JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

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Desert Fox
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Desert Fox » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:46 pm

Moneytrees wrote:It's common for an associate to work in Biglaw for what, maybe 4 or 5 years? That's a long time to be working in a stressful and arduous environment, no doubt. But wouldn't it be possible to pay off most of your loans by that point (or at least a sizeable chunk of them)? This seems particularly true if you didn't pay sticker, of course.

At the 4 or 5 year mark, with your debt being slashed, you would probably have some pretty decent options to lateral to. Presumably, you could be debt free (or close to it) and land a solid, less stressful position in your early 30's. That's not ideal, and is certainly not a quick way to get rich, but it doesn't seem like a travesty.


4-5 is long. 40% the 3rd years at my firm are gone.

4 years, with 200k at 6.8% is 4,770.71 dollars every month. And 200k is like 2/3rd of sticker these days. That would still be over 50% of my take home pay. It's really not possible. I actually tried for 6 months. I put ~7k a month towards loans December til June of last year. And that's with a wife supporting my ass. It wasn't sustainable.

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starry eyed
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby starry eyed » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:49 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Moneytrees wrote:It's common for an associate to work in Biglaw for what, maybe 4 or 5 years? That's a long time to be working in a stressful and arduous environment, no doubt. But wouldn't it be possible to pay off most of your loans by that point (or at least a sizeable chunk of them)? This seems particularly true if you didn't pay sticker, of course.

At the 4 or 5 year mark, with your debt being slashed, you would probably have some pretty decent options to lateral to. Presumably, you could be debt free (or close to it) and land a solid, less stressful position in your early 30's. That's not ideal, and is certainly not a quick way to get rich, but it doesn't seem like a travesty.


4-5 is long. 40% the 3rd years at my firm are gone.

4 years, with 200k at 6.8% is 4,770.71 dollars every month. And 200k is like 2/3rd of sticker these days. That would still be over 50% of my take home pay. It's really not possible. I actually tried for 6 months. I put ~7k a month towards loans December til June of last year. And that's with a wife supporting my ass. It wasn't sustainable.


You seem to take a different tone towards the debt repayment than other posters like fatduck who seem comforted by IBR. (I don't know much about loans/figures). Did you choose a faster repayment option or something?

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Desert Fox
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Desert Fox » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:56 pm

starry eyed wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
Moneytrees wrote:It's common for an associate to work in Biglaw for what, maybe 4 or 5 years? That's a long time to be working in a stressful and arduous environment, no doubt. But wouldn't it be possible to pay off most of your loans by that point (or at least a sizeable chunk of them)? This seems particularly true if you didn't pay sticker, of course.

At the 4 or 5 year mark, with your debt being slashed, you would probably have some pretty decent options to lateral to. Presumably, you could be debt free (or close to it) and land a solid, less stressful position in your early 30's. That's not ideal, and is certainly not a quick way to get rich, but it doesn't seem like a travesty.


4-5 is long. 40% the 3rd years at my firm are gone.

4 years, with 200k at 6.8% is 4,770.71 dollars every month. And 200k is like 2/3rd of sticker these days. That would still be over 50% of my take home pay. It's really not possible. I actually tried for 6 months. I put ~7k a month towards loans December til June of last year. And that's with a wife supporting my ass. It wasn't sustainable.


You seem to take a different tone towards the debt repayment than other posters like fatduck who seem comforted by IBR. (I don't know much about loans/figures). Did you choose a faster repayment option or something?


I refinanced with SOFI so I can't do IBR. But IBR sucks compared to PAYE, which I wasn't eligible for. If I was PAYE eligible, I'd probably have just done that. but unless you plan a head u better start preparing for your bankruptcy in 20 years when the tax bomb crushes you.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:03 pm

I'm planning ahead by voting for unsound money policies to inflate away my obligations.

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Desert Fox
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Desert Fox » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:05 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:I'm planning ahead by voting for unsound money policies to inflate away my obligations.


I'm at LIBOR +3, but it's limited to 9%. So we gotta real crazy to help me.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:44 pm

starry eyed wrote:Regardless, having a book of business is the deciding factor of whether you are disposable anywhere (besides in-house). Why not, immediately after law school, use 50k on an ad campaign targeting your desired clients (car wreck billboards in the ghetto, cheesy tv commercials if you're car injury). Word of mouth from your initial clients should sustain you for a while. If you can go to a TTT with no debt and work, it can be done. It's kind of amazing how most prospective law students (even HYS) have zero business sense or even understand law firm economics.


You're going to waste $50K trying to attract shitlaw clients after getting Biglaw experience? It's you that don't seem to have business sense. These clients don't have any money, so the only way you're ever getting paid is on contingency. And even if you do get a good case, the other driver will end up being uninsured and broke (if you're putting up your signs in the ghetto) so you're never going to collect. All the uninsured drivers' policies/state funds have caps, etc.

Most auto injury dreck is settled for less than $10K...and much even less than that. The only way these firms actually turn a profit is that they find about a dozen desperate law grads, pay them like $35K/year (and a percentage of any cases you bring in IF you are lucky), and make them work 60 hours a week churning through case after worthless case. They often won't cover your travel expenses, either, so god forbid you get a trial across the state and have to pay for your own hotel. The "partners" at these firms simply make money off the low wages they pay their associate attorneys, and take the few good ones for themselves.

