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Author Topic: Why You Should Think Twice About Remaining in Law (or Going to Law School)  (Read 1398 times)

aostler

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CEO Harrison Barnes published an article yesterday about the state of the legal hiring market, why many law students shouldn't be in law school, and why people should twice about going to law school.

Here is a link to the article: http://www.lawcrossing.com/lcceospeaks.php?id=19212#

Let me know what you think about this article.

livinglegend

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The real issue with this type of article is that it doesn't take into account that the same logic applies to every other profession. Is it hard to start out as a lawyer? Yes. Does the person who pulls the longest hours and works the hardest succeed? Yes. If you lose a big client is it possible you will be find yourself without a lot of work to do? Yes. Do some lawyers feel disillusioned with their career choice? Yes.

However, you can write the same exact article about a Doctor, Businessman, CPA, Psychologist, Dentist, etc.

Harvard has a medical school, a business school, etc and graduates of Harvard Business School will have more opportunities than an MBA from Santa Clara. Are their doctors that are disllussioned and want more? Yes.

I don't think anything the article says is necessarily inaccurate, but the simple fact is you will run into the same issues no matter what profession you choose. Additionally, you can succeed from a lower ranked law school if you know what you are getting into.

If you go to Whitter Law School you are not going to become a partner at Cravath just the way it is, but can you be a D.A, City Attorney, Family Lawyer, Litigator, etc yes you can and there are numerous lawyers from Whitter and other "low-ranked" schools that are happily employed attorneys and plenty of other Whittier grads that are misreable or unemployed.

The simple fact of that matter is I could talk to anyone on the Ferry I am currently riding and I guarantee everyone of them will tell me they are overworked and underpaid. That is just human nature, but I can say I really enjoy my job as an attorney I don't make as much as I would like, but I am excited about work everyday because I knew what I was getting into.

Therefore, I think if someone really wants to be a lawyer and has realistic expectations it can be a great choice, but if anyone thinks getting a law degree leads to exorbitant riches and constant excitement they are mistaken. Every job has boring aspects to it and the life of a lawyer is no different than any other profession.

Maintain FL 350

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I agree with the above comments and would merely add that the often unrealistic expectations of law students and recent grads fuels an already bad job market.

Clearly, the legal job market is in relatively bad shape right now, and I don't think anyone would deny that. However, a newly minted lawyer who is willing to adapt to the market's needs and diversify his experience will stand a much better chance of success than one who is rigid regarding job requirements.

I personally know several recent grads of lower tier schools who have very successful solo practices or who have formed small firms. In terms of income and experience they're beating the pants off of their unemployed upper tier counterparts, who apparently would rather remain unemployed than handle a child custody modification.

Many of the law students and young lawyers I meet are entirely unrealistic and snobby about employment. Just peruse any of the innumerable forum posts referring to "sh*tlaw", and you'll see what I mean. They still seem to think that they "deserve" a high paying firm position or prestigious federal job simply because they got good grades or graduated from a Tier 1 school, and disdain the notion of working in a small family law office or handling DUIs.

Unfortunately for them the market has changed but their expectations haven't, and that's a recipe for disappointment. There are still jobs out there, but they aren't the jobs that many students feel they're entitled to.

The bottom line is that if you go to law school with your eyes wide open, and if you set realistic, achievable goals you are far less likely to be bitter and disillusioned.

   

livinglegend

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Again I think that applies to quite literally every profession.

Plenty of recent college grads are unemployed and expect major salaries etc, but to building a career in any profession you have to pay your dues.

aglittman

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Re: Why You Should Think Twice About Remaining in Law (or Going to Law School)
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 10:42:06 AM »
I strongly disagree with the above replies.  I graduated two years ago from a tier-1 school, did an externship with a federal judge, completed a certification in my desired field, volunteered to do pro-bono work, and still have not been able to find a real job.  Although its true that the job market for young professionals is generally weak, the legal job market is particularly bad.  Anyone thinking of going to law school now is a real fool.   

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Why You Should Think Twice About Remaining in Law (or Going to Law School)
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 12:52:23 PM »
I strongly disagree with the above replies.  I graduated two years ago from a tier-1 school, did an externship with a federal judge, completed a certification in my desired field, volunteered to do pro-bono work, and still have not been able to find a real job.  Although its true that the job market for young professionals is generally weak, the legal job market is particularly bad.  Anyone thinking of going to law school now is a real fool.   

