Fabian Ronisky thought he was on track last summer to become a high-powered corporate lawyer. He was an intern at a leading firm in Los Angeles, earning about $3,000 weekly. But the firm didn't offer him a permanent job.
So Mr. Ronisky, a 25-year-old student at Chicago's Northwestern University School of Law, spent the fall sending 50 resumes to law firms and government agencies, to no avail. Now, just days shy of graduation and with $150,000 of student loans, he plans to move back to his parents' home in San Diego and sell music and movies online.I really feel for this guy, because he didn't know this was coming when he was a 1L. Now the mainstream press has jumped on the story that I could have covered 5 years ago.
Part of the problem is supply and demand. Law-school enrollment has held steady in recent years while law firms, judges, the government and other employers have drastically cut hiring in the economic downturn.
Large corporate law firms have been hit particularly hard. The nation's 100 highest-grossing corporate firms last year reported an average revenue decline of 3.4%, the first overall drop in more than 20 years, according to the May issue of The American Lawyer magazine.I am wondering what the 3.4% decline in revenue would have been if they hadn't fired so many associates? Anyone venture to guess?
I think that the whole model has been screwed for many years. People/Lawyers have always focused on landing that big firm associate position right after law school. What no one ever talks about, and what was always true regardless of the economy, is that one's days are numbered when working for BigLaw. It's just a matter of time before it's obvious that MOST of the associates are not "Partner Material" and they have to go on their merry way to other pursuits. Many of these pursuits are not nearly as profitable as BigLaw--non-profits and government positions, mostly. So many of these BigLaw associates never see it coming either, so they live high on the horse and DO NOT make headway on their loans. They don't see the end of the tracks for the gravy train, and they have to downsize drastically when it stops. This is when things were good. The reason for all of this? There has always been an overabundance of attorneys--at least since the dot.com bubble burst and maybe before--so it's always been a wiser economic choice to hire in a new flock of attorneys than pay the older ones more.
So, that's reality in a nutshell.