You can't set up a firm like this on your own without building connections in the area, because the market is way over-saturated, and the established players have it cornered.

Believe me, the document review gulags are filled with people that bounce from insurance defense to doc review to a failed attempt at being a solo back to doc review, etc. There are armies of these underemployed lawyers in every city--clicking away in some semi-abandoned office space, reciting the tales of abuse they've suffered at the hands of sociopath partners trying to milk every last dollar of overhead out of their hours. Attorneys of all ages.

Also, the kind of experience you get in Biglaw is nothing like the experience you need to build a successful plaintiff's firm. Biglaw holes you away for your first 2-4 years, having you write memos and draft discovery motions at best, and having you make binders and do doc review at worst. Your courtroom experience will be limited, as will your exposure to clients. And you're not even learning the same area of law you would be practicing in Biglaw.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:50 pm

The worst part about it all is that your salary never increases. The margins are so low in insurance defense and 95% of plaintiff's work that you are strung along for 1-5 years and then let go when you get too expensive. Then it's on to doc review for a year, and then maybe starting up another entry-level gig in insurance defense for $50K. There's no room for "senior associates" in these types of firms. People 20 years out bounce around and think $50K/year is a good salary (maybe more like $60K/year in the larger markets). And you don't get a raise in doc review...everyone makes the same low-ball rate no matter how long you've been at it.

The reason why "mid-career" attorney salaries seem high is because people who have ANY set of other skills and or abilities flee this profession to whatever kind of exit option they can find. 90% of the people that can't get Biglaw or a government gig just can't take the lifestyle, and get into stuff like real estate and insurance sales, or lower middle-management somewhere. Or they just marry someone who chose a real profession. The people that are left make a lot of money, but that's only about ~20% of the total at best.

I think this would be entirely fair if it weren't for the ridiculous law school debt levels. Not everyone's cut out for legal work. It requires people to be able to handle a high-stress, detail-oriented environment with lots of rote busywork and paper-pushing. And you have to stay mentally sharp and on your toes at all times. While at the same time having the panache of a salesman because your vitality in this field will stem from either selling your case to juries or selling your business to corporate clients.

The thing is, 80% of people leave law school doomed to work in horrible conditions with pay that won't even be enough to stop interest from accumulating on your loans. Instead, the debt will go on and on into perpetuity, saddling you for the rest of your life. The majority of people I work with right now would call you insane for turning down a $45K job in a different industry.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby starry eyed » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:01 pm

No. i was talking about for a fresh law grad with no experience (or with limited small firm experience). My ghetto clients may no have any money but the 18-wheeler insurers do lol. If i had big firm experience, i would definitely cater to a different clientele.
Yea, you do list obstacles a law firm owner would face, but anybody starting a business would face similar problems, costs, competition, etc. A screening process would not be terribly difficult to conjure up to weed out undesirable clients (a couple questions should filter them out).
Last edited by starry eyed on Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:12 pm

starry eyed wrote:My ghetto clients may no have any money but the 18-wheeler insurers do.


Good luck sifting through 10,000 "my neck hurts after I slipped in a puddle of pee on the bathroom floor of McDonalds" claims to find one of those cases on a $50K ad budget and no connections. The established players have been blanketing daytime TV, billboards, phone books, google adwords, etc. for 20 years. They know and get referrals from all the other local attorneys, are good friends with all the judges through bar association meetings/outings, etc.

You don't just plop down $50K and say "Hey! I'm open for busness!" in areas like personal injury law. That's a quick path to doc review and wasting $50K.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby starry eyed » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:16 pm

JCougar wrote:
starry eyed wrote:My ghetto clients may no have any money but the 18-wheeler insurers do.


Good luck sifting through 10,000 "my neck hurts after I slipped in a puddle of pee on the bathroom floor of McDonalds" claims to find one of those cases on a $50K ad budget and no connections. The established players have been blanketing daytime TV, billboards, phone books, google adwords, etc. for 20 years. They know and get referrals from all the other local attorneys, are good friends with all the judges through bar association meetings/outings, etc.

You don't just plop down $50K and say "Hey! I'm open for busness!" in areas like personal injury law. That's a quick path to doc review and wasting $50K.


I would think you could ONLY do something like that in personal injury bc the clients are not educated to know the difference. Obviously that tactic would not work with more sophisticated work.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:51 pm

The hardest part about document review isn't the terrible pay and work conditions, nor is it realizing that there's hundreds of underemployed attorneys in mid-sized cities (and thousands in the larger cities) ringing up billable hours for the Biglaw partners, where 20 of us combined don't even make as much per hour as one partner. Hell, there's more JD's from my trap school class on this one project alone than there are at all the NLJ 250 firms in this city combined.

The hardest part is trying to describe the work experience to other people without generating one of two reactions: 1) a terribly sympathetic reaction where people go "awwww...I'm sorry things are so bad for you," and 2) people who flatly disbelieve that you have it so bad and think that you're just not "tough enough." Regarding #1, sympathy just makes things worse, so STFU with your "awwws." Regarding #2, I mean sure, probably working on an assembly line down south with no air conditioning and no union or working as a nurse's aid wiping old people's butts every day is more revolting work (as I've mentioned before, I've done the former myself). But you have to realize that most nurse's aids and assembly line workers--even if they have a medium-sized criminal record and barely graduated high school--have a far superior net asset position than about 80% of law school grads even 5 years after graduation. The thing is, most doc review and shitlaw jobs don't even pay enough to make the interest payments on your school loans. So your asset position actually gets worse as you "move up" in your career. It's a hole you will never ever dig out of, as the people who have bounced around in the gutter of this industry for the last 20-30 years will tell you. "Average" salaries of mid-career attorneys only look good because most of these people are forced to leave the profession by economic necessity before they reach the mid-career stage.

