Unemployed

First it showed up in the New York Times. Then it appeared on the Today Show. Now the story of law schools allegedly misrepresenting their graduates’ employment outcomes is in every New Yorker’s favorite commuter rag newspaper, Metro New York:

What news development on the law school lawsuit front brought this story to the front page of Metro?

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Star Jones thinks some of you are whiners.

When William Robinson, president of the American Bar Association, gave an interview in which he suggested that unemployed or underemployed law school graduates “should have known what they were getting into,” he was widely criticized. His emphasis on “personal responsibility” didn’t go over too well in some quarters of the legal profession and blogosphere.

But in defense of Bill Robinson, other people share his views. And some of these people are prominent personages.

Take prosecutor turned television personality Star Jones, who seems to have little sympathy for jobless law grads….

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I would read these horror stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post about how law firms were no longer guaranteeing jobs. But I always knew I was going to go to one of the top 14 law schools, where employment statistics have remained pretty strong. Most of the bad numbers are coming from the worse-ranked schools.

Emily Cusick, a senior at Cornell University and president of the pre-law fraternity Kappa Alpha Pi, commenting to the Cornell Daily Sun on doom-and-gloom stories about the legal job market.

(Additional interesting tidbits from the Sun article, including statistics about the declining number of law school applications, after the jump.)

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What happens when you put thirty American lawyers in a London pub where the drinks are free for the evening? Well, let’s just say it’s rather different to what happens when thirty British lawyers are assembled in equivalent conditions.

The attendees at last week’s inaugural Benedict Arnold Society meeting for young and young-ish American lawyers in the United Kingdom, held at the Witness Box pub in the heart of London’s legal district, were impeccably behaved. No one collapsed, vomited or — in spite of my continual prying for insider information — gave away a single secret about their firms. In fact, I think I was the only one there who was drunk.

Still, my memories of at least the first part of the evening remain. What stood out was how nicely many of the assembled Yank expats had done by coming to London — be it because they had saved money on legal education costs, were enjoying heightened status due to their willingness to travel, or were appreciating the health-inducing lighter U.K. workloads.

Several had undertaken their legal studies in the U.K., thus circumventing the enormous fees charged by U.S. law schools….

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Despite the media echo chamber saying that the economy is improving, it’s obviously still tough to find work. Especially for lawyers. Everyone says you’re supposed to have a can-do attitude, but we sometimes prefer to think about all the things that you can’t do as an attorney.

Included in that list is getting a paying job at the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ has had a hiring freeze in place for a year now. We’ve heard reports of some thawing — i.e., selected parts of the DOJ receiving authorization to fill a handful of priority positions — but, for the most part, there are hardly any paying lawyer jobs to be had in that division of government.

Instead, U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country have been posting unpaid Special Assistant United States Attorney positions for some time now. We covered them last May. My colleague (and former assistant U.S. attorney) David Lat defended the SAUSA gigs somewhat, arguing that the nonpaying jobs might not be as bad as they seem. It’s fun, exciting work, and it provides valuable experience and serious professional credibility.

There is a crucial, ominous difference between then and now, though. Previous SAUSA jobs were generally aimed at entry-level or fairly junior attorneys. Now we’ve got a recent opening that’s asking for more.…

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There’s a really funny post up on Constitutional Daily, in which the protagonist — who holds a J.D. from NYU Law and was laid off from Biglaw during the recession — recounts his inability to secure a job at Target. It got me thinking of that other great lie that law schools tell incoming law students: “Yada yada, you can do anything with a law degree… also, I’d like to interest you in partial ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

But many J.D. holders have found out the hard way that holding a law degree only opens doors to “law” jobs. They aren’t degrees of general utility.

If anything, they close more doors than they open….

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At the start of this new year, what is the outlook like for legal employment? There’s certainly a fair amount of bad news out there, particularly for recent law school graduates.

But what about for denizens of Biglaw, the lawyers fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to work at the nation’s largest law firms? What does 2012 hold for them?

Earlier this month, my colleague Elie made some predictions for the legal profession. I will follow in his footsteps and venture some prophecies of my own for the year….

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Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. I bring tidings of woe not because I’m trying to rob you of your right to pursue a legal education; I’m trying to help you. Call me Elie Stormcrow.

Actually, today The Atlantic is the messenger reminding you of the serious financial peril involved in starting a legal career. The recession might be over but the recovery hasn’t happened for all. And we’re not just talking about the Occupy Wall Street people. No, no, things remain pretty bad for lawyers and bankers. Here’s the money quote from the Atlantic: “In 2011, finance, insurance, and law were the three primarily white-collar professions that managed to shed workers, even as the rest of the economy trudged forward through a slow recovery.”

Yeah folks, even in 2011, the legal economy was still shedding jobs. But it’s not like law schools were spitting out fewer graduates, so… you do the math.

Here, the Atlantic has put things in a fancy chart. Pictures people, it’ll be like an LSAT game: how many people made a terrible investment in higher education?

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As we mentioned today in Morning Docket, William Robinson, the newly appointed president of the American Bar Association, is taking a stand on the status quo of legal education in our country.

But instead of combating 2011′s annus horribilis for law schools by calling for reform, Robinson is defending the ABA’s role, stating that young lawyers “should have known what they were getting into.”

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the man in charge of the ABA is essentially playing the “blame the victim” card when it comes to debt-saddled and unemployed law school graduates?

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It woud be nice if the Senate could have actually given this guy a vote instead of forcing the present ugliness.

* The recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB could get tricky — not because Republicans are outraged by recess appointments (much like Democrats are outraged by obstructionist filibusters), but because Congress isn’t technically in recess, due to the sham sessions Congress has been running. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Milbank, if you’re going to brag about being the only major Wall Street firm to have an Orthodox Jewish woman as a partner, you better be telling the truth, you meshuganas. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA responded to the Duncan Law antitrust suit. Its basic response is that the ABA doesn’t arbitrarily keep bad schools out, it only arbitrarily lets bad schools in. [Law School Transparency]

* But Duncan probably isn’t just in it for the legal fight. The school wants to bring media attention to the ABA’s random oversight of legal education. [Law Librarian Blog]

* Does Obama need to endorse gay marriage before the election? Or does he just tell the gay community “Santorum” until they get on board? [The Root]

* Is it really that surprising that the unemployed are NOT on drugs? Aren’t Republicans the ones who are supposed to understand that in a market, desirable goods cost money? If you want to drug test a constituency, do a random raid at a white-shoe law firm, and don’t forget your chemistry set. [Huffington Post]

* It’s nice to ask permission before you appropriate somebody’s song as your campaign theme. [Fox News]

* Thanks to everybody who voted for us as their favorite legal blog for news in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 poll. You’ve given us the strength to keep reporting on spring bonuses, even though they don’t technically exist yet. [ABA Journal]

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