Law school has been a wild ride for recent graduates since the beginning of the recession. Would-be lawyers’ employment woes have been chronicled in detail in almost every major publication since 2011, when the New York Times focused on the grim job prospects that awaited people after law school graduation.
This was not the case for all law school graduates, though. Those who were lucky enough to graduate from top-flight law schools often found themselves with jobs at large law firms. If graduates of the so-called “T14,” the upper echelon of law schools, somehow found themselves hopeless and jobless, their schools were quick to create public interest fellowship programs that would employ and pay them for a time. When those jobs ended, they were left to fend for themselves and struggle like the rest of their peers. Some graduates of superior law schools have continued to struggle for years after not being able to get their footing following the conclusion of their school-funded jobs.
Can you imagine what it must be like for one of these people to pass multiple bar exams and be unable to hold down a job? Can you imagine what it must be like to be a degree-holder from a prestigious law school drowning in so much debt that you’ve been forced to apply for food stamps and receive public assistance?
This is exactly what happened to a recent graduate of one of the best law schools in the country…
It’s not that the pay is necessarily worse — though when all is said and done, it almost assuredly is — it’s that the job is a delicious cocktail of overwhelming responsibility and bad public policy. Every day on this job would require the lawyer to struggle to uphold the basic ethical obligations owed to a client while incrementally undermining the justice system as a whole. For peanuts. And no benefits.
Pretty please? Come on, we’ve got loans to pay back.
[T]he law school graduating class nationally continued to grow based on decisions that were made, in some cases, well before the recession. Even though there were more jobs and more of those jobs were higher-quality jobs, the overall unemployment rate continued to grow, just because the size of the pool was so big. [The] decline in enrollment, all by itself, is going to continue to help the job market.
The median age of U.S. lawyers is on the rise in a way that cannot be explained by a decline in law school enrollment. Is this due to the decrease in entry-level jobs for law school graduates? Or have the increased number of women lawyers (and related high attrition rates) contributed to this trend?
Looking for a job? Check out Above the Law’s new job board. You can find it under the “Career Center” navigation tab on the top of the page, and the five most recent jobs posted can be found in the column on the right side of the page. While there, you can easily find jobs like:
A few weeks ago, I asked for stories from former solo practitioners who have closed up shop and their reasons why. I received a fair number of responses. Some did well, moving on to BigGov, better larger law firms, or decent non-legal jobs, and some even started profitable businesses.
Others dug themselves into a deeper hole. Some got further into debt. Others made no money for years. And others became estranged from family and friends.
From time to time, I want to feature these stories as case studies for people considering going into solo practice.
For today’s inaugural feature, I will profile a lawyer who became a solo practitioner because he had no other options. Things seemed to be going well until something went wrong….
* Law schools are in trouble, but Cooley Law is “going strong” — after all, only “28 percent of last year’s graduates at its Michigan campuses failed to land jobs as lawyers within nine months.” You’re really doing it wrong. [Tampa Bay Times]
* This guy broke into the University of Oregon School of Law three times, and all he got were these computers for hipsters and a crappy 11-year sentence. (He should’ve broken into the football facility for better loot.) [Register-Guard]
* Amanda Bynes has been placed on a 5150 psychiatric hold, and people suddenly care about mental health law. It’s sad that it takes a celebrity to make people care about these issues. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Marijuana is making its way to the ballot in some states this November, but before you vote, here’s a primer on where it’s legal to smoke weed, where it might be, and where it’s not. [Washington Post]
It’s that time of year again. Disregarding the fact that there are 204 law schools that are currently accredited, either fully or provisionally, by the American Bar Association, the Princeton Review has released its annual law school ranking which covers only the best 169 law schools. Our condolences to the 35 law schools that were left in the dust — per the Princeton Review, you suck.
Once again, we decided to focus on one of the 11 rankings categories that we thought people would be the most interested in: the law schools where graduates have the best career prospects. Before digging in, you should be aware that here, “career prospects” means a law graduate’s ability to get a job — any kind of job — period. Perhaps the Princeton Review ought to consider changing its methodology to include data people actually care about, like whether these law schools are helping their graduates become lawyers.
There was quite a shake-up in the rankings this year. Did your law school make the cut?
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Larry Latourette is Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.
In Part 1 of this series, I introduced three lawyers — Alpha, Beta, and Gamma — to help explain the value that a partner candidate can gain from working with the right recruiter. Each candidate was relatively junior, each had in the high six figures in business, and each had decided to leave his or her current firm for the right opportunity. When last we left our intrepid trio, I had used no-name profiles at appropriate firms to obtain interviews for each of them.
While I kept in close contact with each candidate throughout the process (see Anatomy of a Lateral Move for an overview of the steps commonly involved), each candidate had unique issues that required particular attention…
“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey
You thought law school would be a good investment. “Even if I don’t become a lawyer,” you proudly announced, “I will have many, many options. A J.D., after all, is so valuable.” When staring down a crushing mountain of student loans, you signed on the dotted line. “Who can put a price on the doors a J.D. will open up for me?” If you knew this guy back then, you might have thought twice, but you didn’t.
Today, four, six, or ten years later, you spend late nights staring at your J.D. in its pristine frame, tears of rage streaming down your face. “Where are MY DOORS??” you scream at it, sobbing into your sea of briefs or closing sets or brown liquor. Instead of doors, why are there enormous walls and sets of handcuffs (and not the good kind)? Why is it that you hate every job opening you might qualify for? I mean, you got your J.D., and you’re a grown-up lawyer who brilliantly catches typos.
I’m eight years out of law school and many of my classmates – including some of the gunnerest of gunners – are now in industries like legal technology, legal practice products, deal consulting, and law firm professional development. A director at a global fashion house in Latin America. A professional poker player. And my favorite: founding a service for renting gentlemen.
So how do you get from here to there? How does a lawyer really stop being a practicing lawyer?
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.