Will legal career prospects level out?

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eudaimondaimon
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby eudaimondaimon » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:29 pm

crazycanuck wrote:There is nothing wrong with having to be at the top of your class to get a 100k+ starting salary. What is wrong is schools charging 45k+ per year for tuition.

It's not the legal market that's the problem, it's the tuition prices.


+1

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thepunisher24
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby thepunisher24 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:50 pm

crazycanuck wrote:
chadwick218 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
chadwick218 wrote:If by level out, you mean improve; I do not believe that they will. Much like public accounting and management consulting, I believe that we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way that firms are managed. I think that we are seeing a changing in the underlying business model. There are a number of very well written law review articles supporting this assertion.


I thought accounting was experiencing a huge spike in job prospects, or is it different for them?


There has been a major pull back in hiring in recent years. W/r/t the audit practices of the big four firms, significant revenues as in the early years from 404 are largely gone and the convergance of U.S. GAAP and IFRS still seems to be off in the distance. The firms have are trending away from this "people first" mentality and trending back to the days of mandatory billable hours. Partners became accustomed to inflated salaries and to maintain this, the firms must operate and lean as possible.


This differs by office. I work at a big 4, my mandatory weekly billable is 30 hours/week.


Are you in audit? I'm also in big 4 public accounting, and my mandatory hours are currently 55 hours/week through mid-March (our "busy season"). However, things are bad right now, very bad. I'm seeing a shift in the mentality of the employees at the staff/senior level. People aren't willing to work ridiculous hours for the salary we're being paid and the abuse we're taking. Since last September, I've billed over 3600 total hours (with 3000 of that being client service time), and while I have arguably one of the worst schedules of my colleagues, I do not appear to be the exception. In recent years, salaries have tumbled while the work load has only increased. From what I've seen/heard, morale is near an all-time low. Believe me, I'm looking forward to my exit before school starts in the Fall.

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crazycanuck
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby crazycanuck » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:15 pm

thepunisher24 wrote:Are you in audit? I'm also in big 4 public accounting, and my mandatory hours are currently 55 hours/week through mid-March (our "busy season"). However, things are bad right now, very bad. I'm seeing a shift in the mentality of the employees at the staff/senior level. People aren't willing to work ridiculous hours for the salary we're being paid and the abuse we're taking. Since last September, I've billed over 3600 total hours (with 3000 of that being client service time), and while I have arguably one of the worst schedules of my colleagues, I do not appear to be the exception. In recent years, salaries have tumbled while the work load has only increased. From what I've seen/heard, morale is near an all-time low. Believe me, I'm looking forward to my exit before school starts in the Fall.


Well, I'm not currently working at the office, I am still in school, but during the busy season mandatory billables is still 30 but in reality you end up billing 50+. Only during the busy season though, during the rest of the year it drops back down to the regular 30 hours.

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swc65
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby swc65 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:46 pm

First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%) --LinkRemoved-- (Salary Stats are not out yet, but I suspect they have not changed much). Also, very few firms cut salaries and many of the ones that did shifted some portion of salaries to year end bonuses (see DLA PIPER). Other firms simply froze salaries (SeeSidley Austin LLP and Winston and Strawn). Other firms, Latham, who froze salaries last year are giving associates "make whole" bonuses to make up for it and pushing their salaries up this year. Some firms are also recalling deferred associates. Other firms are still having troubles (see Mintz Levin deferring associates until 2012!! just months before the end of the world).

I am not too certain how these changes might affect people who graduate from less prestigious universities or universities that serve secondary markets. However, I think things have turned a corner in the legal market, much like the rest of the country. Also, no one wants things to returned to the frenzied craziness of 2006-7 because that level of activity was unstastainable, but I think things have leveled out. At least, I am betting about 200k plus forgone earnings on things having leveled out and possibly improving by 2013.
Last edited by swc65 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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thepunisher24
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby thepunisher24 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:49 pm

crazycanuck wrote:
thepunisher24 wrote:Are you in audit? I'm also in big 4 public accounting, and my mandatory hours are currently 55 hours/week through mid-March (our "busy season"). However, things are bad right now, very bad. I'm seeing a shift in the mentality of the employees at the staff/senior level. People aren't willing to work ridiculous hours for the salary we're being paid and the abuse we're taking. Since last September, I've billed over 3600 total hours (with 3000 of that being client service time), and while I have arguably one of the worst schedules of my colleagues, I do not appear to be the exception. In recent years, salaries have tumbled while the work load has only increased. From what I've seen/heard, morale is near an all-time low. Believe me, I'm looking forward to my exit before school starts in the Fall.


