Tristan Taylor Thomas

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves -- which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at [email protected].

Posts by Tristan Taylor Thomas

The end of February marked nine months since graduation. That’s nine months of résumés. Nine months of cover letters. Nine months of retail hell. Nine months living in my parents’ basement. And it is finally over. That’s right, my loyal readers, I will no longer be bitching about the lack of legal jobs in 2013, as I am now gainfully employed.

Before you start asking questions and speculating in the comments, let me just field a few of the likely questions. First, no, I will not be filling a position as office bitch. Unfortunately, I was vastly overqualified for the job. Second, no, I did not open my own firm, so I will have to wait until later to grow a pair as you’ve suggested time and time again.

And third, yes, it’s possible for a graduate of an “unaccredited” (read: accredited) law school to get a real job….

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There are very few things more disheartening than rejection. Whether you’re the dork in high school trying to work up the courage to ask that special someone to go on a date, applying to school, or looking for a job, no one wants to be rejected. And in an attempt to calm your nerves, loved ones will often say, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

But all the good thoughts and best wishes in the world don’t provide much comfort when you’re searching for your first law job and everyone else is doing the exact same thing (not to mention they went to much better law schools than you did). While it may not be the end of the world, rejection can really hurt. The mere fear of rejection can paralyze some, and if there’s constant rejection, it’s not uncommon for depression — or in my case at the moment, extreme pessimism — to start kicking in.

Knowing this fact, employers generally attempt to soften the blow of rejection to the furthest extent possible. They say comforting things like “you are highly qualified” or “have impressive training.” If they really liked you, you may even get a more personal statement that actually acknowledges something in your résumé, which at least means that they read it and tried to make believe that they cared.

However, this isn’t always the case….

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There are certain milestones or achievements that are rarely obtained. Many times, people strive for these marks as a way to showcase their skill and talent, carefully crafted after years of hard work. For example, in baseball, there’s the perfect game or a fifty home run season, which was a lot more impressive before Brady Anderson did it.

There are also other, less desirable distinctions that many people earn for themselves. Like the 2008 Detroit Lions or Mark Sanchez, many are remembered for just how epically they fail. Unfortunately, I reached a distinction in that category this weekend.

As you all know, I’ve been feebly attempting to find a job for the past several months. Excluding the instant, automatic email responses, all of my efforts during that time have resulted in two interviews, a handful of “we will keep your application on file for future positions, but for now, go f**k yourself” emails, a pretty impressive kill/death ratio in Call of Duty Black Ops 2, and a lot of dead zombies. Also, I am pretty sure that I made one of my interviewers remember to forget my phone number after I possibly called a few too many times as his office no longer even bothers picking up the phone for me.

As for my accomplishment, I’ve amassed a rather long list of employers that have passed on employing me since late summer/early fall. Well, I haven’t kept an exact count on the total, but based on the number of cover letters that I still have saved on my computer, it looks like I’ve applied to 499 jobs….

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As the days turn to weeks, and weeks turn to months, it becomes increasingly frustrating to fail to have solid results in my job search. It’s sad, but I’ve grown to appreciate the auto-response emails that some companies and firms have, which generally say, “Thanks for applying to our company. If you do not completely suck, we will contact you for an interview. If you do suck, you will not be contacted, but your résumé will be kept on file (in our digital trash bin) in the event that there is an opening in our janitor’s closet, mail room, or bathroom attendant stall.”

At least this means that my résumé was received and will likely be skimmed over by someone before it is thrown to the side and forgotten about. However, last week, I received a glimmer of hope. And at the time, I thought that there was hope that the title of this week’s column would be “Tristan Gets a Job.” But, as usual, no suck luck….

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I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was in law school, I would sometimes feel like a little kid again. And to answer your first question, no, it’s not because of the low level of education I received at my TTT. Instead, I was reminded of my childhood, when I used to play sports in the backyard. I imagined that the game was in its final seconds, and I would win it all by making that big final play. But as childhood fades, so too does some of the fun of life.

What’s the proof of this? What once was a childish fantasy became a legal fantasy when I became an adult. That’s right, in law school, I would sometimes daydream about being a big-shot attorney, with a huge, O.J.-sized case. I would spout off some legal jargon to the amazement of the jurors in my closing, and then they would come back after only a few minutes, giving my client the “win,” and making me very, very wealthy at the same time.