Well, I don't know the details of situation but have you considered moving to different area? Or opening a solo practice? Or starting a small firm with friends from law school?

Look, it's tough out there and I completely get that. But I know people who graduated from T4 schools in the last couple of years, and have successful practices. Clearly it can be done. I think the key to develop skills that actually translate into gaining clients and learning how to practice law.

Citylaw

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Re: Why You Should Think Twice About Remaining in Law (or Going to Law School)
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2014, 01:23:46 AM »
Well plenty of people have found legal work and sorry things aren't being handed to you.

You can use the BYU Intercollegiate job bank, which is a great source to find legal work across America.

Username jobfind
password cougarjobs

As for graduating from a Tier 1 school that really doesn't mean anything no school anywhere guarantees you a job. You have to show why you are valuable to get hired the legal profession is not a charity.

Go out there and make it happen. People like Belva Ann Lockwood the first woman lawyer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belva_Ann_Lockwood and Macon Boling Allen the first black lawyer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macon_Bolling_Allen overcome a hell of a lot more obstacles than your dealing with.

About 5.9 Billion in this world would trade places with you right now, and whether you succeed has a lot more to do with you than the legal profession or the law school you attended. If you want to blame society, the legal profession, your law school, etc go ahead, but plenty of recent grads are doing fine, but they put in the work and deal with plenty of rejection.


aglittman

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CityLaw,

I want to practice family law.  I got a special certification in family law and am now VOLUNTEERING  for around 50 hours a week at a family law firm.  Obviously, I'm not waiting for things to be handed to me, but rather am working as hard as I can (and trying to learn as much as I can).  I found your reply insensitive and condescending.  Stop telling people like me that we're just not working hard enough!  Although I will keep doing what I am currently doing, its time that people like you acknowledge that there's a deep problem with legal education and the legal job market.  I hope you can open up your mind to comprehend what I am saying, but I won't hold my breath.  You seem closed off from hearing about experiences that are different from your own.   

Citylaw

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If you want to actually get paid as lawyer get used to insensitive and condescinding comments. The world is tough and if your going to let a anonymous Internet poster get under your skin then you need to get tougher.

I honestly hope you succeed and one thing to do ASAP is not continue volunteering your time. If your spending 50 hours a week volunteering that means your not applying to any jobs.


I have a number of unpaid interns work for me and they do a good job, but if they are willing to work for free then my agency doesn't bother paying them.

You should leave your volunteer job on good terms and spend 50 hours a week applying to actual jobs or starting your own firm.

You were intelligent enough to graduate law school and pass the bar, which means you are certainly capable of succeding, but you have to respect your time and not volunteer 50 hours a week.

Again, I honestly hope you succeed it is tough to make it in the legal profession and you have to use your time wisely.

Good luck in your future endeavors and again the BYU intercollegiate job bank is a great place to look.

Maintain FL 350

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I want to practice family law.  I got a special certification in family law and am now VOLUNTEERING  for around 50 hours a week at a family law firm.  Obviously, I'm not waiting for things to be handed to me, but rather am working as hard as I can (and trying to learn as much as I can). 

aglittman:

Without trying to sound condescending or critical, there are some aspects to your approach that strike me as counterproductive.

Volunteering
If you  have a JD and have passed the bar you should not be volunteering 50 hours a week. Maybe volunteering 10-20 hours per week is OK to gain experience and learn the law, but the rest of your time should be spent trying to get a practice going.

Even if you get one client per month, or only bill 10 hours per month, you'd be better off than giving away your time for free. I would really focus my attention on how the firm gets clients, how referrals work, etc.

I understand that it's tough to find clients and to navigate the system without guidance, but you are a lawyer. You know how to learn the law, and you can talk to others who have started solo practices. Spending 50 hours a week volunteering is crazy, in my opinion.

Family Law
You may need to branch out. Take DUI cases, worker's comp cases, social security administration cases, and family law cases. As a new lawyer you can't afford to be too picky, and it's all good experience. Talk to solo practitioners and see how they did it. 

I don't doubt that you have the motivation and intelligence to succeed, but your approach does seem flawed. You're spending inordinate amounts of time on a path that will likely not produce results.

Lastly, consider moving if necessary. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you. Law is a business like any other and you aren't guaranteed a job. You will have to make your own luck.