Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Kate Neville, founder of Neville Career Consulting, offers helpful tips for law school graduates who would like to expand their career options. This is the second part of a series. Read the first three steps to moving forward from the law here.
4. Pose a hypothesis
The threshold to networking effectively is being able to professionally and concisely answer the question, “So, what are you interested in? What type of work are you looking for?” You do not want to communicate uncertainty to people who could be in a position to help you (“I don’t know. I didn’t like y, but I’ve thought about z.”) or appear desperate (“I hate my job. I just need a change.”). Any interest the person may have had in helping you is waning already. Put yourself in their position: you have to give them something to respond to.
Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Kate Neville, founder of Neville Career Consulting, offers helpful tips for law school graduates who would like to expand their career options.
The year 2009 is well known within the legal industry as the year there were more attorneys laid off than in all of the previous years combined. It is also the year that the number of people who took the LSAT exam reached a record high. Though law school applications have since dropped precipitously, that dichotomy remains a problem. There continue to be more licensed attorneys than there are legal jobs available in the current economy.
These days, when we speak about new lawyers, we tend to focus less on the mere accomplishment of graduating from law school, mainly because the only admissions requirement at some institutions is a pulse, and more on sobering topics like incredibly high student debt loads and rampant joblessness. This is the “new normal” for law school graduates, and it isn’t as appealing as deans would have you believe.
Given the fact that the market for legal employment dropped out from underneath those who graduated between 2009 and 2011 (and continues to falter to this day), servicing high amounts of law school debt is more difficult than ever before. Declaring bankruptcy isn’t a real option for many, and enrolling in income-based repayment is a temporary solution that has been called a ticking time bomb. You just can’t win.
Unwelcome debt situations usually go hand in hand with law degrees, and they can happen to the best of us — even those who were once lauded as geniuses, like Andrew Carmichael Post. In America, even if you graduate from college at 17, enroll in law school at 18, and pass one of the most difficult bar exams in the nation at 22, you’ll still be saddled with unmanageable debt — in this case, to the tune of $215,000.
How in the world will Post be able to shoulder such a heavy debt burden?
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?
* A case of Supreme Court techciting gone wild: What happens when your book is cited in a SCOTUS opinion, but to express an opinion you’ve never endorsed before? A whole lot of irony. [New York Times]
* The Justice Department is dropping its appeal over a federal order that would allow promiscuous prosti-tots minors to access the morning-after pill. Hooray, over-the-counter emergency contraception for all! [CNN]
* The National Law Journal just released the most recent edition of the NLJ 350. As we saw in the Am Law 100 and 200, “economic wariness” was pervasive throughout Biglaw in 2012. [National Law Journal]
* More women are “bringing home the bacon,” but it’s the cheap store brand because they can’t afford better. It’s been 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, and women are still earning less money than men. [ABC News]
* When it came time for the ABA to change the time frame for law schools to submit jobs data, it pushed the decision back till August. Adopting the wait-and-see method already, huh? [ABA Journal]
* Jury selection has begun in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, where the verdict will hinge upon George Zimmerman’s credibility. It’s like we’re learning about trials for the first time, you guys. [Bloomberg]
* 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.
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?
Paging the next Aquagirl! Where are you? (Click for the image for the post.)
* Obama might have found out about the IRS scandal “when it came out in the news,” but the Office of White House Counsel knew what was going on weeks ago. Hooray, a new reason for people to lose their sh*t. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through ridiculously expensive litigation: making up almost two percent of our GDP, our legal system is the most costly on earth, which isn’t exactly something we should be bragging about. [Corporate Counsel]
* “It’s no surprise these lawyers would want to get off this sinking ship.” It looks like things are going just swimmingly for Steven Donziger now that John Keker’s out as his defense attorney in the Chevron fraud case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* “Fantasy sports is usually the first and last thing I’ll do each day.” Here’s some proof that there’s such a thing as work/life balance in Biglaw… which is only applicable if you’re a partner. [Am Law Daily]
* Law school enrollment is down, and so is tuition revenue, so the legal academy is now selling new degrees. It’s only a matter of time before they market employment timeshares. [National Law Journal]
* On the bright side, if you’re still looking for a job, our own David Lat has some advice on how to get one (and how NOT to get one). We miss summer associates’ misbehavior. [U.S. News & World Report]
* Congrats are in order for this weekend’s graduates, including the first graduates of LMU’s embattled law school — they won’t let a lack of ABA accreditation rain on their parade. [Knoxville News Sentinel]
Living in a post-Oprah Show world is tough for people like me. Oprah was the one who convinced many that no matter what happens in your life, it’s not your fault. There’s always how your mother treated you, how you were bullied in third grade, your bad relationships, and, of course, the law school that held a gun to your head while showing you fake statistics and promising a job handed to you at the same time you shake the dean’s hand and receive your degree.
While I believe anyone stupid enough to choose a law school based on their job placement statistics should never, ever, ever, be a practicing lawyer, there are many of you out there. Even though you should run as fast as you can to another profession or career, I want to help you at least try to find a legal job so in a year you can realize that the real problem is that you never wanted to be a lawyer anyway — you were just looking for some easy cash, like everyone promised.
As a favor to you, and for the five-figure fees I receive at ATL for writing this column, I provide these little nuggets of weekly advice which are both appreciated (privately) and excoriated (anonymously). I realize one of the problems that causes seemingly intelligent people with law degrees to respond with unintelligible rants about how I “don’t understand” is that I am actually working, as a lawyer. As misery loves company, there is the notion that because I’m not sitting in my parents’ basement lashing out at the computer screen in an effort to convince people not to go to law school, I am just wrong.
So before you throw in the towel and go to that world of becoming a social media rock star, I want you to know that I’m not the only one out there giving you advice that does nothing but anger you. There’s also Anna Ivey….
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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