Law School Discussion

1 year since graduation = still no job

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #60 on: December 15, 2008, 11:17:50 AM »
Here is some honest advice, what I would do if it was me in your situation.

First I would become more involved in the local bar association. Pick one or two subsections that interest you, whatever those may me, litigation, tax, environmental whatever. Go to their monthly lunch meetings, it should not be more than $15-20 and that will likely include a CLE credit which you will need anyway. Go on a regular basis, introduce yourself to the whomever are the leaders of the group (as who comes will change monthly but the leaders will always be there). Show inertest, volunteer to help set-up before the meetings, but most importantly go regularly. Donít say youíre looking for a job, yet, unless asked. It takes time and trust before people will be willing to go out of their way for you, this is why its important you go regularly. If you get invited to another event, or asked to lunch GO. Or ask someone you click with out to lunch for an informational interview, ask them what they would do asa new lawyer to break into field X. The point of all of this is to build relationship credits that you can cash in later, this takes time so go every month. Its sucks going to these things alone, trust me I know, Iím naturally very shy but that goes away quickly when you start to see the same people.

Secondly ask for work from the people you already know, here at least the going rate is $20 an hour for clerks. Something around that might be a good place to start. Ask if they could use some research or writing help, most people will say yes. If they will pay you great, if not, do it for free for a awhile until they start recommending you to their friends. Try to get work from as many different people as you can, its contract work and wonít be that glamours, but its an ends to a means - not the work that matters. Be sure to ask if you can keep copies of what you write and use it for your portfolio. This is really what your after. Being out of school so long and not working in the legal field means you canít just rely on cover letters/resumes. What you need is something that sets you apart from new grads, and this is where the portfolio comes in. Bring it with you to interviews, have concrete examples of the types of things you have done and written, this will add to your ability to say Iím ready to start working today over a new grad that has not done this type of thing. Keep your portfolio up to date, and with a variety of things you have worked on, memos, briefs, client advisory letters.

Third, youíve got some free time, use it to enhance your resume. Once you have picked out the specialties in the local bar and started going to the meetings, a good way to start a conversation and to get to know some lawyers well is to ask them if there is anything out there in their field they think would make a good article (start small, like the bar association newsletter, or the sections ABA newsletter). Most everyone will have an idea, and some folks may want to write about something but not have the time, there is where you come in, you help do the research and the writing and get co authorship, or you write it yourself. These donít have to be long, and can be something as  simple as a case note on a recent case that affects that specialty. Section newsletters are always desperate for something to publish, even if its just a few pages. You donít have to be an expert to do this, but it does build your creditability within the section if you can do it a few times. Its also very attractive to firms, firms like to have their lawyers publish on stuff so they look like experts.

Basically my advice is you need to change your job searching methods, your too far removed from school to keep trying what you would do as a new grad. Your emphases now should be A) making contacts, B) creating a portfolio of work you have done showing your skill set, and C) publishing or finding other ways to stand out from the crowd.

Talk to local law schools in your cities career services offices. Most schools have reciprocity, means you can use their services and job bank/listing even if you did not go to school there. Call and see what you need to do to get access to their listings.

None of this is as easy as mail merging and mass mailing resumes, but thatís not working for you. So change up your methods of looking for a job, do things that make you stand out from the crowd, get involved in the legal community and make connections. Its not going to be easy, and it means work on your part beyond checking craigslist, but its how people find jobs, and from my personal experience how people find GOOD JOBS. 80% of the available legal jobs out there are unadvertised positions, they are filled by referral and word of mouth recommendations. Most people will only turn to putting an add in the paper if they canít fill the position from recommendations first.  Even more so in this economy, the days of filling all your vacancies by just hiring everyone in your summer class are over. Also donít forget that partners often bring people in to work under then outside on the traditional OCI route. You need to tap into that hidden job market, and the suggestions above will help you do that .