Well, I'm not currently working at the office, I am still in school, but during the busy season mandatory billables is still 30 but in reality you end up billing 50+. Only during the busy season though, during the rest of the year it drops back down to the regular 30 hours.


I'm guessing from your name, this is in Canada? In the States, it's nothing like this. We have mandatory 40 or 45 hour weeks year round, with 55 hour weeks from January through March. This is assuming you're only assigned to clients with 12/31 year-ends. In my situation, I'm on one 9/30 YE, three 12/31 YEs, and a 1/31 YE client. This is on top of the restatement client I was assigned to at various points during the year, and also on top of the quarterly filings and any interim work we decided to do.

Keep in mind there were layoffs across all Big Four firms last year, on top of the "normal" attrition (which is well-above normal in my region this year - due to the facts I mentioned above). Due to the economic climate, risk was high, leading to a more focused level of detail in our procedures. When you combine these factors - significantly larger workload, increased hours, less pay - it does not promote a great atmosphere in the workplace.

Does this sound similar to BigLaw? At least BigLaw Associates get compensated for having no life, right?

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RVP11
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby RVP11 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:53 pm

swc65 wrote:First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%) --LinkRemoved-- (Salary Stats are not out yet, but I suspect they have not changed much). Also, very few firms cut salaries and many of the ones that did shifted some portion of salaries to year end bonuses (see DLA PIPER). Other firms simply froze salaries (SeeSidley Austin LLP and Winston and Strawn). Other firms, Latham, who froze salaries last year are giving associates "make whole" bonuses to make up for it and pushing their salaries up this year. Some firms are also recalling deferred associates. Other firms are still having troubles (see Mintz Levin deferring associates until 2012!! just months before the end of the world).

I am not too certain how these changes might affect people who graduate from less prestigious universities or universities that serve secondary markets. However, I think things have turned a corner in the legal market, much like the rest of the country. Also, no one wants things to returned to the frenzied craziness of 2006-7 because that level of activity was unstastainable, but I think things have leveled out. At least, I am betting about 200k plus forgone earnings on things having leveled out and possibly improving by 2013.


Those Cornell numbers are...odd. Only ONE person working for the government??? Only ONE person doing public interest??? Does Cornell's LRAP suck or something?

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chadwick218
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby chadwick218 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:54 pm

swc65 wrote:First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%).


Yes, but many of these jobs were actually given out before the bust (back in 2008 and arguably in 2007 when the firms first extended summer associate offers through OCI). Also, these statistics are very misleading as they are often poorly extrapolated as a result of very low reporting rates. This can pretty much be said about most law schools.

Renzo
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Renzo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:58 pm

swc65 wrote:First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%) --LinkRemoved-- (Salary Stats are not out yet, but I suspect they have not changed much). Also, very few firms cut salaries and the ones that did shifted some portion of salaries to year end bonuses (see DLA PIPER). Other firms simply froze salaries (SeeSidley Austin LLP and Winston and Strawn). Other firms, Latham, who froze salaries last year are giving associates "make whole" bonuses to make up for it and pushing their salaries up this year. Some firms are also recalling deferred associates. Other firms are still having troubles (see Mintz Levin deferring associates until 2012!! just months before the end of the world).

I am not too certain how these changes might affect people who graduate from less prestigious universities or universities that serve secondary markets. However, I think things have turned a corner in the legal market, much like the rest of the country. Also, no one wants things to returned to the frenzied craziness of 2006-7 because that level of activity was unstastainable, but I think things have leveled out. At least, I am betting about 200k plus forgone earnings on things having leveled out and possibly improving by 2013.

This is like saying that career prospects for music school graduates are fine because Jay-Z's new album went platinum.

The vast majority of the profession was shut out of the best jobs before they even left school, and most will be lucky to find any work in the field at all, much less a big-money job. This was true before the economy went to shit, it's true now, and it will be true after the economy recovers.

Career prospects for lawyers have been level for a long time, albeit at a depressingly low rate. The current economic conditions haven't changed the expected career path of the average new JD much at all, they have just really screwed with the highly visible elites of the profession. The elites will recover, and things will remain stably depressing for most.

