Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Marc Luber challenges Jim Saksa’s Slate article, “You Can Do Anything With A Law Degree,” with several viable career alternatives for JDs.
After law school, I took an unpaid internship. When I got my first music industry job in Los Angeles, I was severely underpaid. I sometimes wondered if the job required a high school degree, let alone a law degree. If you asked me then, I would have told you that a J.D. is a joke and that you should stay away from law school at all costs.
I previously wrote about the depressing prospects for graduates of all but the top ten or twenty law schools (“Two Law Grad Markets”). And yes, these were statistical generalizations, and the experience of specific individuals with particular skills and backgrounds will always be different, pro and con. But as an industry, if you care about our supply chain for talent, many law schools are burning platforms.
There are actually some closely connected problems driving this dynamic:
More JDs are being turned out each year than there are (a) full-time, (b) long-term jobs, (c) requiring bar passage, (d) at current salary levels;
perhaps the primary reason for the mismatch between supply of JDs and current demand for them (about two supplied for every one today’s market is demanding) is that clients increasingly resist paying for junior associates, which makes it uneconomic for firms to invest in traditional training;
but/and at the same time, every sentient observer is painfully aware that vast segments of the U.S. population — consumers and businesses alike — remain underserved by lawyers.
This would prompt any economist to ask, almost instinctively, “Why isn’t there a market-clearing price where supply and demand can meet?” Which is another way of asking, “What if there were a way to address both these problems at a single stroke?”
And like any business that suddenly finds itself with fewer customers, law schools are looking to entice new students to apply. Because — and it’s always important to remember this — law schools are businesses, at least as much as they are academic institutions.
Will they take a hint from used car salesmen, setting up whacky, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men to draw the eye of passing motorists?
Or possibly Red Lobster, offering shrimp AND lobster with any J.D.?
Or, more likely, will they try to improve their job numbers while offering larger scholarships?
* Because the Senate doesn’t work properly when it comes to doing things efficiently, Obama will nominate three candidates for the D.C. Circuit. The outrage! The horror! The court-packing! [Legal Times]
* Howrey going to sue everyone in time to meet this bankruptcy deadline? When you’ve only got a few days left before the statute of limitations expires, you file up to 33 suits per day. [Am Law Daily]
* Attack of the lawyer glut! If you’re a recent law school grad who’s still unemployed, chances are high that this chart detailing the ratio of lawyers to job openings will make you shed a tear. [The Atlantic]
* Tey Tsun Hang, the law professor convicted on corruption charges after having an affair with a student, is heading to jail for five months. Giving out all of that extra credit wasn’t worth it after all. [Bloomberg]
* Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter, will be representing himself in his murder trial. He’ll use a “defense of others” argument, which seems obtuse given the nature of the crime. [Huffington Post]
* Bradley Manning’s court-martial began with a bang, with the prosecution arguing that the young intelligence analyst put lives at risk, while his own attorney called him a “humanist.” [New York Times]
* Jill Kelley, the woman who helped bring about the downfall of General David Petraeus by exposing his affair, has filed a lawsuit against government officials alleging privacy violations of all things. [USA Today]
The ABA agrees that exploitation of law students and other interns is unacceptable; however, the FLSA uncertainty inhibits law firms from offering students the opportunity to work on pro bono matters in a real-life practice setting. …
Furthermore, in the current economic climate with shrunken employment opportunities for law school graduates, hindering the ability of law students and recent graduates to work side-by-side with experienced lawyers who could provide both strong mentoring and favorable substantive references unnecessarily reduces access for future employment prospects.
Now with the internet, you don’t even need to spring for a nice plate to panhandle.
In the before times, in the long, long ago, there was no internet. There was no Shark Tank. There were banks and capitalists. You had to go to them with your business ventures, beg them for start-up money, and that’s the way the world worked.
Now, anybody can beg anybody else for money. There’s no dignity anymore. There aren’t eight Jewish bankers who control everything. You don’t have to borrow money for your house from Mr. Potter. You don’t need to promise eternal salvation before passing the hat around. Now, any idiot with a dream and a keyboard can go on the internet and beg people for money.
Kickstarter is at least a place where ideas beg for money. A tipster sent us a link to “Upstart,” where individuals ask you to fund them in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings. So far, four people with J.D.s think they’re so special you should give them money so they can do what they want…
When you graduate from Harvard Law School, they give you little inflatable sharks that you are supposed to wave around when your school is called. I don’t know who “they” is, but I know they do it to reinforce the fact that as a Harvard lawyer, you are expected to go unto the world and wreak havoc in a relentless, remorseless fashion. HLS is a pretty messed-up place.
I know at other law schools students wave gavels. NYU Law grad Joe Patrice claims that they didn’t wave anything at his graduation… though he is usually drunk and not to be trusted. Western New England Law grad Staci said simply, “My school probably couldn’t afford anything to wave around.” Then she made the “wait, don’t post that” face, as I laughed and laughed in an elitist cackle.
The point is: graduating classes sometimes have little emblems or signs or things they bring to commencement to signify the careers they are about to start.
But for the law class of 2013, what careers are we talking about, really? Gavels and sharks seem a little too ambitious, no? Perhaps they should be waving around boxes of ramen? Maybe they should do what this college kid did below?
It’s not every day that the student selected to speak at a law school commencement admits that he went to law school because he watched the movie My Cousin Vinny. You certainly don’t often hear Mr. Cousin Vinny admit that he thought going to law school would be the key to a job with a top salary.
* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]
* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]
* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]
* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]
* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]
* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]
* “I want to apologize. Obviously, mistakes were made.” Admitting you’ve got a problem is just the first step. Greenberg Traurig’s executive director apologized for the Biglaw firm’s apparentscrew-ups in a Rothstein-related trial. [Miami Herald]
* Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng will be enrolling at NYU Law School on a fellowship. The administration is giving him a ritzy faculty apartment that comes complete with a kitchen full of Chinese food. He already knows how to eat like a law student. [New York Times]
* “What [the f**k] comes next?” That’s what law school grads asked themselves when their commencement speakers tried to slap on a happy face and speak positively about the job market. [Connecticut Law Tribune]
* But perhaps future law school grads will be able to find jobs more easily thanks to class offerings geared toward in-house counsel lawyering skills. Keep on dreaming that impossible dream. [Washington Post]
* How does a small-time DUI attorney from California go from being an unknown to being a household name overnight? By filing a lawsuit filled with tawdry allegations against actor John Travolta. [Los Angeles Times]
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.