Finally get a copy, either from the library or buy its used if you have to of the latest edition of Guerilla Tactics for getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams. It has a lot of good ideas, resources, and things you may not have thought of, it WILL help you on your job search. But the key here is putting yourself out there as an active job searcher rather than a passive job searcher. Everything you do from this point on should be focused on creating contacts and building up your portfolio of work, get a few publications on the way and you will be even more attractive. Just because youíre out of school and passed the bar does not mean you should not always be adding things to your resume.

Good luck

Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #61 on: December 15, 2008, 12:21:14 PM »
I read Guerilla and thought it was mostly common sense, but whatever.  If you want a firm job, Guerilla also seems pretty useless.  It depends, from what I gather, mostly on school/rank and possibly less stringent school/rank criteria if you're trying to lateral.

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #62 on: December 15, 2008, 12:57:32 PM »
I read Guerilla and thought it was mostly common sense, but whatever.  If you want a firm job, Guerilla also seems pretty useless.  It depends, from what I gather, mostly on school/rank and possibly less stringent school/rank criteria if you're trying to lateral.

I think this is true for very large firms in the largest markets, but its not been my experience in my mid market. I also think we are seeing the end of most firms hiring entire summer classes. The economy just canít support that kind of hire everyone and see who makes it past the first year mentality. The income is not there anymore to support hiring an entire class of summers and clients are no longer clamoring to pay top dollar for top name talent. I think we are going to see this starting this summer decisions being made more on an individual basis, and far more people not getting offers for full time employment. The market has been changing for a while, and here at least hirering full summer classes has been on its way out.

I expect that trend to move to the larger firms and larger markets as firms reevaluate their bottom line and the amount of money they spend on new talent without vetting them as thoroughly. I think this is going to hit the top schools the hardest, as for the last ten years itís been pretty much a given that if you summered and did not f-up you got an offer. Career services at these schools have not had to deal with many no offers 2Ls as I think they will this summer, and more so next. I tend to think the pedigree alone is not going to cut it and youíre going to see some fierce competition among summers even from top schools and more realistic work to be judged upon.

The market just canít support the old hiring methods when firms are no longer swimming in cash its going to come down to distinguishing yourself from the pack, even from the top law schools. There has been a couple article in the ABA magainize about trends towards competition based placement, I think, until we see a real and sustained upturn in the economy, that is where many firms are going to head.

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #63 on: December 15, 2008, 01:53:12 PM »
I think this is true for very large firms in the largest markets, but its not been my experience in my mid market. I also think we are seeing the end of most firms hiring entire summer classes. The economy just canít support that kind of hire everyone and see who makes it past the first year mentality. The income is not there anymore to support hiring an entire class of summers and clients are no longer clamoring to pay top dollar for top name talent. I think we are going to see this starting this summer decisions being made more on an individual basis, and far more people not getting offers for full time employment. The market has been changing for a while, and here at least hirering full summer classes has been on its way out.

I expect that trend to move to the larger firms and larger markets as firms reevaluate their bottom line and the amount of money they spend on new talent without vetting them as thoroughly. I think this is going to hit the top schools the hardest, as for the last ten years itís been pretty much a given that if you summered and did not f-up you got an offer. Career services at these schools have not had to deal with many no offers 2Ls as I think they will this summer, and more so next. I tend to think the pedigree alone is not going to cut it and youíre going to see some fierce competition among summers even from top schools and more realistic work to be judged upon.

The market just canít support the old hiring methods when firms are no longer swimming in cash its going to come down to distinguishing yourself from the pack, even from the top law schools. There has been a couple article in the ABA magainize about trends towards competition based placement, I think, until we see a real and sustained upturn in the economy, that is where many firms are going to head.

i disagree with this post in almost its entirety.

my take:

yes, this summer will see more no-offers than last summer and definitely more than the summer before that, but for the top firms, there will still be close to 100% offers.

i also consider the idea of top firms moving away from the 100% (or close) model dubious.  if anything, firms will just have smaller summer classes.

finally i disagree that the top schools will be hardest hit.  the summer's not a lot of time to actually evaluate law students thoroughly.  assuming that summer associate A comes from uchicago and summer associate B comes from a significantly lower-ranked school, all things equal summer associate A will have an advantage over summer associate B because of the firm's desire to maintain good relations with and a good reputation at summer associate A's school.