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RVP11
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby RVP11 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:01 pm

chadwick218 wrote:
swc65 wrote:First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%).


Yes, but many of these jobs were actually given out before the bust (back in 2008 and arguably in 2007 when the firms first extended summer associate offers through OCI). Also, these statistics are very misleading as they are often poorly extrapolated as a result of very low reporting rates. This can pretty much be said about most law schools.


Agree with most of this, but it looks like the reporting rate is actually pretty high.

But another point: a school's class of 2009 graduation numbers are largely going to be a function of how lucky their class was in avoiding no-offers (and those numbers definitely include deferred BigLaw associates). Cornell's 2010 numbers won't be so pretty.

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crazycanuck
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby crazycanuck » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:30 pm

thepunisher24 wrote:
crazycanuck wrote:
thepunisher24 wrote:Are you in audit? I'm also in big 4 public accounting, and my mandatory hours are currently 55 hours/week through mid-March (our "busy season"). However, things are bad right now, very bad. I'm seeing a shift in the mentality of the employees at the staff/senior level. People aren't willing to work ridiculous hours for the salary we're being paid and the abuse we're taking. Since last September, I've billed over 3600 total hours (with 3000 of that being client service time), and while I have arguably one of the worst schedules of my colleagues, I do not appear to be the exception. In recent years, salaries have tumbled while the work load has only increased. From what I've seen/heard, morale is near an all-time low. Believe me, I'm looking forward to my exit before school starts in the Fall.


Well, I'm not currently working at the office, I am still in school, but during the busy season mandatory billables is still 30 but in reality you end up billing 50+. Only during the busy season though, during the rest of the year it drops back down to the regular 30 hours.


I'm guessing from your name, this is in Canada? In the States, it's nothing like this. We have mandatory 40 or 45 hour weeks year round, with 55 hour weeks from January through March. This is assuming you're only assigned to clients with 12/31 year-ends. In my situation, I'm on one 9/30 YE, three 12/31 YEs, and a 1/31 YE client. This is on top of the restatement client I was assigned to at various points during the year, and also on top of the quarterly filings and any interim work we decided to do.

Keep in mind there were layoffs across all Big Four firms last year, on top of the "normal" attrition (which is well-above normal in my region this year - due to the facts I mentioned above). Due to the economic climate, risk was high, leading to a more focused level of detail in our procedures. When you combine these factors - significantly larger workload, increased hours, less pay - it does not promote a great atmosphere in the workplace.

Does this sound similar to BigLaw? At least BigLaw Associates get compensated for having no life, right?


In Toronto it's probably closer to you, but where I am we tend to work less and get paid less. Starting salary is about 40k.

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swc65
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby swc65 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:17 pm

chadwick218 wrote:
swc65 wrote:First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%).


Yes, but many of these jobs were actually given out before the bust (back in 2008 and arguably in 2007 when the firms first extended summer associate offers through OCI). Also, these statistics are very misleading as they are often poorly extrapolated as a result of very low reporting rates. This can pretty much be said about most law schools.


For the record, for a class of of around 205 188 reported for Cornell's survey. I assumed that other schools had comparable return rates. Also, I do wish there were numbers for how many "employed" were actually deferrals, but a paycheck is a paycheck (half of 160k is still a good paycheck!). :)

Renzo
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Renzo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:21 pm

betasteve wrote:
Renzo wrote:The vast majority of the profession was shut out of the best jobs before they even left school, and most will be lucky to find any work in the field at all, much less a big-money job. This was true before the economy went to shit, it's true now, and it will be true after the economy recovers.

Career prospects for lawyers have been level for a long time, albeit at a depressingly low rate. The current economic conditions haven't changed the expected career path of the average new JD much at all, they have just really screwed with the highly visible elites of the profession. The elites will recover, and things will remain stably depressing for most.

There is alot of hyperbole here.

There is a modicum of reactionary hyperbole.

In more neutral language, I would mimic the Dept. of Labor and say that the profession has been and will continue to be very competitive, with job growth lagging behind the rest of the economy. Is that better?

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Kohinoor
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:26 pm

Nope. Spoke to some hiring partners yesterday and they said the most we can hope for is an orderly downsizing of all remaining staff. By hiring 5% and firing 15% each year, we should be able to end biglaw within the next decade.

