What can I do a year and a half out of school?

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Anonymous User
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What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:28 am

I was a May 2013 graduate at a Tier 1 school and passed the Maryland bar exam. I stayed on as a law clerk at a small practice through the end of 2013, worked with a solo practitioner for a few months and then worked as a clerk at a medium-sized firm for the last 8 months of 2014. With the work drying up, the firm had to let me go and now I am doing temp work.

I'm not asking for a pity party, but I did work very hard to juice up my resume during school. Several impressive internships with federal agencies, firms, non-profits. I even interned for a federal judge. My grades were middle of the pack, but I'm not sure how much that matters at this point.

I have only made 1 court appearance, and that was as a 1-day contract attorney for a family law attorney.

I guess I just didn't see myself reaching this point. I feel like I have taken so many steps backwards since graduation. Many of my classmates have found attorney jobs.

I just don't know where I went wrong. I'd love to hear any stories or advice.

Thanks.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I just don't know where I went wrong.


This is the problem:

Anonymous User wrote:I was a May 2013 graduate at a Tier 1 school

My grades were middle of the pack...


I think your law school and grades effected your ability to get a real attorney job out of law school, which is impacting you now that you're 1.5 years out but still don't have much practice experience. Also, it's amazing how much grades matter well beyond law school. I graduated in 2011 from a t10, and grades still seem to be a big deal, which is surprising since I didn't think that anyone would even look at my GPA this far out. (Granted, the jobs I've been looking for tend to be extremely competitive.)

Re: your question as to what you can do-- you can find a job as a practicing attorney. Those law clerk jobs were only useful to the extent that they got your a permanent positions as an associate at one of those firms. It sounds as though either your work performance wasn't impressive enough to get hired as an associate or there legitimately wasn't enough work for you to get hired as an associate. If I saw your resume, I'd probably assume the former (as, I imagine, a lot of people would).

Anonymous User
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Re: your question as to what you can do-- you can find a job as a practicing attorney.


You write this as if this hasn't always been the goal.

Anonymous User wrote:Those law clerk jobs were only useful to the extent that they got your a permanent positions as an associate at one of those firms. It sounds as though either your work performance wasn't impressive enough to get hired as an associate or there legitimately wasn't enough work for you to get hired as an associate. If I saw your resume, I'd probably assume the former (as, I imagine, a lot of people would).


Can you elaborate as to why you would think that? The previous firm, which was mid-sized, told me that they wanted to hire a licensed attorney for a full-time law clerk position, basically just because they could - based on the oversupply of newly minted attorneys. The firm has struggled financially as of late (lots of contingency fee work - so this hadn't been a good year). Do you really think that prospective employers would automatically assume that I just couldn't cut it at the previous firms? I realize that BigLaw is doing well right now, but mid-sized and small law is still struggling.

rdawkins28
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby rdawkins28 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:59 pm

Ah... up my alley; i.e. a lawyer who didn't go to a top law school and didn't (couldn't) get big law or some other typical TLS goal.

There is a legal life outside of TLS. In fact, there are many non-TLS-type lawyers. Many succeed. And I'm sure many have failed and have given up on law completely. I deal with them all the time, ranging from Valparaiso graduates to UTexas graduates. Heck an acquaintance that I've worked with is from a law school with LSAT median of 145 and he just won a multi-milion dollar judgment. Not the smartest guy, just has a lot of bravado.

As for the TLS-
type lawyers I've dealt with, one from Harvard is now an elementary school teacher and the other is from Yale who hates his big law job.

PM me if you want some advice.

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runinthefront
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby runinthefront » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:13 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I just don't know where I went wrong.


This is the problem:

Anonymous User wrote:I was a May 2013 graduate at a Tier 1 school

My grades were middle of the pack...


I think your law school and grades effected your ability to get a real attorney job out of law school, which is impacting you now that you're 1.5 years out but still don't have much practice experience. Also, it's amazing how much grades matter well beyond law school. I graduated in 2011 from a t10, and grades still seem to be a big deal, which is surprising since I didn't think that anyone would even look at my GPA this far out. (Granted, the jobs I've been looking for tend to be extremely competitive.)

Re: your question as to what you can do-- you can find a job as a practicing attorney. Those law clerk jobs were only useful to the extent that they got your a permanent positions as an associate at one of those firms. It sounds as though either your work performance wasn't impressive enough to get hired as an associate or there legitimately wasn't enough work for you to get hired as an associate. If I saw your resume, I'd probably assume the former (as, I imagine, a lot of people would).


what a useful post

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Re: your question as to what you can do-- you can find a job as a practicing attorney.


You write this as if this hasn't always been the goal.

