Archive for March, 2010

Part II: The U.S. Post Office is Always Hiring (This is about the Census)

Down and out? Well, it’s not getting any better.  In a prior post I submitted the quote: : “After just two years as an associate at a small firm in the District, Williams was laid off in November 2008. She assumed she would land another job within four months. When that didn’t happen, her brother mentioned seeing an ad that the Census Bureau was hiring.” [The Washington Post Carol Morello, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 8, 2010 [
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/07/AR2010030702886.html?hpid=topnews ]

Basically, everyone who’se overeducated and overqualified will be competing for a job that those who are less educated, more likely to stay longer and probably have little to no student loans will be applying for. Did you ever think that qualifying for a Census Bureau clerk position would become so competitive? Although I think it may be difficult (personal security) to be a census worker, but with a possible benefit of helping attorneys learn social and coping skills in dealing with others (something that’s not learned in law school); let’s face reality, it doesn’t take 2 to 3 degrees to fulfill the role. Look at this NPR article:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125225460

Overeducated And Unemployed? Try The Census by Brian Naylor Check out NPR’s article

Ph.D. Turns Census Clerk  Herman Kopecek is a would-be college professor who has taught history, philosophy and business ethics. But with teaching jobs hard to find, Kopecek and his Ph.D. are now working for the census. His job title?

Clerk.

See there? The more degrees you have doesn’t equal higher employment, better lifestyle, better personal finances. And you guys still have the audacity to still apply to law school? What are you thinking (*smack to the left side of your head*).

For those you have been thinking of moving abroad, I suggest that you do your research and understand that you won’t be practicing law ‘there’ either. As many more are becoming aware, it is evident that e-discovery tools are the next step in streamlining discovery and reducing firms’ overhead. In England, the existence of too many lawyers is burdening the taxpayers (no mention of barristers or solicitors suffering for student loan debt though):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259926/Jack-Straw-says-Britain-lawyers.html

Britain has too many lawyers… says justice chief (and lawyer) Jack Straw

By Steve Doughty
So for those who actually been contemplating and qualify to practice law in England and likely the rest of Europe, well it may be wise to reconsider.

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Los Angeles Times: California unemployment rate holds steady at 12.5% (and attorneys are feeling it)

California unemployment rate holds steady at 12.5%

The economy may be leveling off, although job prospects in professional fields still appear bleak.

LABOR

March 27, 2010|By Marc Lifsher

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/27/business/la-fi-cal-jobs27-2010mar27

Quote from a newspaper article: ” Though small, the professional sector — which includes lawyers, accountants, architects and economists — has been pummeled by the recession, more than in any other recent downturn.”

Did we really need a newspaper article to tell us this? Either you or a family member is living through this, though this article is specific to California. I will say this, as California’s current 12+% unemployment is one of the highest, and black unemployment across the sectors (including professionals) is at 15%, means California is not a good place for a minority to seek new opportunities or advance their careers.

Anyway, I find it interesting that most of the media outlets tend to focus on new graduates, new graduates gripe about competing against those with a decade of experience but no one seems to pay attention to those in between. You know the ones who aren’t elderly, have less than 15 years of experience but aren’t new to the meat market. These are the ones who have a harder time playing catch up because they are ALREADY expected to have gain some experience regardless of the market, tier of law school they attended or just facing the harsh reality of the legal industry.

“The latest recession differs from downturns in the early 1980s and 1990s because it “hits across sectors and across occupations,” said employment lawyer Michael Bernick at Sedgwick Detert Moran & Arnold in San Francisco. Then the article gets embolden by stating that the job market is improving as the economy does, how is this so when this is considered a “jobless recovery.” Logic please.

Here it is: “I don’t know of any law firm that is hiring people who don’t bring new business with them,” said Bernick, a former state employment agency director.” So the person likely to have a “book” of business that will advance a current firm’s portfolio are those with 20 years experience. Not those still building or attempting to gain any experience, this we already know, yet people STILL are attending law school in droves.

