Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

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beachbum
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby beachbum » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:49 am

This is horribly depressing, but surprisingly helpful. Thanks to everyone who has replied thus far.

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fatduck
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby fatduck » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:55 am

Man, when I shove money into the pot, I do not give a god damn about it. Guess law school will be fine!

porgie
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby porgie » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:59 am

JazzOne wrote:
General Tso wrote:I don't know of very many 2Ls at Hastings who got jobs through OCI. I would estimate that no more than 10% got anything. My impression is that most schools ranked 20-100 are experiencing similarly dismal results right now.

What does this mean? Very few people are getting the 160k jobs that law schools like to advertise in their employment statistics. I am one who still thinks small firm work is a desirable thing, so I am not overly concerned. I will be happy to make 55-65k at a small firm if I can.

+1

I have been heavily criticized for claiming that UT placed less than 20% in biglaw through OCI this year. I still stand by that observation though.

My T20 has probably only placed about 20% or so in biglaw through OCI, as well. I think people who claim that it's higher either are one of those lucky people who was outside of the top 20% and happened to get a job through OCI or knew someone else who did the same, and they're just assuming that it's not luck and a reflection of the job market.

For the OP, I go to a T20 and was below median. I have a paid in-house position, though it's not nearly as lucrative as the people who landed biglaw gigs through OCI. I got really, really lucky in finding and landing the job (applied to probably about 60 positions), especially considering how many people I know who fell outside of the top 20% but were above median who still don't have anything lined up and are scrambling. I'm really hoping the job will lead to full-time employment so I won't have to go through the job-search process all over again next year b/c it's very discouraging.

JazzOne wrote:until you shove thousands of dollars of your own money into the pot, knowing that the outcome is not entirely within your control, you really don't know what it's like.

I can't even say how happy I am I took a full scholarship at my school instead of prestige-whoring. As it is, I still have a fair amount of debt, but it will be manageable. There was one school in particular that I would've paid sticker for, and I'm beyond grateful I was rejected or I would be in a pretty shitty financial situation right now.

I also agree with the control aspect of this quote (both in terms of how you fare in the job market and also how you fare in law school in terms of your ranking). I'm proof that the lsat is by no means a reliable way to predict your first year performance. I had no way to know beforehand that the mild depression I struggled with during undergrad would be exacerbated by law school to the point where I was unable to get out of bed some days. I also think that even if I had been 100% mentally, I still probably would've only been slightly above median (how I did last semester after I got my depression under control). The only thing I can think of is that my writing skills are just sub-par compared to my peers, which is a difficult thing to change in time to do well on exams.

tlslsnlsp
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby tlslsnlsp » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:26 am

porgie wrote:I go to a T20 and was below median.
I can't even say how happy I am I took a full scholarship at my school instead of prestige-whoring.

So this is why law students roll their eyes when someone posts "I have a full scholarship at xyz law so I'll probably end up near the top of the class there". As a 0L this thread is scary, but the honesty is much appreciated. Keep the anecdotes coming.

porgie
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby porgie » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:50 am

tlslsnlsp wrote:
porgie wrote:I go to a T20 and was below median.
I can't even say how happy I am I took a full scholarship at my school instead of prestige-whoring.

So this is why law students roll their eyes when someone posts "I have a full scholarship at xyz law so I'll probably end up near the top of the class there". As a 0L this thread is scary, but the honesty is much appreciated. Keep the anecdotes coming.


Yup. One of the top students in the year ahead of me at my school was waitlisted. Once you've been stratified by law school, I think it's a free-for-all. There's probably a threshold requirement for doing well in law school, but this doesn't really factor in very much since most of your classmates are likely to be within 5-6 points of each other. Those extra few questions you got right on the lsat matter very little if you don't have the writing skills to convey to your professor that you really understand the material thoroughly, imo.

Hey-O
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby Hey-O » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:59 am

porgie wrote:
JazzOne wrote:
General Tso wrote:I don't know of very many 2Ls at Hastings who got jobs through OCI. I would estimate that no more than 10% got anything. My impression is that most schools ranked 20-100 are experiencing similarly dismal results right now.

What does this mean? Very few people are getting the 160k jobs that law schools like to advertise in their employment statistics. I am one who still thinks small firm work is a desirable thing, so I am not overly concerned. I will be happy to make 55-65k at a small firm if I can.