Anonymous User wrote:Those law clerk jobs were only useful to the extent that they got your a permanent positions as an associate at one of those firms. It sounds as though either your work performance wasn't impressive enough to get hired as an associate or there legitimately wasn't enough work for you to get hired as an associate. If I saw your resume, I'd probably assume the former (as, I imagine, a lot of people would).


Can you elaborate as to why you would think that? The previous firm, which was mid-sized, told me that they wanted to hire a licensed attorney for a full-time law clerk position, basically just because they could - based on the oversupply of newly minted attorneys. The firm has struggled financially as of late (lots of contingency fee work - so this hadn't been a good year). Do you really think that prospective employers would automatically assume that I just couldn't cut it at the previous firms? I realize that BigLaw is doing well right now, but mid-sized and small law is still struggling.


Because, imo, law clerk to unemployed looks like you performed poorly at work. Typically law clerk at a firm leads to associate, or at least remaining as a law clerk until you move onto a different firm (e.g. through some of your firm's attorneys' contacts with attorneys at other firms that have a need). But, to be honest, the real reason I would assume that is because it'd be an easy way to toss your resume in the paper shredder. Basically any job posting (for paying legal employment) that's open to recent grads is going to generate hundreds of resumes (and the top jobs will generate thousands of apps). It just wouldn't be worth my time to investigate further as to what your situation is (especially with you being a median 2013 t50 law school grad), since there'll be hundreds of applications better than yours. Sorry, I know this isn't super helpful, but the entry level legal market is a tough one since ABA accredited schools pump out twice the JDs as there are legal jobs, so there's a ton of people who are in your situation (i.e. middle of the pack grads from okay but not great law schools). Networking can help, but it seems like basically everyone who's unemployed is reaching out to employed alums, so I'm not sure that'll be immediately helpful to you (it would have been helpful if you had been networking for the past 6+ months, though, while you were a law clerk at a firm).

Just apply to jobs, network like crazy, and see what happens. If you're interested in public interest work, and are able to do it, I'm sure there's a number of PI organizations that can use volunteers, and that can be one way of getting experience. But I doubt they're any more likely to hire you for a paying position than a firm that you clerked at (it's kind of a similar position, but at a for profit firm, rather than a not for profit 501(c)(3), and there's a ton of people who volunteer at places like DA's offices and PD's offices in CA who never actually get hired). With that said, even if you aren't hired at the organization you're volunteering for, at least your building some type of marketable legal skills (it sounds like the law clerk positions you help didn't really do that).

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hous
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby hous » Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:35 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I just don't know where I went wrong.


This is the problem:

Anonymous User wrote:I was a May 2013 graduate at a Tier 1 school

My grades were middle of the pack...


I think your law school and grades effected your ability to get a real attorney job out of law school, which is impacting you now that you're 1.5 years out but still don't have much practice experience. Also, it's amazing how much grades matter well beyond law school. I graduated in 2011 from a t10, and grades still seem to be a big deal, which is surprising since I didn't think that anyone would even look at my GPA this far out. (Granted, the jobs I've been looking for tend to be extremely competitive.)

Re: your question as to what you can do-- you can find a job as a practicing attorney. Those law clerk jobs were only useful to the extent that they got your a permanent positions as an associate at one of those firms. It sounds as though either your work performance wasn't impressive enough to get hired as an associate or there legitimately wasn't enough work for you to get hired as an associate. If I saw your resume, I'd probably assume the former (as, I imagine, a lot of people would).


I feel like this post was meant more to brag and put the op down. Shame.

To the op, I would just apply to everything like mad. Try to avoid the clerk position and fluff your attorney experience.

bendak
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby bendak » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:02 pm

Like many recent graduates, you're in the unlucky situation where employers see your resume and assume you would be a bad associate (in real life I assume this is not true but my opinion doesn't matter). It's up to you to change that perception.

I assume that you're a member of the bar in your state. Use it as much as you can. Start a solo practice (if only as a temporary solution to get experience and something to talk about in interviews). You're going to have to strategically advertise and charge low rates starting out, but that is frankly your most likely foot in the door right now.
Volunteer as much as you can. Anything to add to your resume to show that you are actively pursuing your legal career. Give firms a reason to "take a bet" on you.

It's not a fun situation, but you can do it.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: What can I do a year and a half out of school?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:45 pm

Starting as a solo practitioner with almost zero substantive legal experience is a terrible idea and a great way to get sued for malpractice and/or have complaints registered against you at the State Bar.

There's also a ton of factors with a solo practice that you're probably not going to be able to make work for you. For example, where are clients going to meet you--at the gas station parking lot? Are they going to call your personal cell phone? How are you going to do research--with books at a school's law library? How are you going to copy, print, and fax large documents? How are you going to get clients in the first place--do you have a network that'll send you referrals?




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