Prospects are even tougher for newly minted lawyers, said Darry Sragow, managing partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Los Angeles. “We don’t hire people straight out of school,” he said.” Ahh the focus on new attorneys, what about the rest of us? It’s either poor newbie or poor IVY Leaguer. ‘All I want to say is that they don’t really care about us.’

The More Things Change…: ‘Northwestern to Help Foreign Students Take NY Bar Exam so NY Can Have More Unemployed Lawyers’

 

…the more they stay the same. While perusing the net, I encountered this short stint:

Northwestern to Help Foreign Students Take NY Bar Exam so NY Can Have More Unemployed Lawyers

By On the Net, on March 16th, 2010; http://www.keytlaw.com/blog/2010/03/ny-lawyers/

 The United States economy is down.  Law schools are producing more law school graduates than available new legal jobs.  Lawyers like most other segments of the American business world are being laid off and experiencing declining revenue.  One backward thinking school has a novel solution to the “we have too many lawyers” problem – produce more lawyers!  Northwestern University School of Law is teaming with the College of Law in England to create a program for the College of Law students to get a masters degree from Northwestern University, which would then make the graduates eligible to take the New York bar exam.  After 22 weeks of study, the College of Law grads will get a J.D. from Northwestern, something that takes traditional Northwestern students three academic years to obtain.  This is more proof that higher education is always about the money at the expense of the students.

Judith W. Wegner, the Burton Craige Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School wrote an article called “More Complicated than We Think: A Response to Rethinking Legal Education in Hard Times: The Recession, Practical Legal Education and the New Job Market.”  The article contains these statements:

“For example, the National Law Journal’s most recent survey of the “NLJ 250” large firms concluded that 13.3 percent of large firm attorneys working in New York City lost their jobs this year [2009]“

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that, when seasonally adjusted, the number of jobs in legal services fell from 1,157,700 in November 2008 to a projected 1,115,900 for November 2009 (a decline of 9.6 percent over the prior year”

“The American Bar Association reports that for students graduating in 2008, the average debt load for those attending private schools was $91,506, while those attending public law schools on average accumulated $59,324 in debt.”

See “The Year in Law Firm Layoffs – 2009,” which said “2009 will go down as the worst year ever for law-firm layoffs. More people were laid off by more firms than had been reported for all previous years combined.”  See also Above the Law’sThe College of Law — London, Makes Move in U.S. Market.”

 O.k. you commenters on the law scam busting websites. You can have a field day with this one. You qualify to take the bar in 6 months after a “program” at Northwestern Law. This is the degradation of the legal field. Once again, Americans are held to the highest standards while foreigners enter this country with no debt, usually a hatred for Americans but given the blessing to enter the playing field of the legal industry with less repurcussions.

An Open Letter to Families of Law Graduates and Attorneys

To Whom it May Concern:

You may not understand why your daughter/son/husband/wife are suffering. Everyone claims because of the economic downturn since 2008, it is the reason why lawyers cannot find a job. This is not the case. Attorneys from prior generations were already suffering and the most recent economic collapse just further opened the lid on such an embarrassing secret: law school was not a good investment.

You see,  the majority of students spent long, listless hours in the law library, being broke, surviving on student loans but making sure you had enough for branded coffee. What they also endured is a teaching method unparallel to any other graduate school-the socratic method.  It’s basically academic hazing in which a professor calls on the student in the midst of silence, hoping that the student either blew off or was too tired to read the previously assigned caseload in order to demean them in the most sarcastic of ways. There is no such thing as “catching up” on previously assigned work because it’s continuous reading for most classes with a final exam at the end of the semester. This is preparing your family member for real world of the “practice of law” as well. You see, should he or she not be employed in appropriate legal industry within the first three years, attending law school becomes the equivalent of career suicide.

