You need a college degree to get a good job. That’s been the case for some time. But a story in the New York Times yesterday pointed out that in this economy, you need a college degree to get a bad job. Increasingly, you need a college degree to get most kinds of office jobs, even if those jobs are as intellectually simple as “receptionist.”
I suspect that’s been true for some time as well. At this point, I expect every “white-collar” employee I interact with to have at least “some college.” Actually, I expect most blue-collar people I interact with to be formally educated as well, albeit in a different country. We’re living in an age of over-credentialization. Just like everybody in Hollywood has had a little work done, one expects that everybody in an office has had to sit through a terminally boring lecture on how many miles you have to go before you can fall asleep to a boring Robert Frost poem.
But, there’s getting a little work done, and there’s walking around with flotation devices bolted to your chest.
And I wonder, to extend the analogy to its logical conclusion, if getting a law degree is kind of like a waitress borrowing $10K to get a boob job thinking that getting her DDs is all that’s standing between her making $9.50 plus tips versus becoming a movie star….
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….
Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Even Biglaw attorneys. But Biglaw firms are not the kind of place to find it. No matter what level you are on. The higher up you are on the food chain, the lonelier it can be. And with the good ship Biglaw puttering around listlessly like the Triumph “cruising” through the Gulf, it is no wonder that everyone wants whatever edge they can get. Forget about glamorous trans-Atlantic voyages, most Biglaw captains just want to keep their ships pointed in the right direction nowadays.
And so we have entered a bit of a “coach moment” in Biglaw. As in everyone recognizing that coaches are good. They help you develop a “practice” (otherwise known as finding clients able to swallow your hourly rate), or teach you how to “manage” people and things, or even help you “balance” your life. (By the way, “balance” keeps away “chair sores” from too many hours reviewing term sheets.)
And “Coach” can remind you that an hour in the gym a couple of days a week is a pretty solid idea for someone whose other regular exercise mainly consists of the following: (1) open desk drawer with right hand, (2) reach into box of processed sugar-based item, (3) grab said item, and (4) place in mouth. (Interchange hands for best results. A Biglaw gut or jiggle to be proud of is literally within reach.) Since most people can’t get break such wonderful habits on their own, coaching can help….
* Save for an unintelligible joke made last month, it’s been seven years since Clarence Thomas has spoken during oral arguments, much less asked a question, but with no offense to his colleagues, he’d rather “allow the advocates to advocate.” [Washington Post]
* Sorry, members of the American public, but something like 95 percent of you are too stupid to understand what’s going on during Supreme Court hearings, so there’s no point in having cameras in the courtroom to film them. (Sotomayor, J.) [New York Times]
* “Having an empty bench means people don’t get their cases heard,” but it seems like Senate Republicans could not care less. Obama’s facelift for the federal judiciary is going to have to wait a little while longer. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* A lawgasm for prestige nerds: the Harvard Law Review received federal trademark protection, and with that, the number three law school in the country gained some bragging rights over Yale. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]
* Oh my God, you guys, law school applications are down, no one can find jobs, and recent graduates are in debt up to their eyeballs. This is totally new information that no one’s heard before. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
* Turning to your parents for law school advice is perhaps the worst idea in the world — after all, they’re the cause of your “special little snowflake” syndrome in the first place. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
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….
Despite rumors of impendinglayoffs, many people thought that 2012 would be the year that Biglaw would make its comeback after being dragged through the wringer of the recession. You’d think that Biglaw’s “solid performance” last year would’ve served as an indicator of its hiring needs, but as with most predictions having to do with Biglaw, you’d be wrong.
The numbers are in for the fall 2012 summer associate recruiting season, and they’re nothing to write home about. In fact, according to the latest National Association for Law Placement (NALP) report, the median and average numbers of summer offers made to 2Ls took a tumble.
In an uncertain economy, this depressing kind of recruitment activity may be the new normal for Biglaw….
Some general counsel of public companies return to private practice involuntarily: The new CEO changes the management team, or your GC job becomes redundant after a bigger fish acquires your company.
But a relatively few voluntarily choose to leave the perceived comfort of being the top dog in an in-house law department to resume the battle of private practice.
That’s why I raised an eyebrow when a guy (or gal) who I’ve known for a couple of decades recently left his (or her) GC spot to return to big firm life.
Let me give the details needed to make the story worth telling, while concealing enough to protect my friend’s identity. This person had worked at firms small and large, became general counsel of a Fortune 1000 company within the last three to five years, and left within the last year to return to an Am Law 20 firm. When I heard that this person had returned to private practice, I could feel a blog post waiting to happen, so I naturally picked up the phone.
Here’s why my friend left the life of Riley to return to the big firm fray:
Law school is a good idea if you are incapable of doing basic math.
I feel like we could probably do a weekly feature entitled “It’s A Trap” that just focuses on which poor argument for going to law school somebody hopes 22-year-olds will fall for.
This week, we need to do a mash-up because all the stories about the dearth of law school applications have caused some deans to go out and say just the most ridiculous things online.
Just to make sure that a “counter-argument” comes up when uninformed prospective law students do Google searches for these schools, let’s take a whack at the latest, most absurd things to come out of a law school dean’s mouth, this time focusing on some smaller schools that not a lot of people have heard of….
* “It’s an eminence front. It’s an eminence front – It’s a put-on. It’s a put-on… Come and join the party, Dress to kill. Won’t you come and join the party? Dress to kill.” — Department of Justice. [Opinio Juris]
* “I heard that you were talking s**t, And you didn’t think that I would hear it. People hear you talking like that, getting everybody fired up. So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack. Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out.” — Cyberbullying law opponents. [ABA Journal]
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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