0Ls have no idea of the pyramid nature of the legal industry. You simply don't get hired at any private firm unless the partners can charge and pocket around a 300% premium on your labor. You're there to make profits for the partners, and you do that by billing hour upon endless hour. And when you get too expensive, there's plenty of fresh fish waiting around mired in debt--desperate to just get back to zero net assets. For firms that represent Fortune 500 companies, this works okay for law grads, because you end up making just enough money to get back to square one after about 5 years--which is what is deemed "successful" in this industry. But with smaller firms, this means your pay rate is probably a bit closer to $20/hour--or less, when you factor in all the hours and the fact that you don't get overtime.

Honestly, being a nurse or a CNA would have been a better career decision for most of us. Bricklayer is another profession that pays a lot more than your average lawyer gets when you factor in debt. In fact, some of us on this doc review project routinely challenge the homeless beggar down the street to see if he can make more than us in a day. He usually doesn't beat us out, but when you factor in taxes and loan payments, he actually comes out ahead. See, I can at least play guitar, so I always joke with him that I might become competition soon. Beggars with guitars do much better. Where I volunteer, I represented a guy who worked at a factory making $20/hour. He had a few DUIs on his record and a GED. I mentioned to my coworkers in doc review that I don't even make this much as a lawyer, but they are always ones to look on the bright side--at least I figured out from that which factory to send my resume to.

This is what it comes to kids--beggars make more than most lawyers. And this guy isn't even in Manhattan, where you can clear $30/hour if you have any sort of panache or artistic skills. I have a friend from high school who used to sell weed, skipped college completely, and then became an auto parts sales specialist. He has a wife and only 15 years left on his mortgage--things I will likely never have as long as I live due to my law school debt and unattractive, depressive state. I used to at least have some mojo back in the day because I can be a funny guy at times--but the law school and the miserly legal profession have sucked basically all the wind out of my sails, and have caused me to gain weight and don a permanently-overtired, pale complexion.

Come to think of it, janitor is even a more prestigious job, because most places have creative names for their janitors these days (they call them things like "Maintenance Technician" or "Environmental Services Associate" and stuff, which actually conveys the notion that it takes skills to do their job, where as any lobotomized human can do the job of a doc review attorney provided they have a functioning brain stem and can still fog a mirror and inch their index finger down every once in a while to create a "click"). We might have had to deal with gross or physically demanding situations at our jobs if we chose other, blue-collar careers, but at least we'd be able to provide for our kids (or for those of us not married--afford to even go on dates). The inconsistent nature of the work is the worst part about it. Small firm turnover is enormously high, and it makes Biglaw look like a stable job. And in doc review, you can be fired at any minute--for going too fast, going to slow, working too many hours, working not enough hours, asking the wrong question, not asking the right question, the case may suddenly settle, etc. And it may be months before you get picked up on another project.

The problem is, document review and/or shitlaw are so disdained by the "elite" lawyers that they will throw your resume in the trash just for having it on there. It's like stamping a big red "L" for "loser" on your forehead the way the Puritans used to stamp adulterous women in the 1600s. It doesn't matter whether you went to the same law school as these people--you received 0.1 less GPA points, and you're pretty much a loser for life. You build no usable skills, never get any promotions or raises, etc.

The thing is, pretty much 90% of people from TTT schools and at least 50% of people from trap schools, and even 10% or so from "elite" schools consign themselves to this lifestyle for thinking they can climb up the steep slopes of this pyramid. It's amazing how many magna cum laude people from third-tier schools make it in to these places--not to mention people from "Top 20" schools like mine who were outside the top 25%. Even Georgetown manufactures a throng of doc review monkeys each year. Schools will always highlight the handful of graduates who have "made it," hawking their wares like a televangelist on public TV--the greased hair replaced by shiny brochures showing multi-million dollar buildings built on the failed dreams of those that came before. "You too can be like this guy/gal, with just a little hard work, designer résumé paper, and networking!"

The dirty little secret is that, for this pyramid to work, it's completely necessary for the majority of lawyers to constantly be drolling away at the bottom--stepped on, spit at, disregarded, and whipped--doing the pointless shitwork that partners want to bill for but would never, ever do even to save their own lives.

Most of the 20,000-30,000 lawyers who graduate each year with job prospects no better than this pretty much keep this a secret, because it's extremely shameful and embarrassing to explain to the general public that you are a "fancy lawyer" an yet you still managed to figure out a way to fuck it all up. Most people just can't grasp the undeniable math: there's waaaaay to many law grads out there and close to zero good jobs. You can see this phenomenon on most doc reviewer LinkedIn profiles. They come up with countless methods of covering up their failure, such as calling themselves a "solo attorney" or "discovery specialist attorney, esq."--or they just "forget" to update it after they get canned from shitlaw for looking at the partner the wrong way. The reality is that we are all just a glorified click-monkeys for 40 hours per week, building exactly zero skills, except for maybe some skills relating to how to survive in a prison camp without going completely mad.