+1

I have been heavily criticized for claiming that UT placed less than 20% in biglaw through OCI this year. I still stand by that observation though.

My T20 has probably only placed about 20% or so in biglaw through OCI, as well. I think people who claim that it's higher either are one of those lucky people who was outside of the top 20% and happened to get a job through OCI or knew someone else who did the same, and they're just assuming that it's not luck and a reflection of the job market.

For the OP, I go to a T20 and was below median. I have a paid in-house position, though it's not nearly as lucrative as the people who landed biglaw gigs through OCI. I got really, really lucky in finding and landing the job (applied to probably about 60 positions), especially considering how many people I know who fell outside of the top 20% but were above median who still don't have anything lined up and are scrambling. I'm really hoping the job will lead to full-time employment so I won't have to go through the job-search process all over again next year b/c it's very discouraging.

JazzOne wrote:until you shove thousands of dollars of your own money into the pot, knowing that the outcome is not entirely within your control, you really don't know what it's like.

I can't even say how happy I am I took a full scholarship at my school instead of prestige-whoring. As it is, I still have a fair amount of debt, but it will be manageable. There was one school in particular that I would've paid sticker for, and I'm beyond grateful I was rejected or I would be in a pretty shitty financial situation right now.

I also agree with the control aspect of this quote (both in terms of how you fare in the job market and also how you fare in law school in terms of your ranking). I'm proof that the lsat is by no means a reliable way to predict your first year performance. I had no way to know beforehand that the mild depression I struggled with during undergrad would be exacerbated by law school to the point where I was unable to get out of bed some days. I also think that even if I had been 100% mentally, I still probably would've only been slightly above median (how I did last semester after I got my depression under control). The only thing I can think of is that my writing skills are just sub-par compared to my peers, which is a difficult thing to change in time to do well on exams.


What school are you glad you're not at? I'm a 0L and I'd like to know what I should look out for.

porgie
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby porgie » Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:09 am

Hey-O wrote:
porgie wrote:
JazzOne wrote:
General Tso wrote:I don't know of very many 2Ls at Hastings who got jobs through OCI. I would estimate that no more than 10% got anything. My impression is that most schools ranked 20-100 are experiencing similarly dismal results right now.

What does this mean? Very few people are getting the 160k jobs that law schools like to advertise in their employment statistics. I am one who still thinks small firm work is a desirable thing, so I am not overly concerned. I will be happy to make 55-65k at a small firm if I can.

+1

I have been heavily criticized for claiming that UT placed less than 20% in biglaw through OCI this year. I still stand by that observation though.

My T20 has probably only placed about 20% or so in biglaw through OCI, as well. I think people who claim that it's higher either are one of those lucky people who was outside of the top 20% and happened to get a job through OCI or knew someone else who did the same, and they're just assuming that it's not luck and a reflection of the job market.

For the OP, I go to a T20 and was below median. I have a paid in-house position, though it's not nearly as lucrative as the people who landed biglaw gigs through OCI. I got really, really lucky in finding and landing the job (applied to probably about 60 positions), especially considering how many people I know who fell outside of the top 20% but were above median who still don't have anything lined up and are scrambling. I'm really hoping the job will lead to full-time employment so I won't have to go through the job-search process all over again next year b/c it's very discouraging.

JazzOne wrote:until you shove thousands of dollars of your own money into the pot, knowing that the outcome is not entirely within your control, you really don't know what it's like.

I can't even say how happy I am I took a full scholarship at my school instead of prestige-whoring. As it is, I still have a fair amount of debt, but it will be manageable. There was one school in particular that I would've paid sticker for, and I'm beyond grateful I was rejected or I would be in a pretty shitty financial situation right now.

I also agree with the control aspect of this quote (both in terms of how you fare in the job market and also how you fare in law school in terms of your ranking). I'm proof that the lsat is by no means a reliable way to predict your first year performance. I had no way to know beforehand that the mild depression I struggled with during undergrad would be exacerbated by law school to the point where I was unable to get out of bed some days. I also think that even if I had been 100% mentally, I still probably would've only been slightly above median (how I did last semester after I got my depression under control). The only thing I can think of is that my writing skills are just sub-par compared to my peers, which is a difficult thing to change in time to do well on exams.


What school are you glad you're not at? I'm a 0L and I'd like to know what I should look out for.

