Of course I took an interest in Jordan Weissmann’s Slatearticles saying that now could be the best time to go to law school. He argues that because of the continuing drop in law school applicants and the supposed increase or stabilization in law school recruiting, future graduates have a good chance of getting entry-level positions in law firms or those “corporate positions of distinction.” Despite this, Weissmann warns readers that “most people should not attend law school,” and that “some lower-ranked schools will continue to deliver miserable job prospects for their students.”
But Weissmann’s articles — as well as Elie Mystal’s and Joe Patrice’s excellentresponses to them — did not adequately address one question that was important to me: How seriously do employers consider experienced attorneys for entry-level legal positions?
Click onwards to read about my personal experience applying to one of these entry-level positions, and my thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a newbie versus a veteran….
Elie here. Everybody wants a deal. Everybody wants to “beat the market,” and the internet makes us think that we can. If a baby with an e-Trade app can make money, why can’t you? Buy low, sell high: I’m sure I read that on a bumper sticker somewhere, or maybe in the New Yorker.
Increasingly, the internet thinks it’s identified just the right undervalued asset to snap up at a discount: legal education. The decline in law school applications has been sharp and truly shocking to some. It doesn’t make sense that a law degree would suddenly be much less valuable now than it was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago. The value should rebound. The world still needs lawyers. And if you haven’t noticed, or just disregarded, long-term structural changes in the market for legal services, the fact that every law dean will tell you that the market rebound is right around the corner gives you more confidence in your logical assessment. It’s not like every law dean in the country would lie about the value of their product, right?
We can and will continue to debate the likely future value of a legal education. But can we dispense with the notion that purchasing full-price legal education right now involves “buying low”? You are not buying low, you are buying at historically unprecedented heights. Nobody would put “Buy high, hope to sell at fair market price in three years” on a bumper sticker.
And nobody should be putting that on the internet either….
Many of you have by now seen the Slate article by Jordan Weissmann published yesterday afternoon entitled Apply to Law School Now! Indeed, many readers sent this particular piece along to us through our tips line, deeply concerned. Indeed, one tip came with the message: “Waiting for Elie’s head to explode in 3, 2, 1…”
Well, we’re here to make a confession. Slate sent us a draft copy of this article to edit and darned if we forgot to email over the redlined copy. This piece is therefore totally on us, guys. Don’t blame Slate.
In the interest of rebuilding Slate’s reputation, we’ve attached our redline so we can see how the article would have read with proper editing….
I participate in at least one group discussion per month where a lawyer — employed or not — asks the collective for advice about starting a solo practice. These nonbelievers envy our independence and our ability to adapt quickly to client needs and changing trends.
We respond with the usual tried and usually true advice: Get ready for uncertain income. Don’t overspend. Don’t underspend. Find a mentor. Find another one. Practice in a unique niche you are passionate about, but also serve the needs of the community. Have a sales mentality. And did I mention network?
After the jump, I will talk about a few other things an unemployed lawyer aspiring solo practitioner should also consider — and rant about the worst reason to start a solo practice….
We all know the job market is tough. Despite the somewhat optimistic take David has on the the latest NALP employment numbers, the reality of trying to find employment as a full-time attorney remains challenging. Maybe you’ve heard about contract attorney positions, but are not quite ready to take the plunge into the exciting, fast-paced world of document review. Maybe the temporary nature of the work doesn’t fit your lifestyle or perhaps you’re just putting off the inevitable plunge into the life of mindlessly clicking on documents for as long as possible.
So, what do you do? One unfortunate soul packed their pride away and applied for a state government paralegal position. But the status of the application will probably give you pause.
* SCOTUS justices’ financial disclosures revealed that none of them received gifts worth reporting in 2013. Either their friends have gotten cheaper, or they have fewer friends. Aww. [Legal Times]
* Here’s a headline we’ve been seeing for years, but people are still ignoring it in small droves: “Jobs Are Still Scarce for New Law School Grads.” The struggle is real. [Businessweek]
* Law schools, in an effort to avoid their own extinction, are all adapting to their new enrollment issues in different ways. We’ll see which was effective in a few years. [U.S. News University Connection]
* Quite the “divorce” train wreck we’ve got here, if only they were legally wed: This lawyer allegedly duped his “wife” into a fake marriage, and is trying to evict her from his $1 million lawyerly lair. [New York Post]
* You may have heard that Hope Solo allegedly assaulted her sister and nephew, but her lawyer says that’s simply not true. It was the drunk soccer star who needed shin guards that night. [Associated Press]
The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) just released its employment data for the law school class of 2013. Roughly nine months after graduation, how are these folks faring in the job market?
As we’ve come to expect from jobs reports in the post-recession “new normal” (which is no longer really “new”), there’s good news and there’s bad news. The big picture: new graduates found more jobs in total and median starting salaries grew, but the overall employment rate fell due to the historically large graduating class.
* This Biglaw firm is getting into the imaginary money business by bidding on $18M of Bitcoins seized in the Silk Road raid. Maybe they’ll accept this new “currency” as payment. [Am Law Daily]
* Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wants his trial moved to New York or D.C. for an unbiased jury. Moving it to cities where terrorist attacks have occurred is a great idea! [Bloomberg]
* Here’s a perfect headline for a lovely Friday when we imagine people will be able to get in some quality day drinking: “Market Struggles to Absorb Record Law School Class of ’13.” [National Law Journal]
* Part of George Zimmerman’s defamation lawsuit against NBC was dismissed because his attorneys waited too long to ask the network for a retraction. Time to paint a picture about it, Georgie. [Fox News]
* Can you sue the dude who banged your wife for ruining your marriage? It sucks for cuckolded husbands, but you can’t in most states, including West Virginia, where family trees grow in a circle. [WSJ Law Blog]
The results were encouraging. I met many supportive people who introduced me to others, provided useful advice and inside job information. I am beginning to think that the legal community is not as gloomy and cutthroat as I was led to believe.
After the jump, I will share how many interviews I received and the job offers I am currently considering.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.