And even if you do have the courage to admit it, most 0L-types or other members of the non-legal population will assume that you're either a complainer or a unique sort of loser who just could never get on the beam. It's really hard for people to grasp the cold, hard reality that this is still the fate of the majority of lawyers out there. The few that survive this experience usually do so by moving on to a different career and trying to start all over--paying off student loan debt until they die.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby sparty99 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:52 pm

JCougar wrote:The hardest part about document review isn't the terrible pay and work conditions, nor is it realizing that there's hundreds of underemployed attorneys in mid-sized cities (and thousands in the larger cities) ringing up billable hours for the Biglaw partners, where 20 of us combined don't even make as much per hour as one partner. Hell, there's more JD's from my trap school class on this one project alone than there are at all the NLJ 250 firms in this city combined.

The hardest part is trying to describe the work experience to other people without generating one of two reactions: 1) a terribly sympathetic reaction where people go "awwww...I'm sorry things are so bad for you," and 2) people who flatly disbelieve that you have it so bad and think that you're just not "tough enough." Regarding #1, sympathy just makes things worse, so STFU with your "awwws." Regarding #2, I mean sure, probably working on an assembly line down south with no air conditioning and no union or working as a nurse's aid wiping old people's butts every day is more revolting work (as I've mentioned before, I've done the former myself). But you have to realize that most nurse's aids and assembly line workers--even if they have a medium-sized criminal record and barely graduated high school--have a far superior net asset position than about 80% of law school grads even 5 years after graduation. The thing is, most doc review and shitlaw jobs don't even pay enough to make the interest payments on your school loans. So your asset position actually gets worse as you "move up" in your career. It's a hole you will never ever dig out of, as the people who have bounced around in the gutter of this industry for the last 20-30 years will tell you. "Average" salaries of mid-career attorneys only look good because most of these people are forced to leave the profession by economic necessity before they reach the mid-career stage.

0Ls have no idea of the pyramid nature of the legal industry. You simply don't get hired at any private firm unless the partners can charge and pocket around a 300% premium on your labor. You're there to make profits for the partners, and you do that by billing hour upon endless hour. And when you get too expensive, there's plenty of fresh fish waiting around mired in debt--desperate to just get back to zero net assets. For firms that represent Fortune 500 companies, this works okay for law grads, because you end up making just enough money to get back to square one after about 5 years--which is what is deemed "successful" in this industry. But with smaller firms, this means your pay rate is probably a bit closer to $20/hour--or less, when you factor in all the hours and the fact that you don't get overtime.

Honestly, being a nurse or a CNA would have been a better career decision for most of us. Bricklayer is another profession that pays a lot more than your average lawyer gets when you factor in debt. In fact, some of us on this doc review project routinely challenge the homeless beggar down the street to see if he can make more than us in a day. He usually doesn't beat us out, but when you factor in taxes and loan payments, he actually comes out ahead. See, I can at least play guitar, so I always joke with him that I might become competition soon. Beggars with guitars do much better. Where I volunteer, I represented a guy who worked at a factory making $20/hour. He had a few DUIs on his record and a GED. I mentioned to my coworkers in doc review that I don't even make this much as a lawyer, but they are always ones to look on the bright side--at least I figured out from that which factory to send my resume to.

This is what it comes to kids--beggars make more than most lawyers. And this guy isn't even in Manhattan, where you can clear $30/hour if you have any sort of panache or artistic skills. I have a friend from high school who used to sell weed, skipped college completely, and then became an auto parts sales specialist. He has a wife and only 15 years left on his mortgage--things I will likely never have as long as I live due to my law school debt and unattractive, depressive state. I used to at least have some mojo back in the day because I can be a funny guy at times--but the law school and the miserly legal profession have sucked basically all the wind out of my sails, and have caused me to gain weight and don a permanently-overtired, pale complexion.

Come to think of it, janitor is even a more prestigious job, because most places have creative names for their janitors these days (they call them things like "Maintenance Technician" or "Environmental Services Associate" and stuff, which actually conveys the notion that it takes skills to do their job, where as any lobotomized human can do the job of a doc review attorney provided they have a functioning brain stem and can still fog a mirror and inch their index finger down every once in a while to create a "click"). We might have had to deal with gross or physically demanding situations at our jobs if we chose other, blue-collar careers, but at least we'd be able to provide for our kids (or for those of us not married--afford to even go on dates). The inconsistent nature of the work is the worst part about it. Small firm turnover is enormously high, and it makes Biglaw look like a stable job. And in doc review, you can be fired at any minute--for going too fast, going to slow, working too many hours, working not enough hours, asking the wrong question, not asking the right question, the case may suddenly settle, etc. And it may be months before you get picked up on another project.

The problem is, document review and/or shitlaw are so disdained by the "elite" lawyers that they will throw your resume in the trash just for having it on there. It's like stamping a big red "L" for "loser" on your forehead the way the Puritans used to stamp adulterous women in the 1600s. It doesn't matter whether you went to the same law school as these people--you received 0.1 less GPA points, and you're pretty much a loser for life. You build no usable skills, never get any promotions or raises, etc.

