Yeah, you read the headline right. We’re talking about the class of 2011. The class that Jim Leipold of NALP thinks probably faces the very bottom of the legal job market. You could make a movie — a horror movie, a goddamn snuff film — about the struggles of the class of 2011.
But there are people in the class of 2011 who did not crash and burn. It’s a struggle, it’s a war, and there’s nothing that anyone’s giving. But… at the end of the day, there are some people who are making it.
Apparently, success is so rare for the class of ’11 that some of them don’t even know how to handle it. Yesterday, the wife of an idiot 3L asked us how to stop her husband from making a huge mistake. Today we’re giving advice to a different person — a woman who has worked hard and come out of the muck and now finds herself in a position of strength.
Most people in the class of 2011 are just taking whatever they can get. Let’s see if we can help this lady with her distinctly “first world problem.” I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s gonna get weird. She has two offers…
We got this question from a tipster:
Dear Above The Law,
I belong to the warrior (debt laden) class of 2011. Upon not receiving any law firm job offers, I quickly took a job at another company where I make considerably less than my lawyer peers. The job is low stress, fun, and I just recently got promoted. (Did I mention I get to leave at 5 p.m. everyday?) While I’m still not raking in the cash, I am doing well enough to pay off my loans and live frugally.
Last week I received a call from a partner with whom I’d been doing contract legal work who said he admired my work and was anxious to hire me full time. The practice area is particularly attractive to me and also happens to be very difficult to break into. When we talked about salaries, however, the partner explained that I would be making only a few thousand dollars more than I am currently making at my non-law job. And I would be expected to bill more hours than the hours I’m even required to be sitting at my desk in my non-law job.
What should I do: keep my non-law job, my sanity, and great perks, or do I allow myself to get salary-raped by this law firm in order to live out my dream of working in this particular area of law, with the hope of making more money and adding some legitimacy to my law degree and $30K in law school debt?
I think we all know what I’m going to say right now: you’ve got a job that you like doing and you are thinking of giving it up for a job that you are not sure you’ll like doing but you’ll be able to say “I’M A LAWYER” and go to sleep every night on fluffy prestige pillows. Sorry, did I say sleep? Well, obviously you won’t be getting a lot of that, but what do you care, you’ll be a lawyer! Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? Wouldn’t that prove to yourself and the world that going to law school was the right decision? Who cares about happiness when you could be a real live attorney? Go now and gain entrance to the club you only want to be in because they told you that you couldn’t join!
(ELIE wipes blood from his mouth so ROGER STERLING will buy him a drink.)
Seriously though, it seems like you’ve landed on your feet and either way, you can’t go wrong. There are no “bad” choices here, it’s just a question of what you emphasize more. I’d keep your nice, happy job instead of chasing money and the lawyer prestige. But, of course, I’ve already had my taste of the money and prestige, so I know exactly what I’m giving up. It’s not all that, but it’s sometimes easier to see that once you’ve been through it.
Perhaps you need to kiss the brass ring before you can see that it’s just a gross bauble that is sticky with the germs of people who spend all day licking it. It’s a lot easier to be a “non-lawyer” when you know exactly why you no longer want to be a practicing lawyer.
I’d keep the job you have. But if you take the lawyer job for a couple of years, hate it, and end up back where you started, well, at least then you’ve lost only a couple of years.
What do the readers think? Oh, and other people in the class of 2011, try not to be bitter towards this advice seeker. Instead, look at it this way: no matter what she chooses, that means there’s one more job on the market for you.