JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

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

Postby JCougar » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:58 pm

jepper wrote: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.


It's actually possible to work two jobs (one for the resume, one for the rent), apply to additional jobs, network, and post something on the internet once every few days.

I only started doing this two weeks ago to make some money for the time being. I just thought 0Ls would find this informative/amusing.

Also, the point isn't to be nightmarish for the sake of being nightmarish. The point is to reflect the nightmare reality that the majority of law grads face, especially once OCI is over and they don't have a job lined up. Most people who end up like this are too ashamed and self-conscious to post about it on the internet--especially on TLS. So it's somewhat of a unique opportunity for people who read this thread to find out how you're really treated and regarded for finishing 0.1 GPA points away from latin honors.

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

Postby Capitol_Idea » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:02 pm

TL;DR version - you idiots don't want to listen to JCougar because it's sad? This means either A. you think it can't happen to you because you're special snowflakes who have it all figured out or B. you just don't like hearing potential bad news.

If B, you're an utter idiot and you deserve law school. Good luck.

If A, you are misguided and that is what places like TLS is trying to help educate people on. Shit be hard. Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones, but unless you are very, very, smart and self-aware, and connected, AND get a sizeable scholarship at a good school, I wouldn't bet my financial future on it.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby AReasonableMan » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:06 pm

sparty99 wrote:
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.

I don't think the reply is correct.

JCougar: You are a very good writer. It also comes across as though you generally want to help people not make what you believe was your mistake. Everyone needs a purpose in life, and you seem to be trying to help people more than making yourself feel better about your situation.

I disagree with the meds suggestion. If you're functioning theres no need to drug yourself. Your mood makes sense given your situation.

There has to be something better you can do outside of law.

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

Postby JCougar » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:15 pm

I'd also like to say that DF is absolutely right. You are treated like a turd, and I wouldn't take a comment like that personally. It reflects the reality of the situation--the rampant elitism that drives one set of attorneys to treat a different set of attorneys like sub-human garbage.

The scariest things are the people that have been doing this for 20 years, and have had their loan debt triple during that time period because they never have enough money to even pay the interest. They all have stories about the client luring you in with a "three month project" and then they cut the cord after a few weeks by mass e-mailing everyone the minute they walk out the door on a Friday--and then it's straight back to the unemployment line. Don't ever leave any of your personal belongings at your desk, because the minute the project is over, your access card to the building is shut off and you won't be let back in. If you complain too much, you get blacklisted, and you don't get offered any more projects. Like I said, there were 100 or so people that actually got turned down for this one. That's how desperate people are for work in this field.

It's like a vortex that pulls you in. If you aren't doing something at least decent on the side, the second you put doc review on your resume, you mostly sink your chances of ever landing a real job. That's the best motivation there is to find my way out of this mess as quickly as possible, before the floor really starts caving in. Luckily, I have enough experience and connections in my old industry where I have that option to go back to if it becomes impossible to get something decent in law. But a lot of others, especially K-JDs, don't have that option.
Last edited by JCougar on Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby bearsfan23 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:19 pm

JCougar wrote:I'd also like to say that DF is absolutely right. You are treated like a turd, and I wouldn't take a comment like that personally. It reflects the reality of the situation--the rampant elitism that drives one set of attorneys to treat a different set of attorneys like sub-human garbage.

The scariest things are the people that have been doing this for 20 years, and have had their loan debt triple during that time period because they never have enough money to even pay the interest. They all have stories about the client luring you in with a "three month project" and then they cut the cord after a few weeks by mass e-mailing everyone the minute they walk out the door on a Friday. Don't ever leave any of your personal belongings at your desk, because the minute the project is over, your access card to the building is shut off and you won't be let back in.

It's like a vortex that pulls you in. If you aren't doing something at least decent on the side, the second you put doc review on your resume, you mostly sink your chances of ever landing a real job. That's the best motivation there is to find my way out of this mess as quickly as possible, before the floor really starts caving in. Luckily, I have enough experience and connections in my old industry where I have that option to go back to if it becomes impossible to get something decent in law. But a lot of others, especially K-JDs, don't have that option.


