Job Searches

Cover letter unemployed.jpgEverybody has written a cover letter. The vast majority of people write the same cover letter, because there aren’t more than a couple of ways of doing it right. They’re boring to write, they’re excruciatingly boring to read, and really the only point is to prove that the person writing the letter is basically sane.

But, what if you are not sane? Maybe you started off sane, but the terrible job market has driven you to madness? What if you are at the point where you “just don’t give a f***?” What does that cover letter look like?

A few days ago, I received this email:

Frustrated by my failing job search, I decided to write a more unorthodox cover letter….

I sent it to Bingham McCutchen. I chose Bingham because they emphasize the importance of maintaining a sense of humor in the workplace. I emailed it to them and received a rejection letter in the mail within three days. It was one of my fastest rejections ever.

Well, I’ve read the cover letter, and I think that Bingham made a mistake. There is a true talent here and (if properly medicated) this person would have made an excellent addition to the firm.

Read the cover letter after the jump.

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Morgan Lewis.JPGFor those of you that have read the comments on the Morgan Lewis layoff post, you already know that MLB is mandating a deferral program for all of its incoming first year associates. We wanted to dedicate a separate post to discuss this plan, as it is very different from what we’ve seen from Latham & Watkins or Orrick.

Here’s how Morgan Lewis characterizes its deferral plan:

Today, we are taking a number of steps to adjust our workforce in light of changed economic circumstances. Among other things, we have decided to defer the start dates for new associates so that incoming entry-level associates will start with us in October 2010. We will offer each affected individual the opportunity to work in a public interest organization between October 2009 and his or her start date, and will pay each a $5,000 monthly stipend.

Unlike Latham or Orrick, this plan is not optional. All incoming first years have to take this plan. Because the plan is mandatory, MLB is in the position where they will have no 2009 first year attorneys. But the firm will save at least $100K on every first year associate they hired.

I say “at least” because obviously not every associate will receive the $60,000 that is contemplated in this memo. The memo clearly states that the monthly stipend will be paid only to associates who secure work at a public interest organization, and even then on a month to month basis. Latham, in contrast, will be giving $75K to incoming first years up-front. (We do assume that the deferral plan includes a “bar stipend” which would bring MLB’s total package closer in line to Latham and Orrick. The memo doesn’t say that specifically though, so we are making an assumption.)

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that some people won’t be able to secure a public interest job by October 2009 (there is not an infinite supply of public interest work). If you don’t get a job until January, you’re not getting a stipend until January, allowing the firm to save even more money.

After the jump, we see that Morgan Lewis expects the tough times to continue right through 2010.

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northwestern law school.gifA friend of ATL brings us a surprising report from a recruitment event at Northwestern University School of Law on Wednesday night. Despite the rough economic times, rampant layoffs, rescinded job offers, and general end of the legal employment world as we know it, many students decided to skip out on the chance to mingle with recruiters from Biglaw, the DOJ, and the SEC. Says our source from a New York Biglaw firm:

Went to “meet the employers night” at northwestern last night — there was practically no turnout.

The event was aimed at 1Ls, but open to all students. One recruiter complained that “it was f***ing full of LLMs and no one else.”

There were lots of firms there (even Latham), but everyone was shocked at how few students showed up. We talked to maybe 5 the whole night (2 hours). I had a bunch of friends there from other firms — they all had the same reaction — expecting tons of students, shocked at how few showed up…. All said turnout was noticeably lower than in previous years.

Hey Northwestern kids, what’s up with that?

The firm folks speculated as to the reason for the low turnout, and here are the theories they came up with:

1) they’re resigned to not getting jobs

2) they’re more worried than usual about saying something stupid

3) they’re more worried than usual about studying

Northwestern’s head of placement was perplexed, says our source. The firm representatives were perplexed. We are perplexed. What’s the explanation here?

“Northwestern kids are surprisingly confident in their ability to secure jobs this fall,” hypothesized our source, a bemused, but proud, Northwestern alum.


