Monday, August 30, 2010

Honesty is Refreshing!

The Lost Generation--that's you, folks!  Crain's put out an article spelling out the cold, hard truth:

Young lawyers in New York are not supposed to have to wait tables or string together temp jobs until they get their big break—that kind of seat-of-your-pants lifestyle used to be reserved for aspiring actors.
Not these days. The traditional career path—which assured law students that if they studied diligently and racked up good grades, a decent legal position would await them at the end of law school—has been all but washed away by the financial crisis, which has caused the New York legal industry to contract by 10% over the past year.
Waiting tables.  Stripping.  Working as a barrista at the local Starbucks.  Finally, the truth.  Being a lawyer isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Namely, it's not even being a lawyer.
“We're being called the lost generation,” says Shorav Kaushik, a 2009 Brooklyn Law School grad. Despite interning with the New York Attorney General's office, finishing in the top half of his class and winning a fellowship at the New York City Environmental Control Board, Mr. Kaushik has been unable to land a full-time law job.
Boo hoo, Shorav.  How many of BIDER readers went to better schools and finished in the top quarter of their class, and still don't have a job?  What about those that GOT a job, and because of stylish deferments, still don't have a job.
Indeed, 22,000 law jobs disappeared during the year ending in May. The 88% employment rate for the class of 2009 was the lowest in nearly two decades, according to the National Association of Legal Professionals. 
I hate the NALP for citing this figure.  88%?  That's a statistic that certainly includes all of those in the private industry, such as those working at Banana Republic and Johnny Rocket's and those working as Independent Contractors for shitlaw firms.  It's no wonder that bloggers and our sympathizers are called "whiners" with bogus stats such as this. I wish it was 88%.

Ramit Singh doesn't need to be told. The 28-year-old finished in the top 25% of his class from New England Law and came to New York nearly two years ago to pursue entertainment law. He tried volunteering at entertainment law firms, with no luck. He has strung together freelance positions at a music-licensing company, a part-time stint at a social media company and a volunteer gig at the New York State Supreme Court. He also does freelance document review. “It's a lot of really small irons in a big raging fire,” he says.
While he doesn't regret becoming a lawyer, “I didn't think I'd be hustling like this,” he says. “I had three jobs last month.”
That's what it comes down to, hustling.  Hustling is certainly what I've been doing to get by. You hustle your ass off.  Some months, you make it.  Some months, you don't.  Your savings decrease. Your credit card balances increase.  You're exhausted and you don't have health insurance, so you just hope that something stable comes through.  I'm a hustler.  Chances are, so are you--or:
Some new lawyers have responded by doing the unthinkable—working for nothing.
After graduating from New York Law School last year, Alyssa Farruggia ended up volunteering nearly full-time for the Staten Island courts. “You have your sights on the job at a big firm, but when that doesn't happen, you've got to do something else,” explains the 25-year-old Staten Islander, who lives at home. “The most important thing was keeping my résumé going.”
Most of the city's law schools last year started working with the New York State Unified Court System, channeling grads into its Volunteer Attorney Programs, so local courts are now flooded with young lawyers looking for experience and something to do. 
Working in New York, I've actually run into bunches of these kids.  If I represent a creditor, they represent the debtor.  They lifelessly argue their *extremely* valid points in the halls of civil court.  Their  eyes are dead, their clothes are dirty and torn, they look broken. I feel for these young lawyers, but it's not bunches better for this older lawyer.

People think that the legal industry goes in cycles.  By all accounts, we've been hit by several "bad" markets: the eighties, the bubble burst, post 9/11 economy and now this.  The lemmings who just started law school last week, are convinced that hiring will miraculously pick up in 2013.  However, this isn't a slump--it's a sputter of a dying engine.  The legal industry is shot.  Only when people believe that, and refuse to mortgage their futures on the chance that things will get better in three years, will we have any chance of salvaging our crippled industry.

You're not being smart going to law school. It blows to start off at the bottom rung of any company because you "only" have a college diploma.  But you're better off than you will be if you do the responsible thing and go on to get an advanced degree.


  1. 88% is ridiculous. Anecdotal figures done by my research company, being alive and paying attention, shows the figure was closer to 50% amongst all of my classmates and even at top tier schools where some of my friends "matriculated."

  2. That's the closest article to the truth I've ever seen in traditional media.

  3. It's not a pretty picture. I still plan on going, but only because I promised myself years ago. It sounds like getting a job is going to be rough. Oh well, I didn't really want to work.