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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:42 pm

Also, one more thing. There's plenty of former Biglaw people being staffed on these doc review projects. It's certainly not a majority, nor a plurality, but it's a non-negligible chunk of people. The plurality of the people are people that were axed from their personal injury/insurance defense small firms for "getting too expensive to pay." (Keep in mind that people who got these kinds of jobs are part of the ~50% or so that law schools brag about placing into FT, LT, JD-required positions).

A few of these biglaw grads only lasted a year or so. Some lasted longer. It's impossible to really figure out who fucked their one opportunity up, and who simply got "let go" due to economic necessity at the firm. But like I said, doc review is so bad that 5 months of it on your resume pretty much cancels out 5 years at an elite firm, so if you're up n' outed, you better have a Plan B in place pretty quick, or come up with some other lie to put on your resume to describe what you've actually been doing for the past X amount of time.

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

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:04 pm

I'm starting a new thread. It's called "Doc Review Exit Stories." Because I'm curious.

Edit: Here it is.
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=245640


Please don't hijack, JCoug.

sparty99
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby sparty99 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:21 pm

ReasonableNprudent wrote:I'm starting a new thread. It's called "Doc Review Exit Stories." Because I'm curious.

Edit: Here it is.
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=245640


Please don't hijack, JCoug.


My classmate landed Assistant Attorney AG after doing Doc Review for 3 months or so. JCougar is a swan song...."Woe is me."

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:28 pm

Doc review is poison on your resume, but you can always just not list if it's 3 months or so.

If I got flushed into teh turd bowl, I'd try to find some sort part-time legal job or volunteer gig (that doesn't have volunteer in the name).

Doc review 1 year = unemployable

Fellow at WeHateMen 501c3 = one year of LEGAL practice! Even if you just spent 15 hours a week telling chicks how to collect money from deadbeat dads.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby ReasonableNprudent » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:34 pm

Lol @ WeHateMen 501c3.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby starry eyed » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:07 pm

JCougar wrote:Also, one more thing. There's plenty of former Biglaw people being staffed on these doc review projects. It's certainly not a majority, nor a plurality, but it's a non-negligible chunk of people. The plurality of the people are people that were axed from their personal injury/insurance defense small firms for "getting too expensive to pay." (Keep in mind that people who got these kinds of jobs are part of the ~50% or so that law schools brag about placing into FT, LT, JD-required positions).

A few of these biglaw grads only lasted a year or so. Some lasted longer. It's impossible to really figure out who fucked their one opportunity up, and who simply got "let go" due to economic necessity at the firm. But like I said, doc review is so bad that 5 months of it on your resume pretty much cancels out 5 years at an elite firm, so if you're up n' outed, you better have a Plan B in place pretty quick, or come up with some other lie to put on your resume to describe what you've actually been doing for the past X amount of time.


I would like to know about this ie. small law economics. As an assciate becomes experienced and demands more pay, do they get axed? If so, where do they go? Seems like there should be a pretty huge unemployed population of 1-3 year experience attorneys.

if i was a partner i would just keep replacing them with cheap fresh grads.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:50 pm

starry eyed wrote:
JCougar wrote:Also, one more thing. There's plenty of former Biglaw people being staffed on these doc review projects. It's certainly not a majority, nor a plurality, but it's a non-negligible chunk of people. The plurality of the people are people that were axed from their personal injury/insurance defense small firms for "getting too expensive to pay." (Keep in mind that people who got these kinds of jobs are part of the ~50% or so that law schools brag about placing into FT, LT, JD-required positions).

A few of these biglaw grads only lasted a year or so. Some lasted longer. It's impossible to really figure out who fucked their one opportunity up, and who simply got "let go" due to economic necessity at the firm. But like I said, doc review is so bad that 5 months of it on your resume pretty much cancels out 5 years at an elite firm, so if you're up n' outed, you better have a Plan B in place pretty quick, or come up with some other lie to put on your resume to describe what you've actually been doing for the past X amount of time.


I would like to know about this ie. small law economics. As an assciate becomes experienced and demands more pay, do they get axed? If so, where do they go? Seems like there should be a pretty huge unemployed population of 1-3 year experience attorneys.

if i was a partner i would just keep replacing them with cheap fresh grads.