Sorry, that came across as very unclear. It's not that I'm glad I didn't go to that school b/c the school turns out students w/ bad employment prospects, but more of a realization that my employment situation would be the same as it is currently (maybe it would be a little bit better), but I'd have an extra 150K of loans I'd have to deal with. Since it's not something that's a fault of the school but more of a reflection on my own personal situation, I don't think it's necessary to name the school.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby Big Shrimpin » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:12 am

DallasCowboy wrote:IP==>Profit


At GW, this has been my experience, as well as many I know. I think we're all extremely grateful, too.

pasteurizedmilk
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:27 am

paulinaporizkova wrote:
haoledugan wrote:As a soon to be 1L who has now committed to 3 years of additional schooling, I have been searching for qualified insight into the current job outlook for recent law grads... I don't think I'm alone here. I would love to see questions answered without the undue sarcasm, snide remarks, and unsubstantiated claims so often a part of the other topics here in TLS Forums.

To start, I would be very interested in hearing from some 2L's, 3L's, and recent grads about their personal experience in finding legal work.


You should consider that "current" outlook will likely not be the same as "future" outlook, especially in a time of uncertainty like the one we're in now. It's a bad time to be graduating from LS RIGHT NOW. Will it be in 2-3 years when you graduate?
Irrelevant question. The correct question is how hiring will be a year after you start law school.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:28 am

paulinaporizkova wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:You should consider that "current" outlook will likely not be the same as "future" outlook, especially in a time of uncertainty like the one we're in now. It's a bad time to be graduating from LS RIGHT NOW. Will it be in 2-3 years when you graduate? No one really knows, but chances are things will improve a bit since they already have been improving since the initial crash. How much will they improve? Once again, no one knows. But things will likely be better. Oh, and I'm a 0L, so take it FWIW.

You don't get it, do you? The short-term outlook might improve, or it might get a lot worse, but that's not what really matters. The long(er) term outlook for freshly minted law grads is unquestionably bad, and getting worse. This is a structural matter, and no amount of economic growth can change it. Law firms are getting leaner, clients are demanding more cost-efficiency, and refusing to pay for first year associate work. So lots of discovery jobs and other intro-level stuff is going overseas, or to commoditized law practices. At the same time, the price of a legal education is growing considerably faster than inflation or salaries. Debt loads are getting more oppressive, and interest rates remain high (and may go much higher still--hopefully not, of course). The overall supply of law grades is also rising, thus aggravating the supply/demand mismatch in the law labor market.

I could go on, but won't. The problems with the law economy are substantial, and go well beyond the way the economy is right now. Will an uptick in the general economy help legal hiring? Yes. But it won't solve any of the above, and those things are the real dangers.


Also, Rev, do you just come here to laugh at the poor 0L's who will almost certainly be fucked over in the end? Obviously, your law degree worked out for you. Why do you come around and say the chances of it working out for anyone else are morbidly slim?

Probably because somebody asked and because it's true.

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JazzOne
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby JazzOne » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:46 am

porgie wrote:
JazzOne wrote:until you shove thousands of dollars of your own money into the pot, knowing that the outcome is not entirely within your control, you really don't know what it's like.

I can't even say how happy I am I took a full scholarship at my school instead of prestige-whoring. As it is, I still have a fair amount of debt, but it will be manageable. There was one school in particular that I would've paid sticker for, and I'm beyond grateful I was rejected or I would be in a pretty shitty financial situation right now.

I also agree with the control aspect of this quote (both in terms of how you fare in the job market and also how you fare in law school in terms of your ranking). I'm proof that the lsat is by no means a reliable way to predict your first year performance. I had no way to know beforehand that the mild depression I struggled with during undergrad would be exacerbated by law school to the point where I was unable to get out of bed some days. I also think that even if I had been 100% mentally, I still probably would've only been slightly above median (how I did last semester after I got my depression under control). The only thing I can think of is that my writing skills are just sub-par compared to my peers, which is a difficult thing to change in time to do well on exams.

