Depressing stuff

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, new employment numbers just came out, and it’s an old story of a soft job market.

Only 56 percent of the class of 2012 secured full-time, long-term legal employment within nine months of graduation. In this economy, that passes as good news because that figure is up one percent from last year. It’s kind like telling a terminally ill patient that his parking tickets got dismissed.

Law School Transparency reports that when you exclude school-funded jobs, the employment number falls to 55 percent. And there is more bad news when you dive deeper into the statistics.

But this is the class of 2012, the first class that really should have known that this was going to happen….

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Workplace satisfaction isn’t quite the hot topic it used to be. In the 90s, everyone got all touchy-feely because an unhappy employee could pick up stakes and move at a moment’s notice. Today, the primary axis of worker satisfaction is, “Am I working?”

But satisfaction surveys still fascinate, and Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes recently posted a new survey from a firm known as CareerBliss that used a multi-factor survey to determine the happiest and unhappiest jobs in America.

Wonder what came in the top spot? Well, OK obviously it was an associate. I’m not going to hide the ball here. If it was anyone else, we wouldn’t be writing about it. But what’s more interesting is who came in the rest of the top 10, because that really puts in terrifying perspective how terrible a job in Biglaw really is….

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Last week I wrote about some aspects of client service in today’s Biglaw. Today I want to focus on Biglaw’s embrace of partner de-equitizations and layoffs. These tactics are one of the ways Biglaw has been dealing with the fallout of the Black Death that has struck our industry.

Unfortunately, it seems like this year has gotten off to a bad start Biglaw-wise, in terms of both demand and a continuing lack of creativity by management at nearly every single firm. That brings consequences. Stay tuned. I have already said that I don’t mind if the paunchy mid-section of the Am Law 100 starts embracing a “bottom’s out” approach to the partnership — but at least have the guts to embrace it, not spin it.

I am really starting to dislike the tone that managing partners are starting to adopt when they talk about eliminating partners. Yes, I said eliminate. You may have seen them. Public statements where managing partner X almost gleefully informs the public of the elimination of nearly ten percent of his “partners” in the face of falling revenues. And looks for applause because his firm’s PPP went up $17,000 as a result. Go read some of the recent Biglaw “report cards” for a taste of this rancid stew.

We should be clear about the consequences of such a practice….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Buying In: The Bottom Ten”

There are very few things more disheartening than rejection. Whether you’re the dork in high school trying to work up the courage to ask that special someone to go on a date, applying to school, or looking for a job, no one wants to be rejected. And in an attempt to calm your nerves, loved ones will often say, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

But all the good thoughts and best wishes in the world don’t provide much comfort when you’re searching for your first law job and everyone else is doing the exact same thing (not to mention they went to much better law schools than you did). While it may not be the end of the world, rejection can really hurt. The mere fear of rejection can paralyze some, and if there’s constant rejection, it’s not uncommon for depression — or in my case at the moment, extreme pessimism — to start kicking in.

Knowing this fact, employers generally attempt to soften the blow of rejection to the furthest extent possible. They say comforting things like “you are highly qualified” or “have impressive training.” If they really liked you, you may even get a more personal statement that actually acknowledges something in your résumé, which at least means that they read it and tried to make believe that they cared.

However, this isn’t always the case….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gradenfreude: Two of the Best Rejection Letters I’ve Received”

About to kiss, or kill each other?

Marriage can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to an end. Just ask the former Skadden partner whose remarkable departure memo has everyone talking. Both his former and current marriage have attracted a lot of attention.

And at least his marriages were between one man and one woman. When same-sex unions fall apart, things can get especially complicated….

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“It comes down to this,” said Hayley Schafer, 30. “Is there anything else I’d be happy doing? No. Is there any way around paying off the loans? No. So, what the heck? A lot of it is just trying to put it out of your mind and maybe it’ll disappear.”

Schafer has more than $312,000 in educational debt and earns just $60,000. She must be a lawyer, right?

But Schafer’s not a lawyer or law school graduate. What does she do? The answer might surprise you….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of Law School: It’s Not the Only Alleged Culprit in Higher Education”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gradenfreude: Four Hundred Ninety-Nine Job Applications Later, and I’m Still Working in Retail”

‘But Dean Mitchell said I’d get a job!’

Despite rumors of impending layoffs, 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….

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Only the guy on top thinks this is a mutually beneficial relationship.

I know people are desperate. Last week, we wrote about a person who is so desperate, she was thinking of working for an allegedly disreputable attorney just to get experience.

But employers who are trying to take advantage of the desperation in the recent graduate market are real jerks. Trying to get desperate recent grads to work for free (or to actually pay you to work) isn’t taking advantage of a market opportunity, it’s taking advantage of people.

We’ve seen a lot of employers offering to “hire” people for free, but rarely with the kind of pompous overtones of the Craigslist ad below. It’s one of those ads that boasts about a lot of things in ALL CAPS, except for when it comes to paying people….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Terrible Job Watch: Employer Claims To Offer Job Worth More Than Money, So He Won’t Pay Anybody”

This cheese isn’t a good deal.

Today’s story about a law student bound for prison has me thinking about how regular people become criminals. The story of Marc Gersen is the kind of thing books are made of; it’s big and bold and colorful.

But on the smaller scale, people are pushed into unethical decisions all the time, and it rarely comes with the stark choices of, “Should I, or should I NOT, start a meth ring?” People, especially the kind of risk-averse people who end up in law school, don’t make one big decision to “become a criminal.” It’s a bunch of little decisions that incrementally take you from “normal, law-abiding citizen” to “bad actor.”

Today, we got an email from a person who is thinking about making an unethical choice out of desperation for a job. Why don’t you read her dilemma for yourself and tell her what you think she should do….

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