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Author Topic: Worse than your craziest nightmare  (Read 3143 times)

FalconJimmy

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Worse than your craziest nightmare
« on: August 11, 2011, 05:47:19 PM »
Started this as a post on here, but it got long enough I put it on my blog.

If you're an entering 1L or contemplating going to law school, you REALLY owe it to yourself to go out and talk to recent LS grads.

http://lawgoround.blogspot.com/2011/08/legal-employment-worse-than-your-worst.html

"It's no secret that the employment picture for law school grads is abysmal right now.  Frankly, I don't even think anybody is willing to explore the depressing realities for those who are graduating at the bottom of T3/T4 classes.  If I had to thumbnail, I'd say your odds of getting a job as an attorney if you finish in the bottom 50% of your T3/T4 are probably somewhere on the order of 1 in 5.  Frankly, I think 1 in 5 is still too generous, but it's illustrative...."

"...Out of the 5 who I met, only one of them got a job after graduation.  The job was in document review for a relatively large firm.  "

"The real eye opener was when they mentioned the #2 graduate in their class who didn't get a law related job at all..."

steadfast

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2011, 10:33:09 PM »
Everyone is having trouble finding jobs in the current economic climate.
I just started today at Fordham.
My boyfriend is a 2L at NYU. Last week law firms came to interview all the 2L's. They will offer summer internships. If they like how he does over the summer, then there is a good chance that they will hire him when he graduate.
I think there have always been more law school grads than jobs, even when the economy has been good.
You might not get a job in a big firm, or get to practice the kind of law you want, but I think there will always be opportunities in the less desirable fields, like social security law, and in less desirable geographical areas.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2011, 10:36:58 PM »
I wouldn't guage your chances out of Fordham based on the experiences of your boyfriend at NYU. 

Hamilton

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2011, 08:44:35 AM »
Everyone does not have to pay $100K to find out that they cannot find a job in a chosen field.  Student loan debt is non-dischargable, you will be stuck with it the rest of your life whether you can pay it back or not.

Everyone is having trouble finding jobs in the current economic climate.

jack24

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2011, 04:20:12 PM »
Bigs, you are a warrior for your cause and I get that, but I don't understand why you consistently give people false hope.  You are apparently an exceptional job hunter.  I don't know if that is due to your academic credentials or networking abilities, but it doesn't matter.  Your experience just might be the exception rather than the rule.
This idea that you can go out and find a job as long as you work hard enough is fine, but that doesn't change the statistics.  I'll post this again:

From NALP (National association of legal employers)
-"The overall employment rate of the Class of 2010 nine months after graduation was 87.6 percent, the lowest since 1996. NALP calculates this employment rate based on graduates whose status is known, counting all types of jobs as employment. If you apply the new US News methodology, which is based on the total number of graduates, the overall nine-month employment rate for the 192 law schools reporting falls to 84.1 percent.
-Only 71 percent of the jobs reported by the Class of 2010 were both full-time and permanent.
-Only 50.9 percent of 2010 grads reporting working for private law firms, a drop of five percentage points from the Class of 2009.
-The percentage of private practice jobs with large (500+ attorney) firms fell from 25.6 percent in 2009 to 20.5 percent in 2010. . . .
-Of the Class of 2010 graduates for whom employment was known, nationally only 68.4 percent obtained a job for which bar passage is required. This is the lowest "bar passage required" percentage NALP has ever measured."


I have been networking and applying and clawing for a job since graduation (actually since a year before that) and I'm finally starting to see some success.  It looks like I'll be fully employed with a law firm about three months after graduation.  I also got lucky with salary, but I can't tell you how many interviews I've been to with firms offering less than $45,000 a year.  I applied for a job offering $60,000 a year and was their second choice.  I lost out to a guy who was already licensed in two states.  The firm received over 100 applications for one spot. (population of that particular city is less than 100,000).

So yeah, it's possible to find a job, but 31.6% of graduates in 2010 had to look outside the legal market.

Of course, the counter argument is that there isn't a better option out there, and that landing a job is tough in any market.  That may be true, but the initial investment in many fields is a lot less.   I've seen several postings for paralegal positions at $20/hr.  I've seen many postings for bank jobs paying $15/hr that would easily turn into $50k+ jobs after a few years.  (Notice these jobs don't require a graduate degree)

So, I'll give my recommendation again. 

Go to law school if one of the following applies to you.

1: You get into a T14 or similar and you have decent networking abilities
2: You get a full-tuition scholarship to a non-T14 that will last for three years
3: You have a guaranteed job waiting for you
4.  You will graduate law school with less than $35,000 debt through some other means  (Most likely one-year salary will be more than this)
5.  You have a proven passion for legal work and you get into the best school in your region and you don't mind being poor.


Credentials:
T2 top quarter, law review, moot court, three good clerkships with good recommendations, Over 400 emails sent, over 100 letters, over ten referrals from friends and family that led to meetings, 20+ formal interviews, and 2 job offers.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2011, 12:19:51 AM »
Nobody really cares if your 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc at your school.

If that's true, that's a radical departure from the recent past.

Hamilton

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2011, 09:38:52 AM »
I think these are excellent guidelines.  Would add a few:
6. You are aware that student loan debt is non-dischargable
7. You have fully vetted your decision to attend law school and being a lawyer is truly a dream.
8. You have not arrived at the decision to go to law school because it seems like the thing to do.

Go to law school if one of the following applies to you.