Insurance defense is probably the #1 example of this. It's one of the few areas of law that actually hires new law grads more than just sporadically. However, the margins are very low and the work is unusually rote and repetitive (and thus you can get "up to speed" pretty quickly). This combination of factors makes a fresh law grad willing to slave away working Biglaw hours for $40-80K/year ($40K is the best I've heard of in mid-sized cities, $60K is a lot more common in the larger cities...I heard one guy tell me he was making $80K doing this as a first-year, but I'm skeptical...maybe others can chime in on this) the best investment--but since experience doesn't make you all that much more valuable (you've learned all you need to know after a month or two), there's really no reason to keep people on as they continue to demand raises for more experience.

Lots of other bankruptcy/slip-n'-fall mills (if you're in the Chicago area, think Peter Frances Geraci), and even some plaintiff's labor & employment mills use this kind of model.

While it's possible to use this experience to network into better places, this is the rare exception rather than the rule. This work is seen as extremely un-sexy by firms actually worth working at, and generally, the life cycle of someone who starts out in this area consists of bouncing from one shitlaw firm to another, each time starting out at the same entry-level salary, and then doing doc review in between getting fired and getting hired at another one. Maybe you would mix in some low-level state government work in between in the past, but due to tight state budgets and high demand for these jobs now that PSLF has been passed, it's hard to even lateral into this.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby starry eyed » Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:04 pm

JCougar wrote:
starry eyed wrote:
JCougar wrote:Also, one more thing. There's plenty of former Biglaw people being staffed on these doc review projects. It's certainly not a majority, nor a plurality, but it's a non-negligible chunk of people. The plurality of the people are people that were axed from their personal injury/insurance defense small firms for "getting too expensive to pay." (Keep in mind that people who got these kinds of jobs are part of the ~50% or so that law schools brag about placing into FT, LT, JD-required positions).

A few of these biglaw grads only lasted a year or so. Some lasted longer. It's impossible to really figure out who fucked their one opportunity up, and who simply got "let go" due to economic necessity at the firm. But like I said, doc review is so bad that 5 months of it on your resume pretty much cancels out 5 years at an elite firm, so if you're up n' outed, you better have a Plan B in place pretty quick, or come up with some other lie to put on your resume to describe what you've actually been doing for the past X amount of time.


I would like to know about this ie. small law economics. As an assciate becomes experienced and demands more pay, do they get axed? If so, where do they go? Seems like there should be a pretty huge unemployed population of 1-3 year experience attorneys.

if i was a partner i would just keep replacing them with cheap fresh grads.


Insurance defense is probably the #1 example of this. It's one of the few areas of law that actually hires new law grads more than just sporadically. However, the margins are very low and the work is unusually rote and repetitive (and thus you can get "up to speed" pretty quickly). This combination of factors makes a fresh law grad willing to slave away working Biglaw hours for $40-80K/year ($40K is the best I've heard of in mid-sized cities, $60K is a lot more common in the larger cities...I heard one guy tell me he was making $80K doing this as a first-year, but I'm skeptical...maybe others can chime in on this) the best investment--but since experience doesn't make you all that much more valuable (you've learned all you need to know after a month or two), there's really no reason to keep people on as they continue to demand raises for more experience.

Lots of other bankruptcy/slip-n'-fall mills (if you're in the Chicago area, think Peter Frances Geraci), and even some plaintiff's labor & employment mills use this kind of model.

While it's possible to use this experience to network into better places, this is the rare exception rather than the rule. This work is seen as extremely un-sexy by firms actually worth working at, and generally, the life cycle of someone who starts out in this area consists of bouncing from one shitlaw firm to another, each time starting out at the same entry-level salary, and then doing doc review in between getting fired and getting hired at another one. Maybe you would mix in some low-level state government work in between in the past, but due to tight state budgets and high demand for these jobs now that PSLF has been passed, it's hard to even lateral into this.


thanks for this... as much as people like to blast you on here, you've been more informative than pretty much everyone and very willingly too.

you seem pretty bright and appear to have business knowledge, why don't you just hang a shingle?

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:48 pm

starry eyed wrote:you seem pretty bright and appear to have business knowledge, why don't you just hang a shingle?


Thanks. Hanging out a shingle is very tough. The toughest part isn't screwing stuff up and/or paying for malpractice insurance like a lot of people think. Handling cases is actually pretty easy--easy enough that like 80% of law grads could figure out how to do at least some level of shitlaw and scrape by at about $50K per year--if they could find anyone to teach them (and, of course, assuming that there was actually enough of a market out there to demand all these services--which there isn't).

