Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

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Anonymous User
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Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:47 pm

I've read countless posts on several forums and blogs about people who have graduated from good schools, with good grades, have tons of debt, yadda yadda, who can't find a job in law. Is this the norm? It doesn't seem that way out here in "real life."

I didn't go to a top school. In fact, my law school barely made the Top 50 the year I graduated. I had bad grades (which, surprisingly, my employer never asked to see). Fortunately for me, my law school is far more respected in my home state than it is nationally. In any event, I had relatively little trouble landing a job I love. Am I the exception to the rule? Am I just special? I don't think so. Many of my classmates also got good, or at least decent jobs, soon (if not immediately) out of law school.

Here are my thoughts thus far (purely speculative and based on admittedly limited experience):

1. Having an extra area of knowledge (like a BS in computer science) helps you find a job in law. Before I even went to law aschool, I had a substantial knowledge of medical science and I think that's why I was offered a job by the first med mal firm I interviewed with.

2. Being willing to take a relatively low starting salary helps. (some smaller firms simply can't afford to pay new lawyers with no clients a high salary, but if you stick around, get experience and recruit clients, you can "work your way up")

3. After a few years of experience, employment becomes MUCH easier to find. I know a lot of people say "don't waste your time volunteering." But I think that's stupid. There are far more job openings for attorneys with a few years of experience (paid or not), than there are for new grads with little to no experience.


Just my two cents

lolwat
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Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby lolwat » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:20 pm

I think the main difference is “finding a job in law” versus “finding the job you wanted.” Sure, not everyone can be picky, but still…you’d want to do something you like, no? Especially if you graduated from a good school with decent grades.

I didn't go to a top school. In fact, my law school barely made the Top 50 the year I graduated. I had bad grades (which, surprisingly, my employer never asked to see). Fortunately for me, my law school is far more respected in my home state than it is nationally. In any event, I had relatively little trouble landing a job I love. Am I the exception to the rule? Am I just special? I don't think so. Many of my classmates also got good, or at least decent jobs, soon (if not immediately) out of law school.


What year did you graduate? You're anon, so no fear of outing yourself. The last few years haven’t exactly been the best for the legal market, though it seems better now.

Also, I already see a few differences from the usual poster on these forums: you appear to have grown up in your home state, went to a law school in (or at least respected in) your home state, and looked for a job in your home state. You also seem to have known what you wanted to do by the time you entered law school. That already makes it 100x easier to find a job, particularly in your home state. But if you take someone that graduated from a T10 school, they had better sell pretty damn hard their connection to a place that isn’t NY, CA, or Chicago. Some people have these connections; others don’t. Someone that grew up in NYC and graduated from Columbia might have a particularly hard time if they couldn’t get a job in NY; firms outside are more likely to question their willingness to stay in the area and work for them long term.

I grew up in one state, went to law school in another state, and took the bar exam of yet another state (that I wanted to ultimately work in). I wasn’t able to get a job in that 3rd state, and now I feel like I’ve lost the “connection” both my home and law school states, because it’d be a hard sell to convince them that I wanted to work there if I didn’t even take the bar exam there.

1. Having an extra area of knowledge (like a BS in computer science) helps you find a job in law. Before I even went to law aschool, I had a substantial knowledge of medical science and I think that's why I was offered a job by the first med mal firm I interviewed with.


This is true, and is also the same reason why people with EE/CS/etc. have an easier time finding IP jobs, and why people who worked before going to law school sometimes have a pretty good idea of what kind of law they want to go into. However, many people go to law school straight from college, and they didn't major in something "useful" in college. It's a little late at that point to say "man, I should've majored in CS."

2. Being willing to take a relatively low starting salary helps. (some smaller firms simply can't afford to pay new lawyers with no clients a high salary, but if you stick around, get experience and recruit clients, you can "work your way up")


I think that's what most of these people end up doing. You don’t hear complaining from them because they’re grateful they got a job—whether they’re happy is another matter; they might be, or they might not be. But the initial shock of “I graduated in the top 10% of my T30 school, why can’t I find anything that even remotely resembles biglaw???” is probably hard to get past.

Also, part of the problem is that these low-salary jobs aren’t well advertised at all, and these small firms don't do on-campus interview programs. Sometimes they pop up on places like Craigslist or your school’s job posting board, but often you have to go pretty far out of your way to research and contact these firms, or network to find one of these jobs—not something people generally want to do for a low-salary job.

3. After a few years of experience, employment becomes MUCH easier to find. I know a lot of people say "don't waste your time volunteering." But I think that's stupid. There are far more job openings for attorneys with a few years of experience (paid or not), than there are for new grads with little to no experience.


