Ed. note: Please welcome Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.
Before leaving Biglaw for good, I considered doing what I felt like was the next best thing to launching my own startup: working at a firm whose clients were primarily startups. The pitch from recruiters was always the same: startups and venture capital clients are much better to work with than their “big company” and private equity counterparts.
But I wasn’t buying it. Biglaw is Biglaw. It doesn’t matter if your client is Alcoa or three co-founders with the hottest new dating app (it uses an algorithm to tell you who at the nightclub wants you to buy them a drink); clients will be demanding, and legal work is legal work.
But more and more of my former colleagues who have made the jump have been telling me that there’s truth to the claim that “startups are more fun.” So, to get some clarity on this issue, I decided to invite Ed Zimmerman, the founder of the tech group at Lowenstein Sandler and a columnist at the WSJ Accelerators Blog, to join me for a conversation on this topic. Since on-campus interviews are right around the corner, I thought this topic would be nicely timed.
And since we’re creating the conversation using ReplyAll, make sure to keep checking back on our conversation as it develops over the course of the week…
Clients increasingly don’t want to pay for first-year and sometimes second-year associates. Because of that, firms hire less of them.
– Kent Zimmermann, a law firm consultant at the Zeughauser Group, commenting on the hiring differences between Biglaw today and the days of yore. Since it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms,” summer associates need to be impressive to receive offers.
* All work and no play makes summer associates sad, but they had a really great time this year, what with the lucky law students attending Broadway shows, sporting events, and Russian cabarets. Sounds like fun! [Am Law Daily]
* Alas, not everyone was getting wined and dined this summer. Some lawyers can’t even find a place to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal services sector lost ~200 jobs during the month of July. [WSJ Law Blog]
* It may be the “worst time in the history of legal education to go to law school,” but because of new programs being launched, at least some of our recent graduates will be less screwed. [New York Times]
* “The ABA is used as a whipping boy for standing in the way of innovation,” but soon it’ll vote on revisions to its accreditation standards. Welcome to the party, ABA, thanks for being late. [National Law Journal]
* It took 15 doses of lethal injection drugs to execute Joseph Wood when it should’ve taken one. Don’t worry, it wasn’t cruel and unusual punishment — the Arizona Department of Corrections says so. [CNN]
* In New York, an appellate court upheld a decision requiring a bank to forfeit interest and attorney fees for dragging out a foreclosure settlement conference through 18 court dates spanning 16 months. If you outlaw needlessly dragging out litigation to bully the other side, only outlaws will drag out litigation to bully the other side. [WiseLawNY]
It’s been a while since I’ve done a terrible jobs report. With Alex Rich around to offer a more nuanced understanding of the contract attorney ghetto, I’m content to just lock my doors and drive past those emails as quickly as possible.
I would have ignored this terrible job too, but somebody responded to the job opening and wished… very bad things on the potential employer. It’s not every day you see a “take this job and shove it” email from somebody who doesn’t actually have the job…
* “We’re in uncharted waters.” Following a split vote down party lines, the House of Representatives authorized Speaker Boehner to move ahead with his lawsuit against President Obama. [WSJ Law Blog]
* “Vultures! Don’t take our pound of flesh.” Despite last-minute settlement talks, it seems Argentina has defaulted on its debt for the second time in 13 years. Oopsie! [DealBook / New York Times]
* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has added 19 additional schools to its law school clinic certification pilot program. IP is hot right now, so congrats if your school made the cut. [USPTO.gov]
* What are some of the pros of working before going to law school? Well, if you can’t get a job after you graduate, you can go back to your old field, so that’s a plus. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* California probate attorneys’ hearts were all aflutter following Shelly Sterling’s win against her husband, specifically because of the new precedents the Clippers case left in its wake. [National Law Journal]
Many people consider going to law school because they think they have no other career options after college. For most of these people, their GPA wasn’t great, and they have an average or even bad LSAT score. So they resign themselves to going to an average law school with plans to do really well in their first year and then transfer to a top school.
We warn the noobs that going to law school on a whim is a bad idea. We tell them about the many law students who don’t make it to the top of the class and are unable to get a job after graduation. So they are back to square one. But our warning does not address a fundamental problem: what alternatives do these people really have?
While that is ultimately not our problem, I want to talk about some alternatives to law school that an applicant should consider:
Despite surveys showing that being a law firm associate is the unhappiest job in America, we know a fair number of happy lawyers. We don’t tend to write about them very much — we like our stories to have a little more bite or edge around here — but there is such a thing as a happy lawyer (affiliate link).
Still, there’s no denying that the stereotype of the miserable lawyer has some truth to it — and that, after a while, some of these lawyers leave the legal profession. Most people who go to medical school end up practicing medicine for the long haul; many people who go to law school end up doing something different after a while.
If you’re thinking of leaving the law, what should you do?
* “[T]he nation’s last explicit ban of the right to bear arms has bitten the dust.” On Saturday, a federal judge said D.C. couldn’t ban the carrying of guns in public for self-defense. [Legal Times]
* Late on Friday, Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was tossed by a state judge, making it latest in a string of major legal victories for marriage equality. Congrats, Floridians! [Bloomberg]
* There’s been some new updates in the case of Dan Markel, the young FSU Law professor who was murdered in his own home. We’ll have more on the details police released later today. [CNN]
* “I’ve come to the realization I’d really like to have a paycheck at some point.” Ouch. Law school graduates in Florida are starting to feel the pain of a very tough job market, and they’re not too happy about the situation. [Tampa Bay Times]
* “[T]hey treat us like step children instead of adoptees.” A group of Texas Wesleyan Law graduates have filed a complaint (in vain?) with the ABA in the pursuit of new diplomas from Texas A&M Law. [WFAA 8]
The traditional arguments against going to law school are: (1) there are too many lawyers and not enough jobs; (2) tuition and student loan debts are too damn high; (3) the high-paying or high-powered jobs are available only to the top students of the top schools; and (4) most “JD Advantage” jobs could have been obtained without a law degree.
The typical response to the above is something along the lines of, “That won’t apply to be because I’m going to put in the work and be one of the top students.” Now those of us who lived through law school might find this amusing and even ridiculous. But we can’t really blame them for their determination. We were their age once. Back then, the world was a playground and full of opportunities. If 0Ls today know all of the risks and can obtain a decent scholarship at least for the 1L year, then they should take a shot and see where they fall on the bell curve.
Today, I am going to talk about a few issues regarding law school and law practice that have not been discussed (at least extensively) amongst the law school critics. The issues apply to most students (even the top students) of almost every law school….
Our client is a premier international law firm based in Texas with an immediate need for a mid-level environmental associate in the firm’s Austin office. This firm boasts one of the best environmental practice groups in the state and is known for the quality of its client roster and the collegiality and skill of its attorneys. The winning candidate will have two-plus years of major firm environmental law experience (both regulatory and environmental litigation experience is preferred), Top academic credentials (Top 20 JD; Top of class – no exceptions), and excellent communication skills. Qualified out of market candidates looking to relocate to Texas for valid reasons will also be strongly considered. This is a partnership track position and compensation is at the top of the market.
Don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. This is one of the best environmental law associate opportunities we have seen in some time and is a rare, major firm opportunity in Austin. The group would also consider adding this hire to its Houston office.
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