Ed. Note: Will the Lost Generation ever find its way back into Biglaw? This new column is written by a member of the Lost Generation who initially was thrown off of the Biglaw bandwagon but was able to get back on, and is now trying to hang on to his Biglaw second chance.
By the second semester of my 3L year, I began to realize that my whining about graduating law school unemployed was no longer an overly dramatic response to having been no-offered. It had become a legitimate concern.
For the first few weeks of the first semester, I dreamt of finding another Biglaw job somewhere in the country. As the rejection letters rolled in, I began to embrace the idea of practicing in the public sector. I imagined prosecuting violent criminals for assault or defending drug-users for minor misdemeanors. I managed to snag a couple of interviews through the meager offerings of 3L O.C.I. But, I stood no chance against my classmates who had been committed to a side of the criminal “v” since 1L year. Also, there was a glaring white space on my resume where it should have read “offer received.” Instead, it read, “I’m here because the high-paying legal employer that just reviewed over ten weeks of my work didn’t want me, and now I’m screwed and desperate.”
The other candidates had PILC and PILF all over their resumes . . . in bold. I, on the other hand, had never even been to that damn auction everyone kept talking about. Even if I could have competed for those jobs, I knew that I was undeserving as compared to many of my hard-working peers who had committed to being A.D.A.s or public defenders from the beginning of law school. Don’t get me wrong, though. If given the chance, I would have taken one of the jobs immediately…
Earlier this week, the legal blogosphere took a look at the “value” of an LL.M degree. I put “value” in scare quotes because the main point of the pieces in the National Law Journal and the WSJ Law Blog was that we don’t really know how valuable these degree programs are.
Now, in most markets, not knowing whether or not something has value would kind of be a big deal. But when it comes to legal education, the inability to determine the value of the degree isn’t a problem.
Faced with a lack of information about how much the LL.M credential is worth, law schools are quite happy to charge as much as possible for it anyway….
We’ve had openthreads before about the value of the LLM degree. There’s always a big debate about whether the programs are worthwhile (though tax LLMs almost universally get big thumbs up from readers).
The question keeps coming up though. And now in a different context. If you’ve been laid off, or can’t find a job, is an LLM a good option? Here’s one query we received from a reader:
I am a recently laid off big law associate, who practiced tax. I am considering pursuing my tax LLM this fall. I have been accepted to both NYU and Georgetown. I have struggled over whether I should go back to school and “wait out the market.” Currently, there are few, if any, positions open in my specialty area. It would be very helpful to myself (and I am willing to bet – many others) if you could post an LLM thread.
So folks, here’s your chance to offer advice. If you don’t have a firm paying you $80,000 to go away for a year, should you shell out some cash to add a few more letters to the end of your title?
The reader also asks:
I would also like to specifically hear from commentors, what their view is of Georgetown’s Tax LLM program.
What are your thoughts on LLM degrees for U.S. law students? I’m considering an LLM program in Intellectual Property, to gain more experience and make myself more desirable for law firms. Do you have any advice whether this is a good idea or not?
We aren’t experts in the IP field. But as it turns out, the value of LLM degrees was the subject of a prior open thread, back in January. It was more focused on LLMs in tax, but there was some discussion of intellectual property:
“What if I want to teach? Can an LLM – but not in tax, probably in IP – help me?”
“[I] hear G.W. has a killer LLM in IP Law if you are interested in IP matters.”
“The down shot of an LLM in IP, especially if you are into patents, is that it is generally more advisable to spend the money you are considering on an LLM in IP on a Master’s or PhD in a science discipline instead.”
“An LLM will not help you get a job in IP. Period.”
“An LLM in IP isn’t going to help a wannabe patent litigator get a patent litigation job just like being a patent litigator will never make you a real patent attorney . . . unless you actually have a hard science background and can sit for the patent bar.”
Those thoughts were fairly general. We asked our source for more information about his specific circumstances:
I am a rising 3L at mid-30s school, and I’m in the middle of my class. My grades are improving, and I’m involved in extracurriculars like law journal and student organizations, but I still haven’t been able to get any attention from firms at OCI. My interests are trademark and copyright law, and I have considered getting an LLM IP to make myself more attractive to employers.
I’m wondering: What are the top IP LLM programs? Does someone with in my situation have a shot at being admitted to a top program? Would it even be worth it in the long term?
If you have information or opinions responsive to these questions, or if you have views on the value of LLM degrees in the IP world more generally, please share in the comments. Thanks. Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread
Back in September, during our focus on non-top-tier law schools, there was some brief discussion over how much an LLM degree from a top program can help you in the job search if you graduated from a non-top law school.
Let’s return to that topic. Here’s an email we recently received, from a loyal reader of ATL:
I am emailing you to ask if you would do a thread about LLM programs. Specifically, I am a 2L at a top 25 law school, and I’m in the middle of my class. Every semester I improve my grades; however, I am still not in BigLaw range. I am thinking of getting an LLM in Tax from Georgetown, NYU, etc., and I was wondering about career prospects for people like me.
For example, would I be at a disadvantage come hiring time because I will have gone straight through from JD to LLM? Would I need to be in the top 10% of my LLM class? Do firms give progression / bonuses for people who get LLMs? Any other information would also be helpful.
This is a subject we’re not terribly familiar with, so we’ll turn these queries over to the readership. If you have information or advice to share with our correspondent, please do so in the comments. Thanks.
It seems that LLM students are an endless source of stories — and not just those continually squabbling Harvard LLMs. In advance of our upcoming visit to Columbia Law School, here’s an amusing little anecdote about LLMs at CLS:
I was amused to learn last semester that Columbia Law Professor John Coffee is a rock-star to LLMs. Last fall Coffee held a review session before his Securities Law final. The review session was your basic, bland review of the material covered. The session ended and the class did the customary applause. I stood up to leave, when I saw a few “LLM gunners” approach Professor Coffee. I assumed they were just going to ask him questions, but then I saw him pull out a pen and began signing their casebooks.
I practically fell to the floor laughing. I know Coffee is a Corporate God, but come on. Do you really get your Con Law book signed by Larry Tribe or your Admin book signed by Tom Merrill? Besides, how could you worship someone that turned to teaching only after he failed in becoming a partner at Cravath?
[Ed. note: That last sentence is merely the speculative opinion of our tipster. Another CLS source tells us, "There are some who claim that, but I don't believe there is any real basis for it."]
Coffee is an extremely colorful professor. You really should do a small piece on him and you’ll get some interesting stories.
If you have anything funny or interesting to share about Professor Coffee, please feel free to email us (subject line: “John Coffee”). Thanks.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!