Posts Tagged ‘changed forever’

An Article from the Philadelphia Inquirer: Less jobs for law graduates

Philadelphia-area law firms cutting back on summer internships | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/07/2010 

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Philadelphia-area law firms cutting back on summer internships

By Chris Mondics

Inquirer Staff Writer

For top law school students, summer-internship programs at big, brand-name law firms have helped open the golden door to lucrative full-time employment. The failing legal industry continues to make headline news as IVY League and top tier law graduates have been unable to obtain jobs. No one cares about the tens of thousands of law graduates outside of this limited category. They’ve been dealing with this for years.

But at some firms, that door is starting to swing shut. Many prominent law firms in the Philadelphia region and around the nation report substantially smaller internship programs this summer, as firms cope with the downturn in the legal marketplace and client demands that only seasoned lawyers be assigned to their matters. Just like the federal government, the private sector is relying more on well experienced attorneys sometimes regardless of the name-brand in your portfolio. I’ll surmise that the purpose of this article is saying that since these “top” law graduates are unable to get jobs, the legal job market is pretty dismal. Somewhat of a litmus test perhaps.

What’s more, firms are shortening their programs and paying summer associates less. At least they’re getting paid, and we’ll be sure not to weep for the $10,000 lost in the pay cut. Cry me a river.

The changes range from canceled programs at the Center City firms of Morgan Lewis & Bockius L.L.P. and Ballard Spahr L.L.P. to reduced internships at Dechert L.L.P., Blank Rome L.L.P., and Reed Smith L.L.P., a Pittsburgh-based firm with a 150-lawyer office in Philadelphia.

Dechert went from 99 summer-associate positions at the height of the legal market in 2007 to 36 this year. Reed Smith, a 1,600-lawyer firm, said the number dropped from a high of 81 in 2008 to 21 this year.

“It was definitely a challenging market for our students and they did have fewer choices for this summer,” said Melissa Lennon, assistant dean in the office of career planning at Temple University Law School. “Challenging,” that’s when something is difficult but the goals is still accomplished, it’s more accurate to say nearly insurmountable.

Three years ago, when law firms were booming, the market for summer associates was far more robust. More about the elite group.

Law firms flocked to campuses to compete for top second-year students and brandished salaries as high as $2,700 a week or more.

And, summer associates typically received offers of full-time employment once they had their law degrees.

The programs themselves, with trips abroad and lavish entertaining, could seem more like summer enrichment for precocious college students than real employment.

But as a general rule, that sort of treatment is a thing of the past. Yes, we know. Just to provide some advice, when you’re attempting to lure sympathy from a reader, it’s better not to talk about how associates were spoiled and lived it up and moreso focus on how they were able to meet their basic living expenses with money to save. It is this type of journalism that feeds the non-lawyers lack of empathy when the economy is poor.

More typical is the summer program at the Wilmington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom L.L.P., where Temple second-year Nick Mozal is spending his summer in corporate law. Mozal said there has been some entertaining, but the big event so far has been a night at a Phillies game.

He’s just grateful to have summer employment with a big-name firm.  That’s better.

“I feel very lucky, and I was very excited for it to have gone so smoothly,” said Mozal, who did his undergraduate work at Bucknell University and was raised in Exeter, a town in northeast Pennsylvania near Wilkes-Barre. “You can pick up the paper and read lots of stories about firms laying people off and [new hires] being deferred.”

Jennifer Wallace, a summer associate at Duane Morris L.L.P., a 700-lawyer firm, said recruiters had warned during interviews last year that the market for summer positions would be tough. Even so, Wallace, a second-year student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, received multiple offers.

“The hiring partners and the people affiliated with the process were very up front in terms of what I could expect,” she said.

…James Lawlor, a Reed Smith partner who recruits and hires summer associates, said the firm has been doing less entertaining of summer associates, and when it does, it is more likely to schedule events at the firm’s Center City offices rather than at costly restaurants.

“We took away some of the bells and whistles,” Lawlor said. = unnecessary expenses which had they been spared previous years you might’ve been able to hire more associates in the future, but like the Titanic people thought the legal industry was ‘unsinkable.’

“We had a choice; there was going to be a day of reckoning where we would have two classes joining us in the same period, which struck us as undesirable,” said Geoffrey A. Kahn, a Ballard Spahr partner specializing in commercial litigation and white-collar defense who oversees hiring and recruitment at the firm.

The de-emphasis of internships in Philadelphia tracks national trends. The National Association for Law Placement, a trade association that focuses on the training and recruitment of lawyers, said that for all law firms, the median number of summer-associate positions offered this year had dropped to seven from 10 last year and 15 in 2008.

Moreover, NALP said that firms had been doing fewer on-campus interviews. And when internships are completed, they are making fewer offers of permanent jobs.

“For the class of 2011, those who went through the on-campus interview process last year, there were many fewer summer-associate positions available,” said James Leipold, NALP’s executive director….So the picture is not uniformly bleak.

No, just bleak for the majority of law graduates regardless of school and ranking the stark while irrational optimists attempt to hide the reality of the legal industry as a whole, beyond the current state of the U.S. economy.

Heather Frattone, an associate dean at Penn’s law school, said the school’s entire class of second-year students has managed to find some form of summer law employment, often going to work for the government or small firms…Interesting how they would define this, as whether paid or unpaid, temporary employment, internships, etc.

Summer programs not only give law students practical exposure to the work they will do as full-fledged lawyers, they also serve as key recruiting tools. And that is why they’ve been reduced: Law firms project they will need fewer lawyers over the next several years. [emphasis mine].  Translate, over the next SEVERAL years firms and other businesses will not hire attorneys, the legal industry continues to shrink! In other words, there will be no jobs for you! So why are you getting into debt with false hopes. Members of the industry are now telling you straight up there aren’t hardly any jobs and won’t be for the projected long-term.

But that doesn’t make the programs any less essential, said Alfred Putnam, chairman of Drinker Biddle, which has instituted a novel training program for first-year lawyers aimed at providing practical exposure before they are assigned to client matters – and before their time is billed to clients. Essential for whatever clientele and firms that are left and when convenient you will be squeezed out of a job as with any pecking order, except it will likely be sooner than later.

“I am happy we still have a summer-associate program and I am happy we are still hiring,” he said. “Unless you bring in new blood, the institution doesn’t survive.” At this point the legal industry needs a blood transfusion.

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.

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.