As I alluded to earlier in the thread, something similar to porgie's depression happened to me. My first semester went ridiculously well. I believe I was #1 in my class after fall semester of 1L. I was set to repeat that performance in the spring, and then something completely unexpected happened during my second semester. I had a pretty serious health scare, and there were a few weeks when I was seeing doctors and reading a lot of literature to find out whether my problem was cancer or something less serious. This was right around the time of 1L OCI. My grades plummeted second semester. Perhaps plummet is not the right word as I was never below median, but I certainly lost my #1 spot, and I squeezed onto Law Review by the skin of my teeth. Although I thought this health problem was taken care of, it returned during fall of 2L, just in time for 2L OCI. Again, my grades were disappointing, and I had a hell of time getting a job through OCI. My mind was simply somewhere else, and I couldn't focus on my classes or my interviews. I got lucky and landed a great job, but my job offer came from my very last callback. Things could have easily gone the other way. My health problem has subsided again, and now that things are back to normal, I feel very good about this semester. I wouldn't be surprised if I my grades this semester are more reflective of my first semester grades than the other semesters. I never calculated health into the equation, and it seems to have played a huge role in my studies.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby keg411 » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:07 pm

1L perspective:

The most important thing you have to know is that I'd say 80% of people really dislike law school in general. It's an extremely stressful, pressure-cooker environment; and while at most places people are congenial and there isn't crazy, outright competition, there is an underlying competitiveness, especially if you know one grade can be the difference between a shot at $160k (and 80 hour work weeks) or unemployment; with very little wiggle room in between.

Also, I think the fact that you pretty much have two semesters of grades determine your immediate (and likely long-term) future is a pretty scary process. Law school, at least for the first year, is pretty much a game.

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Tanicius
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby Tanicius » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:41 pm

God this thread is depressing.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby prezidentv8 » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:46 pm

Tanicius wrote:IGod this thread is depressing.

Nah, it's just reality. You can't plan for these things, but you need to be aware of what's in your hands and what isn't, take smart risks, and roll with the punches when things don't go your way.

keg411 wrote:It's an extremely stressful, pressure-cooker environment


This can be credited, although it varies by person, and wasn't the issue for me (I have a really hard time taking competitive academics seriously I guess). What did bother me are (and these may be related) feelings of a lack of control over outcomes in grades (I've said this on a few other threads, but my grades are generally pretty widely dispersed) and over job prospects (still looking). Now, these are issues that, going in, I knew were possibilities, so its manageable. But that doesn't make the general suckiness feel any better, and the eventual broadening of the job search into different cities of fields tends to be a bit unnerving if you had an idea of things you'd like to do.

Although...on the other hand, hey - there might be opportunity in something like that if I can find an area of work that I like that I otherwise wouldn't have tried.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:57 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:
Tanicius wrote:IGod this thread is depressing.

Nah, it's just reality. You can't plan for these things, but you need to be aware of what's in your hands and what isn't, take smart risks, and roll with the punches when things don't go your way.

keg411 wrote:It's an extremely stressful, pressure-cooker environment


This can be credited, although it varies by person, and wasn't the issue for me (I have a really hard time taking competitive academics seriously I guess). What did bother me are (and these may be related) feelings of a lack of control over outcomes in grades (I've said this on a few other threads, but my grades are generally pretty widely dispersed) and over job prospects (still looking). Now, these are issues that, going in, I knew were possibilities, so its manageable. But that doesn't make the general suckiness feel any better, and the eventual broadening of the job search into different cities of fields tends to be a bit unnerving if you had an idea of things you'd like to do.

Although...on the other hand, hey - there might be opportunity in something like that if I can find an area of work that I like that I otherwise wouldn't have tried.


Yeah, at this point I'm trying not to freak out. I feel like it will all be worth it in the end, somehow. Although I will say that I am one of the 20% that really like ls.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:10 pm

OP, I can give you some personalized input on your situation. I go to a T40-50 school like the one you're considering. I was admitted to higher ranked schools (up to GULC part-time), but chose my school based on in-state tuition and the desire to avoid going into debt. I aced 1L, ending up in the top 5% and on law review.

Let me tell you that 2L OCI was a bloodbath, though I wasn't helped by a poor choice of market and a death in the family in early September (the day before one of my call-backs). I ended up finding a job at a smaller, boutique firm, but I was on edge for a couple months while searching after OCI. Honestly I'm not too bummed about it because I don't have much debt, but trust me, this type of job is rare.

At my school, I would honestly say that at best 7-8% of students got jobs through OCI -- and I'm talking big, mid, and small law here. I would estimate that about half of the law review members do not have paying jobs likely to lead to post-graduation employment lined up for the summer.

