Disability Law, Facebook, Job Searches, Law Schools

How Much for an Ivy-Educated Scribe?

You realize your kids won't even learn how to do this.

Given the tough job market, law students are doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition. Whether that means showing up with freshly baked cookies before the interviews, or pumping out handwritten thank you notes after they meet people, students are going to the mattresses.

I’m serious about the cookies and notes. I had a person ask me if she should bring cookies to her interview (to which I said, “I think they’ll be more eager to receive their blow jobs…. you realize I’m joking, right? Do not bring cookies or blow people in interviews.”) For thank you notes, even some career service professionals suggest handing them out. Because nothing says “I’m desperate to have one more second of your attention before you throw this away” like a thank you card.

But why should a law student hand-write his own handwritten thank you card? This is American legal education in 2012, baby. Surely, there is a law student out there who is just desperate enough to write another law student’s thank you cards. At least that’s what one student at a top law school was hoping….

The student, who we’ll call “Job Creator,” posted the following request on the Columbia Law School student Facebook page:

Job Posting 1/30: Personal Scribe
As we all know, it is interview season. I will be issuing handwritten thank you notes to potential employers and I would like them to look nice. Anyone interested in penning thank you cards for me please e-mail me at [Job Creator] with an attached photo of the phrase “Dear Ms. [Employer]” in your best handwriting. The pay is $2 per card with a $20 bonus at the end if I secure a firm job and a $10 bonus if I secure a paid internship. I have already purchased the cards, I will provide the message, and I will do the mailing.

I need a card penned tomorrow to be mailed by the time the post office closes, so this offer expires at 12PM on 1/31/2012. Counteroffers will not be considered acceptance.

As you can imagine, hilarity ensued.

You can see the problems with this: it’s not that Columbia students are above doing clerical labor for somebody (see, e.g., any Columbia grad currently employed as a Biglaw junior associate). It’s that the price is too low. Two bucks a pop with a $20 bonus only upon actual job security is way too low. Personally, I’d start with $15 per hour plus free beer while you write them, provided alcohol doesn’t mess up your penmanship, with a $50 kicker per offer received.

Unless Job Creator was asking for a favor. By the end of the Facebook thread on the matter, it seemed she was.

To the Wikipedia machine!

Dysgraphia is a deficiency in the ability to write primarily in terms of handwriting, but also in terms of coherence. It occurs regardless of the ability to read and is not due to intellectual impairment. Dysgraphia is a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting.

Some tipsters have said that Job Creator should have put her disability upfront, but I can understand why she’d be reluctant to lead with that in front of all her classmates. Maybe if she went to law school someplace chill like NYU, but I can see why she wouldn’t want to be “the girl who can’t write” for the rest of her time at CLS.

I think her mistake (if any) was bringing up any of this in front of her classmates in the first place. We reached out to Job Creator and she had this to say:

I asked my classmates because I felt comfortable asking them. I see them everyday, and I have a good relationship with many of them. They were also the most convenient people to ask. Our community Facebook group is the way we all communicate with each other. It serves as a place for event announcements, lost and found, discussions about courses, and a place to air law school grievances.

Veil of mystery aside, I suffer from dysgraphia. After the somewhat negative response I received about my request, I sat down and painstakingly penned the note myself. I’ll be doing my own thank you notes this interview season for better or worse.

Not to cast a negative light on my classmates, one person sent me a private message offering advice and another volunteered her services.

There are other ways Job Creator can go. She could type them. Or she could just not send thank you notes.

But if she’s hell bent on sending notes, my (a$$hole) suggestion would be to throw out the job offer to students at lower-ranked law schools, or even undergraduates. For the most part, fellow Columbia students aren’t going to want to help her get a job, potentially at the expense of their own employment prospects. But students at less-respected law schools might not feel like they are competing in the same limited pool.

And we already know that undergraduates will believe almost anything when it comes out of a law school.

(hidden for your protection)

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