The thing is, pretty much 90% of people from TTT schools and at least 50% of people from trap schools, and even 10% or so from "elite" schools consign themselves to this lifestyle for thinking they can climb up the steep slopes of this pyramid. It's amazing how many magna cum laude people from third-tier schools make it in to these places--not to mention people from "Top 20" schools like mine who were outside the top 25%. Even Georgetown manufactures a throng of doc review monkeys each year. Schools will always highlight the handful of graduates who have "made it," hawking their wares like a televangelist on public TV--the greased hair replaced by shiny brochures showing multi-million dollar buildings built on the failed dreams of those that came before. "You too can be like this guy/gal, with just a little hard work, designer résumé paper, and networking!"

The dirty little secret is that, for this pyramid to work, it's completely necessary for the majority of lawyers to constantly be drolling away at the bottom--stepped on, spit at, disregarded, and whipped--doing the pointless shitwork that partners want to bill for but would never, ever do even to save their own lives.

Most of the 20,000-30,000 lawyers who graduate each year with job prospects no better than this pretty much keep this a secret, because it's extremely shameful and embarrassing to explain to the general public that you are a "fancy lawyer" an yet you still managed to figure out a way to fuck it all up. Most people just can't grasp the undeniable math: there's waaaaay to many law grads out there and close to zero good jobs. You can see this phenomenon on most doc reviewer LinkedIn profiles. They come up with countless methods of covering up their failure, such as calling themselves a "solo attorney" or "discovery specialist attorney, esq."--or they just "forget" to update it after they get canned from shitlaw for looking at the partner the wrong way. The reality is that we are all just a glorified click-monkeys for 40 hours per week, building exactly zero skills, except for maybe some skills relating to how to survive in a prison camp without going completely mad.

And even if you do have the courage to admit it, most 0L-types or other members of the non-legal population will assume that you're either a complainer or a unique sort of loser who just could never get on the beam. It's really hard for people to grasp the cold, hard reality that this is still the fate of the majority of lawyers out there. The few that survive this experience usually do so by moving on to a different career and trying to start all over--paying off student loan debt until they die.


Okay. Your long sob stories are starting to get annoying. We get it. Shit.

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ReasonableNprudent
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:51 pm

JCougar wrote:The hardest part about document review isn't the terrible pay and work conditions, nor is it realizing that there's hundreds of underemployed attorneys in mid-sized cities (and thousands in the larger cities) ringing up billable hours for the Biglaw partners, where 20 of us combined don't even make as much per hour as one partner. Hell, there's more JD's from my trap school class on this one project alone than there are at all the NLJ 250 firms in this city combined.

The hardest part is trying to describe the work experience to other people without generating one of two reactions: 1) a terribly sympathetic reaction where people go "awwww...I'm sorry things are so bad for you," and 2) people who flatly disbelieve that you have it so bad and think that you're just not "tough enough." Regarding #1, sympathy just makes things worse, so STFU with your "awwws." Regarding #2, I mean sure, probably working on an assembly line down south with no air conditioning and no union or working as a nurse's aid wiping old people's butts every day is more revolting work (as I've mentioned before, I've done the former myself). But you have to realize that most nurse's aids and assembly line workers--even if they have a medium-sized criminal record and barely graduated high school--have a far superior net asset position than about 80% of law school grads even 5 years after graduation. The thing is, most doc review and shitlaw jobs don't even pay enough to make the interest payments on your school loans. So your asset position actually gets worse as you "move up" in your career. It's a hole you will never ever dig out of, as the people who have bounced around in the gutter of this industry for the last 20-30 years will tell you. "Average" salaries of mid-career attorneys only look good because most of these people are forced to leave the profession by economic necessity before they reach the mid-career stage.

0Ls have no idea of the pyramid nature of the legal industry. You simply don't get hired at any private firm unless the partners can charge and pocket around a 300% premium on your labor. You're there to make profits for the partners, and you do that by billing hour upon endless hour. And when you get too expensive, there's plenty of fresh fish waiting around mired in debt--desperate to just get back to zero net assets. For firms that represent Fortune 500 companies, this works okay for law grads, because you end up making just enough money to get back to square one after about 5 years--which is what is deemed "successful" in this industry. But with smaller firms, this means your pay rate is probably a bit closer to $20/hour--or less, when you factor in all the hours and the fact that you don't get overtime.

Honestly, being a nurse or a CNA would have been a better career decision for most of us. Bricklayer is another profession that pays a lot more than your average lawyer gets when you factor in debt. In fact, some of us on this doc review project routinely challenge the homeless beggar down the street to see if he can make more than us in a day. He usually doesn't beat us out, but when you factor in taxes and loan payments, he actually comes out ahead. See, I can at least play guitar, so I always joke with him that I might become competition soon. Beggars with guitars do much better. Where I volunteer, I represented a guy who worked at a factory making $20/hour. He had a few DUIs on his record and a GED. I mentioned to my coworkers in doc review that I don't even make this much as a lawyer, but they are always ones to look on the bright side--at least I figured out from that which factory to send my resume to.

This is what it comes to kids--beggars make more than most lawyers. And this guy isn't even in Manhattan, where you can clear $30/hour if you have any sort of panache or artistic skills. I have a friend from high school who used to sell weed, skipped college completely, and then became an auto parts sales specialist. He has a wife and only 15 years left on his mortgage--things I will likely never have as long as I live due to my law school debt and unattractive, depressive state. I used to at least have some mojo back in the day because I can be a funny guy at times--but the law school and the miserly legal profession have sucked basically all the wind out of my sails, and have caused me to gain weight and don a permanently-overtired, pale complexion.