I think you focused on part of my argument that was not part of my arguemnt, your talking about something completly diffrent than was my orginal point. Let me try to explain what I'm getting at.

I think this idea that firms hire from certain schools for any other reasons than profit margins fails to account for the business side of law that created that demand in the first place, its assumes law firms have allways hired the way they do now. Itís not always been that way, but you have to look back a decade or more to see how it once was. The reason firms hire from top schools in large markets is primarily because of the Cravath model. That business model was pretty simple, fill your firm with the top talent from the top schools and bill more to your clients because of it. Clients responded to this, paying more for top talent, and other firsm saw this and repated the methodes themslves. It worked very well, to the point that it became the standard model of hiring for big law firms, and why firms would spend so much money on lavishing summers to get them to choose their firm (and to a degree tell their friends to choose that firm). The model worked extremely well in top markets (but never really caught on in mid markets simply because the supply/demand by clients for the best of the best was not there). That model is breaking down now, it has been for awhile, but the economy is giving it a huge push.

The economy simply canít support it anymore. Firms are not rolling in cash anymore, and they donít have the overhead to support a large number of lawyers at top salaries in part because in the downturn clients are not demanding that anymore, nor are they willing to pay the premium they once would to have all name brand talent working on their case. You can see this in firms laying off experienced attorneys, they simple donít have the receivables anymore to support a top heavy firm. There are two easy ways to continue to make money in a down economy, rid yourself of dead weight, and move more responsibility towards lower paid employees that make more profit per hour.

You can see this in layoffs and in the increasing amount of work formerly done by lawyers now done by paralegals. This is in part in response to the downturn in the economy but at the same time there has been an increasing awareness on the part of clients that some of legal work done by lawyers can be done more cheaply (for them) by paralegals, and they have demanded lower fees. Combine all this together and we are seeing, I think, a fundamental shift away from the Cravath model and the methods of hiring talent as they have been for the last decade.

Law students I think forget that first and foremost law firms are a business, and to stay in business they must respond to the demands of their clients. Clients are increasingly demanding legal services at lower rates, which goes counter to the Crvath model. I am not saying students from top schools are gong to have to compete with students from lower ranked schools for the same jobs, thatís not my point at all. My point is the whole business model is changing, and part of that change I think will be more competition (among top law students) for a fewer number of available jobs. As firms move away from the Cravath model there will be fewer numbers of firms trying to attract the top (and most expensive) talent, meaning more competition among law students for this smaller number of frims paying the highest market rates. There are simply too many graduates of top law schools to support anything but a crunch in opportunities if even a third of law firms move away from the Cravath model.

Its not that they are going to be competing with students from lower ranked schools, its that they are going to be competing for a smaller number of very high paying jobs with more students from the same schools than in the past, simply because of the changing demands of clients and the ability of firms to make money in a down economy when their business model is pay the highest salaries to bill the highest fees. As more firms move away from the high pay high billing model in an effort to attract a larger number of clients by offering the complete opposite of the Cravath model - lower fees in exchange for larger volumes of work - the hiring methods will change. There will have to be a way to distinguish between talent when all the talent has similar stats, that will mean more emphasis on actual work product in an attempt by firms to hire the best or the best of the best talent for a smaller number of open slots.

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #64 on: December 15, 2008, 02:09:23 PM »
well cravath model going away is something we could debate, and you may very well be right, but that doesn't necessarily mean that summer hiring (i.e. trying to give 100% offers, continuing to focus on the top schools) will change.

but if you're saying that things will be worse than during the past few years when things were booming, sure i'll sign onto that position.