World War II I believe, as women showed that they were more than capable of working in factories and taking care of the “homefront” as American were off at war. It was not only women who threatened the availability of jobs, young adults did as well. This is how adding tiers of education to prolong children/young adults entry into the workforce and prevent their sudden encroachment of jobs for the working class. This methodology is now so inflated that you have members of a younger generation who are over-educated, with no practical skills and can barely survive (if they are) in this country where the modis operandi is simply the opposite of what they tried to do; that is they tried to work and do things the ‘right way’ while others just took advantage of the system. You should be angry at the latter, not the former.

For those who actually practiced law for some time, you have no idea the type of work environment they undergo. Most work environments have backbiting and gossip, but magnify it 10X when you’re addressing the legal field and every stereotype one can imagine: conniving, deceptive, manipulative, liars, phony, deceitful, greedy and hateful. You should be glad that they are either being forced out or deciding no longer to be in this field. Those who want to stay will more than likely fit the just mentioned adjectives very well.

Anyway, I know you would like them to “stick with it” in their legal practice or law job search. Reality dictates that there is no adhesive keeping this economy together. It’s all falling apart. It’s not like during your time where you can make an ‘honest living,’ purchase a home, get married have children, backyard, pickett fence and a dog. Companies and law firms are dissipating completely primarily contributing to the loss of jobs (even with mergers and acquisitions there is some job loss but not as many). With the rise in prices for fresh produce, apartments, housing, inflation, this country’s debt to other countries, your attorney family member’s student loan debt, high stress, delay of having a family because he or she wanted to do the right thing and is now being punished for it. Whatever jobs exist in the federal government your generation is clasping the reigns for dear life as they likely lost their retirement funds or money in the stock market and probably are unable to retire now even if they wanted to.

 Do not mock, scorn, name call, belittle your law graduate family member. This is the time they need your support, not your scorn.

**I remember an episode of Dr. Phil stating that “I know it’s un-American to tell you not to have a credit card [and debt]. Well, I thought I could take it a step further and say do not get a graduate degree.

Student Loan Relief for DOJ Attorneys

So, should you be a Department of Justice attorney you’re in for a treat. The Department of Justice has a program to help reduce your student loans, with several exceptions: http://www.justice.gov/oarm/aslrp/poliy.htm#b. The DOJ wants to recruit and retain basically tier-1 law graduates. However, even if you qualify  “funding does not permit selection of all qualifying attorneys for participation in the ASLRP.” Wow, it almost reminds me of the pro bono/not for profit/public interest incentive student loan program–basically almost non-existent, so many hoops to jump through, and should you qualify you will get only a certain portion applied to your student loans.

Looking at most of the DOJ attorneys who do not qualify are, yes you guessed it “temp attorneys” o.k. not in the sense implied but call it excepted service, contractual, temporary,  appointment etc. Factually, excepted service is not permanent employment, GS-level (nor do you qualify for interdepartmental vacancy transfers), or contractual, it is code for “at will” employment. Even in the federal government short-term attorneys are the dregs of the legal field.

According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management ( http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/studentloan/HTML/QandAs.asp) multiple federal agencies may use this program to benefit its employees. So why doesn’t the federal government implement a program where it contributes to the repayment of your student loans, should one be employed in the private sector and make less than $65,000, paying interest on the student loans, let alone the unemployed are left to once again fend against Sallie Mae all by their lonesome. One could only fathom the number of restrictions that non-federal employee would have to fulfill should a program like this be implemented. What’s convenient for you is that you don’t have to, because well, they just do not exist.

A Short Article: ‘Thinking about law school?’

subject to copyrighthttp://www.unews.com/thinking-about-law-school-1.1259408

Thinking about law school? By Evan Helmuth Published: Monday, March 8, 2010

The author of this short piece is basically warning 0Ls to not go to law school in particular and to think twice about any other graduate school program. Everyone in my generation, and I suspect others, has been socialized to think of an M.B.A., a J.D. or any number of different graduate degrees as being both prestigious and valuable.

Reality sometimes has a rude way of intruding on our notions that conflict with it.

