Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:Some people do everything right and get shut out. That's a fact. Couger seems to have played the cards he was dealt in a very reasonable way and still nothing. He seems like a good person and I sincerely hope his luck turns around. After his PSLF slave labor runs its course, you would think so long as he is bar licensed and applies broadly within his state, even to rural offices, that he could get something, eventually.
But maybe not. There are always going to be outliers.
But they are outliers. I know, I know, 40k graduates and only 25k jobs, yadda yadda, but this is far from reality. Even at my T1 school, there were tons of people that had no idea if they wanted to be lawyers. They spent their weekends and many weekdays partying or spending time and energy outside of their alleged future career. They had no real reason to attend law school in the first place.
There are thousands of students like this all over the country, especially at lowly schools. The underlying problem is that it is ridiculously easy to go to law school and many peers consider it a socially acceptable thing to do. Many of us could obtain a score of 155+ on the LSAT without any study, and that score will now get you into MOST law schools in the country. When you are 24 and working a boring job that neither impresses your peers or your mother, you go to law school.
But the good news (unless you are one of these people) is that you can beat out most of these folks in the job hunt with a strategy and substantial effort. Here are some anecdotes. In my law school class, everyone I know who worked an internship during the school year is employed. Every single person. The people who are unemployed consist of people who failed the bar exam or people who would have been voted most likely to be unemployed after law school during orientation week, + 1 or 2 true outliers.
The T1 and T2 true employment rate (long-term, full-time JD required) is probably 60%, plus or minus a few points? This rate seems to shock most on this site (especially the regular posters, who overwhelmingly went to T20 schools). This rate sounds about right to me. At least 40% of these students had no business enrolling in law school to begin with. I may not blame couger for his specific position because I don't know his story, but I blame many similarly situated people for their own predicaments. They can't all be outliers.
Thanks for the kind words, but like I said, it's not just me.
You would cringe if you worked with me on my previous volunteer-ship--for a while spending hour upon endless hour with a pair of T6 grads pulling files out of the HR department of a government office and making photocopies. Listening to their stories about how they blew their bidding strategy was just downright sad. I mean, I was stupid enough to attend a trap school and think I could at least eek out something making $60K worst case scenario. But the higher school you attend and strike out at, the more difficult it is to explain to your family how a government secretary with a neck tattoo is ordering you around and telling you where the extra reams of paper are to restock the copy machine.
Back then, I was living in a roach-infested tenement where the heating gas was shut off because the slumlord wasn't paying the bill even though it was "included" in the rent. We later got bedbugs, and I had to spend my entire weekend wrapping all my belongings in garbage bags so the exterminator could come in and apply the treatment. At least my friend let me sleep on her couch while the place was getting fumigated so that I wouldn't get cancer inhaling all the fumes. That was when I was getting my sub-minimum-wage stipend from my school to count me as LT, FT, JD-required employed. A stunning success story! I can now be portrayed as such to the next wave of hapless suckers about to send in their FAFSA promissory notes and sign away their lives so Stephen F. Diamond's and Brian Leiter's peers can write intellectually-vapid-yet-superficially-Marxist "research" to be published in journals run on the slave labor of a hopelessly-indebted underclass.
But I digress. The real point is that I can't be wrote off as some "rare exception." Like I said, in addition to my previous experience, there are 4 other people on this project are my trap school peers. One quit her shitlaw job because doc review was actually more lucrative, if you can believe that. Another got into one of those "decent" small plaintiff's firms that actually does more than just cut n' paste shitwork. But then his boss went nuts, fired a bunch of people, and then committed suicide--thus, no more firm. That's not his fault either, but it doesn't matter. You see, there's so many people applying for any other job that pops up in this industry that anyone without a job--whether their fault or not--is immediately and easily filtered out and dismissed as a loser because it is automatically assumed that it's your fault for not having anything.
I clerked for a small two-attorney firm my second year, but those guys barely had enough to scrape by themselves. The first one didn't care, because his wife was a teacher and they could retire on her pension--plus he was formerly a government attorney and could retire on that. He was in his 60s and seemed somewhat happy. But the other attorney there was chewed up and spit out by the small firm down the street. He was the best associate there for 8 years, but instead of letting him become partner, his bosses dropped the hammer and took all his clients. His wife divorced him, and he limped across the street to partner up with the other guy. They were both great people, but they were grinding it out and billing between 1-2 hours a day. At least they got to go home at around 5pm and see their kids. I doubt either of them were pulling in much more than $60K after 20 years of practice or whatever. The second guy was totally stressed out and ready to snap at any moment. There was no way they had any room for a schmuck like me to eat into whatever meager overhead they had for a year or two while I learned the ropes.
Divorce and suicide are common in this industry. Either you make shit money and your spouse is mad at you, or you make good money but you're never home. The only exception is maybe people who manage to score government jobs--as dead-end as most of them may be intellectually. I need more than two hands to count the number of people who privately alluded to me the fact that they entertained thoughts of suicide because of this shitty industry. Some of them eventually made it, but others are still scraping by. You really have to develop a sense of humor about this shit quick, because if you start taking it too seriously, you won't last long. I am still worried about some of these people.
You see, this locus of control stuff is like walking a tightrope. If you blame it all on yourself, you'll quickly jump off a bridge. If you blame it 100% on the scammy way legal education and the legal industry are set up, you will probably be to angry to still bust it out in the trenches and try and make something of your life, and will sit around getting high and playing video games in your parents' basement for the next 5 years. It's very important to parse out what you can control from what you can't, otherwise you'll start circling the drain pretty quickly. I keep a copy of the quote from Slaughterhouse Five handy with me for the rough times:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I think they use that at AA meetings.