1: You get into a T14 or similar and you have decent networking abilities
2: You get a full-tuition scholarship to a non-T14 that will last for three years
3: You have a guaranteed job waiting for you
4.  You will graduate law school with less than $35,000 debt through some other means  (Most likely one-year salary will be more than this)
5.  You have a proven passion for legal work and you get into the best school in your region and you don't mind being poor.

steadfast

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2011, 02:38:23 PM »
One of the problems is that the qualifications for being accepted to law school are different than those for getting a job. You can ace the LSAT but do terrible in a interview. In order to get the interview, you have to have good credentials; in order to pass the interview you have to be personable, presentable, quick-thinking, and impressive. You probably shouldn't even go to law school unless you are outgoing and can carry on a conversation easily. We don't know enough about that #2 graduate who couldn't get a job to know WHY he didn't get a job.
And bigs is right about having to put in a little extra effort. Get your congressman to write you a recommendation letter. Network as much as you can. Go for those summer intern jobs and make sure you impress them so they will want to hire you. Participate in mock trial and journal and anything else that will set you apart from the crowd.
If you are worried about paying back your loans, take a job with the government and they will help pay for your loan. You can also do volunteer work or become a teacher in a low income area to receive loan forgiveness.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2011, 09:22:45 AM »
Bigs, I admire your spirit and in the macro sense, I agree with you 100%.

However, I do think it's very important that people have a realistic understanding of what's going on out there. 

For instance at your school, I think you make a great point that with hustle, focus, good grades, etc., your future can be bright.

However, (and I don't know the stats, but...) it might not be unreasonable to find that 1/3 to 1/2 of this year's graduating class won't be employed in the law at graduation or shortly thereafter.

Some of those folks will think that law school was the biggest mistake of their lives, especially if what they end up with is some customer service job that pays $40,000 a year and they're coping with six figures in student loan debt.

The very best will always be able to find room.  Sometimes it's a combination of being the best and being very lucky. 

The examples you cite, though, are more illustrative than they may appear at first blush:

<<Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team>>

Michael Jordan was playing varsity as either a sophomore or freshman.  (Pardon me for not looking it up precisely.)  He was cut from the varsity squad, where it was very, very unusual for a person so young to be playing, and played JV.  The fact that he was on the varsity squad, at all, as an underclassman indicates that even then he was an exceptional talent.

<< Tom Brady was picked 199th in the draft>> 

Brady was a Big 10 QB, coming out of Michigan.  He went low in the draft, but still, we're not talking about somebody who had showed no exceptional ability. 

<<I am sure when Scalia was in law school nobody thought he would be on the Supreme Court>>

Scalia was a Summa cum laude graduate of Georgetown and a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law.  Nobody may have KNOWN that he was going to be on the SCOTUS, but frankly, I doubt anybody was shocked.

As for Obama, I don't know as much about his background, and frankly, I think a little of it is kept on the down low.  You're right that I doubt anybody predicted big success for him when he was a pothead at Occidental College.  However, the man did transfer to Columbia and got admitted to Havard Law. 

There are some who want to imply that he got what he got because of factors other than merit.  Perhaps because of affirmative action?

Personally, I doubt that even with affirmative action, that there was ever a time when Columbia and Harvard Law had open admissions.

For me to believe the "he was a stupid pothead at Occidental college" story, I'd have to believe that stupid potheads at Occidental realistically wake up one day and say, "Gee, I think I'll apply to Columbia!" and that Columbia would then accept them.

Personally, Barack Obama appears to have been very accomplished.  Being president of the US isn't really a job that's decided on merit.  It's really more a popularity contest subject to macro-political influences.


So, what's the deal with all those guys?  They were all exceptionally accomplished prior to attaining superstar status.  These weren't "out of nowhere" success stories. 


Which is the long ways around saying that if you're doing this, you might want to take an honest inventory and see if you have a realistic shot at attaining your goals.

Merely having the JD just won't do it anymore. 

Now, who knows, maybe there's some pot-smoking sociology major out there with a 2.9 gpa and a 158 LSAT who through nothing more than personal initiative and drive will go out there and land a $50 million personal injury decision and retire rich.

However, with the climate the way it is, if you're not bringing something exceptional to the table, meaning serious intellect, a tremendous work ethic, and a desire and ability to network (and preferrably 2 of the 3 or all 3 if possible) that you might be making a serious, serious mistake, here.

I have a classmate who had a 4.0 UGPA and a 173 LSAT.  I'm not particularly worried about her future.  I sincerely doubt that she would do poorly in law school. 

However, I think we can agree that students like her are by far the exception.  (I also suspect that she had the best admissions numbers in our class.)

Even if a person had demonstrated phenomenal ability at, say, sales in the past, I'd say that gives them a shot.  Even with weak academics, they might be the type of person who gets out there and gets clients.

However, again, to reiterate, the JD, alone, won't do it.  Contrast to the MD, which we've discussed at length.  An MD, alone, DOES do it.  Maybe not in the exact neighborhood you'd like, but your financial future is essentially assured.

I'm not saying that NOBODY SHOULD PRACTICE LAW.  I imagine that even right now, people are pulling down major coin right out of school.

I'm just saying that the market is exceptionally difficult.  As difficult as it is for sociology majors?  Maybe not, but it certainly isn't as good as it is for, say, computer scientists, nurses and engineers right now. 

So before you go six figures in debt to pursue this, you (in a general sense, not "you" individually), should probably sit back and see if you have what it takes to out-network, out-work and out-think everybody else in your law school class to get the top 10% of jobs that are out there if you want to do well, and at the least, to outperform the bottom 40% to get a job at all.


like_lasagna

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Re: Worse than your craziest nightmare
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2011, 04:00:39 PM »
I mean Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team nobody was saying hey man your a lock to be the greatest NBA player

MJ was never cut from his high school team. When he was a freshman, they left him on the JV team rather than put him on the varsity team. That's it. Everyone knew he was really, really good. This is one of those stories that sounds awesome, but isn't true (like Einstein failing math).