Everything that GTL, Jazz, and most of the other 2/3L and graduate posters have said here is completely correct. Legal hiring has entered a new normal stage, whereby even if the broader economy recovers tremendously, firms will not return to 2006 class sizes. I know you said you don't want BigLaw, but consider the status of state and federal budgets right now and the impact that will have on PI hiring. I don't want to destroy your dream here, but I would seriously reconsider law school even if you're not going into debt for it.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby fatduck » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:34 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:You should consider that "current" outlook will likely not be the same as "future" outlook, especially in a time of uncertainty like the one we're in now. It's a bad time to be graduating from LS RIGHT NOW. Will it be in 2-3 years when you graduate? No one really knows, but chances are things will improve a bit since they already have been improving since the initial crash. How much will they improve? Once again, no one knows. But things will likely be better. Oh, and I'm a 0L, so take it FWIW.

You don't get it, do you? The short-term outlook might improve, or it might get a lot worse, but that's not what really matters. The long(er) term outlook for freshly minted law grads is unquestionably bad, and getting worse. This is a structural matter, and no amount of economic growth can change it. Law firms are getting leaner, clients are demanding more cost-efficiency, and refusing to pay for first year associate work. So lots of discovery jobs and other intro-level stuff is going overseas, or to commoditized law practices. At the same time, the price of a legal education is growing considerably faster than inflation or salaries. Debt loads are getting more oppressive, and interest rates remain high (and may go much higher still--hopefully not, of course). The overall supply of law grades is also rising, thus aggravating the supply/demand mismatch in the law labor market.

I could go on, but won't. The problems with the law economy are substantial, and go well beyond the way the economy is right now. Will an uptick in the general economy help legal hiring? Yes. But it won't solve any of the above, and those things are the real dangers.


I'm gonna throw out some thoughts here from another perspective. I'm a 0L but I'm not really going to talk about law school so I don't think that matters.

When law students and recent grads (like G.T.L. Rev, who I have a lot of respect for) talk about law school and the legal economy, they aren't lying. Everything you're saying is correct, and aspiring law students should understand that. There is, however, a lot of "grass is greener" thinking going on. I have a BSEE from one of the "HYS" of engineering schools, and I don't think my job prospects are substantively different than those of a newly minted JD. Engineering firms have similarly become less willing to train new graduates, and more interested in hiring experienced talent laid-off from other companies. Entry-level work is being outsourced to a degree that the legal industry could not even comprehend. The economy has crushed sales and companies are forced to pare down research departments (one of the best entry points for new grads) and litigate rather than innovate, making companies more risk-averse (another strike against new grads).

And that's job prospects for perhaps the most in-demand degree in this country. God help you if your degree is in Ethnic Studies. The point is that the economy sucks for everyone. The only time I've ever felt I had actual job security was when I was in the Army. Major elements of your future are always going to be out of your control. The only thing you can really control right now is the amount of debt you take on. That's what everyone should be worrying about: how much debt am I taking on, what is my plan A/B/C/D/E for repaying it, how will that debt affect future decisions (job choice, purchasing a home, supporting a family).

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby thesealocust » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:37 pm

I'd like to add something about the structure of legal employment. It has nothing to do with my personal experiences or job search, but I think it contributes to a lot of the tension on this board between 0L rosy expectations and the law student / grad jaded outlook.

In other fields, if you don't get the best, there is a larger pool of not-the-best. If you don't get into the T14, there are actually something like 15 times that number of law schools out there you might get into instead. If you didn't get into an Ivy, there are hundreds and hundreds of other colleges. If you don't get a job working for Congress, there are political jobs in every state and county of the country.

With legal jobs, it doesn't quite work that way. The biggest firms hire dozens of summer associates and take them in to train and become full-time associates. But for other, smaller organizations law students bring very little to the table. You are, hopefully within months of graduation, a licensed attorney - but one with almost no skills. Law School probably teaches more, at least in terms of structure and analytical ability, than some jaded students like to admit - but it absolutely doesn't teach you how to write a brief for a real court, how to argue a real motion, how to draft a real contract, etc.

That means most of the non-big firm organizations have little incentive to look for recent grads. And, substantially more troubling, there's another pool of candidates: Those who (voluntarily or otherwise) are leaving the big firms.

A huge area of jobs, from boutique small firm work, to government regulatory work, to corporate in house departments, hire a majority if not an entirety of their new employees from pools of former big law attorneys. Turnover is enormous, but one thing big law is well known for is its ability to train new attorneys - and to do so at or close to a profit. The business model just doesn't exist for a lot of other organizations to be taking on law grads.

