a lawyer and having a compatible second career. Often the second career is one that has many parts. For example, your new lawyer can become a lawyer and a "financial planner." Financial planners sell insurance, stocks, mutual funds, advise on putting together wills and trusts and give tax advice. (Or, in other words, are part time insurance salesmen, part time stock brokers, and part time accountants). She can become a "lawyer and" many other things, but he or she needs to look carefully at how the careers fit together. Second, the new lawyer must learn to write. Lawyers are writers first and foremost. (I know, in law school all they did was read and use some skills -- except at finals. They have to use skills that were ignored for three years). Learn to write with a word processor. Third, your new lawyer need to learn to be a socially outgoing, sales oriented, marketing person. (I know, 95%+ of all professionals are the exact opposite of this personality type. This means completely changing your "professional" personality and skills -- a real task, and you have had absolutely no role models for this in law school. How many of your law professors were charming people you couldn't wait to spend social time with?) Fourth, your new lawyer needs to teach themselves the practice of law (law schools assume that all graduates will find someone -- or some firm -- that will teach them all they need to know. Well, that is true for 5% of the total graduates. The rest are on their own). A good place to start learning the law on one's own is materials like those put out by Nolo Press. Fifth, learn to use and obtain the use of a computer word processor and a 300dpi or better printer. A discounted, $200.00 used 286 or 386 PC works just fine. A used $200.00 HPIIIP laser printer will do as well as a new one. Even WordStar will get you started. Ok, nothing beats a large, financially successful, professionally well regarded, extended family living in a town of about 100,000 to 300,000 people that centers a community of half a million or so potential customers and that has no law school within five hundred miles. But then, nothing beats a rich parent with a thriving law practice who takes you in and teaches you everything from the ground up. As many have noted, nothing beats being able to choose rich people (no matter what kind of wealth they have) as parents. But, The advice I am giving you is to seek or create the same environment for yourself as you need to succeed. Find a community whose needs you can address and with which you have some rational connection. Do not rush into a part-time job, but, look for law related areas of employment (where you have some skills or contacts or just some interest) that mesh well with being a lawyer (e.g. many lawyers become claims adjusters. The experience is invaluable in later years as they work there way into the legal side of things or go into mediation) (Or, many lawyers also do financial planing work as well as wills, powers of attorney, probates, etc.). Also find legal areas of practice that fit together. E.g. many criminal defense attorneys also handle divorces for their clients and clients' relatives. The glut of graduating and newly admitted lawyers is not hitting just "new lawyers." It is also very real (in Texas, for example, the state admits 3,000 new lawyers every year. It has employment for 500. The top 16.7% find jobs. The rest go unemployed and have to go into practice for themselves. The glut is hurting the profession across the board. Firms that were growing are now shrinking or barely staying even. Firms where associates made partner in 4 years now create "senior associates" or "non-equity partners" after 12-14 years (that is, instead of becoming a partner, associates become permanent associates after a decade and a half). In many small communities, decades old firms are dissolving from lack of sufficient work to support all the partners (often following 10+ years without enough work to add an associate). Small offices can no longer rest on their client bases but are forced to continually build a client base over and over again.
Linda: (if that is your name) I'm sorry, but if you make these claims, then you're going to have to back them up these numbers with some sources. Specifically, I'd like to see where you get the number that only 16.7% of graduates of Texas Law schools find jobs. Because you are definately NOT getting these numbers from LSAC, the ABA, or USNews. I'd have to say that you're a liar at this point until you can actually back up your numbers with sources. Lets see these sources now.
Quote from: Budlaw on May 29, 2006, 10:44:03 PMLinda: (if that is your name) I'm sorry, but if you make these claims, then you're going to have to back them up these numbers with some sources. Specifically, I'd like to see where you get the number that only 16.7% of graduates of Texas Law schools find jobs. Because you are definately NOT getting these numbers from LSAC, the ABA, or USNews. I'd have to say that you're a liar at this point until you can actually back up your numbers with sources. Lets see these sources now. Budlaw goes to a TTT! It's all obvious!
Partners in small plaintiff's firms earn an average a little bit more than the partners at the large defense firms that oppose them.
It used to be that all it took for success in the legal field was a law degree. It was just a matter of "ticket punching." Often schools found making contacts much more important than attending classes (consider the semester President Clinton did not attend classes at Yale so that he could work on a political campaign. Look at his grades for that semester). The "ticket punching" era came to an end -- in some states slowly, in some states with great drama. In one instance (when the great "crunch" hit Texas) schools went from full placement by Christmas of the senior year to 20% placement at graduation in the course of one class. Virtually all of the Harvard class of '75 made partner by the 10-year reunion. Of the Harvard class of '85, so few made partner by the 10-year reunion it was a Section B front page story in the Wall Street Journal. As "ticket punching" ended, the era of "work hard" and "work your way across" entered the stage. In order to succeed, all you had to do was do good, ethical and solid work and you would eventually be in shape for a lateral hire. Most people assumed during this period that they just had to have actually learned in law school rather than getting their ticket punched. In reality, they had to keep learning and had to become a good attorney (rather than find someone to teach them how to be a good attorney) to get a chance at being an attorney. Even the "anchor man" (the graduating student with the lowest grades) of the class could make it in a large to medium firm if he or she just worked hard and made the right lateral moves. Small firm lawyers, solos and assistant district attorneys all learned to work hard and then approach law firms that would not talk to them 4-5 years before when they had graduated. The era of "work hard" and "work your way across" has been drowned under an excess of new lawyers unlike anything seen in history. As the glut of excess lawyers continues unabated (and as technology makes many things possible with far fewer lawyers) further adjustments are not far behind. Currently, the top 10-15% (gradewise) from 1st tier schools (roughly, the 40 or so best schools in the U.S.) go to two kinds of jobs. They go to "traditional firms" (these firms used to hire from the top half) and government jobs (that used to go to the bottom half of the class from the bottom half of the schools). Worse, after a year of so of looking for work, the very status of length out of law school is a permanent barrier to most employment. A history in a small firm, as a solo or in a District Attorney's Office qualifies an attorney only to go to work for herself or himself. The bottom 80% or so of the graduates are forced to learn how to practice law on their own (law schools do not teach them). They have to open a law practice on their own (and hope someone tells them about Foonberg's How to Start and Build a Law Practice). They must do all their own marketing and do all their own rainmaking (which means find all of their own business -- in an environment swamped with expensive advertising and established firms looking for work). It is extremely hard for a new lawyer to be credible enough to be a rainmaker -- especially if he or she is working a part-time job on the side. Worse, many professions that used to be somewhat compatible (e.g. stockbroking) have had lay-offs as high as 50% (stockbroking) or worse (insurance sales 75% plus) so that traditional "attorney & more" jobs are fewer.