Job Searches, Media and Journalism, Old People

New Low for Law Firm Behavior During the Recession

A number of people sent us this article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. At first it reads like your classic “boy, this recession seems to be affecting lawyers too,” mainstream media story. Most of the stuff here are things regular Above the Law readers are fully aware of, though it’s always interesting to hear how the secondary markets like Minneapolis-St. Paul are doing.

But about halfway through the piece, the paper reveals one of the most callous stories that we’ve heard during this entire recession:

Matt Nelson graduated last week from the University of Minnesota with a law degree and an MBA. Nelson, 36, was on track to earn $145,000 his first year at a Milwaukee firm. But duty called, and while he was serving as an Army paralegal in Iraq, Milwaukee withdrew its offer.

Are you kidding me? The firm pulled an offer from somebody who was serving his country in Iraq!? What kind of bleeping bleep firm bleeps over our bleeping troops when they’re in the middle of a bleeping war, trying to make it safe for these bleeping partners to bleep their secretaries on their motherbleeping planes?

UPDATE / CORRECTION: This discussion is subject to a correction — see here.

Of course, Nelson handled this world-class rogering with more grace and class than I can even imagine…

Amazingly, Nelson didn’t raise a huge stink over his pulled offer:

“A lot of law students have a romantic vision of what they’re going to do when they go to law school, but I’m not bitter,” said Nelson, who also is a software engineer. “A lot of people are suffering.”

Does anybody know the name of this Milwaukee firm? The Star-Tribune doesn’t say. There is a special place on the “wall of shame” for firms that pull offers to troops while they are serving in war.

And remember, this isn’t some slick Manhattan firm making a callous business decision from their seat of opulence. This happened at a firm in Wisconsin — God and Country, country.

UPDATE / CORRECTION: The firm that left a war veteran without an offer was Foley & Lardner, but this discussion is subject to a correction.

A judge in Minnesota has an interesting take on why the current recession has been so terrible for young lawyers:

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson said something’s gone wrong since he graduated in 1968 with no debt and a 1965 Mustang. “The generation before me came to the conclusion I was worth the investment,” he said. “Maybe my generation is a little too selfish.”

Anderson concedes lawyers aren’t likely to get a ton of sympathy, but he says their plight warns of a bad trend in education: “We are into a model now where we are starving education and then blaming it when it doesn’t perform,” he said.

We’ve already detailed how older boomers won’t gracefully exit to make room for their successors. But it seems like the real problem is that the current (older) power players at firms are unwilling to sacrifice a red cent to allow the next generation to get a foot in the door.

Anyway, the legal economy sucks in Minnesota too. And I think everybody understands that it is tough all over. But pulling an offer to an active serviceman … man, that is just a new level of crappy behavior from the American legal industry.

Job market leaves new lawyers far from Easy St. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

Earlier: Old People Will Not Go Quietly

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