Unemployed

Paul Campos

It’s a Ponzi scheme, in almost a literal sense. You’re taking money from current students and paying it to unemployed graduates.

Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado Law School, commenting on a scheme that many law schools use to find work for otherwise unemployed recent graduates in the hopes of boosting their employment statistics.

William T. Robinson III

Law students and young lawyers are understandably concerned as they begin their careers in such a difficult economy and feel especially vulnerable to downward shifts in the marketplace.

William T. Robinson III, outgoing president of the American Bar Association, attempting to emphasize the ABA’s commitment to law students and young lawyers, in remarks he delivered at the organization’s annual meeting.

(In the past, Bill Robinson put those constituencies on blast, stating that they “should have known what they were getting into” with regard to complaints of joblessness and indebtedness.)

We’ve done a surprising number of stories about law school career service officers who push babysitting gigs on their unemployed students. I say “surprising” because after our first story, you’d think law schools would figure out that law students don’t like being put up for jobs that they could have secured in high school.

Since that first one, most CSO personnel and other law school staffers have figured out that babysitting jobs are best when the employer is a professor or somebody else connected with the law school. Then it’s less of a “career of last resort” and more of “helping out a member of your community” (who happens to be well-connected).

But it looks like one school has regressed to the point of just insulting its students with a babysitting ad that kind of rubs salt in the unemployment wound….

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Law students are coming back to campus now, mainly for on-campus interviewing. How is 3L recruiting going for you, class of 2013?

Ha ha, just kidding. Hopefully when these kids decided to go to law school back in 2010 — despite overwhelming evidence that it was a risky proposition — these kids had some kind of back-up plan for just this situation.

Speaking of “overwhelming evidence,” there’s been a fun little infographic making the rounds around the blogosphere. It’s about the “new” trends in the legal market.

I’m not sure these trends are particularly new. In fact, I think these are trends that people should have been aware of for years. But since so many people show up to campus without critically thinking about their post-graduate job prospects, I’m going to guess this infographic is breaking news to a lot of returning law students…

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On Friday, the American Bar Association released the employment data for the class of 2011 that they collected from their member law schools. By dumping the information on a summer Friday, perhaps the ABA was hoping that nobody would notice the statistics?

Well, we noticed. The numbers are too bad not to notice. Earlier this month we reported on the NALP employment data, and the ABA data here doesn’t look any better. Only 55% of people in the class of 2011 are known to have found employment in full-time legal jobs.

And really, that’s the nice way of putting it….

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Based on recent remarks by current and former leadership at Dewey & LeBoeuf, it seems that the firm is going to end with a whimper, not a bang. The current plan apparently involves no bankruptcy filing or dissolution vote, but just the defection of one partner after another, until nobody is left.

And the partner departures continue. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, for example, Greenberg Traurig just picked up about 50 Dewey lawyers over in Poland, to form Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak. Meanwhile, here in New York, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan has added insurance litigatrix Ellen Dunn, former co-head of D&L’s U.S. litigation practice, to its ranks.

While the partner stars realign themselves, back here on earth, last night brought bad news for former Dewey associates and staff….

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This past Friday, we broke the news of the troubled Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm issuing WARN Act notice to its employees. This federal law generally requires an employer “to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs.”

That was Friday, May 4. Earlier this week, Dewey informed many support staff members that their last day of work would be this Friday, May 11. It then informed many associates that their last day of work will be this coming Tuesday, May 15. Both staffers and associates will be paid through the 15th and will have health insurance through May 31st.

My math skills have atrophied from disuse, but I am still capable of counting to 60. And it seems to me that Dewey did not provide its employees with 60 days notice of its mass layoffs.

So, Dewey have any WARN Act liability?

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Here at Above the Law, we frequently sound gloomy notes about going to law school. In the past week or so, for example, we’ve written about one recent law school grad on food stamps and another one with almost no employed classmates. We’ve discussed the bleak market for legal jobs and the crushing burden of student loan debt.

As I’ve said before, our criticism of law school does not spring from malice. Rather, we want people to make an informed decision about whether to invest three (or more) years of time, and $100,000 (or more) in money, in pursuit of a law degree.

In today’s post, we’d like to talk about the other side of the coin: law school success stories. Let’s hear from people who went to law school and have no regrets — or even view going to law school as the best decision they ever made. Perhaps you might be one of them?

We’ll prime the pump with a few law school success stories, to get the conversation going….

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Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that traditionally made up what used to be the alphabetically listed third tier. Last year, however, the law schools that once constituted the “third tier” received the gift that keeps on giving: numerical rankings.

Today, we’ll be talking about the law schools that used to comprise the fourth tier, but now have a new name. These days, this segment of the U.S. News list is referred to as the “second tier,” and although they are all ranked, those rankings are not published (presumably because no one wants to brag about going to the worst law school in the nation).

Let’s use this post to discuss these schools, collectively or individually, and to compare and contrast….

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Georgetown University Law Center (known for its great gym).

I feel very fortunate to have had an idea of what I wanted to do from such a young age, and even more fortunate that it involved graduate school. What can you do with a bachelor’s degree anymore? I’m hoping that the job market will pick up in the three years I spend at law school, because a lot of lawyers are getting laid off. The American Bar Association is even encouraging college students not to apply to law school, citing the bleak job market.

– Noah Rich, a Georgetown 1L who was interviewed by the New York Times as part of the newspaper’s survey of the class of 2011 at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

(It’s hard out there for a class of 2011 college graduate. More findings, and additional law-related tidbits, after the jump.)

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