Job Survey

Just a typical lapsed lawyer (J.D., Northwestern ’68)

Lawyers turn into ex-lawyers for a host of reasons. The transition can be voluntary or not. We all know that erstwhile attorneys have successfully gone on to become, among thousands of other things, consultants, teachers, writers, and entrepreneurs. Late last year, in partnership with our friends at Adam Smith Esq., we reached out to lapsed lawyers to ask them their personal stories. Why did they choose the law in the first place? Why did they leave? What are they up to now? Do they regret leaving the practice of law? (A whopping 93% said “no” to that last question.)

We were quite pleased with the level of response to our survey: 430 former (or “recovering”) lawyers shared their stories with us. The tales they told us bring to mind a sort of inversion of Tolstoy’s line about happy and unhappy families. Those who were positive about their time spent practicing had a diverse range of experiences; those who were unhappy mostly tell the same story.

Read on for the details.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Lapsed Lawyers Survey Results”

“Aaaaaand they’re off!”

Notwithstanding predictions of impending economic gloom or apocalyptic Mayan prophecies, 2012 brings some sort-of good news for incoming first-year associates: our survey findings show start dates have returned to pre-Recession timelines. We’re apparently (knock wood) past the days of first-years twisting in the wind with deferrals and rescinded offers. On the other hand, a majority of our survey respondents report that the size of the incoming first-year class has contracted significantly, with only 36% of you telling us that class sizes have returned to pre-Recession levels. For the full results of our survey, read on.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Great Non-Deferral of 2012″

... to take a survey.

Yesterday, David Lat took a detailed look at the National Law Journal’s newly released list of “go-to” law schools — the ones placing the highest percentage of their 2011 graduates in Biglaw. Of course congratulations are due to Penn and Northwestern and the other schools whose graduates are still landing associate positions. But the real news is how seriously discouraging the NLJ data is. We all know the legal job market is tough, yet Bruce MacEwen’s observation that 85% of law schools give students a worse than 10% chance of getting a job in Biglaw still manages to startle.

Our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey (take it here!), asks current law students, among other things, “What do you expect to do after you graduate?” A whopping 71% tell us that they expect to work for a firm. (This percentage was consistent across class years.) That this proportion is so high, and so at odds with the NLJ findings, can mean some combination of two things:

  • The ATL student readership skews heavily toward that minority of students who will actually snag Biglaw gigs.
  • Many (if not most) expectations of law firm employment will be dashed against the reality of a contracting job market. In other words, a majority of students think they are in the fortunate minority

After the jump, we’ll look at how wide the gap between student expectation and market reality is, even at the “go-to” schools:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Survey Update: Great Unmet Expectations”


uncle sam

...to take a survey

Later this year, Above the Law will be launching a new, expanded Career Center. The new Career Center will be a resource for students and lawyers at all stages of their careers, and in all areas of legal practice (i.e., not just Biglaw). But we can be sure that news and insight into life at firms and schools will continue to be ATL’s bread and butter. With that in mind, today we open up the ATL School & Firm Insider Survey.

I assume a common reaction will be, “What with — among others — Vault, Chambers, U.S. News, and Am Law, why the hell do we need yet another employer/school survey?” Fair enough. And yes, all of the existing surveys have their merits. All of them produce useful content for students and potential laterals.

We do believe, however, that when it comes to information, the more the merrier. Moreover, the ATL survey is distinctive in some fundamental ways, and we’re going to justify its existence….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Finally… A Survey for Lawyers and Law Students!”

Perhaps you’ve already heard that Cravath announced its 2011 bonus scale on Monday (swiftly followed by Skadden and Milbank) and apparently it’s 2009 all over again. Around here, while Lat shrugged and Elie heaped scorn (“dick move”), the ATL commentariat … well, they were cut to the heart and gnashed their teeth (“ALLCAPS OUTRAGE MEME”).

We can’t help but wonder if this bonus season’s dyspepsia is typical of lawyers and law students generally. What with the growing ranks of JDs who are despairing of ever paying off their debt, shouldn’t there be some significant cohort thinking, “phew…not only do I have a job, but now my firm will be forced to match”?

Well it turns out that’s certainly not the case…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bonus Season Blues”

Thanks to all who participated in the Turkey Day survey. I am happy/jealous to report that an overwhelming 93.2% of small-firm respondents are able to take time off for holidays. And 76.6% do not need to do any work from home during the holidays. Half of survey respondents, however, are still required to check email during the holidays.

So, is it easier to take time off at small law firms than at Biglaw?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Small Firms Rule”

I know what you did this summer –- so thanks for filling out the 2011 Summer Associate Experience Survey. We’ve highlighted a few more of the unique and memorable summer programs in 2011. For more summer associate program information, check out the updated summer associate program sections of the law firm profiles on the Career Center, sponsored by Lateral Link.

To continue with our summer program superlatives, click on the links below to see if your firm received any accolades….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: 2011 Summer Associate Survey Results (Part 2)”

Now that 2011 summer programs have officially come to an end at Biglaw firms everywhere, law students are returning to their schools a little less naïve about working in Biglaw, a little bloated from all the free food, and seriously missing their fat summer associate paychecks. But how hard did they have to work, and how well were they fed on the firm’s dime?

Here at the Career Center, we know that summer programs are about much more than numbers and stats. So we surveyed summer associates at the top law firms in the country to find out about all aspects of their summer experience. Based on these survey results, brought to you by Lateral Link, we have completely updated the summer associate program sections of the Career Center’s firm profiles.

As befits the end of any school year, we’re also handing out some summer program superlatives to commemorate the 2011 summer class. Click on the links after the jump to see if the firm you work at, or want to work at, made the cut….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: 2011 Summer Associate Survey Results (and Some Summer Program Superlatives)”

According to the more than 1,000 responses we received to this week’s Career Center survey, 65% of respondents took the Fourth of July holiday off to celebrate their freedom or something like that. That’s a huge jump from the 27% of respondents who reported not working on Presidents’ Day, and the 34% of respondents who reported not working on MLK Day.

For the unlucky 35% of respondents who reported working on Independence Day, what were the top reasons given for missing out on the festivities?

  • 54% said that nobody specifically asked them to do work, but they had work they needed to get done.
  • 29% said a partner or associate asked them to do work.
  • 14% said a client asked them to do work.
  • 9% said they needed the hours.
  • 5% said everyone else in their office was working.
  • 5% said that Independence Day is not recognized as an official firm holiday.

Now let’s look at some firm-specific data….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center Survey Results: Who Worked on the Fourth of July?”

Back in the winter months, we surveyed Biglaw associates about working on the MLK Day and President’s Day holidays. Well, over half of respondents said they still clocked in on those holidays. But now that the weather is warmer, the barbecue grills are up and running, and partners are on vacation, surely more of you took Independence Day off, right? Take our short survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and let’s find out.

As always, your responses are kept completely confidential. Stay tuned later this week when we reveal the survey results. For more information on vacation policies, check out the updated law firm profiles at the Career Center, hosted by Lateral Link.

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