Earlier this week, Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic, poured a big bottle of haterade all over the legal profession. More specifically, he criticized the way “Ivy League” lawyers are recruited, and the “palpable sense of entitlement” they exhibit even when they don’t take Biglaw bucks and instead work for the government. Here’s the set up:
The details of how elite law and business consulting firms recruit astonish me every time I hear them. Even getting an interview often requires attending an Ivy League professional school or a very few top tier equivalents. Folks who succeed in that round are invited to spend a summer working at the firm, the most sane aspect of the process.
But subsequently, they participate in sell events where they’re plied with food and alcohol in the most lavish settings imaginable: five star resort hotels, fine cigar bars, the priciest restaurants.
And here’s the money shot, one that is careening around the legal blogosphere like Billy Joel trying to get back from the Hamptons before the hurricane hits:
Though it isn’t defensible, it is unsurprising that a lot of people who eschew offers to work at these firms, favoring public sector work instead, imagine that they are making an enormous personal sacrifice by taking government work. The palpable sense of entitlement some of these public sector folks exude is owed partly to how few of “our best and brightest” do eschew the big firm route (due partly to increasing debt levels among today’s graduates, no doubt).
Really? You want to do this now? You want to talk smack about the people on the bottom rung of this totem pole, while willfully ignoring the clients, partners, law schools, and state governments that generate huge sums of wealth off the backs of the palpably entitled?
Fine. Let me take off my glasses, and we’ll step outside…
It’s been a while since we’ve had a true contestant for the title of most depressing job offered to a law student. Sure, there have been a lot of jobs that offer $10 an hour, or even $0 an hour, for legal work. But at least those jobs were offering the opportunity to put long years of legal education to some sort of use.
No, the most depressing jobs for would-be lawyers in this economy are jobs they could have easily gotten before they went to law school. Or college. Really, the most depressing job I’ve seen appeared last year, when University of Texas law students were given the opportunity to do some babysitting for extra money. That’s an opportunity you present to responsible high school students, not students at the fifteenth-best law school in the country.
If you thought those days were behind us, think again. Take a look at the job that was blasted out yesterday to students at the other law school ranked #15, UCLA Law.
Traffic in L.A. is notoriously horrible, and now one UCLA law student might profit from his or her stop-and-go driving skills…
It sounds like something firms would try to keep on the down low, through anonymous postings on Craigslist. But in the new economy, it’s apparently no big deal for law firms to ask career services offices to send over students who are so desperate they’re willing to work for free. The ABA Journal reports:
Law schools in Florida have gotten a flood of requests from small and midsize law firms seeking summer associates willing to work for free — but career officials are not pleased…
Robert Levine, assistant dean for career development at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, tells the Daily Business Review that the U.S. Department of Labor encourages unpaid internships to be coordinated through the school’s clinical program.
“It’s a big problem because the students want the experience and the firms need the help,” Levine told the publication. “All of the law schools throughout the state are dealing with this issue.”
Please tell me this is some kind of weird Florida problem, and this kind of behavior will be limited to the Sunshine State…
Late last night, we received a tip that has become all too common in the dog days of August. This tipster sent us this letter from the career services office at Georgetown Law:
Haynes and Boone, LLP has just informed us that they will no longer have a summer program in their Washington, DC and Austin, TX offices. Please contact me if you are interested in switching your interview to either the Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, or New York, NY offices or if you would like us to cancel your interview.
These late-breaking summer program cancellations, partial cancellations, or substantive summer-program changes really need to stop…
It’s been ten days since I last logged on to “the internet.” Ten days since I picked up a newspaper or let the dancing visions on MSNBC poison my mind. Ten days since I’ve tapped into the 140-character pulse of the world.
While I’ve had my head in the sand, it appears that the mainstream media is once again trying to get a handle on what’s happening in the legal profession. Sunday’s report in the Newark Star-Ledger isn’t breaking news to regular Above the Law readers, but it is an indication that media attention on how law schools conduct their business is intensifying, if ever so slightly:
As they enter the worst job market in decades, many young would-be lawyers are turning on their alma maters, blaming their quandary on high tuitions, lax accreditation standards and misleading job placement figures. Unless students graduate from schools like Harvard or Yale, they “might as well be busing tables,” Bullock said.
We’re at NYLS and I’m in an argument with my friends for resumes for interviews with law firms.
I’m a member of MENSA and I think it’s okay to put “Member, MENSA” under my interests on my resume. Some of my friends say it’s not okay. What do you think?
– Smarter Than the Average Bear
Dear Smarter Than the Average Bear,
Let’s just cut to the chase here: listing “Member, MENSA” on your résumé is incompatible with attending New York Law School. If you don’t have the IQ or EQ to realize that, somebody needs to revoke your MENSA membership immediately and slash your tires with a Phi Beta Kappa key pin…
As of this writing, Ethan Haines, writer of the UnemployedJD blog, has gone 32 hours without food. I think the kid might be joking, but Haines said he is going on a hunger strike — to convince law schools to be more transparent about the employment options of graduates, before the schools rope them into three years and six figures of debt.
He’s even served official notice of his hunger strike on five law schools, and he’ll put five more on notice today. From his self-styled media advisory:
On August 5, 2010, Ethan Haines, self-designated J.D. Class Representative, emailed an Official Notice of Hunger Strike to administrators of ten randomly selected law schools ranked in the Top 100 of the 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. These schools were selected because they stand to gain the most from keeping the current rankings structure in place.
Ethan intends to bring awareness to the concerns of law students and recent law graduates by having them addressed by law school administrators. Their primary concerns are inaccurate employment statistics, ineffective career counseling, and rising tuition costs. The strike was motivated by a recent American Bar Association (ABA) investigate Report, which concluded that educational leaders are unable to timely combat the adverse affects of U.S. News’ rankings on legal education.
It’s a worthy cause, even if Haines’s methods seem a little tongue-in-cheek. At the very least, unemployed law graduates with mountains of debt don’t have a lot of spare money lying around for food. Might as well put all those hunger pains to good use.
And maybe he’s not joking? Like all legitimate hunger strikers, Haines has a list of demands…
Desperate times call for measures to take advantage of the desperate. Why pay California lawyers $10 an hour when they’re willing to work for free? And not just willing, but eager to provide their services on a volunteer basis.
We wrote before about the public sector utilizing the unpaid legal workforce when the Marin County DA advertised for attorneys for “unpaid, temporary positions that offer a valuable opportunity to gain courtroom experience including trying misdemeanor jury trials.” Last week, a tipster sent along another Craigslist ad from the other side of the Bay, with the subject line, “Seriously?” An excerpt:
Superior Court of San Mateo County Seeks Volunteers
The Legal Research Department of the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, is seeking attorneys willing to volunteer their time as a legal research attorney with a minimum 6 month commitment to the court.
We write often about these depressing job ads and the fact that a degree that entails six figures of debt can only help you nail down a six-month unpaid position. We wondered what kind of response such ads were actually getting, so we reached out to the San Mateo Court.
The response makes the ads even more depressing. The hiring attorney tells us that his phone won’t stop ringing…
Over the past few months, it’s seemed like the legal economy was picking back up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May saw job gains in the legal sector.
June was not so kind. Am Law Daily reports that the legal economy isn’t out of the toilet just yet:
After what initially seemed like a promising month in May, the legal sector saw its employment numbers drop by 3,900 in June, according to the latest economic report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Thanks a lot, Bureau of Labor Statistics. You just ruined the iced coffee I was enjoying here at the Breaking Media cooling center…
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.