This is absolutely true, but it’s finding that first job that sucks hard if you weren’t on the traditional track to get something lined up after graduation. Volunteering is great, IMO, but the downside to that is, well, the lack of income. For some people, it might not even be feasible depending on their financial situation and where they live.

MedLaw2010
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Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby MedLaw2010 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:53 pm

lolwat wrote:I think the main difference is “finding a job in law” versus “finding the job you wanted.” Sure, not everyone can be picky, but still…you’d want to do something you like, no? Especially if you graduated from a good school with decent grades.


Fair enough, but how do you know what you like if you don't try it? I've heard people say things like "I never would have thought I'd actually enjoy property law... " Then there are others who got the job they thought they wanted and said "wow, this sucks." I've had several friends got into BigLaw and hated it.

What year did you graduate? You're anon, so no fear of outing yourself. The last few years haven’t exactly been the best for the legal market, though it seems better now.


2008

Also, part of the problem is that these low-salary jobs aren’t well advertised at all, and these small firms don't do on-campus interview programs. Sometimes they pop up on places like Craigslist or your school’s job posting board, but often you have to go pretty far out of your way to research and contact these firms, or network to find one of these jobs—not something people generally want to do for a low-salary job.


Why wait for an advertisement? I just sent out resumes to firms I liked. I even had my family and friends ask their personal lawyers if they were looking for a clerk. It might not be the "right" way to do things, but hey, it worked. The job I got wasn't advertised. Heck, it didn't even exist until I asked.

This is absolutely true, but it’s finding that first job that sucks hard if you weren’t on the traditional track to get something lined up after graduation. Volunteering is great, IMO, but the downside to that is, well, the lack of income. For some people, it might not even be feasible depending on their financial situation and where they live.


True, but that's why I lived with my parents until I found a job. There's no shame in it. This is what young people in Europe do when they can't find a job. I don't know why our culture decided that there was something wrong with living with your parents past the age of 20. It's a good deal -- free rent, food, internet access (usually), assuming you have parents who are kind enough to let you crash with them for awhile. :-)

MedLaw2010
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:28 pm

Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby MedLaw2010 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:54 pm

Oops, no longer "anonymous" -- oh well lol

truevines
Posts: 198
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Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby truevines » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:58 pm

MedLaw2010 wrote:
lolwat wrote:I think the main difference is “finding a job in law” versus “finding the job you wanted.” Sure, not everyone can be picky, but still…you’d want to do something you like, no? Especially if you graduated from a good school with decent grades.


Fair enough, but how do you know what you like if you don't try it? I've heard people say things like "I never would have thought I'd actually enjoy property law... " Then there are others who got the job they thought they wanted and said "wow, this sucks." I've had several friends got into BigLaw and hated it.

What year did you graduate? You're anon, so no fear of outing yourself. The last few years haven’t exactly been the best for the legal market, though it seems better now.


2008

Also, part of the problem is that these low-salary jobs aren’t well advertised at all, and these small firms don't do on-campus interview programs. Sometimes they pop up on places like Craigslist or your school’s job posting board, but often you have to go pretty far out of your way to research and contact these firms, or network to find one of these jobs—not something people generally want to do for a low-salary job.


Why wait for an advertisement? I just sent out resumes to firms I liked. I even had my family and friends ask their personal lawyers if they were looking for a clerk. It might not be the "right" way to do things, but hey, it worked. The job I got wasn't advertised. Heck, it didn't even exist until I asked.

This is absolutely true, but it’s finding that first job that sucks hard if you weren’t on the traditional track to get something lined up after graduation. Volunteering is great, IMO, but the downside to that is, well, the lack of income. For some people, it might not even be feasible depending on their financial situation and where they live.


True, but that's why I lived with my parents until I found a job. There's no shame in it. This is what young people in Europe do when they can't find a job. I don't know why our culture decided that there was something wrong with living with your parents past the age of 20. It's a good deal -- free rent, food, internet access (usually), assuming you have parents who are kind enough to let you crash with them for awhile. :-)


1. Some people have no patent to support them or to live with.
2. Some people have over $200k in debt . . . .

lolwat
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Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby lolwat » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:33 pm

Fair enough, but how do you know what you like if you don't try it? I've heard people say things like "I never would have thought I'd actually enjoy property law... " Then there are others who got the job they thought they wanted and said "wow, this sucks." I've had several friends got into BigLaw and hated it.


Sure, some people don't have set interests. I'm interested in a variety of areas myself. However, I also know what I'm really, really interested in. If I don't get something in that area, I might still enjoy my job--but I'm pretty sure I won't enjoy it as much as getting something there. BigLaw is another story entirely. I don't think there's that many people who go into BigLaw intending to stay there forever... IMO, it's the ability to pay off loans within 2-3 years and the exit options that really draw people to BigLaw. Whether they like it enough to stay after that, well, they probably find that out during those few years...