The financial melt-down of 2008 changed a lot about the legal industry, along with a lot of other industries…

So so true. Attorneys’ families are still unable to understand how an attorney isn’t working, on the verge of homelessness or otherwise not living the ‘high life.’ Generations X, Y and whoever else inherited the debt of the earlier generations. The earlier generations lost their retirement, IRA funds and social security due to corruption and the economy. One cannot reasonably convince themselves in the midst of all this evidence that getting into excessive educational debt will benefit you long term. Maybe the U.S. job market will just turn all the department, convenient stores and restaurants into one huge educational campus. Many intelligent youth have been told by their parents how special they are, that they will make it big, and make “us proud,” that the smack of reality is probably causing nervous breakdowns across the country. Some of the educated stated “I did everything right.” Well, I also noticed a woman on one of these talk shows last year say the same thing. She stated that she waited to get married to have children, her and her husband obtained “good jobs” and they waited until the time was right to get a house. Guess what? Unfortunately, they lost everything. I don’t want to say that it doesn’t matter whether one “does things right.” I will say just know that the system doesn’t care too much and as you have witnessed or experienced, the rug will be pulled right from under you.My favorite quote in the column:

“It makes little sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an M.B.A. or J.D. if there are no transactions being done for attorneys to write and no businesses for M.B.A.’s to consult or manage.”

Touché.  Learn a foreign language, relocate abroad (somehow), pay off your consumer debt (though I have no solutions concerning those wretched student loans). It’s done. The younger generations should consider themselves graced they even get the warning, the children born during the later 1970’s didn’t.

The U.S. Post Office is always hiring

Actually it’s not. During the past two years the Washington, D.C.; Virginia; Maryland areas postal services were affected by the recession. Local news stations touted the proposed shorter office hours as wells as reducing the number of days a postal worker delivers mail to 5 instead of 6 days. Wow, in my experience I have to wonder which is worse, waiting in a line at a bank for a teller to wait on you or waiting at the post office. I think it depends on the time of day and the teller, usually they’re both horrible. As of date, the U.S. postal service still delievers 6 days a week, but now they’re considering ‘reducing staff.’ Really? I guess having 2-3 tellers is too much especially when you service three suburban counties. So by now you have realized that the U.S. Postal Service isn’t hiring; but the U.S. Census is–allegedly.

I knew of an attorney who applied last year and was told that it was only the beginning of the application process. The Washington Post seems to promote being a census taker–at least it’s money. One cannot have an article about unemployed professionals without discussing the attorney who is looking for work:

The Washington Post Carol Morello, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 8, 2010 [
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/07/AR2010030702886.html?hpid=topnews ]

“After just two years as an associate at a small firm in the District, Williams was laid off in November 2008. She assumed she would land another job within four months. When that didn’t happen, her brother mentioned seeing an ad that the Census Bureau was hiring.”

Wow, at least she was able to get some real legal experience–I’m assuming. And look at this article posted a few days ago, it’s as if attorney’s are the new gauge for unemployment rates among professionals!:

‘Those college degrees don’t seem to be worth very much now,’ Dayton Daily News, March 16, 2010, Carol Flowers [http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion/those-college-degrees-dont-seem-to-be-worth-very-much-now-603118.html ]

“My son holds five associate degrees, a bachelor’s, a master’s and a law degree. He has passed the bar exam in three states and cannot get a nibble because he is in competition for jobs with unemployed lawyers who have 10 to 15 years of experience.” Ok, this mother has to be reading our blogs now, so maybe family members do understand, well I still think most don’t.  Maybe she was part of the PLUS loan programs and now her credit is being affected, who knows, but the college-law school promos are being exposed.

Now just imagine that you were an older attorney but in the same situation. Economists state this is a jobless economic recovery. What? So I am to conclude the only ones primarily benefitting from a financial upturn would be actual corporations.