So while there are many, many more small to mid-sized law firms than there are big law firms, those firms (a) have substantially smaller hiring needs and (b) are at any given level much more likely to rely on lateral hires than fresh law grads.

So unlike most other things in life, 'the best' (i.e. big firms) take up a disproportionately large share of 'everything available'. To throw out a statistic, Ivy league and similar colleges are under 1% of the total colleges in the country, and the top 14 law schools are about 7% of all law schools - but big firm like jobs are probably about 20% of all available entry level legal positions, and if you tack on that which is as hard or harder to get (clerkships, many fed government posts, public interest with places like the ACLU) you'll start to see how large a proportion of "what is even out there to obtain" is made up by the kinds of jobs that are so hard to get outside of the best schools.

The market for fresh law grads outside of 'big firm and similar' exists, and of course every year a large number of people get those jobs. But understanding the dynamics of the legal sector will go a long way to understanding why "but I don't want big law!" is often treated with eye-rolls or outright scorn.
Last edited by thesealocust on Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Tanicius
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby Tanicius » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:38 pm

fatduck wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:You should consider that "current" outlook will likely not be the same as "future" outlook, especially in a time of uncertainty like the one we're in now. It's a bad time to be graduating from LS RIGHT NOW. Will it be in 2-3 years when you graduate? No one really knows, but chances are things will improve a bit since they already have been improving since the initial crash. How much will they improve? Once again, no one knows. But things will likely be better. Oh, and I'm a 0L, so take it FWIW.

You don't get it, do you? The short-term outlook might improve, or it might get a lot worse, but that's not what really matters. The long(er) term outlook for freshly minted law grads is unquestionably bad, and getting worse. This is a structural matter, and no amount of economic growth can change it. Law firms are getting leaner, clients are demanding more cost-efficiency, and refusing to pay for first year associate work. So lots of discovery jobs and other intro-level stuff is going overseas, or to commoditized law practices. At the same time, the price of a legal education is growing considerably faster than inflation or salaries. Debt loads are getting more oppressive, and interest rates remain high (and may go much higher still--hopefully not, of course). The overall supply of law grades is also rising, thus aggravating the supply/demand mismatch in the law labor market.

I could go on, but won't. The problems with the law economy are substantial, and go well beyond the way the economy is right now. Will an uptick in the general economy help legal hiring? Yes. But it won't solve any of the above, and those things are the real dangers.


I'm gonna throw out some thoughts here from another perspective. I'm a 0L but I'm not really going to talk about law school so I don't think that matters.

When law students and recent grads (like G.T.L. Rev, who I have a lot of respect for) talk about law school and the legal economy, they aren't lying. Everything you're saying is correct, and aspiring law students should understand that. There is, however, a lot of "grass is greener" thinking going on. I have a BSEE from one of the "HYS" of engineering schools, and I don't think my job prospects are substantively different than those of a newly minted JD. Engineering firms have similarly become less willing to train new graduates, and more interested in hiring experienced talent laid-off from other companies. Entry-level work is being outsourced to a degree that the legal industry could not even comprehend. The economy has crushed sales and companies are forced to pare down research departments (one of the best entry points for new grads) and litigate rather than innovate, making companies more risk-averse (another strike against new grads).

And that's job prospects for perhaps the most in-demand degree in this country. God help you if your degree is in Ethnic Studies. The point is that the economy sucks for everyone. The only time I've ever felt I had actual job security was when I was in the Army. Major elements of your future are always going to be out of your control. The only thing you can really control right now is the amount of debt you take on. That's what everyone should be worrying about: how much debt am I taking on, what is my plan A/B/C/D/E for repaying it, how will that debt affect future decisions (job choice, purchasing a home, supporting a family).


Thanks a lot for your post, fatduck.

This thread in general is a big help. This past week especially, I've finally started to sober up to all the talk. I don't think I've ever felt this uneasy about my future, but it's a constructive feeling at the same time.

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A'nold
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:56 pm

thesealocust wrote:I'd like to add something about the structure of legal employment. It has nothing to do with my personal experiences or job search, but I think it contributes to a lot of the tension on this board between 0L rosy expectations and the law student / grad jaded outlook.