So, you know how we at Above the Law love to bring you something a little bit later in the day for our west coast and late night readers? I bring this up lest you think I have masturbatory ulterior motives for the timing of this post.

So, this lady is apparently a law student somewhere in Miami:

Click below the fold for the rest of this story. (Arguably not safe for work, children, Jesus, reasonable people, Princess Leia, or PETA).

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craigslist recruitment above the law.jpgEarlier this month, duty called us to a midtown Manhattan bar to cover a Pink Slip Party for our sister site, Dealbreaker. Geared toward those laid off from Wall Street, the “party” was a depressing scene meant to bring job-seekers together with potential employers. There were more recruiters than potential employers around, though, and there were lines of people in suits waiting to sit at booths to go over their resumes with the recruiters.

Job seekers are similarly disadvantaged in the legal market, thanks to continuing layoffs. One unemployed lawyer is trying a novel new approach. He wants to turn the headhunter payment arrangement inside out, and pay a recruiter to find a job for him. From his Craigslist ad:

This economy sucks. It probably sucks for recruiters too! Therefore I want to make life a little more interesting. This may not be a huge amount of money, but if you’re already on commission it’s more than usual I imagine.. For any recruiter that helps me a permanent position as an associate attorney in relevant areas (defined below) I will pay the following immediately:

$60,000- $69,999 per annum I will pay you $3,000

$70,000 – $90,000 per annum I will pay you $4,000

$100,000 + per annum I will pay you $5,000

I am also looking for contract work in the short term. I will pay $300 for anything which is supposed to last more than a month.

This seems to make sense. Sometimes job seekers are advised to avoid working with a recruiter because it makes them more expensive, since the employer has to pay the recruiter a fee on top of the new hire’s salary. If the new hire foots the recruitment bill, the game changes.

Some people don’t like this idea. The Craigslist poster, who asked to remain anonymous, has had some angry responses, after the jump.

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Will Work for Food 3 Above the Law blog.JPGOkay, let’s try to blow the lid off this thing. We know that some firms are rescinding offers to 3Ls, we just don’t know which ones.

Here’s a quote from yesterday’s Workplace Prof Blog:

I’ve just started hearing of major law firms rescinding or “indefinitely deferring” employment offers to this year’s 3Ls. At our school, this is disproportionately hurting our top students — students who clerked for major firms last summer, received what they thought was a job offer, did not participate last fall or early this spring in the job-search process under the rational assumption that they already had a job, and only now are being informed that that job does not exist. The information I’m hearing is that these students are not being given a stipend, a “severance” package, or anything else to help tide them over — they’re just being told “see ya later.”

We know things are bad for 2Ls. We know things are terrible for 3Ls without offers. We know clerks are chaining themselves to their desks.

But if you are a 3L who had an offer rescinded, you’ve essentially been fired before you started working. You’ll have to compete with all the other laid off attorneys, yet you’ll have zero Biglaw work experience.

We’re asking 3Ls to step forward and tell us which firms are rescinding offers. We’ll try to collect your tips, and figure out just how many firms are rescinding offers.

Send your tips to tips@abovethelaw.com.

3Ls Getting Hosed [Workplace Prof Blog]

Earlier: You’re a 2L? I want to say one word to you. Plastics.

pyroclastic flow melts jobs.JPGWhile the bad news continues to rain down on practicing attorneys, law students are the ones sitting there with a “deer in cataclysmic meteor event” look on their faces.

It’s been a while since we gave law students a chance to vent their frustrations, so here we go.

Today, NALP is out with actual statistics showing how 2Ls are seeing their jobs disappear in a pyroclastic flow. From a synopsis in the National Law Journal:

The median number of offers to 2Ls for summer associate positions at firms of all sizes fell from 15 in the fall of 2007 to 10 in the fall of 2008. The decline was even steeper at firms with 700 or more attorneys, where the median number of summer associate offers fell from 30 in 2007 to 18.5 in 2008. Additionally, fewer callback interviews yielded summer associate offers in 2008. In recent years, about 60% of callback interviews led to summer associate offers. Last fall, however, only 47% of callback interviews led to offers.