Repeat After Me: ‘Too Often a Law Degree Today is a Bad Investment’

This is a great new mantra to have:’Too Often a Law Degree Today is a Bad Investment.’  Maybe the author of this article will feel enough sorrow for me to pay off my student loans. Anyway, I think the article speaks for itself and continues to echo the reality and dissent of law graduates (I only show a portion of the article):

http://www.keytlaw.com/blog/2010/03/law-school-bad-investment/

Too Often a Law Degree Today is a Bad Investment

By Richard Keyt, on March 14th, 2010

Last week I read a blog post entitled “University of Alabama School of Law Accepting Applications for LL.M in Taxation Program” on a law professor’s blog.  The ivory tower prof who wrote the post proudly announced not only the beginning of the new law school program, he also linked to a brochure about the new program, linked to a video about the new program, gave the class schedule and an email address at the University of Alabama where people could send messages for more information.  Makes me wonder why the prof is shilling so hard for the new program.  I suspect he thinks it is wonderful that more young lawyers will be able to  go deeper into debt to get a masters degree in tax law.  I’ve got news for him, the view from the ivory tower is much different than the view from the trenches where young lawyers must seek employment…

I found the following tidbits of information in the University of Alabama’s brochure about the new online LL.M. program: 

  • “The LL.M. in Tax Program has rightfully earned a reputation for being one of the best educational values available.”  The brochure does not offer any support for this bold statement of fact.
  • “we have assembled a “dream team” tax faculty”
  • Tuition will be between $25,200 and $26,490 for 24 semester credit hours.

I could not find anything on the law school’s website or in its sale brochure that discussed if having a master’s degree in tax law would help an unemployed lawyer get a job or an employed lawyer get a better job or make more money.  I am sure that the new program will make a lot of money for the law school. 

There is something terribly wrong with the higher educational system in general and the law school education system in particular.  What is wrong is that these education systems are misleading young people into incurring massive debts to pay for degrees that many times do not justify the investment.  See “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be…Lawyers.”  Law schools are at the top of the student abuse chain because of the staggering cost for a year of school.  One hundred and sixty-five law schools charge more than $20,000 a year for tuition.  One hundred and one laws schools charge more than $30,000 a year for tuition.  See the table comparing law school tuition.  If a student can get by with room, board, books and incidentals of $15,000 a year, the cost for three years of law school is: 

$20,000/year tuition = $35,000/year = $105,000 total
$30,000/year tuition = $45,000/year = $135,000 total
$40,000/year tuition = $55,000/year = $165,000 total 

Here are the monthly payments at six percent simple interest paid over 10 and 20 years for the above-three debt amounts: 

$105,000 debt = $1,160 and $749
$135,000 debt = $1,491 and $962
$165,000 debt = $1,823 and $1,176 

I feel very sorry for young people graduating from law school in these difficult economic times.  More often than not they have been mislead by their law schools into believing that a law degree is a ticket to a great paying job.  Why aren’t the law schools required to give exact graduate job hiring and salary statistics?  Even though ivory tower guy and the intellectual elites that teach and run the nation’s law schools are putting their collective heads in the sand because it all boils down to big money in the pockets of the law schools and their faculties, the media and other people are starting to notice the problems with legal education in the United States.

I see a bit of  Nando/Third Tier Reality and Esq. Never in this article-with your breakdowns and estimated financial calculations. Anyway, this article is pretty much self-explanatory, should enough people keep saying it potential law students will finally accept it. It works when you are lied to, so maybe it’ll work when they realize bloggers are telling the truth.

Why You Should Be Bitter

You tried to do it right. You received good grades in high school and college. You decided to improve your job prospects because you knew you wanted a family, knew of inflation and just wanted to continue working forward. The mistake you made. You went to law school.

As we all have witnessed we are bitter. Some law graduates went to top schools, others didn’t, and still others weren’t adequately advised or mentored as to whether they should have been to or stayed in law school. For the most part were tricked by enablers.