2008


Ah. I'm not 100% sure, but to my knowledge, 2008 wasn't bad in terms of getting hired, that class just had the possibility of being laid off as a first or second year associate... I could be wrong, though. I know 2010 grads had the problem of lower SA:offer %s and a higher possibility of being deferred or offers rescinded altogether, and 2011 grads faced the problem of not being able to find a job to begin with.

Why wait for an advertisement? I just sent out resumes to firms I liked. I even had my family and friends ask their personal lawyers if they were looking for a clerk. It might not be the "right" way to do things, but hey, it worked. The job I got wasn't advertised. Heck, it didn't even exist until I asked.


Networking and directly sending resumes to firms is great, and I'd completely recommend that to everyone. I wouldn’t wait for an advertisement or job opening, either. But not every smaller firm has a website (I have no idea why), and not everyone has the network of lawyers to tap. My family knows all of zero lawyers, has very few friends to begin with, and none of them know any lawyers directly, either. Even indirectly, we have little to no connections. I network with alums, which has worked out pretty well so far, though no direct job offer yet.

The result is that there would be a lot of hours being put into researching firms, especially ones doing what you’re interested in. Therefore, even if you're on top of your job search, it could be months before you actually find anything.

True, but that's why I lived with my parents until I found a job. There's no shame in it. This is what young people in Europe do when they can't find a job. I don't know why our culture decided that there was something wrong with living with your parents past the age of 20. It's a good deal -- free rent, food, internet access (usually), assuming you have parents who are kind enough to let you crash with them for awhile.


I agree; I’m living with my parents now until I find a job or until my clerkship starts. However, my family has no money (literally), and I live an hour away from the nearest big city. I certainly can and will volunteer there if I can’t find a paying job soon, but what if someone lived 2-3+ hours away from the nearest city with any appreciable legal services? What if, as the poster above me mentioned, they don’t have parents they can stay with?

You also didn’t really address the connections part of my reply—it’s a huge part of being able to get a job, especially in a smaller market.

Edit: Just a note: I haven't been complaining about not having a job, but I've been using myself as an example since I did graduate from a pretty good school, with pretty good grades, and without anything lined up until recently. I’m also not knocking anything that you’ve said, but I think it’s good to have some perspective on both sides.
Last edited by lolwat on Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've read countless posts on several forums and blogs about people who have graduated from good schools, with good grades, have tons of debt, yadda yadda, who can't find a job in law. Is this the norm? It doesn't seem that way out here in "real life."

I didn't go to a top school. In fact, my law school barely made the Top 50 the year I graduated. I had bad grades (which, surprisingly, my employer never asked to see). Fortunately for me, my law school is far more respected in my home state than it is nationally. In any event, I had relatively little trouble landing a job I love. Am I the exception to the rule? Am I just special? I don't think so. Many of my classmates also got good, or at least decent jobs, soon (if not immediately) out of law school.

Here are my thoughts thus far (purely speculative and based on admittedly limited experience):

1. Having an extra area of knowledge (like a BS in computer science) helps you find a job in law. Before I even went to law aschool, I had a substantial knowledge of medical science and I think that's why I was offered a job by the first med mal firm I interviewed with.

2. Being willing to take a relatively low starting salary helps. (some smaller firms simply can't afford to pay new lawyers with no clients a high salary, but if you stick around, get experience and recruit clients, you can "work your way up")

3. After a few years of experience, employment becomes MUCH easier to find. I know a lot of people say "don't waste your time volunteering." But I think that's stupid. There are far more job openings for attorneys with a few years of experience (paid or not), than there are for new grads with little to no experience.


Just my two cents


You did OCI pre-legal-crash. People who did OCI pre-crash just seem to be unable to grasp the current situation. I have spoken to/heard of quite a few well-intentioned lawyers who did OCI pre-crash and who have an outlook about chances at employment that is simply not consistent with the experience of those post-crash. It just seems like as much as they may acknowledge intellectually or verbally that 'things are bad' they just don't really understand. I was actually surprised to find this, but it has been my experience. But I am also definitely not a world-is-ending type who thinks the legal market/hiring is completely hopeless either.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: Finding a Job in Law -- personal thoughts

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:48 pm

truevines wrote:1. Some people have no patent to support them or to live with.


Srsly. I have ZERO sympathy for someone with well-to-do parents who are willing to let him/her live with them for an extended period of time, no matter what their employment situation or debt level.




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