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Pls Hndle Thx: Career Disservices

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Dear ATL,

I’m a 2L at a second-tier midwestern school. Fall OCI didn’t go so great for me and, after resigning myself to failure, I accepted an unpaid internship with the government in my home metropolitan area. If I keep the job, chances are good that I’ll end up taking out loans for externship credit and will also be forced to obtain some sort of weekend employment to pay the bills.

Surprisingly, I just got an offer to be a summer bitch at a decent-paying firm within my home town. I talked to Career Services about this problem, and they made it clear that I needed to reject the firm offer. But that option would obviously strain me, both career-wise and financially. So my ultimate question is, can I tell the government that I’m sorry, but will no longer be able to take the position? From a purely financial point of view, I can either borrow ~6k this summer for tuition and living expenses, or make ~20k.

-Money on the Table

Dear Money on the Table,

As if law students didn’t have enough strikes against them — sh*tty economy, no jobs, worthless degree — a new and insidious threat also conspires to keep them broke and unemployed: Career Services. Everyone tolerated their quaint but useless “resume writing workshops” and rhetorical great-unpaid-opportunity-in-Kansas emails when the economy was great, but now that sh*t has tanked and they are unable to fulfill their express job duties — namely, creating careers — they’ve turned underminer. If they can’t create careers, no one should have them….

How else can you explain why Duke’s Career Services Office instructed its female students to use Wet ‘n Wild eyeliner and wear something called a “slip” to firm interviews? Great advice… if this is 1988 on the set of Working Girl. And now they’ve crossed over from subtle trolling to active sabotage and want you to TURN DOWN A PAYING JOB OFFER.

Of course, Career Services will claim that what you’re doing violates NALP guidelines and destroys the precious chances of others at your school to take out $6,000 in loans and work a highly coveted, unpaid internship. Well, I have news for them: nobody cares about the NALP guidelines, least of all employers, who rescinded and deferred offers like it was going out of style in 2008 and 2009. If NALP intended for its guidelines to be mandatory, they would have enacted some kind of enforcement mechanism, like death or jail time. But they didn’t, and now Career Services is expecting you to forfeit a firm career and die on a cross of student debt simply because you missed some invented acceptance deadline? Get out of here.

Who cares if you get dirty looks from the Dress Barn mafia for the rest of law school. Take the job.

Your friend,


Marin doesn’t wear a slip? Wait, that’s not important right now.

What’s important is that she’s right about your problem. You career services officers must be trolling you or something. In one hand, you have a job. In the other hand, you have the opportunity to go deeper into debt. Only a sadistic person would tell you to take out more debt and turn down the paying job.

The larger question is: why do so many career services officers suck so hard? Seriously. I know the CSO gets blamed for things that aren’t their fault, and I know that there’s only so much they can do in a weak job market. But so many of them are proactively bad at what they do.

Where do they find these people? What are the job qualifications to work in career services?

  • Aborted legal career.
  • Poor people skills.
  • Weak understanding of the job market.
  • Ability to use the word “networking” in every sentence.

Actually, working in career services is a lot like working as a legal blogger. Only people don’t rely on bloggers to turn the decision to go to law school into a paying job.

Sorry guys,

— Future Career Services Dean

Ed. note: Have a question for the next edition? Send it in to

Earlier: Prior editions of Pls Hndle Thx

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