You realized it when you expected a return on your educational investment, even now you will still hear influential financial advisors such as Suze Orman exort student loans as “good debt.” You stay in an apartment in an ok area, but realized that blue collar workers make just as much as you, that everyone receives discounts on their rent: the military, teachers, veterans, disabled. The latter two you understand but then comes the other category-Section 8 housing.  You realized that at some point in your life you were considered open-minded, liberal, until the basics of housing and food became an issue. Everyone makes mistakes, but some people have made it a career to live their lives in error. I refer to the ones who manipulate and take advantage of the system. You are surrounded by those who went out and had a bunch of children they couldn’t afford, some may work part-time others don’t at all, yet they are rewarded. You on the other hand are middle or upper middle class, your tax dollars support programs that DO NOT benefit you at all, yet after trying to do things the right way, you end up living in the same area, neighborhood and even apartment buildings as these people. The government doesn’t care about your student loans, you are taxed to the highest degree possible, punished because you are single and dare to want to earn a decent living so you wouldn’t have to live amongst certain elements. Then you realize, I sacrifice for what? to be around who? and what are my job prospects with a legal education and (if it applies)  I am a minority? Wow. You should not be bitter, but you should definitely be angry.

The Undertraining of Lawyers and Its Effects On The Advancement of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession

locked door

I think this would be a good add-on to the prior post of ‘Rethinking Legal Education’; but with a narrower focus on minorities. Though I must admit, that there seems to be an increase in academic discourse regarding the lack of preparation of law graduates for the practice of law.Interestingly, I would like to dissect the use of “women and minorities” phrase that I’ve seen used before. Years ago many Black Americans (and still) argued that the primary beneficiaries of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act were white women and not blacks in general. Thus, although a white woman in general modern times be deemed a minority she may still be consider a ‘suspect class.’ Yet a black woman is detracted from her worthiness and feminity but being mass categorized in the minority class when referring to blacks in general. This seems to make the black woman invisible in statistical and academic discourse. Which is ironic since for decades black women have outnumbered black men in university matriculation and graduation, as a result I’ll conclude this would also be the case in graduate education as well.  I’ve read in other spaces how in the black community the patriarchal scheme of life and business, black men are accepted more than black women. I first assessed that this was due to the sub-category of the ‘old boys network,’ that if you’re not a white male, a black male will eventually accepted as long as it’s a male first. I don’t have statistical evidence, so someone may show me evidence to the contrary but the hierarchy appears to be: white man, white woman, black man, asian man, asian woman, black woman at the bottom.

This is an interesting quote from the article: “Sharon Jones* , a black woman associate who is working for her third Am Law 200 firm since graduating from Columbia Law School in 2000, is a prime example of the abysmal retention statistics for women of color. “I think the number one reason why women of color leave firms in such overwhelmingly large numbers is that law firms are not meritocracies; the playing field is far from level.”

I’m sure it’s for multiple reasons such as this: Judge called 3 black women lawyers ‘Supremes’; January 31, 2008 [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22924814/]

Although I’ll leave the term “black” out as some people are deemed so who actually are not, this is a travesty. For the past 20 years most college graduates among “blacks” are women, thus those who graduate from graduate and professional schools are from this category. With high attrition of women of color (who have a higher interest in laws addressing racial discrimination and social reform) from the legal field, the representation of these populations will dwindle to nearly non-existent. This will allow certain legislators and politicians to enact, implement or reinterpet laws that will continue to subject the unpopular classes to servitude status once again. I like to think of it as historical reversion.

 From what I have witnessed among black female attorneys they are the biggest back biters and flesh eaters of their own. Most don’t care for personal and career development likely due to a social familiarity, resulting in lack of progress. Society will deem them not worthy and deserving of whatever they get *door slam.*

The author likely expressed the sentiment of most law school graduates by stating: “My alma mater, like most of other law schools in America, did not prepare its students, particularly those from historically underrepresented backgrounds, for navigating their careers in law firms. For today’s law schools to continue stressing the importance of Pennoyer v. Neff, rather than teaching its students about the business of law firms is absolutely criminal.”

There you have it people. Don’t go to law school, especially if you’re a minority. Nothing has changed, smoke and mirrors, why subject yourself to daily abuse all for the privilege of being in a field that financially ruined you (p.s. you can get in ethics trouble if you lost your job, unemployed, suffering from the recession and are unable to pay your personal bills). Don’t you just love it?

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