Unemployed

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]

* A man on trial for sex crimes at a Minnesota courthouse allegedly shot three people yesterday, including prosecutor Timothy Scannell. Guess it’s time to get a metal detector. [Duluth News Tribune]

* Instead of trying to force Citigroup’s hand on a tougher settlement, the SEC is appealing Judge Rakoff’s rejection of the original. Don’t want to make the SEC do more work now, judge. [Bloomberg]

* You’d think that by now, law schools facing scrutiny over employment data would be willing to turn over some information to Law School Transparency, but you’d be wrong. [National Law Journal]

* China’s King & Wood and Australia’s Mallesons Stephen Jaques are combining to form a happy family this March. If this were in Japan, they’d be the Godzilla of law firms. [Wall Street Journal]

* Obvious news alert: Foxy Knoxy was acquitted of murder because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove she was guilty of murder. Thanks for this brilliant observation, Judge Hellman. [CNN]

* The Toy & Action Figure Museum will be opening a lawyerly superhero exhibit. This generation of lawyers has no superheroes, because unemployment isn’t a super power. [ABA Journal]

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

It’s mid-September. I’m talking with a client , a 3L at a top-tier school.

“Here’s how it works,” she explains. “There’s the have’s and the have-nots. Either you have a job offer, or you don’t. If you don’t, it sucks. You feel like an illegal alien.”

Unfortunately, she’s a have-not…

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Back in August, we reported on National Jurist’s fifth annual list of the 60 Best Value law schools. The Best Value ranking system takes into account the following criteria: in-state tuition, average student debt, the percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, and bar passage rates.

Two months ago, the list was unranked, but the final tallies for the honor roll have now arrived. As in years past, in addition to the rankings, National Jurist has given letter grades to the rest of the schools on the list, ranging from A- to F. Wouldn’t you hate to be a student or an alumnus of a law school with a failing grade?

Check and see if your school made the grade, after the jump….

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I recently received an email from an old friend asking for advice on behalf of a relative who is thinking about applying to law school. I was about to respond with a warning about the dangers of taking on massive student loans to get a degree that just might put you on the fast track to unemployment, but then I reread the email and noticed that the young woman in question is thinking about applying to law schools in Canada (she’s Canadian).

O Canada! Their legal education system is different — and, by some accounts, better than ours. At least if you define “better” in terms of “better at getting law school graduates into legal jobs.”

But could things up north be changing — for the worse, eh?

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Lawyers, journalists, investment bankers — they are liabilities, not leaders, in the zombie-infested world….

In the zombie apocalypse, your J.D. is worthless — which is actually not so different from the real world of recent years.

Torie Bosch, in a thought-provoking Slate article entitled First, Eat All the Lawyers, arguing that the boom in zombie-related entertainment reflects, and is fueled by, the economic anxieties of white-collar workers.

According to the Department of Labor, 14 million people in our country are unemployed. And with a surplus of lawyers that reaches into the thousands in almost every state, unemployment is a serious problem for the legal profession.

Unfortunately, we all know that Biglaw firms — and surely other firms, as well — are avoiding these attorneys like the plague. We spoke about this industry-wide issue back in late 2009, noting that Biglaw firms weren’t exactly keen on hiring associates that had previously been laid off. In fact, one recruiter we spoke with told us that approximately 80 percent of employers specifically requested résumés from attorneys who are still employed.

Facing these seemingly insurmountable odds, what’s an unemployed attorney to do? As it turns out, President Obama wants to lend a hand, but only if he can get Congress to pass this jobs bill….

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