Come to think of it, janitor is even a more prestigious job, because most places have creative names for their janitors these days (they call them things like "Maintenance Technician" or "Environmental Services Associate" and stuff, which actually conveys the notion that it takes skills to do their job, where as any lobotomized human can do the job of a doc review attorney provided they have a functioning brain stem and can still fog a mirror and inch their index finger down every once in a while to create a "click"). We might have had to deal with gross or physically demanding situations at our jobs if we chose other, blue-collar careers, but at least we'd be able to provide for our kids (or for those of us not married--afford to even go on dates). The inconsistent nature of the work is the worst part about it. Small firm turnover is enormously high, and it makes Biglaw look like a stable job. And in doc review, you can be fired at any minute--for going too fast, going to slow, working too many hours, working not enough hours, asking the wrong question, not asking the right question, the case may suddenly settle, etc. And it may be months before you get picked up on another project.

The problem is, document review and/or shitlaw are so disdained by the "elite" lawyers that they will throw your resume in the trash just for having it on there. It's like stamping a big red "L" for "loser" on your forehead the way the Puritans used to stamp adulterous women in the 1600s. It doesn't matter whether you went to the same law school as these people--you received 0.1 less GPA points, and you're pretty much a loser for life. You build no usable skills, never get any promotions or raises, etc.

The thing is, pretty much 90% of people from TTT schools and at least 50% of people from trap schools, and even 10% or so from "elite" schools consign themselves to this lifestyle for thinking they can climb up the steep slopes of this pyramid. It's amazing how many magna cum laude people from third-tier schools make it in to these places--not to mention people from "Top 20" schools like mine who were outside the top 25%. Even Georgetown manufactures a throng of doc review monkeys each year. Schools will always highlight the handful of graduates who have "made it," hawking their wares like a televangelist on public TV--the greased hair replaced by shiny brochures showing multi-million dollar buildings built on the failed dreams of those that came before. "You too can be like this guy/gal, with just a little hard work, designer résumé paper, and networking!"

The dirty little secret is that, for this pyramid to work, it's completely necessary for the majority of lawyers to constantly be drolling away at the bottom--stepped on, spit at, disregarded, and whipped--doing the pointless shitwork that partners want to bill for but would never, ever do even to save their own lives.

Most of the 20,000-30,000 lawyers who graduate each year with job prospects no better than this pretty much keep this a secret, because it's extremely shameful and embarrassing to explain to the general public that you are a "fancy lawyer" an yet you still managed to figure out a way to fuck it all up. Most people just can't grasp the undeniable math: there's waaaaay to many law grads out there and close to zero good jobs. You can see this phenomenon on most doc reviewer LinkedIn profiles. They come up with countless methods of covering up their failure, such as calling themselves a "solo attorney" or "discovery specialist attorney, esq."--or they just "forget" to update it after they get canned from shitlaw for looking at the partner the wrong way. The reality is that we are all just a glorified click-monkeys for 40 hours per week, building exactly zero skills, except for maybe some skills relating to how to survive in a prison camp without going completely mad.

And even if you do have the courage to admit it, most 0L-types or other members of the non-legal population will assume that you're either a complainer or a unique sort of loser who just could never get on the beam. It's really hard for people to grasp the cold, hard reality that this is still the fate of the majority of lawyers out there. The few that survive this experience usually do so by moving on to a different career and trying to start all over--paying off student loan debt until they die.


Dude, have you considered Zoloft? Prozac? Wellbutrin? Lexapro? Or any of the others available? I get you think your life sucks, but is droning on about it really what you want to do with your spare time? Maybe you should get a hobby, join a gym, take martial arts, or otherwise do something to better yourself and improve your disposition. Yes. I realize I may be giving you more fodder to add to the narrative (e.g. "People just don't get it. They sometimes judge and blame you for feeling sorry for yourself."). But it doesn't have to be that way, dude.

True, you may never get out of student loan debt. But your complexion and weight and disposition are fixable, and until you fix these things you may forever be un-promotable and unattractive to employers and the opposite sex. At some point the line begins to be blurred as to whether circumstance drives perception, or the other way around. In your case it seems like you can only fix one of those two in the short term. If you do fix the perception (or at least the disposition) you have a fighting chance at the rest. If you don't fix the disposition the reality will likely never improve. To look at it in a less New Age light, you might as well do what little you can to fix the things that are fixable and improve your existence.

Someone mentioned the Serenity Prayer once ITT, and though I don't think it is the answer to all your problems the gist of it is a start.

Someone else once told me that the thing about sitting in your shit is that it kind of has a warm squishy feeling. The thing is you walk around smelling like shit.

I'm not really sure if you think you are doing the Lord's work by attempting to fend off 0Ls. If that's all it is then maybe you are less of an "Eeyore" in real life. But if go around thinking and feeling like is reflected in your very long narrative, replicated over and over, then you really aren't doing yourself any favors. If this really is your disposition, I don't think it is law that is the problem and you would probably not be satisfied doing anything. And I can relate to your constant dissatisfaction, feelings of failure and having made grave missteps, and even hopelessness. But it doesn't have to be that way.

There is a happier life waiting for you. Even if you can't shake law, doc review, and debt.

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JCougar
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:47 pm

ReasonableNprudent wrote:Someone mentioned the Serenity Prayer once ITT, and though I don't think it is the answer to all your problems the gist of it is a start.


That was me.

