Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jobs at Law Schools - JDs Not Wanted

Most scam bloggers and our unemployed and underemployed readers would drop to our knees and thank the heavens if we found a full-time job with benefits in the $40k range. A job in the $40k range at a top ten university or law school? At the very least we would no longer have to hide under a rock in shame at the next family gathering. We would still be under massive stress to pay off our law school debt, but we could hold our head up high and tell our relatives that we found a job in academia or at a T14 law school. We could prove to acquaintances on a very superficial level that spending 7+ years in higher education didn't go to complete waste.

Realistically, any full-time job in this economy would be a blessing for the millions of unemployed with a BA, JD, or PhD. Over the years, Angel and I have received emails and testimonials from law students eager to flush down the last remains of their dignity to clean toilets as long as it was a 9-5 job that gave them health benefits and allowed them to put food on the table. That is the tragic reality for the victims of this economic depression. Last week, The New York Time's Paul Krugman wrote briefly on the failure of many college graduates to find employment:

Here’s the question: of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree who aren’t enrolled in further schooling, how many have full-time jobs?

In December 2007, on the eve of recession, the answer was 9083 percent.

By December 2009, it was down to 72 percent.

As of December 2010, it had recovered only slightly, to 74 percent.

To me, that’s a tale of young lives blighted, not just in the short run but perhaps permanently: failing to get a job when you get out of school colors your whole career. And it’s still happening.

Yet unemployment has virtually dropped off the political agenda.

Of the 74 percent of graduates with jobs, plenty of them - and I know a few - are out there working as bartenders, fast food workers, or waiters. People with graduate school degrees who are unemployed are even worse off as we are older and have fewer years to get back on track before we're completely cast off as old and damaged goods.

The irony of all this is that there are jobs out there, even under our noses at the same institutions we graduated from, only we are over-educated to even be considered. Take for instance these two job openings at T10 schools Columbia and NYU:
Columbia University Law School
Job Title: Development Assistant
Salary Range: $43,000-$48,000
Minimum Qualifications: High school diploma and/or its equivalent, plus three years of relevant work experience required, or the equivalent combination of education and experience. College degree strongly preferred. Strong interest in fund-raising and some fundraising experience preferred. Must have excellent verbal and written communications skills and ability to handle highly sensitive and confidential prospect information discreetly. Must be detail oriented, self-motivated, and able to work independently and manage multiple responsibilities simultaneously and meet deadlines in a high-volume environment. Must be able to work a flexible schedule including some evenings and weekends. Proficiency in, Microsoft Word/Excel required, Raiser's Edge preferred.
Quick Link:

New York University School of Law
Job Position: The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is seeking two full-time Research Associates for the Center’s Democracy Program. The Democracy Program seeks to change the ways in which citizens participate in their government by fixing the systems that discourage voting, hinder competition and promote the interests of the few over the rights of the many.
Salary Range: $35,000-40,000
Qualifications: Initiative, drive, and commitment; excellent research, analytic, and writing skills; computer skills; professionalism, reliability, flexibility, and attention to detail. Candidates must be willing to do administrative and clerical work. Experience with democracy issues a plus. Paralegal experience or experience in statistical analysis preferred, but not required.
This is an entry level position; lawyers and individuals with advanced degrees should not apply
There are so many unemployed law grads out there that any job associated with the law now has to have a disclaimer warning unemployed JDs not to apply. But they will gladly consider your application if you have a GED with job experience. It is very likely your alma mater would rather employ a high school or community college graduate with work experience over you. Why? Because they know that work experience counts a hell of a lot more than someone who was duped into buying one of their worthless degrees but lacks any real world job skills.

Go to Shit Law Jobs on any given day and you will find jobs like these:

Temporary attorney job in D.C. area for recent grad

Thanks to the reader who submitted this:
We are currently seeking (2) additional recent college graduate or JD to work a contract assignment in a Legal Department in a Reston, VA organization through April. Will be reviewing/editing legal agreements. Must be proficient in Mircosoft Word. If interested and qualified please send a resume in a Word Document. Pay is 14/an hour. This is not negotiable.
Location: Reston, VA
Compensation: 14/hour

Unpaid internship in NYC for recent law school grad

We are a new law firm in Downtown/ Financial District looking for an intern to assist in legal research, writing as well as administrative duties. This is an unpaid internship position that could lead to permanent position in the future open to law students and recent law graduates. Speaking Spanish and/or website construction knowledge is a plus.
Again, work experience will almost always trump a useless graduate degree unless you are one of the few lucky people to get a job in academia, biglaw, Wall Street, or consulting. The great majority of graduates will be left out in the cold, either unemployed, underemployed, or in entry-level jobs they could have gotten without the degree and a lot less debt.

Here is a personal example of how work experience trumps education. I am dating someone at the moment around 5 years older. He went to a non-elite university and graduated with less than $15k in student debt. He has no plans to ever attend graduate school. He became interested in computers during high school in the 90s when he began learning on his own about web application frameworks, design, and other computer science subjects which I know nothing about. He did freelance work while he was in school and built up connections, knowledge, and experience on his own. No help from alumni services, career services, or professors. The college degree is merely dressing on his resume as almost all of the skills he acquired outside of school would have been enough for him to do well as a web developer.

He now works in web development in a management role. He has no debt, owns a house, has health benefits, vacation time, and makes a very good salary. The irony is that if the average person met us on the street, I would be considered more accomplished because of a useless JD and the academic prestige of attending a top 14 school. Even my boyfriend believes I'm the smarter one for getting into a top university. If only they knew the real fool is me for believing the hype, taking out massive loans that will take me years to pay back, and probably spending the next decade trying to match what my bf makes today.