In other fields, if you don't get the best, there is a larger pool of not-the-best. If you don't get into the T14, there are actually something like 15 times that number of law schools out there you might get into instead. If you didn't get into an Ivy, there are hundreds and hundreds of other colleges. If you don't get a job working for Congress, there are political jobs in every state and county of the country.

With legal jobs, it doesn't quite work that way. The biggest firms hire dozens of summer associates and take them in to train and become full-time associates. But for other, smaller organizations law students bring very little to the table. You are, hopefully within months of graduation, a licensed attorney - but one with almost no skills. Law School probably teaches more, at least in terms of structure and analytical ability, than some jaded students like to admit - but it absolutely doesn't teach you how to write a brief for a real court, how to argue a real motion, how to draft a real contract, etc.

That means most of the non-big firm organizations have little incentive to look for recent grads. And, substantially more troubling, there's another pool of candidates: Those who (voluntarily or otherwise) are leaving the big firms.

A huge area of jobs, from boutique small firm work, to government regulatory work, to corporate in house departments, hire a majority if not an entirety of their new employees from pools of former big law attorneys. Turnover is enormous, but one thing big law is well known for is its ability to train new attorneys - and to do so at or close to a profit. The business model just doesn't exist for a lot of other organizations to be taking on law grads.

So while there are many, many more small to mid-sized law firms than there are big law firms, those firms (a) have substantially smaller hiring needs and (b) are at any given level much more likely to rely on lateral hires than fresh law grads.

So unlike most other things in life, 'the best' (i.e. big firms) take up a disproportionately large share of 'everything available'. To throw out a statistic, Ivy league and similar colleges are under 1% of the total colleges in the country, and the top 14 law schools are about 7% of all law schools - but big firm like jobs are probably about 20% of all available entry level legal positions, and if you tack on that which is as hard or harder to get (clerkships, many fed government posts, public interest with places like the ACLU) you'll start to see how large a proportion of "what is even out there to obtain" is made up by the kinds of jobs that are so hard to get outside of the best schools.

The market for fresh law grads outside of 'big firm and similar' exists, and of course every year a large number of people get those jobs. But understanding the dynamics of the legal sector will go a long way to understanding why "but I don't want big law!" is often treated with eye-rolls or outright scorn.


See, what's hard for me is that I have top 5% type grades and I can't help but to keep it in the back of my head that this should mean SOMETHING post-graduation. Reality seems to tell a different story though.

I'm thinking that I should really start to focus on some area of the law and really work my butt off to show employers that this is what I want to do. As it is right now I must appear like a jack of all trades. I know this is not the magic answer, but I think I need to get my butt into gear here, as I'm only about a year and a quarter away from being out in the real world.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby porgie » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:15 pm

Tanicius wrote:God this thread is depressing.


It's not nearly as depressing as it could be. No one who took on sticker debt and has no job prospects has posted, yet, and for good reason. Every time one of them posts, a bunch of 0Ls call the person a troll, tell the person to post on JDU, and then begin to critique everything they think the person did wrong. I'm sure there are some 2/3Ls who have jeopardized their job search in one way or another, but there are many students who don't fall into this category and still get shouted down by 0Ls. I understand why they do it. It's easier to rationalize away your fears by telling yourself that the person posting screwed up somehow in a way that was within their control. The employment forum would be a much more useful place if 0Ls didn't act this way.

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A'nold
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:23 pm

porgie wrote:
Tanicius wrote:God this thread is depressing.


It's not nearly as depressing as it could be. No one who took on sticker debt and has no job prospects has posted, yet, and for good reason. Every time one of them posts, a bunch of 0Ls call the person a troll, tell the person to post on JDU, and then begin to critique everything they think the person did wrong. I'm sure there are some 2/3Ls who have jeopardized their job search in one way or another, but there are many students who don't fall into this category and still get shouted down by 0Ls. I understand why they do it. It's easier to rationalize away your fears by telling yourself that the person posting screwed up somehow in a way that was within their control. The employment forum would be a much more useful place if 0Ls didn't act this way.

TINOTTR.

There are MANY JDU trolls that post on this board and their doomsday message is way over the top, especially when most of them come from lower ranked schools and they expected a lavish NYC biglaw to land in their laps.

I have as much debt as a sticker-paying private school JD due to UG debt and I am currently jobless, so I match the type of poster you said hasn't posted in this thread. I actually think this site is too pessimistic and way too ready to believe they hype it hears.