But that's the real problem...finding someone to teach you how to do it. Law school itself is virtually useless in this regard, as most of your time is spent briefing the facts of 100 year old cases that nobody uses anymore and then regurgitating what happened to your professor the next day. This is the kind of ivory tower circle jerk you're paying $200K for. And law firms and government agencies don't want to pay you while you learn, even though it would barely cost them anything. But if the legal industry replaced the third year of law school with like a year-long apprenticeship program, almost all law students would be prepared to start their own practices by the end of the year. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to run your average law firm. Not everyone is cut out for huge securities cases or commercial law cases, etc., but a lot of areas of law are fairly simple in that your average TTT grad would do fine if he or she were just able to find someone to properly train them.

And then the second problem is establishing your presence in the market. This takes more advertising dollars than virtually all law grads have at their disposal. And good luck getting a small business loan with $200K of school debt. "Attorney" and "lawyer" are #4 and #6 respectively on the list of most expensive Google adwords, and "mesothelioma" and "personal injury" are not far behind. And anyone will tell you that Yellow Pages ads are basically like throwing your money down the drain these days. You get clients from Google and word-of-mouth, and for the latter, you need prior clients referring others. It can be done, but it takes a very long time.

What people have to remember is that the economic dynamics of the legal job market are a lot different than most other professions. A lot of firms bill by the hour, so there's a lot of pressure to amp up the "prestige" of the actual work you do so that you can charge a higher billing rate--while at the same time inventing bales and bales of monkey work and makework to keep more and more prestigious attorneys busy. Even the most menial tasks are dubbed "legal work" so that they can be billed out at a higher rate because a "prestigious attorney" is doing it...even when most novice paralegals could do a similar job.

So what you end up having is a lot of work to do where almost anyone could do it after a few months on the job, and yet there's no need for having people with tons of experience work on it simply because they demand more pay and a nearly fresh grad could do the same job. That's where you get the disposable associate. Hire a bunch of people, churn 'em and burn 'em, and hire new ones. Who cares what happens to the ones that you conveniently "don't have enough work for" when they get expensive? Biglaw artificially restricts labor supply by setting arbitrary "GPA cutoffs" and pretends like only a small percentage of people can do the work--and this ups starting salaries. But there's no one looking out for the people who miss out on this opportunity. The labor supply is nearly infinite, and people are basically begging for volunteer jobs.

See, in other industries, businesses hire you, expect to pay a little bit for your training, and help you grow into your role by slowly promoting you up the ladder. This kind of loyalty has faded a bit after globalization, but it's still somewhat true. Only in the legal industry are fresh grads berated for not knowing anything and told "we can't afford to pay for your training--go volunteer somewhere for a few years while the interest on your debt spirals out of control, and get back to us."

I wouldn't have a problem with any of this if law school tuition wasn't such a huge scam. I mean, if any generation needs some hazing and some obstacles to overcome, it's this one. If any generation needs to experience shitty unfairness and learn to grind through it regardless, it's this one. That's not the sinister thing about it. You'll never hear me complain about the expected workload personally, either in law school or as an associate at a firm. I expect to work 60 hour weeks, etc. I like it...I left my old job because I hated being bored all the time with nothing to do. No, the evil and sinister thing about all this is saddling people with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for a nearly useless three years in the prime of their lives, knowing that there's absolutely no way over half of them will ever repay it--ever. So there's two solutions: 1) reduce law school tuition by 75% across the board, so if you burn out, your life isn't financially over, and 2) cut the number of law grads in half from where it is right now, so like medical school, there's a much better alignment between the number of people who graduate and the number of legitimate jobs out there.

These problems and obvious solutions have been very clear for at least 10 years, if not more. And yet there's only been a few fringey-type changes. And law school tuition continues to skyrocket. So it's patently clear that the "leaders" in this industry simply do not give a fuck.

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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby starry eyed » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:57 pm

JCougar wrote:
starry eyed wrote:you seem pretty bright and appear to have business knowledge, why don't you just hang a shingle?


Thanks. Hanging out a shingle is very tough. The toughest part isn't screwing stuff up and/or paying for malpractice insurance like a lot of people think. Handling cases is actually pretty easy--easy enough that like 80% of law grads could figure out how to do at least some level of shitlaw and scrape by at about $50K per year--if they could find anyone to teach them (and, of course, assuming that there was actually enough of a market out there to demand all these services--which there isn't).