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reasonabledoubt
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby reasonabledoubt » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:27 pm

Renzo wrote:
betasteve wrote:
Renzo wrote:The vast majority of the profession was shut out of the best jobs before they even left school, and most will be lucky to find any work in the field at all, much less a big-money job. This was true before the economy went to shit, it's true now, and it will be true after the economy recovers.

Career prospects for lawyers have been level for a long time, albeit at a depressingly low rate. The current economic conditions haven't changed the expected career path of the average new JD much at all, they have just really screwed with the highly visible elites of the profession. The elites will recover, and things will remain stably depressing for most.

There is alot of hyperbole here.

There is a modicum of reactionary hyperbole.

In more neutral language, I would mimic the Dept. of Labor and say that the profession has been and will continue to be very competitive, with job growth lagging behind the rest of the economy. Is that better?


I, for one, think I prefer the former. ;)

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swc65
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby swc65 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:28 pm

Kohinoor wrote:Nope. Spoke to some hiring partners yesterday and they said the most we can hope for is an orderly downsizing of all remaining staff. By hiring 5% and firing 15% each year, we should be able to end biglaw within the next decade.



That's fine. I cans till rely on my degree in basket weaving.

Renzo
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Renzo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:39 pm

betasteve wrote:
Renzo wrote:
betasteve wrote:
Renzo wrote:The vast majority of the profession was shut out of the best jobs before they even left school, and most will be lucky to find any work in the field at all, much less a big-money job. This was true before the economy went to shit, it's true now, and it will be true after the economy recovers.

Career prospects for lawyers have been level for a long time, albeit at a depressingly low rate. The current economic conditions haven't changed the expected career path of the average new JD much at all, they have just really screwed with the highly visible elites of the profession. The elites will recover, and things will remain stably depressing for most.

There is alot of hyperbole here.

There is a modicum of reactionary hyperbole.

In more neutral language, I would mimic the Dept. of Labor and say that the profession has been and will continue to be very competitive, with job growth lagging behind the rest of the economy. Is that better?

More concerned with the "most will be lucky to find any work in the field at all" aspect. What makes it particularly lol-able is that "this was true before the economy went to shit" and "it will be true after the economy recovers." The "it's true now" is more on the modicum of reactionary hyperbole line, though.

I stand by the modicum of reactionary hyperbole. You're right--"most" will find legal jobs. But a very large number will not find jobs that justify the costs (both explicit and opportunity costs) of law school, and a non-trivial number will never find legal jobs.

I think it's factually correct to say that "most" law school grads will be making the same amount of money at graduation as they would have been with 3 years gathering experience in another career, but those who went to law school likely have accumulated huge debt instead of positive earnings over those intervening years.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Stringer Bell » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:43 pm

jason8821 wrote:shit, it looks like pharmacist is the best deal hands down for those interested in good pay/job security/reasonable hours. I cannot think of one other job that seems to place people in a such an advantageous position, but I would hate my job.


There are pharmacy students that are slightly worried about being replaced by machines.

gaiustls
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby gaiustls » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:14 pm

betasteve wrote:This really just seems like a bullshit, non-truthful way to advise people not to go to law school. When you decide to tell people what to/not to do with their lives, maybe next time make it factually honest or don't bother.


--ImageRemoved--

Kobe_Teeth
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:21 pm

crazycanuck wrote:There is nothing wrong with having to be at the top of your class to get a 100k+ starting salary. What is wrong is schools charging 45k+ per year for tuition.

It's not the legal market that's the problem, it's the tuition prices.



especially outside of t-14...outside of T1 and its practically criminal

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RVP11
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby RVP11 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:25 pm

swc65 wrote:
chadwick218 wrote:
swc65 wrote:First, things really were not that bad compared to other industries. You not have a huge unemployment rate among new lawyers from top schools. Cornell for example still had 93% of their class of 2009 employed by graduation most in large private law firms (86%).


Yes, but many of these jobs were actually given out before the bust (back in 2008 and arguably in 2007 when the firms first extended summer associate offers through OCI). Also, these statistics are very misleading as they are often poorly extrapolated as a result of very low reporting rates. This can pretty much be said about most law schools.


