Job Searches

Honestly, I think it’s time to feel sorry for the Emory Law class of 2011. Things are tough for a lot of graduating law students, but the way the Emory administration and faculty have treated the class of ’11 is simply shocking. If you ranked ABA-accredited law schools based on how the administration reacts to student concerns, Emory would have to rate near the bottom.

We can’t know how Emory has been treating the class of ’11 internally, but the ridiculous public behavior started when U.S. News released its most recent law school rankings. Emory plummeted eight spots, one of the biggest drops within the first tier. Since then, the Emory administration has gone to such lengths to cover its ass that there’s been a run on butt plugs in Georgia.

All of the self-serving rhetoric and “blame the students” mentality crested during commencement, where the class of 2011 couldn’t even receive their diplomas without being scolded and condescended to…

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In prior installments of our Above the Law webcast offering career advice for this summer, graciously sponsored by our friends at the Practical Law Company, we’ve focused on what law students should do in order to make the most of their summers. We’ve discussed such subjects as how to find summer jobs, how to network, and how to balance work and social activities.

Now let’s turn our attention to the flip side of the coin: what not to do over the summer….

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What NOT to do: potential pitfalls for summer associates.

It’s very difficult to get a job as an associate in a small law firm. First of all, there is a lot of competition. Many of you are between jobs. Many are at Biglaw jobs looking to get out. Many of you are finishing up law school and are still looking.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s also hard to get a job at a big firm. I know. But the path there is at least more straightforward: Go to a Top 30 (or so) school. Work hard. Finish in the top 20% or so in your class (the lower your school ranks, the higher grade ranking you need). Wear matching shoes to your on-campus interview at the start of your 2L year. Don’t get slizzard at your summer-associate firm functions. Pass the bar. Sell your soul. Collect your buck sixty.

Yes, yes, I know. It’s not that simple, and the large firms do look for other qualities, too. But no one in my class who met that top 20% threshold failed to get a Biglaw summer-associate job.

The path to small-firmdom is more circuitous. And by “circuitous,” I mean “there is no path.” It’s certainly not about being smart, working hard, and getting good grades and a good education. Those are table stakes.

But I’ve identified the ten traits that make the best candidates for a small-firm-associate gig. See what they are after the jump.…

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Student prepares for job hunt.

The most important person in law school administration is the dean. That makes sense. He or she makes policy and is in charge of the academic and financial footing for the entire school.

But who is the second most-important administrator? The dean of students? The head financial aid officer? I say that the second most-important administrative position on a law school campus is held by the career services dean.

Sure, a lot of schools don’t think that way. And even most law students act like the career services people should be glorified secretaries, setting up appointments and staying out of the way.

But in this economy, if you can’t get a job, what was the point of going to law school? And right now there are far too many law students who can’t secure employment. Most of a law school’s administration is concerned with roping in the next herd of lemmings sheep students. But the career services dean is forced to think about what will happen to kids after they graduate. If career services deans are doing their jobs well, they are some of the most important people on campus.

And when a person who holds such a crucial position leaves to do something that makes you say “what,” it really makes you wonder if current law students have any chance at getting the kind of professional placement help they desperately need….

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You'd smile too if you got home in time for dinner.

Today’s New York Times has a front-page story by Catherine Rampell entitled At Well-Paying Law Firms, a Low-Paid Corner. The article focuses on the phenomenon of “career associates” or “permanent associates” at large law firms. These lawyers are not eligible for partnership consideration and earn less than traditional associates, but they do enjoy a better “lifestyle,” in terms of more-reasonable hours and greater control over their schedules.

These positions generally pay around $60,000, significantly lower than the $160,000 that’s standard at top Biglaw shops. They are typically located not in New York or Chicago or L.A., but in more out-of-the-way places — such as Wheeling, West Virginia, where Orrick has its back-office operations, or Dayton, Ohio, where WilmerHale has “in-sourced” much of its work.

