Unemployed

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.

Howl expresses the rage of a lost generation struggling against a conformist and materialistic culture that drives its rejects to poverty, drugs, mental breakdown, and whatever mental condition leads someone to believe that “Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy.”

Craigslist provides us with a screed that resembles a latter-day Howl for attorneys. A free-form scream to the heavens — fittingly recast as the Internet — for an escape from the landscape of joblessness and debt that dominate the existence of young lawyers. A haunting vision into the soul of a lawyer who has crossed the mental breaking point and, in the author’s words, “given up hope.” A chilling account of the unemployed attorney as beggar asking not just for money, but masochistic abuse from others just to regain dignity.

Mostly it’s a rant that cuts through all the B.S. of every other job posting on Craigslist….

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Brian Zulberti

As many of our readers know, the job scene for recent law school graduates is more than a little rough around the edges. The employment rate is still way down for the “lost generation” of lawyers, and desperation and despair have started to rear their ugly heads. In times like these, you may have to do some crazy things just to get noticed by potential employers.

For example, back in July, we told you about a young man named Brian Zulberti. He emailed the entire Delaware Bar in an effort to procure a job, but he didn’t bother to include his résumé. Instead, he attached a picture of himself in a Villanova Law t-shirt, sleeves rolled up and guns blazing. After a quick search on Google, we found this poor young stud’s half-naked photos. His story went viral, and he has passionately (and perhaps foolishly) tried to extend his 15 minutes of fame ever since.

Even though he claims that he’s received several job offers as a result of this whole affair — and no, “not as a [sic] escort” — Zulberti is no longer in search of a legal job. Right now, he’s trying to bring justice to those who have been damned by the perils of social media in conservative professional spheres like the law. He wants these working stiffs to take back their social lives, and once again he’s emailed hundreds, if not thousands, of practicing attorneys, trying to spread the word about his movement.

And he thought the best way to inspire people to join his cause was to post pictures of his penis online…

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The life of a law school dean.

Law school deans are used to begging. They beg their faculty to assume additional teaching responsibilities. They beg their university presidents to stop slashing their budgets. Mostly, they beg wealthy alumni and community members for money. More money. As much money as they can fix their mouths to ask for. If law school deans could play instruments, they’d be on the subway begging for change.

But in this market, instead of begging alumni for money, law deans really need to be begging their alumni for job openings. Deans should be on the phone every day, talking to people who are in a position to hire graduates of their law schools.

Are law deans doing that? Are law deans taking the responsibility unto themselves to relentlessly push for job opportunities for their students? Beyond New York Times op-eds and grand re-imaginings of the third year curriculum, are law deans digging in and doing the person-to-person work of begging powerful alumni to hire new graduates?

I think some of them are. I know some of them are not. Here, we have one law dean’s letter to alumni that can serve as a kind of blueprint for how a dean should be hawking her students. Maybe you can send it to your dean and ask if she is sending out the same kind of letters…

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The job scene for recent law school graduates is still pretty rough. A little more than half of the class of 2012 managed to secure full-time, long-term positions as lawyers within nine months of graduation, and now that a year has passed, many of them are still struggling to find employment. They’re doing anything and everything they can to find work, from advertising themselves in text ads on Google to trawling the legal/paralegal section of Craigslist all day long.

Others, however, have resorted to more guerilla-esque job search tactics, like sending out emails to hundreds, if not thousands, of practicing attorneys across an entire state. We managed to get our hands on one such desperate email, and rather than including an accompanying professional photo, the sender decided to attach a grainy picture of himself with his sleeves rolled up, showing off his guns. Seriously? Has this man no shame?

After a quick Google search, it seems like the answer is no. Protip: If you’re trying to find a law job, make sure there aren’t half-naked pictures of yourself readily available online…

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This isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time we have to knock down this ridiculous argument. There’s simply a lot of money invested in making prospective law students believe it.

And it makes a certain kind of sense. We’ve extensively reported on the decrease in law schools applications. We’re at all-time historic lows. It’s a comforting and mathematically banal argument that the lack of applications now will lead to a dearth of law graduates in 2016, which will mean great times(!) for the class of 2016. More importantly, law schools want people to believe those brave enough to apply to the class of 2017 will benefit from an “undersupply” of new lawyers by the time they graduate. I promise you more than half of the class at Cooley actually believe this crap.

The problem, of course, is that it’s not true. It’s not true, and the people who say it’s true have no evidence that it’s true. Heck, there’s an “undersupply” of lawyers right now, if you look at poor and low-income clients. But that hasn’t actually resulted in a vibrant hiring market for new and recent graduates now, has it?

It’s a bad argument, but let’s walk through it so you have something to link to when you hear it from friends who don’t know how to use Google….

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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….

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Hello again from the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). People here are very friendly — although, as noted earlier, the law firm folks tend to be more welcoming to us than the law school crew.

That’s to be expected, given our sometimes critical coverage of law schools. We seek to promote consumer awareness when it comes to legal education, but some schools — especially those schools with weaker job outcomes for their graduates — perceive this as an attack.

Yesterday I attended a NALP panel discussion about law school transparency. In the course of discussing what we talk about when we talk about transparency, the panelists provided five defenses that law schools can use when faced with criticism over unemployed or underemployed graduates….

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I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was in law school, I would sometimes feel like a little kid again. And to answer your first question, no, it’s not because of the low level of education I received at my TTT. Instead, I was reminded of my childhood, when I used to play sports in the backyard. I imagined that the game was in its final seconds, and I would win it all by making that big final play. But as childhood fades, so too does some of the fun of life.

What’s the proof of this? What once was a childish fantasy became a legal fantasy when I became an adult. That’s right, in law school, I would sometimes daydream about being a big-shot attorney, with a huge, O.J.-sized case. I would spout off some legal jargon to the amazement of the jurors in my closing, and then they would come back after only a few minutes, giving my client the “win,” and making me very, very wealthy at the same time.

Just like my dreams of athletic glory, this dream now seems far-fetched. The résumés and cover letters continue to rack up in my sent mail box, but nothing except spam, CLE event notifications, Groupon ads, and messages from ugly girls on Match.com fill my inbox. Things have become so bad that I would even welcome a simple acknowledgement that my application was received….

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This guy isn't a slacker; he's just not wasting his time with law school.

Elie here. Lat and I have debated in these pages about whether or not certain students should drop out of law school. Dropping out has a stark finality to it. And then people call you a “dropout” like your name is Frenchie.

Today we have a more subtle question: should a rising 2L take a year off? He doesn’t have a job or any prospects or anything, but the kid wants to know if hitting the “pause” button on his legal career will do him any good.

Let’s break this down. And don’t forget to take our poll and add your own advice, in the comments….

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Andrew Shirvell

[T]here’s no way I could possibly ever pay such a judgment.

Andrew Shirvell, commenting on the $4.5M jury verdict awarded to Chris Armstrong in his stalking and defamation case against the former Michigan assistant attorney general.

(Shirvell has been unemployed since being fired from the state attorney general’s office over his anti-gay online campaign against Armstrong, and he plans to appeal the judgment.)

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