I'm not really sure if you think you are doing the Lord's work by attempting to fend off 0Ls. If that's all it is then maybe you are less of an "Eeyore" in real life.


I have more of a sense of humor than you might think, but what I'm saying really isn't all that inaccurate. I would have a hard time convincing myself that going to nursing school wouldn't have been a better financial investment for about 70-80% of law grads. Or even bricklayer--for that, you don't even have to deal with undergrad debt. My girlfriend from college is marrying a bricklayer--he has a much nicer house than I will ever have. When you factor in the debt, law school really is a terrible and financially ruinous decision for most.

The bottom line is that law works within an adversarial system. Law schools for decades have tried to paint a picture far more hyperbolic and melodramatic than mine, except in a different direction. People should at least be exposed to an opposing view. Only a very small number of attorneys become wealthy. Attrition rates are high, and even attorneys that gradated 20 years ago are still struggling with school loans. They've tried to "sexy up" the legal profession by showing well-heeled, handsome/beautiful lawyers in movies, poetically arguing cases in perfectly-manicured courtrooms doing god's work at achieving justice. But lawyers don't do this--especially in Biglaw. The practice of law consists mostly of reading through, generating, and editing reams of hyper-technical and/or repetitive drivel--a lot of which is so pointless that no one will ever read, with a lot if it being generated solely to bog the other side down in frustrating makework--often at pay rates far lower than professions that don't even require a graduate degree. You spend between 90-99% of your day in front of a computer, and you're extremely lucky to just break even financially.

Law isn't sexy, nor is it very lucrative. The closest you'll get to arguing something in court is in the mock courtroom in your law school. And the closest you'll ever get to breaking even financially and being happy is as an 0L. It only goes downhill from there.
Last edited by JCougar on Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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BiglawAssociate
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby BiglawAssociate » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:36 am

Desert Fox wrote:
Moneytrees wrote:It's common for an associate to work in Biglaw for what, maybe 4 or 5 years? That's a long time to be working in a stressful and arduous environment, no doubt. But wouldn't it be possible to pay off most of your loans by that point (or at least a sizeable chunk of them)? This seems particularly true if you didn't pay sticker, of course.

At the 4 or 5 year mark, with your debt being slashed, you would probably have some pretty decent options to lateral to. Presumably, you could be debt free (or close to it) and land a solid, less stressful position in your early 30's. That's not ideal, and is certainly not a quick way to get rich, but it doesn't seem like a travesty.


4-5 is long. 40% the 3rd years at my firm are gone.

4 years, with 200k at 6.8% is 4,770.71 dollars every month. And 200k is like 2/3rd of sticker these days. That would still be over 50% of my take home pay. It's really not possible. I actually tried for 6 months. I put ~7k a month towards loans December til June of last year. And that's with a wife supporting my ass. It wasn't sustainable.


I paid down my loans within the first 2.75 years of biglaw (after having taken out like high 100ks in loans).

I sacrified a shitload though - I commuted and had roommates (so much lower rent), lived like a pauper, barely had any expenses, got free furniture, and never paid for travel anywhere. I also worked a shitload, especially my first year (was billing like 60 hours a month on average) so barely had time to do anything. I also dress like shit and don't buy expensive clothes.

Just glad I didn't marry another dumb fuck with loans.

This shit ain't worth it.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Pumpkin-Duke of Pie » Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:27 pm

BiglawAssociate wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
Moneytrees wrote:It's common for an associate to work in Biglaw for what, maybe 4 or 5 years? That's a long time to be working in a stressful and arduous environment, no doubt. But wouldn't it be possible to pay off most of your loans by that point (or at least a sizeable chunk of them)? This seems particularly true if you didn't pay sticker, of course.

At the 4 or 5 year mark, with your debt being slashed, you would probably have some pretty decent options to lateral to. Presumably, you could be debt free (or close to it) and land a solid, less stressful position in your early 30's. That's not ideal, and is certainly not a quick way to get rich, but it doesn't seem like a travesty.


4-5 is long. 40% the 3rd years at my firm are gone.

4 years, with 200k at 6.8% is 4,770.71 dollars every month. And 200k is like 2/3rd of sticker these days. That would still be over 50% of my take home pay. It's really not possible. I actually tried for 6 months. I put ~7k a month towards loans December til June of last year. And that's with a wife supporting my ass. It wasn't sustainable.


I paid down my loans within the first 2.75 years of biglaw (after having taken out like high 100ks in loans).

I sacrified a shitload though - I commuted and had roommates (so much lower rent), lived like a pauper, barely had any expenses, got free furniture, and never paid for travel anywhere. I also worked a shitload, especially my first year (was billing like 60 hours a month on average) so barely had time to do anything. I also dress like shit and don't buy expensive clothes.

Just glad I didn't marry another dumb fuck with loans.

This shit ain't worth it.

Crazy how the majority, or at least the most outspoken, of attorneys working in BigLawl say the same things. Yet people always think they're going to be the exception. Not to get all BruceWayne here, even though there's a lot of truth to what he says, but this is it, kids.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:50 pm

BiglawAssociate wrote:This shit ain't worth it.

This is basically the TLDR for most legal work.

Pumpkin-Duke of Pie wrote:Crazy how the majority, or at least the most outspoken, of attorneys working in BigLawl say the same things.

Funny how that works, eh?