But that's the real problem...finding someone to teach you how to do it. Law school itself is virtually useless in this regard, as most of your time is spent briefing the facts of 100 year old cases that nobody uses anymore and then regurgitating what happened to your professor the next day. This is the kind of ivory tower circle jerk you're paying $200K for. And law firms and government agencies don't want to pay you while you learn, even though it would barely cost them anything. But if the legal industry replaced the third year of law school with like a year-long apprenticeship program, almost all law students would be prepared to start their own practices by the end of the year. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to run your average law firm. Not everyone is cut out for huge securities cases or commercial law cases, etc., but a lot of areas of law are fairly simple in that your average TTT grad would do fine if he or she were just able to find someone to properly train them.

And then the second problem is establishing your presence in the market. This takes more advertising dollars than virtually all law grads have at their disposal. And good luck getting a small business loan with $200K of school debt. "Attorney" and "lawyer" are #4 and #6 respectively on the list of most expensive Google adwords, and "mesothelioma" and "personal injury" are not far behind. And anyone will tell you that Yellow Pages ads are basically like throwing your money down the drain these days. You get clients from Google and word-of-mouth, and for the latter, you need prior clients referring others. It can be done, but it takes a very long time.

What people have to remember is that the economic dynamics of the legal job market are a lot different than most other professions. A lot of firms bill by the hour, so there's a lot of pressure to amp up the "prestige" of the actual work you do so that you can charge a higher billing rate--while at the same time inventing bales and bales of monkey work and makework to keep more and more prestigious attorneys busy. Even the most menial tasks are dubbed "legal work" so that they can be billed out at a higher rate because a "prestigious attorney" is doing it...even when most novice paralegals could do a similar job.

So what you end up having is a lot of work to do where almost anyone could do it after a few months on the job, and yet there's no need for having people with tons of experience work on it simply because they demand more pay and a nearly fresh grad could do the same job. That's where you get the disposable associate. Hire a bunch of people, churn 'em and burn 'em, and hire new ones. Who cares what happens to the ones that you conveniently "don't have enough work for" when they get expensive? Biglaw artificially restricts labor supply by setting arbitrary "GPA cutoffs" and pretends like only a small percentage of people can do the work--and this ups starting salaries. But there's no one looking out for the people who miss out on this opportunity. The labor supply is nearly infinite, and people are basically begging for volunteer jobs.

See, in other industries, businesses hire you, expect to pay a little bit for your training, and help you grow into your role by slowly promoting you up the ladder. This kind of loyalty has faded a bit after globalization, but it's still somewhat true. Only in the legal industry are fresh grads berated for not knowing anything and told "we can't afford to pay for your training--go volunteer somewhere for a few years while the interest on your debt spirals out of control, and get back to us."

I wouldn't have a problem with any of this if law school tuition wasn't such a huge scam. I mean, if any generation needs some hazing and some obstacles to overcome, it's this one. If any generation needs to experience shitty unfairness and learn to grind through it regardless, it's this one. That's not the sinister thing about it. You'll never hear me complain about the expected workload personally, either in law school or as an associate at a firm. I expect to work 60 hour weeks, etc. I like it...I left my old job because I hated being bored all the time with nothing to do. No, the evil and sinister thing about all this is saddling people with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for a nearly useless three years in the prime of their lives, knowing that there's absolutely no way over half of them will ever repay it--ever. So there's two solutions: 1) reduce law school tuition by 75% across the board, so if you burn out, your life isn't financially over, and 2) cut the number of law grads in half from where it is right now, so like medical school, there's a much better alignment between the number of people who graduate and the number of legitimate jobs out there.