Just like my dreams of athletic glory, this dream now seems far-fetched. The résumés and cover letters continue to rack up in my sent mail box, but nothing except spam, CLE event notifications, Groupon ads, and messages from ugly girls on Match.com fill my inbox. Things have become so bad that I would even welcome a simple acknowledgement that my application was received….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gradenfreude: From Dreams of Being a Biglaw Big Shot to the Reality of Food Stamps”

It’s about that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about when ESPN tells you what Ray Lewis and his teammates ate for breakfast along with every other remotely interesting detail of the other Super Bowl players’ lives. Instead, I’m talking about the time that law schools start to really get anal retentive about getting their graduate employment forms back.

I bet some of you readers have already received a couple of emails from your alma mater, each increasingly desperate and frantic as the head of career services threatens to pull his hair out unless you respond. This may seem like a good or even noble task for the school to perform, but let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on….

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It’s completely natural for adults to reach a breaking point. Sometimes, enough is enough. This is true for almost all aspects of adult life that people wish could be changed, including those dealing with addiction, infidelity, and, of course, the headaches that accompany being employed. When and where this point is crossed obviously depends on the individual, but many times, it’ll result in breaking away from what became comfortable and a willingness to do anything for a change.

I personally experienced this myself just before Christmas — that’s when I quit my awful retail job….

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With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s attempt to win their first national championship in a quarter of a century, and at the same time, their attempt to end the Southeastern Conference’s years of dominance of the BCS, I am hoping that this return to glory by a once storied franchise will be accompanied by a return to glory for the storied legal profession.

When I was growing up, most thought of lawyers as highly educated, intelligent, and self-motivated (even to a fault) professionals. Many considered lawyers to be part of the upper echelon of society, and most people also believed that simply being a lawyer would result in a huge, guaranteed payday. And for most of college football history, the Fighting Irish received similarly high praise.

In recent years, however, both the legal profession and the Irish have been held up to strong criticism, and were unable to enjoy the same success people became accustomed to. Even while I was still in law school at my TTT, respected attorneys told me not to worry about the school I was attending, because by the time that I got to my second or third job, no one would care anymore. The little detail that everyone left out was just how much it would matter for that first job — because it’s rough to get to the second or third job when you can’t even find your first, no matter how hard you try.

Going along with the Fighting Irish’s return to the top, here’s a look at a few other things that were once closely associated with the legal profession that are no longer true, but would be welcomed back with open arms….

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With 2013 approaching, people will begin to start to think about what potential changes they may make for their New Year’s Resolution. Now, I personally am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because I don’t understand the point of wanting to better yourself only once a year, simply because the earth has made a full rotation around the sun. We’re probably going to die on Friday anyway because of that Mayan garbage, so what’s the point? But for the sake of quality journalism, I’ll ignore that for the moment to give out-of-work law graduates a couple of ideas for their own resolutions.

First, there are some things that you should consider before taking on any resolution. Don’t pick something that’s too big for one person to conceivably achieve — like Tannebaum said, aim low, and strive for mediocrity. Also, don’t pick something that requires you to completely change yourself overnight. While it’s very admirable, doing so will likely result in you dropping the resolution and getting back to life as normal in February. A diet that lasts for only a month isn’t very effective, people.

For that same reason, whatever change you do choose, make sure that it’s something that you’re actually interested in doing. In other words, do a little research and realize what you’re getting yourself into. Thinking about it, maybe I should have taken my own advice and did a little more research before attending the “unaccredited law school” the commenters keep referring to. And by the way, I went to an accredited cesspool, thank you very much….

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The holiday season is supposed to be full of cheer and happiness, but as an adult, it’s usually full of one thing, and one thing only: stress. Making matters worse is the fact that shopping for those you love can be a bit of a challenge. It’s always hard to tell what someone really needs or will have the opportunity to fully enjoy.

So, I have decided to dedicate this week’s column to giving a few gift ideas for the unemployed or severely underemployed law school graduate in your life. These individuals are likely depressed and highly anxious, so the right gift could act as a sedative — and actually back some of them off the ledge.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start….

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