Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. I bring tidings of woe not because I’m trying to rob you of your right to pursue a legal education; I’m trying to help you. Call me Elie Stormcrow.
Actually, today The Atlantic is the messenger reminding you of the serious financial peril involved in starting a legal career. The recession might be over but the recovery hasn’t happened for all. And we’re not just talking about the Occupy Wall Street people. No, no, things remain pretty bad for lawyers and bankers. Here’s the money quote from the Atlantic: “In 2011, finance, insurance, and law were the three primarily white-collar professions that managed to shed workers, even as the rest of the economy trudged forward through a slow recovery.”
Yeah folks, even in 2011, the legal economy was still shedding jobs. But it’s not like law schools were spitting out fewer graduates, so… you do the math.
Here, the Atlantic has put things in a fancy chart. Pictures people, it’ll be like an LSAT game: how many people made a terrible investment in higher education?
Here at Above the Law, we spend a lot of time talking about bonuses to associates working in Biglaw firms. As you might have noticed from our bonus coverage over the past month or so, the size of these payouts is underwhelming to many who are receiving them.
But that coverage only deals with those few, those happy few, who are lucky enough to receive any type of bonus whatsoever. For many in and around Biglaw, their bonus this year will be $0. Their spring bonus will not exist. And they won’t even have Cravath to blame for it.
We’re talking about paralegals. We’re talking about secretaries. We’re talking about government lawyers and law clerks and a bunch of other people who worked really hard in 2011 and might get no bonus at all.
Disclaimer: I know this is usually an in-house column with tips and tidbits about being a corporate attorney, but there have already been numerous columns about how to network (or not) through the holidays, how to prepare for the next billable year, and how to act at a party. I’m using today’s column to very briefly examine some of the real world negatives and positives going into the end of the year 2011. So, if you want in-house perspective, stop reading now, because that stuff will resume next week. Comments will, however, remain open.
Christmas is in a few days, and all I have on my mind are some heinous local crimes this week. A grown man raped a 9-month-old — yeah, read that again and try to forget it — and an adopted son tried to burn his family to death (succeeding in killing his father and two brothers). A man is being sentenced today for killing his girlfriend and their child on Father’s Day, and a man convicted of murder may go free because some jurors are now saying that they voted guilty in order to get home for the weekend. The local Occupy folks are freezing in their tents, and now just seem even more small and pitiful. Oh, and there is no snow, there has been no snow, and there might not be snow for a while — and this in a place that averages 160 inches of the stuff per year….
By virtue of writing this column, I’ve seemingly become the shoulder upon which the disaffected cry.
I hear from recent law school graduates who can’t find jobs. (I can’t help.) I hear from law firm associates looking to move to relatively junior in-house jobs. (I can’t help.) And I hear from partners with decades of experience who’d like to replicate my relatively recent move and jump from a big-firm partnership to a relatively senior in-house job. (I can’t help there, either.)
The plight of the recent graduate is easy to understand: You’re massively in debt, looking for work, and can’t find a job. I get it. The plight of the associate is also easy to understand: You’re working too hard, not enjoying much of what you do, and have only an uncertain future. I get it.
But the plight of the big firm partner is different: You succeeded at law school, succeeded at your law firm, have hot and cold running associates at your disposal, are being paid the riches of Croesus every year, and are perceived by the world as being wonderfully successful. What the heck are you complaining about?
Remarkably, it seems as though you’re all complaining about essentially the same thing . . .
Here at Above the Law, we write all the time about crappy law job postings. A good deal of these awful employment listings come from law school career services offices (which is not at allimpressive!).
We recently received word about a law school career services job posting that was so horrendous, so ridiculous, that we could not help ourselves but to write about it. After all, writing about crappy law jobs is like opening a can of Pringles: once you pop, you can’t stop.
And this job — well, let’s just say that it takes the cake, or the potato chip, as the case may be….
At some point law students have to take responsibility for their own choices in professional schools.
Yes, we know that schools purposely mislead prospective law students about the glories of going to law school. And we know that the American Bar Association won’t hold law schools accountable. And we know that the economy is tough and going to school, any school, can seem like a good place to hide for three years.
But there really is enough information floating around on the internet warning potential law students about what they are getting into. If law students choose to disregard that information and instead rely on the fantastical promises of some unranked regional law school, they really have nobody but themselves to blame. You can marry the reformed prostitute, but you can’t be surprised when you find out she’s had sex with half of your buddies.
So, while normally I’d feel sorry for this kid who wrote a “Dear John” letter breaking up with his law school, I also what to grab this guy by the throat and scream, “What did you think was going to happen?”
At this point in time, if you believe what American legal education is trying to sell you, it’s your own damn fault….
Thanksgiving is just a few days away. But at the U.S. Department of Justice, there might not be a lot to be thankful for. Most of the DOJ-related news floating around right now is depressing.
A court-appointed investigator, Henry F. Schuelke, just issued what the New York Times described as a “scathing” report on one of the DOJ’s most prominent prosecutions in recent years. Schuelke concluded that the prosecution the late Senator Ted Stevens “was ‘permeated’ by the prosecutors’ ‘serious, widespread and at times intentional’ illegal concealment of evidence that would have helped Mr. Stevens defend himself at his 2008 trial.” Ouch.
(The good news, from the Department’s perspective: a recommendation against criminal prosecution of the DOJ officials involved in the case. That’s something to be thankful for, I suppose.)
Alas, that’s not all for depressing dispatches out of the Department. Let’s discussing the hiring freeze, and the state of Honors Program offers….
At the time, we didn’t have the autopsy report (as we noted in our story). But I, and some of Johnstone’s Skadden colleagues, used her passing as an occasion for reflecting on nature of working in Biglaw.
The autopsy is out now. While the cause of death is inconclusive, the toxicology report found no trace of drugs….
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
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…
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