That said, the economy IS horrible and people really are struggling. The JDU type posters are the ones like the dude that posted earlier to not go to ls unless you can go HYS or Hamilton at Columbia. They tell you you should have been a plumber. These are not the types we should be listening to. Also notice that their post counts are low and that their date of registration is new. I always listen to those that are real poster with a post history on this site. People hear what they want to hear and those that yell at us who tell the trolls to go away want to hear that their lives are over.

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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby rose711 » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:33 pm

porgie wrote:
Tanicius wrote:God this thread is depressing.


It's not nearly as depressing as it could be. No one who took on sticker debt and has no job prospects has posted, yet, and for good reason. Every time one of them posts, a bunch of 0Ls call the person a troll, tell the person to post on JDU, and then begin to critique everything they think the person did wrong. I'm sure there are some 2/3Ls who have jeopardized their job search in one way or another, but there are many students who don't fall into this category and still get shouted down by 0Ls. I understand why they do it. It's easier to rationalize away your fears by telling yourself that the person posting screwed up somehow in a way that was within their control. The employment forum would be a much more useful place if 0Ls didn't act this way.


Not to get off-topic, but I don't understand why some 0Ls have this attitude. Maybe some one can explain it to me. One of the first times I posted here someone said they thought I was a recent grad just trying to discourage competition. I remain genuinely confused by this attitude.


Thanks for all the great posts so far that are explaining how difficult the job market is for people so that they can go into the market armed with knowledge and make good decisions. I hope more people post their experiences in this thread.

Good luck everyone!
Last edited by rose711 on Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Tanicius
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby Tanicius » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:35 pm

A'nold wrote:
porgie wrote:
Tanicius wrote:God this thread is depressing.


It's not nearly as depressing as it could be. No one who took on sticker debt and has no job prospects has posted, yet, and for good reason. Every time one of them posts, a bunch of 0Ls call the person a troll, tell the person to post on JDU, and then begin to critique everything they think the person did wrong. I'm sure there are some 2/3Ls who have jeopardized their job search in one way or another, but there are many students who don't fall into this category and still get shouted down by 0Ls. I understand why they do it. It's easier to rationalize away your fears by telling yourself that the person posting screwed up somehow in a way that was within their control. The employment forum would be a much more useful place if 0Ls didn't act this way.

TINOTTR.

There are MANY JDU trolls that post on this board and their doomsday message is way over the top, especially when most of them come from lower ranked schools and they expected a lavish NYC biglaw to land in their laps.

I have as much debt as a sticker-paying private school JD due to UG debt and I am currently jobless, so I match the type of poster you said hasn't posted in this thread. I actually think this site is too pessimistic and way too ready to believe they hype it hears.

That said, the economy IS horrible and people really are struggling. The JDU type posters are the ones like the dude that posted earlier to not go to ls unless you can go HYS or Hamilton at Columbia. They tell you you should have been a plumber. These are not the types we should be listening to. Also notice that their post counts are low and that their date of registration is new. I always listen to those that are real poster with a post history on this site. People hear what they want to hear and those that yell at us who tell the trolls to go away want to hear that their lives are over.


A'nold, if you don't mind me asking, what is your plan for making it in this economy with that much debt? Are you concerned that this debt will affect your ability to purchase a house, raise kids, etc?

ShakeDemHatersOff
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Re: Courteous, Substantiated Thoughts, Please.

Postby ShakeDemHatersOff » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:54 pm

A'nold wrote:See, what's hard for me is that I have top 5% type grades and I can't help but to keep it in the back of my head that this should mean SOMETHING post-graduation. Reality seems to tell a different story though.

I'm thinking that I should really start to focus on some area of the law and really work my butt off to show employers that this is what I want to do. As it is right now I must appear like a jack of all trades. I know this is not the magic answer, but I think I need to get my butt into gear here, as I'm only about a year and a quarter away from being out in the real world.


:lol:

no one cares about what grades you make if you go to a non-elite law school...........the world is messed up but people just gotta face the music

In one sense I'm empathetic toward people struggling right now but in another, people who go into law school without having done the research sorta deserve what they get. Just like all the dumb undergrads who think they can get a job with a history major from a state school.

Outside of the top 5 law schools, I think anyone who goes somewhere they aren't getting a full ride is stupid ITE.

People who go to these garbage schools need to understand that they have NO CHANCE at ANY decent paying legal job.




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