The higher education business has successfully brainwashed the public into believing that someone with an advanced degree deserves more respect, is smarter, and automatically more accomplished. With help from their friends in Washington, they have convinced millions of Americans that spending $100k or more for a degree with no guarantee of a good job is a good investment. That the best years of your life are better spent paying a fortune to attend their school than being out in the world making money or starting a family.

As Angel said so well last week, stop listening to politicians and crooks in bed with the student loan companies, banks, and higher education industry. They tell you that education is key to the success of our country then turn around and slash Pell Grants for needy students. Follow Angel's advice. Whether you decide to go to college or graduate school or go out into the work force straight out of high school, be entrepreneurial and learn skills on your own outside of your useless liberal arts major that will help you find a job - any job - if you happen to find yourself without a good job offer. One of my friends works as a bartender in New York and makes a decent living. She has a college degree and never knew that her part-time job at a bar in her college town would someday save her from being homeless or moving back in with her parents.

Lastly, don't spend 4-8 years in school without being in the driver's seat of your own life. Don't put your future in the hands of career services and depend on your adviser to help you find a job. View higher education as dressing. The essential ingredients to finding a job depends on you being equipped with real world skills and connections outside of school. The administration is only there to take care of daily operations and take your money. Once they hand you a degree and shove you out the door, you won't be hearing from anyone other than a lemming calling you for a donation.


  1. Education and student loans take away the ability to try something and fail at it. Student loans destroy innovation and risk-taking. The consequences are incremental.

  2. Just check out Chuck Yeager. He was kept out of the space program because of his lack of a college degree, thanks JFK & friends. The man is one of the greatest aviators of all time.

  3. e: Chuck Yeager--Are you kidding me? Did the Wright Brothers have a college degree? Sheesh....this has gotten insane--just meshing comments 1 and 2 together, one can surmise that our true innovators and creators are the ones who did not attend school or soon dropped out so as not to kill their creativity. I think of Steve Jobs now and can only shake my head at my own stupidity of being able to create at a very young age and yet being pushed into attending both college and law school in the first place....

    The advice in the last two paragraphs should be written in stone for the ages....

  4. As frustrating as it is, I can understand that these law schools don't want employees who are over-qualified and will probably quit the moment the economy turns around.

    But anyway, I agree with your point. College and law school students should spend their time in school doing internships; doing pro bono work in areas which interest them; making connections; etc.

  5. I wanted to show that it is possible to only graduate from high school and earn up to $48k per annum for Columbia University while law school graduates are making $14/hour or nothing at all to work at a shitlaw firm. It shows you that a graduate degree does not guarantee that you will make more than someone with only a high school degree or GED. It's incredibly ironic.

  6. There is no way to change things – nor have any hope of making our lives better – through playing by the rules, and the political system itself is fully ‘captured,’ so political action is a useless illusion with regard to this issue.

    As has been pointed out, the incentive system is all screwed up – meaning that it’s in the best interest of the lenders (and their government enablers) to screw us and make it impossible for us to making a living and get out of indenture servitude.

    I agree with, and am a firm supporter, of the DEBTORS’ REVOLT idea. It’s a really, really bad situation we face – and if you believe that somehow there’s a solution to be had by “behaving” and playing their game, well, you’re almost an *enabler*.

    I am agitating for debtors’ revolt, and I have no problem with the idea of an Egypt-style uprising. I believe systemic COLLAPSE is one of the only ways out of this. Feel free to contact me further if you are like-minded. Our brave forebears would *not* have tolerated this abuse of power nor the insane rigging of the system – and resource inequality – we see today, and would probably call for acts of disruption if not hands-on “assertion” of our rights to, well, a future, a livelihood, and the ability to provide for our families.


  7. A "debtors' revolt"? I don't expect you'll see much public support for a bunch of law grads marching in the streets railing against the system because they borrowed too much money and can't repay it. The scene doesn't exactly conjure up images of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.

    But I could certainly be wrong so best of luck inducing the systemic collapse that you seek.

  8. thanks for the post. i take a couple of point from it. first, despite all of the talk about education opening doors for you, it clearly closes some. you better make sure that the doors are really open.

    second, if you are stuck with a jd, you don't need more school. be like boyfriend and develop a skill on your own. yes, you are behind, but you'll only waste more time trying to find a law job. wipe your behind with the jd and flush it. get on with your life. you are behind but not out. good luck

  9. "As frustrating as it is, I can understand that these law schools don't want employees who are over-qualified and will probably quit the moment the economy turns around."

    Considering that there's no guarantee the legal economy will turn around, I doubt that's the motivation.

    But if I'm the employer, I do one of two things: (a) I hire an experienced office professional (which a Columbia Law Grad is not) at a good salary; or (b) knowing that the labor market is flush with people who would kill to work at a law school, I low-ball the salary. Since Columbia is not a normal business and, I imagine, the person doing the hiring has to give the illusion of their department being important, Columbia chose (a).

    The NYU ad should be required reading for prospective law applicants. Political science majors would love a job like that. But jobs like that are scarce. So people with political science degrees wind up getting masters in public policy, JDs, PhD's in political science...and then they find out the type of research jobs they want are closed to them because they decided to get more education. (side note: how can it be "entry-level" if paralegal experience is preferred? And what proportion of the job-seeking BA/BS holders have "excellent research, analytic, and writing skills?" I'd guess around 3-5% total).

    It's a pathetic, fucked up world we live in when more education opens one up to blatant discrimination.

  10. Loved reading this article, thank you! Bookmarked your blog!



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