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JCougar
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:16 pm

The real crazy thing is that they turned at least 100 unemployed attorneys down for this doc review project. I got on despite having a volunteer job somewhere else. I guess I am one of the "lucky ones" who doesn't have to ride it out on unemployment this month. :D

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby jepper » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:48 pm

Dude stop writing these posts. They are so depressing that no one, or at least not a large portion, of people are going to believe you. And there has to be a million better things to do with your time than writing these novels that only further erode any self confidence you may have left. Doing anything else would be a better use of your time than this self pity shit.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby smaug » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:55 pm

These posts are great.

jepper wrote:Dude stop writing these posts. They are so depressing that no one, or at least not a large portion, of people are going to believe you. And there has to be a million better things to do with your time than writing these novels that only further erode any self confidence you may have left. Doing anything else would be a better use of your time than this self pity shit.


Maybe you should thoughtfully consider what the man is saying.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby jepper » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:02 pm

Jason Taverner wrote:These posts are great.

jepper wrote:Dude stop writing these posts. They are so depressing that no one, or at least not a large portion, of people are going to believe you. And there has to be a million better things to do with your time than writing these novels that only further erode any self confidence you may have left. Doing anything else would be a better use of your time than this self pity shit.


Maybe you should thoughtfully consider what the man is saying.


I have definitely done this. His posts have almost given me nightmares and I am not discounting what he is saying. My point is that if you aren't where you want to be, what good is it to sit around talking about how bad it sucks. I feel for the guy, I really do. But as long as he sits here and posts this shit he is gonna be in the same position tomorrow - and probably even ten years from now- that he is in today.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:07 pm

Why isn't all doc review done remotely? Biglaw associates do it on a remote VM service. I'm sure the turds (what we call doc reviewers in biglaw) could do it too. You could then move to middle of nowhere.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:46 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Why isn't all doc review done remotely? Biglaw associates do it on a remote VM service. I'm sure the turds (what we call doc reviewers in biglaw) could do it too. You could then move to middle of nowhere.


Data security (a lot of the docs are confidential, and they don't want them leaving the "room"). You're not even allowed to enter another room to talk to your friend if they are on a different project, because you haven't signed whatever confidentiality agreement that pertains to their set of docs.

Otherwise, you probably could, but they already cram you in so tight into whatever clearance-sale office space they can find that there's just not that much overhead in creating a real office. The tech support/IT headaches from people trying to access the docs remotely would just be too much of a headache.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby sparty99 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:51 pm

Jason Taverner wrote:These posts are great.

jepper wrote:Dude stop writing these posts. They are so depressing that no one, or at least not a large portion, of people are going to believe you. And there has to be a million better things to do with your time than writing these novels that only further erode any self confidence you may have left. Doing anything else would be a better use of your time than this self pity shit.


Maybe you should thoughtfully consider what the man is saying.


This dude is a loser. When did he graduate? He has been doing doc review. Okay. Whatever. Fine. But if your legal options are shitty then its up to you to do something else. Go into business or find a job as a prosecutor. But to continue to go on about your shitty job and the shitty industry is not productive. We get it.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Capitol_Idea » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:55 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Why isn't all doc review done remotely? Biglaw associates do it on a remote VM service. I'm sure the turds (what we call doc reviewers in biglaw) could do it too. You could then move to middle of nowhere.


(Former Discovery Consultant who managed doc reviews here) Firms generally don't trust doc reviewers - they're not 'real people,' after all. Hence, close supervision. However, something close to what you suggest is already happening - doc review centers are moving away from major city centers. Orrick has a major doc review operation in West Virginia. My former company is doing a lot of doc review shipping to Florida, I think. If you can get people to move to the middle of nowhere where the COL is lower, you can justify paying them even less (nevermind that their law school debt is still the same).

I am sadly not surprised at the hostility at JCougar (who I think is absolutely right, by the way). If you are one of the lucky ones who gets into a good school, does well on a forced curve, and lands a BigLaw job in a major market, you'll be lucky to pay off your debt inside of 5 years (unless you got a sweet scholarship, but fuck those guys). Even then, you've worked in a very narrow field, with limited general utility, just to get back to zero net worth - and by this point you're nearing the end of your BigLaw career. The 'up or out' mentality is alive and well in many places, and if you stay it's a mixed bag as to whether you'll end up in a position you like (Service partners, Of Counsel, and permanent associates can have a very wide range of pay to crushing workload ratio). Making partner is extremely improbable - few people can do it.

BUT STILL - people go to law school because they look at these figure and think 'how sad for THEM.' Everyone thinks they'll be part of the top 10% that makes it. But when EVEN many in that 10% are in a soul-crushing job with large amounts of debt and no long-term career plan, there's a sign that the system is in trouble.

I am in law school now. I took a long time to come to that decision (6+ years out of undergrad) because I wanted to be damn sure it was the right move. I have been extremely fortunate to get into a good school, get good grades, and will be going on to a good firm. But that doesn't mean that the road ahead is easy, or that anyone could get where I am, even with the same or greater intelligence, work ethic, etc. as me. Doing it again, *I* probably would slip up at any number of points and end up somewhere different.

If you really, really want to be a lawyer, then go to law school. But for God's sake understand what you are getting into. The debt, the type of work you'll realistically be doing, the odds of getting hired in the first place - all of this info is out there and available for you to chart your personal course. But don't for a minute believe that the course is simply '1. Go to law school, 2. ????? 3. Profit' Maybe once upon a time, but not anymore.




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