Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trailblazing Ideas from Pace Law: NETWORK, says Dean Littman

The Pace Law Grads in this article, all suffering from diminished expectations and lack of job prospects, didn't get the memo.  According to Yahoo, legal hiring is up 29% and lawyers are earning $110K on average!  What are they doing wrong?  What am I doing wrong?  Hell--what are you doing wrong?

Well, Pace is being innovative by re-introducing the wheel and fire to humanity suggesting that students network the hell out of other attorneys.  I guess I forgot to do that.  According to Littman, networking is key: 
Littman said students must attend networking events, make good impressions, collect business cards, and follow up with telephone calls.
"Networking and experience go hand in hand," she said.
When she says they go hand in hand, what does she mean?  By networking, I will gain experience?  Or my experience will be enhanced by networking?  That's gobbledygook.  Your students have no real experience, so it will not be enhanced or diminished by networking.   Who is she kidding?  Even after one year of practicing, most lawyers don't have enough experience to hang their hat on.

Dean Littman also warns students that six figure salaries are hard to come by.  Really?  I've been turning down jobs offering $60K and $70K daily--holding out for that six figure job! Silly me.
Littman said she also advises students to have more realistic starting salary expectations, noting that only 2 percent of graduates are getting salaries of $150,000 or more a year.
Younger said students might want to consider "hot areas" of law, such as bankruptcy and intellectual property, to increase their chances of getting hired.
"There is an enormous unmet need for lawyers in America, especially for people who can't pay the rate that Fortune 500 companies can pay," he said. "These jobs don't pay $165,000 a year, but they pay something."
Do I find it ironic that the rest of the article focuses on the stories of Kavitha Mukund, Jennifer Lincoln, and Marjorie Levine--all students that were unable to secure a job offer?   Yah.  I do.  Then there's the story of  John McCarron, a guy who didn't even try to find a job. Instead he started as a solo right out of the gate.

Dean Littman, can you point me in the direction of the "unmet need for lawyers"?  I can't seem to find it anywhere around here.
Thanks Tipsters!  :)  It would be so hard to keep this up without you.


  1. "the great unmet need" is from people who won't pay anything. No one is willing to pay someone to do work for others for free. Congress provides virtually the only funding in existence for civil matters, the Legal Services Corporation. The LSC is what funds every legal aid firm in the country. Adjusted for inflation LSC funding is half what it was in the 80s. Meanwhile our population has grown and the need is much greater ITE especially (they have to turn away about half of those who request help). Every year some members of Congress vote to end the funding (read some = R). No more LSC would equal no more legal aid at all.

    Legal aid already pays 30k, maybe after Nov 2 it won't pay anything. Either way it is hardly understanding of the situation to poo poo bot making 160k.

  2. From the Pace website:

    "Rachel received her BA in Art History from Yale University and her JD from Seton Hall University School of Law, from which she graduated cum laude and where she served as a managing editor of the Constitutional Law Journal."

    Yep. Being a Yale grad in Art History, I'm sure she spent her whole life scrabbling a living from rocky soil when, all of a sudden, the Yale fairy tapped her on the head and said "You will be special and have a distinguised career!" Nope, Yale was part of the plan from a tender silver-spooned young age. Yet she would claim there were no outside family connections here, folks, and everything was bootstrapped and hard fought.

    From the article:

    ' "They have to be masters of their own careers," she said. '

    Typical view from the penthouse advice, supra.

    'Younger students might want to consider "hot areas" of law, such as bankruptcy and intellectual property, to increase their chances of getting hired.'

    Yep, more brilliance. Back in 2004, a IP law partner I knew said he had friends in IP who "couldn't buy an interview." The old stand-bys are saturated, too.

    Translation: It's not our fault you're not well-connected.

  3. It may not pay $150K, but it pays SOMETHING, right? Never mind that that "something" is around $20K (what I made yearly when working as a "solo") or even up to $30K (what I was offered by a crap criminal law firm). I'm sorry, but I could answer phones, sell shoes, or work at Borders for that kind of money - and ALL those options are a lot more fun!

  4. I read lately that a lot of BIGLAW firms aren't hiring associates, but are hiring "Staff attorneys".

    What is a staff attorney at a big law firm? How long do they stay and what do they do when they leave big firms?

  5. But did you see her other sage advice? Say Thank You!!


  6. Thank you Angel. I will make sure to use this ammo when I feature Pace Law School on Third Tier Reality.

    Yes, "networking" will solve all ills. If everyone networks, then EVERYONE will find gainful employment, right?!?! And these dingleberries bill themselves as teaching logic and "critical thinking" skills.

  7. @1:48 - Staff attorneys do what 'overpaid' first year associates used to do. Doc review, doc review, doc review. The upside - benefits and possibly not being laid off when the 'big case' goes away. The downside - half (or less) the salary of the associates, the resume killing nature of the job, the fact that the firm you work for would never hire you to do the 'associate' job because well they have smarter, brighter folks for that. And oh, you'll never get a promotion really (except supervising other staff attorneys - my friend did that for a minute). And if you don't have to share an office with at least one or two other people - you're golden.

  8. I was a staff attorney for over two years at a large Manhattan law firm.
    Upside: 1) six figure salary, which if you are smart and disciplined can help you knock out a lot of loans(especially those high interest private loans) in a relatively short time (1-2 years) and help build a financial safety net for yourself while the income is good; 2) able to surf the net pretty freely, which is a plus when all you do is look at financial documents for 11 hours a day.
    Downside: 1) you still can get laid-off, which happened to me during the 2009 NYC lawyer slaughter; 2) while you don't get treated as a sub-human contract attorney, you do have instances of associates literally ending conversations with you mid-sentence when they learn you are a staff attorney; 3) mind-numbingly boring document review all day which causes you to question why you ever decided to go to law school; 4) no upward mobility potential as the firm probably has a policy of not hiring associates out of their staff attorney pool; 5) resume killing experience as it does not count as valued "legal practice" experience for any other type of practice other than more document review.--So the time you accrue as a staff attorney if in years really counts for nothing if you lose that job and have to accept an offer doing personal injury insurance defense work.

  9. There's absolutely an unmet need for lawyers. Public defenders (at least in large metro areas) are swamped with cases they can't possibly devote a sufficient amount of time to, and state budget cuts aren't helping. That's the only area where there's a dire need for more of us - but sadly, the market function isn't available to help meet that need due to said budget constraints. If Littman sincerely wanted to work toward meeting this need, he wouldn't price tuition as though everyone would be landing biglaw jobs afterward. But to think that he sincerely cares about either his students or those in need of legal services would be giving him too much credit.

  10. @Jerry - your right. As my mother (a former social worker) always points out there is a definite need for lawyers - mostly for the poor.

    Divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, abuse, neglect, dependency, criminal defense - I could go on and on.

    There isn't money to pay these folks - whether from the state, quasi-private agencies, or charities.

    I tried to do it, but where I used to live in the Midwest - many of these cases (if they were eligible for county reimbursement) topped out at $250 per case (and that number hasn't changed in 15+ years). It was unreasonable to expect more than competent representation in those cases.

    But I got tired of working for clients who made more than me and went to work for private industry instead. It paid my 110K in loans off.



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