I really think we are seeing the start of a fundemntal change (when copared to the last decade) in how firms do buiness that will impact hiring. While Iím looking into my crystal ball at the future of the legal industry I also think we will see in the next five years or so the beginnings of the end of the billable hour as the primary fee modeling system. In part because of reasonable demands by clients and more competition, but in big part because I think the future model will be firms providing quality legal services at rates lower than their competition as an attempt to gain market share and increase in offshore legal services. My bet is within ten years the billable hour will be dead except for specific types of action and we will see the rise of a different method of pricing legal services.

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #65 on: December 15, 2008, 02:18:25 PM »
eh, i disagree but we don't really need to go into all that.  even if it all does change, there's no reason why the firms can't still try to do the majority of their vetting at the interviews for 2L summer jobs, with only a "we must have been crazy so let's not invite this one back" check in place in case somebody REALLY doesn't work out.

I duuno, I tend to think its not going to be as easy to get an offer from this point on, and if anything firms are going to be looking for people who can hit the ground running and start earning their keep from day one. But, we should know if Iím right in three years or so, by then I think it will be clear if the Cravath model and thus the hiring methods of the past can survive the downturn or we are looking at a real change in how firms operate and how new talent is brought in.  Either way the golden years of 2003-2004 are over. 

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #66 on: December 15, 2008, 03:49:14 PM »
if anything firms are going to be looking for people who can hit the ground running and start earning their keep from day one.

why?  do you think firms expect associates to be able to bring in significant amounts of business right off the bat?

I think its heading in that direction, I think firms are going to expect more from new associates faster than in the past. I think shrinking profits will mean that new associates will be expected and rewarded with creating new business, maybe not necessarily with brining in new clients, but perhaps an expectation that new associates will keep up with changing legal times and look for opportunities to create work rather than relying on it being handed down from the top. Things like suggesting to clients or their senior associates when it might be possible to create more business (such as a review based on pending legislation for a market segment).

I generally think firms are going to look for associates at all levels to step up and create business in addition to partners and rain makers. I think the slowing amount of legal work (to the point that some associates are doing paralegal work to try and meet their billables as the ABA reported on Friday) means higher overall expectations of firms for new hires to be more productive in creating and brining in revenue sooner than in the past.

As I alluded to above the present system is top heavy, and with a decreasing amounts of new legal business coming in and serious losses in some legal departments there is going to be blurring of the lines between the purely legal aspects of a new associates job and the business side. Those associates that can create business as well as solve legal problems will be in higher demand than those that can just solve legal problems. Again law is fundamentally at its core a business, and business decisions drive a firm, law is just the service they produce. I think we as law students sometimes forget that, or donít understand how important that aspect of life of a working lawyer really is.

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #67 on: December 15, 2008, 05:59:52 PM »
well i agree that more will be expected, but i don't think the changes will go as far as you suggest.  it's one thing if the only thing that is asked is bringing in business, but the question is will associates be able to bring in a particular type of business, i.e. business for which a client is willing to pay enormously high fees?

That I donít know, the trend seems to be leaning now towards volume clients over one single golden ticket client. Iím kind of surprised this all seems like news to you, if you read any of the trade magazines like ABA or American Lawyer they have be writing about this stuff for over a year. The legal business is changing a lot from what it was just five years ago, larger law firms by their nature are just slower to adapt. 

Matthies

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Re: 1 year since graduation = still no job
« Reply #68 on: December 15, 2008, 06:20:47 PM »
That I donít know, the trend seems to be leaning now towards volume clients over one single golden ticket client. Iím kind of surprised this all seems like news to you, if you read any of the trade magazines like ABA or American Lawyer they have be writing about this stuff for over a year. The legal business is changing a lot from what it was just five years ago, larger law firms by their nature are just slower to adapt. 

i'm not saying that diversification of the client base is unimportant, just that there aren't a lot of clients out there who have work that needs to be done that's worth whatever astronomical figure the top firms are charging.

and i haven't kept up with the trade magazines lately.  i've been dealing with a serious personal issue for most of the semester.

Well I hope that works out for the best, law school is hard enough without other poo going on too.

On a personal note I think the ABA rag makes good bathroom reading.