These problems and obvious solutions have been very clear for at least 10 years, if not more. And yet there's only been a few fringey-type changes. And law school tuition continues to skyrocket. So it's patently clear that the "leaders" in this industry simply do not give a fuck.


totally makes sense about the prestige and billable hour correlation... when you put it like that, the whole law school prestige US news ranking circle jerk is understandable

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

Postby lumpkin » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:53 pm

OP is probably the most honest and most informed poster here. I remember when I first applied to law school in 2007, UVA had 65% in top paying law jobs. I also got accepted. Last I checked it was 40% or so. Also most people don't realize how much the government tacks on. To go to UVA now you pay 165k just in tuition +90k living, book and other expenses that's 255k the government will tack on at least 100k in interest, fees, compounded interest, that's 355k. A kid 22, 23 years old doesn't understand how crushing that is. That's a house you can't live in.

sparty99
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby sparty99 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:20 am

lumpkin wrote:OP is probably the most honest and most informed poster here. I remember when I first applied to law school in 2007, UVA had 65% in top paying law jobs. I also got accepted. Last I checked it was 40% or so. Also most people don't realize how much the government tacks on. To go to UVA now you pay 165k just in tuition +90k living, book and other expenses that's 255k the government will tack on at least 100k in interest, fees, compounded interest, that's 355k. A kid 22, 23 years old doesn't understand how crushing that is. That's a house you can't live in.


The problem with OP is OP. He graduated in 2013 from Wash U but is still doing doc review. While the legal job market is weak, he is almost two years from graduation. One might wonder why someone can't find a job in 2 years. Did the OP miss out on all the Attorney General, City Attorney, Prosecutor, Public Defender, Personal Injury legal jobs? Is there a reason why the OP couldn't get a circuit court clerkship? Is there a reason why after 2 years, the OP hasn't left the legal field and gone into something else? Is there a reason why in 2 years, the OP didn't start his own firm? Yes, it is not easy. But has the OP even tried? I know several classmates who started their own firm. The job market is depressing, but the most depressing thing is the OP.

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

Postby Julius » Sat Mar 28, 2015 9:50 am

sparty99 wrote:
lumpkin wrote:OP is probably the most honest and most informed poster here. I remember when I first applied to law school in 2007, UVA had 65% in top paying law jobs. I also got accepted. Last I checked it was 40% or so. Also most people don't realize how much the government tacks on. To go to UVA now you pay 165k just in tuition +90k living, book and other expenses that's 255k the government will tack on at least 100k in interest, fees, compounded interest, that's 355k. A kid 22, 23 years old doesn't understand how crushing that is. That's a house you can't live in.


The problem with OP is OP. He graduated in 2013 from Wash U but is still doing doc review. While the legal job market is weak, he is almost two years from graduation. One might wonder why someone can't find a job in 2 years. Did the OP miss out on all the Attorney General, City Attorney, Prosecutor, Public Defender, Personal Injury legal jobs? Is there a reason why the OP couldn't get a circuit court clerkship? Is there a reason why after 2 years, the OP hasn't left the legal field and gone into something else? Is there a reason why in 2 years, the OP didn't start his own firm? Yes, it is not easy. But has the OP even tried? I know several classmates who started their own firm. The job market is depressing, but the most depressing thing is the OP.


J Coug, have you thought about just doing a COA clerkship? McKinsey is also an option. HTH

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

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:20 am

lumpkin wrote:OP is probably the most honest and most informed poster here. I remember when I first applied to law school in 2007, UVA had 65% in top paying law jobs. I also got accepted. Last I checked it was 40% or so. Also most people don't realize how much the government tacks on. To go to UVA now you pay 165k just in tuition +90k living, book and other expenses that's 255k the government will tack on at least 100k in interest, fees, compounded interest, that's 355k. A kid 22, 23 years old doesn't understand how crushing that is. That's a house you can't live in.


Median salary is 160k so that's not possible, it has to be at least 50%.

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downbeat14
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby downbeat14 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:48 am

.
Last edited by downbeat14 on Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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twenty 8
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby twenty 8 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:56 am

JCougar wrote:But if the legal industry replaced the third year of law school with like a year-long apprenticeship program.......

To beat a dead house, the third year of law school is totally unnecessary and costly. Not only the expense of paying for a needless third year but the income lost by having to wait a year to start work at your offered firm. The estimated math: $40K in pointless tuition; $125k in lost income. That seems to add up to a $165k swing, but there’s more. There’s the lost bonus and you will always be a year behind of where you could be if there were no 3L requirement (that can add up to a significant sum).

My suggestion is to have the ability to option out of a third year shortly after the offered/no offered decision is known. Make September the deadline as the month to opt out. For those with a firm job in hand, 3L is a scam. For those without a job, they can decide if 3L makes sense for them, or not.