  4. I agree. Very honest.
    9:10 a.m. What the heck are you thinking? i promised myself I'd have babies by the time I was 28, so i will sleep around town without a condom until that happens. NO. Why? Cause that would potentially harm me for life. Same thing. Please reconsider.

  5. 9:10, you're a perfect example of a dense idiot.

  6. How is he dense? He's going into it with his eyes wide open? Isn't it more dense when someone comes on here with a question like "Should I go to law school"? He knows he shouldn't, but he wants it. As long as it's an informed decision, it's his problem.

  7. 10:57 I don't think I am being a "dense idiot" But I do like being a perfect example, so I will not take offense. I am in a different position than most that go to Law School. I am reading this blog, and blogs like this to stay informed and have a base of knowledge about the good and the bad of going to Law School. I really am sorry that so far it has not lived up to your expectations, but I hope that it will. Best of luck to you.

  8. 9:10 is the same as "30 something law student" who by the grace of god isn't going to law school anymore because of a personal issue, not because of the giant tidal wave of reality that washed over her. Remember her reasoning? "I want to go to law school, and THAT. IS. THAT."

    No amount of scamblogging is going to stop anyone from going. We live in an entitlement society and everyone believes they're entitled to be whatever they want, until reality comes in the form of a student loan payment you can't pay back.

  9. EvrenSeven. Entitlement? If I want to go to law school, even if it's for the sake of education or for any other reason that you may think insane, then why not? Why was it ok for you, and not the next generation? If I know what I am getting into, then I think you don't have a point. How I pay for Law School is really my business. How you paid for it is yours. I understand why you are bitter. I get it. I don't see why you would try to prevent an informed person from getting the same legal education you received. I am not an optimist by nature, and I know the difficulties of law school and the legal profession. Thanks for your interest, however.

  10. 9:10: Seriously, you must think this thing through. The JD, UNLIKE ANY OTHER DEGREE I CAN THINK OF, can maim and cripple you career-wise. It is actually dangerous to have.

    If you fail to obtain paying legal employment, and are forced to turn to the non-law world for work, unlike the case of the Economics or English undergrasd degree, which employers expect to see of their incoming class of baristas, employers LOATHE the JD. You will be greeted with suspicion, and grilled as to why you are not "practicing law".

    Ya see, kids, law still has the popular culture and the mainstream media fixated on it as if it is still some lucrative "profession", like, oh, I don't know, medicine or dentistry. It is nothing of the sort, but Hollywood still says otherwise. Unless you are ging to Harvard, yale or Stanford, or unless you are planning on joining the family firm, stay the hell out of law. Seriously. You are crazy to go into this with such a casual attitude.

  11. 4:44, For the majority of people, I believe you are correct. You are right that Hollywood does glorify the profession when in all actuality it can be quite boring and even tough to make ends meet. It's not about a job, for me. I just promised myself I would go. I am blessed with an income for life, and have plenty of spare time. I don't care about getting rich, or even the long term that much. Some things you just have to do, and consequences be damned. Marriage, a mortgage, and a few other things could be in the same category of things you shouldn't do...given the odds. The military is much like the legal profession. Much of what is seen in the movies as guys doing heroic things, and coming home and getting the girl. That is not the reality of it. I will keep reading sites like this, and listening to folks like you so I can keep my head on straight and not be fooled into thinking something is not what it appears. Thanks.

  12. I have some friends who "go" to Law School by auditing some of the Classes at the local law school. I think they pay a smaller fee; and they don't get grades, but you get to sit in on all the classes and be "part" of the class. That is the smart way to do it. You don't have to "go" to law school to "go" to law school. For God sakes, you are about to make a terrible mistake. Just audit the goddarn classes, you fool, you fool!

  13. I've used BLS stats and ABA stats to demonstrate that that 88% number is ludicrous. Based on the data I've used, my calculations, and some reasonable assumptions (your average lawyer would want to work for 40 years), I've calculated that only 53.8% of all lawyers work in the legal profession. Furthermore, it is very probable that less than 30% of all new grads from the past decade were able to find work in the legal profession. See:

    It's too bad that someone from NALP won't go into greater detail about where the 88% number came from and whether it counts JDs who are employed in menial jobs or as strippers at private businesses as being part of that 88%.

  14. I don't know how many attorneys are hired as strippers, seems a bit shady...for the stripping industry, ha. Besides the fact that it's a young woman's game, I have not seen that many in law school that could pull it it were.



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