For the record, for a class of of around 205 188 reported for Cornell's survey. I assumed that other schools had comparable return rates. Also, I do wish there were numbers for how many "employed" were actually deferrals, but a paycheck is a paycheck (half of 160k is still a good paycheck!). :)


Would also be nice to see how many of those deferrals were actually PAID deferrals (not everyone was dishing out 60k...), and how many of those deferrals turned into awkward "sorry, we don't have a place for you anymore..."s. No way do I believe that 70% or whatever of Cornell's 2009 class is working in BigLaw right now.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:32 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:Would also be nice to see how many of those deferrals were actually PAID deferrals (not everyone was dishing out 60k...), and how many of those deferrals turned into awkward "sorry, we don't have a place for you anymore..."s. No way do I believe that 70% or whatever of Cornell's 2009 class is working in BigLaw right now.

The one universal truth is that you can't convince an admitted 0L that prospects are anything but amazing.

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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby jason8821 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:35 pm

eudaimondaimon wrote:
jason8821 wrote:Thanks for the response.

It doesn't make sense because it seems as though 2% of college graduates from any university will be making that within a few years out. They will not have went through the rigors of law school, and the huge tuition bill. All other careers in that top 15; albeit a more secure sector such as healthcare will allow more like 50% of graduates to obtain a job that pays 6 figures including pharmacists who have less schooling. Probably more like 10% of engineers will make that money within a few years, and accountants the same, all with less education. These of course are arbitrary figures, but I feel they are pretty close to accurate.


Your figures are very arbitrary and I think that is actually making your point more difficultly conveyed. But what you seem to be getting at is that a greater proportion of lawyers go to greater lengths and at greater expense in order that a relative few receive the same monetary benefit as those in other fields. I don't see anything about this that fails to make sense. I think what you're meaning is that it doesn't seem fair.


Agreed it does not seem fair. The upper 2% of law grads are probably the 0.5% (academically) average college graduates and I don't know what percent of college graduates with only a Bachelors degree make 100K by the time they are 25-30, but I can guarantee it's been a hell of a lot more than .05%.

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T14_Scholly
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby T14_Scholly » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:31 pm

thepunisher24 wrote:Are you in audit? I'm also in big 4 public accounting, and my mandatory hours are currently 55 hours/week through mid-March (our "busy season"). However, things are bad right now, very bad. I'm seeing a shift in the mentality of the employees at the staff/senior level. People aren't willing to work ridiculous hours for the salary we're being paid and the abuse we're taking. Since last September, I've billed over 3600 total hours (with 3000 of that being client service time), and while I have arguably one of the worst schedules of my colleagues, I do not appear to be the exception. In recent years, salaries have tumbled while the work load has only increased. From what I've seen/heard, morale is near an all-time low. Believe me, I'm looking forward to my exit before school starts in the Fall.


You billed over 3600 hours in 4.5 months huh? That's impressive, you billed more than 24 hours a day. Unless you mean to include the month of September, in which case you've billed 21.5 hours per day for 5.5 months straight. Actually, more than that, since you said "over" 3600.

Unless you're referring to September '08, in which case you've averaged over 230 hours per month. I'd say that rivals biglaw associates. Do people pad their hours at your firm? Because they sure as hell do it in biglaw firms.

Renzo
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby Renzo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:03 pm

betasteve wrote:You do realize this is an entirely different assertion than your first, right? I don't see how you can suggest it is only a modicum, when your refutation comes by changing the statement altogether in order to make it sound less hyperbolic.
Most v. a few is hyperbole, we agree on that. So if that's your major beef, you've got me.

But the assertion that there are more qualified lawyers than jobs, even in boom times, is/was explicitly stated in the Dept. of Labor reports. I was expressing that factual truth in a reactionary and hyperbolic way.

betasteve wrote:this has absolutely nothing to do with the assertion I called you out on or your initial rebuttal to my earlier assertion.

This really just seems like a bullshit, non-truthful way to advise people not to go to law school. When you decide to tell people what to/not to do with their lives, maybe next time make it factually honest or don't bother.

I was not trying to tell anyone what to do with their lives. I believe that is a very personal decision, and I might offer advice to an individual who asked, but I would never lay down the kind of blanket advice that you are implying.

I was reacting/replying, with both my original statement and with the tangential statement that followed, to the notion that there was once a "stable" job market for lawyers, and that it might go back to such a state in the foreseeable future. Anyone considering law school should know that this hasn't really been true for many years. However, a tough job market didn't deter me and shouldn't necessarily deter anyone else.

EzraStiles
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Re: Will legal career prospects level out?

Postby EzraStiles » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:12 pm

As long as there are too many college graduates, there will be too many law school applicants. My bet is that the market will re-orient itself, and the world will move on.




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