We mentioned the Times article earlier today. Morning Dockette was not impressed: “Career associates get to have ‘lifestyle’ jobs at Biglaw firms — but really, what kind of a lifestyle is it when you have to live in a crappy city with an even crappier salary?” Elie has also criticized these positions, characterizing them as “barely legal” jobs.

But such criticism might be overly harsh. Let’s look on the bright side….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Not on the Partner Track — and Maybe That’s Okay”

Try telling a recent college grad to think critically before applying to law school. Just try to do it. It won’t be long before the young person you are trying to help gets inappropriately angry and shouts, “Well what AM I supposed to do, you fat f**k? Seriously oh wise internet blogger, what the hell am I supposed to do, work at Barnes & Noble? Oh wait, they’re not hiring, a$$hole.”

Yeah, recent college grads tend to act like going to law school (or some other professional school or post-graduate degree program) is their only option in a market that doesn’t have enough jobs. Citing the results of a recent poll taken by Twentysomething Inc., Time reports that 85% of 2011 college graduates are expected to move back in with their parents. (Gavel bang: BL1Y.)

Honestly guys, this is how riots start. Unemployed adults living in forced infancy without enough money to start a family of their own. That’s the tinder that has brought down pretty much every society ever.

The report reiterates what we already know: people are turning to professional school to wait out this terrible job market.

In the face of these numbers… well, I still think that people going to law school simply in response to a difficult job market are making a terrible and ruinous choice. Here’s why….

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The good folks over at Building A Better Legal Profession — a national grassroots movement that we’ve written about before, which seeks market-based workplace reforms in large private law firms — have updated their online directory and rankings of law firms with new information for 2011. The updated rankings shed light on which top law firms are excelling in such areas as diversity and pro bono work, and which ones still have some work to do.

Let’s look at some highlights from the new data, on such subjects as diversity, partnership, and associate attrition….

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You have the tools to build your own life.

Another day, and another round-up of terrible job opportunities available to J.D. holders. I think it’s important to continue bringing these jobs to your attention. I think it’s important to have a place on the web where people can go to answer the question: Why is it a big deal if Indiana Tech opens another law school? Somebody needs to keep an eye on what future graduates from such institutions will be doing for a living.

Today we’ve got two God-awful job opportunities. As we’ve said repeatedly, you can’t get on our radar as a terrible job unless you are offering something more interesting than low pay for overqualified individuals (though offering a Depression era hourly wage is always a good start).

Check out these two jobs, which add the insult to injury that unemployed J.D. holders are really looking for…

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Welcome, summer associates!

Summer is almost here, which means summer associates will begin working at major law firms around the world. Will you be summering at one of the law firms profiled below? If you are a Biglaw summer associate and want to know what firm associates really think about the firm you are clerking at, check out the Career Center for great insight on all the leading firms.

  • Formal training and mentoring are big at this firm, but some associates still feel ill-prepared to handle the actual work they are assigned. As one of the first U.S.-based firms to expand internationally, it can be “sink or swim,” according to Lateral Link members, and there is virtually no chance at becoming partner here. Still, the firm is considered a market leader with respect to family leave and has one of the highest average percentages of new female partners.
  • Associates at this top-tier firm, known for its intellectual property practice, enjoy the collaborative work environment as well as the manageable work hours. It is a free-market system when it comes to work assignments, but associates in the firm’s satellite offices warn that work may be hard to come by relative to the associates in the main office. With a five- to six-year partnership track and a minimum billable requirement of 1,750, becoming partner is a realistic goal for most associates here.

More profiles, after the jump.

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Benesch Apportunity

Law firm marketing and technology don’t always go well together. When firms try to go high-tech, the results are often mortifyingly cheesy.

To avoid humiliation, many law firms — often culturally conservative, risk-averse institutions — play it safe. But caution can also result in some of the worst law-firm websites, ones that get compared to “a seventh-grade history project” or “[s]imply a brochure placed online.”

Sometimes, however, a law firm gets tech right. Check out the new iPhone / iPad app developed by the Benesch law firm, the subject of a nice write-up in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Morning Docket).

What does the app, called “Benesch Apportunity,” actually do? And might other law firms want to implement similar apps?

Let’s learn more….

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