And after scrolling through the 20-page NALP report, we also noticed the shortening of summer programs:

Summer programs were typically 10 to 12 weeks long, regardless of firm size. Over three-quarters of offices reported summer programs of either 10, 11, or 12 weeks, although the lengths reported ranged from 6 to 19 weeks. For the vast majority of offices (80%), the 2008 summer program length was the same as in 2007. About 11% reported that their program was one or two weeks shorter compared with 2007; however, about 5% reported that their summer program was one or two weeks longer.

More numbers, statistics, and reasons to trade in your J.D. for a certificate of attendance in refrigerator repair, after the jump.

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Luce forward.JPGOn Monday, Luce Forward laid off 27 people. Today, we are learning that those are not the only cuts the San Diego firm is making.

Luce Forward has decided to rescind offers to all the 3Ls from their 2008 summer program, and cancel the 2009 summer program entirely. The firm confirmed this information with us earlier today.

The firm had already delayed the start of of 2008 summers to January 2010, but it doesn’t appear that any of them expected Luce would fire all of their incoming first year associates.

I’m not sure how 3Ls will go about finding a post-graduate job at this late stage in this economy. But hopefully things will get better by the time these new lawyers are receiving their diploma.

Good luck out there.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Luce Forward Keeps it Short

volunteer.jpgWhen the economy was better, we had a career alternatives for lawyers series, for those in Biglaw looking to do something new. Given the layoffs and sluggish law firm hiring these days, we’re starting a new series: “Can’t find work?” We’ll offer “options” for those shut out — or forced out — of Biglaw.

On Tuesday, we suggested an “option” for recent law grads unable to find work: start your own firm. Two University of Missouri grads were unable to find work and hung out their own shingle in Kansas City. ATL readers lent their support to the venture by spell-checking the hell out of the Buckley & Hutchings website.

Today, we have a new “option” for those looking for work. Offer up your legal services for free!

CARPLS, a legal aid society based in Illinois, is offering unemployed attorneys true pro bono work. From the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (subscription):

A local legal aid provider is seeking unemployed lawyers as volunteers to staff its telephone hotline for low-income families in need of legal advice…

The volunteers must be licensed Illinois lawyers and are asked to work on the CARPLS hotline for at least four hours each week on a morning or afternoon shift. Schwartz said CARPLS officials hope that between 40 and 50 out-of-work lawyers will volunteer for the new program. The new volunteers will supplement the work of 32 paid staff lawyers, Schwartz said.

CARPLS officials posted a job description for the new program on craigslist and other online sites Thursday afternoon, Schwartz said. By Friday morning, there were about 35 responses, he added. The first response was from a lawyer who was offended because she was being asked to work for free, according to Schwartz. The rest of the responses came from lawyers interested in participating in the program, he added.

You may not get paid in cash, but you will get basic training in family, landlord-tenant and consumer law. Press release from CARPLS, after the jump.

So, if you’re twiddling your thumbs these days, think about calling up your local legal aid office and putting some of their attorneys out of work by volunteering your time.

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sarah buckley and alexandra hutchings b & h.jpgThe number of attorneys looking for jobs continues to grow each month. And we can’t help running into them in New York, ground zero for attorney layoffs. We asked one Thacher refugee whether he had thought about banding together with other jobless legal eagles to start their own venture. “Too junior, not interested,” he replied.

Well, that’s not stopping two recent law grads from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that Sarah Buckley and Alexandra Hutchings were unable to find work after passing the Missouri bar exam last year, so they’ve started their own firm: Buckley & Hutchings, LLC:

The question remains, though, whether they are an exception or — as more law school grads find a serious shortage of law firm jobs — the start of a trend.

Are these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed UMKC grads blazing a novel trail? More after the jump.

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