Unemployed

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.)

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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