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

Postby UVAIce » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:03 am

This all just reminds me that if I wash out of big law my plan is to go into IT. The problem with law, at least for our generation, is that if you trip up at any stage of the process you're essentially hosed. You have to go to the right law school (do well on the LSAT), do relatively well while you're at the right law school, interview well at your law school's OCI, get an offer over the summer, do relatively well as a young associate so you have some kind of stable exit options. Oh, and if at any point and time during this process the economy crumbles, the firm you chose decides to implode, or any other black swan out of our control then you're stock with a lot of debt and fairly meager job opportunities.

To put this in statistical terms, let's say that you have an 80% chance of being successful at every stage of the process, which is probably being a little too optimistic. For this five stage process, you have a roughly 33% chance of making out like a bandit. I would not gamble at that casino - but wait, I have!

I think people who want to be attorneys should go to law school; it should not be your backup plan to make $$$ because your undergrad degree didn't pan out. There are other options that are both cheaper and have a higher probability of leading to $$.

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

Postby starry eyed » Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:08 pm

UVAIce wrote:This all just reminds me that if I wash out of big law my plan is to go into IT. The problem with law, at least for our generation, is that if you trip up at any stage of the process you're essentially hosed. You have to go to the right law school (do well on the LSAT), do relatively well while you're at the right law school, interview well at your law school's OCI, get an offer over the summer, do relatively well as a young associate so you have some kind of stable exit options. Oh, and if at any point and time during this process the economy crumbles, the firm you chose decides to implode, or any other black swan out of our control then you're stock with a lot of debt and fairly meager job opportunities.

To put this in statistical terms, let's say that you have an 80% chance of being successful at every stage of the process, which is probably being a little too optimistic. For this five stage process, you have a roughly 33% chance of making out like a bandit. I would not gamble at that casino - but wait, I have!

I think people who want to be attorneys should go to law school; it should not be your backup plan to make $$$ because your undergrad degree didn't pan out. There are other options that are both cheaper and have a higher probability of leading to $$.


meh. i'm sure I would rather be a city prosecutor/small law entrepreneur/bottom-barrel legal job than IT or any comparable technical job.

I always thought the kind of people who go into IT are the exact opposite of those that go into law in that they like more technical/analytical stuff and don't have to worry so much about writing, interpretation, rhetoric, business, deals, etc.

$$ should not be the main objective in whatever career you choose.

Want money? be a bartender for a few years and save up 50k. buy a subway, collect the 50-80k in profit per year until you can buy more subways, rinse and repeat.
Last edited by starry eyed on Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

sparty99
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Re: JD Unemployment Reaches New High (15%)

Postby sparty99 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:10 pm

starry eyed wrote:
UVAIce wrote:This all just reminds me that if I wash out of big law my plan is to go into IT. The problem with law, at least for our generation, is that if you trip up at any stage of the process you're essentially hosed. You have to go to the right law school (do well on the LSAT), do relatively well while you're at the right law school, interview well at your law school's OCI, get an offer over the summer, do relatively well as a young associate so you have some kind of stable exit options. Oh, and if at any point and time during this process the economy crumbles, the firm you chose decides to implode, or any other black swan out of our control then you're stock with a lot of debt and fairly meager job opportunities.

To put this in statistical terms, let's say that you have an 80% chance of being successful at every stage of the process, which is probably being a little too optimistic. For this five stage process, you have a roughly 33% chance of making out like a bandit. I would not gamble at that casino - but wait, I have!

I think people who want to be attorneys should go to law school; it should not be your backup plan to make $$$ because your undergrad degree didn't pan out. There are other options that are both cheaper and have a higher probability of leading to $$.


meh. i'm sure I would rather be a city prosecutor/small law entrepreneur/bottom-barrel legal job than IT or any comparable technical job.

I always thought the kind of people who go into IT are the exact opposite of those that go into law in that they like more technical/analytical stuff and don't have to worry so much about writing, interpretation, rhetoric, business, deals, etc.

$$ should not be the main objective in whatever career you choose.


Exactly. And how does a person just walk into "IT?" after working in big law? You generally don't just walk into new industries unless you had a previous background in that industry.

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

Postby UVAIce » Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:53 pm

The IT schtick was more of a joke, but it's to highlight a general issue: where do you go with a JD if you aren't going to be a lawyer?




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