Posts Tagged ‘changes’

Another News Article: “Law Degree Can’t Guarantee Law Firm Offer”

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O.k., I posted an article published by a Lansing Michigan newspaper dated May 31, 2010 entitled 

Law degree no guarantee for jobs | | Lansing State Journal at this Life’s Mockery post on the same date:

A more recent article  dated June 6, 2010: Law degree can’t guarantee job offer | The Columbus Dispatch, the sentiment is echoed.

“A few years ago, a law degree was practically a ticket to a comfortable life. The recession has changed that for most new graduates.” Interesting, so the author implies that merely a few years ago MOST new graduates would’ve had a comfortable life except for this recession thing that ‘messed everything up.’ Really? We must survey those graduates who were pre 2007/2008 and see how many were actually practicing the law, full-time, able to live based on that salary and meet their student loan obligations then one can assess what was considered a comfortable life.

This naive guy says the following: ““I have no problem paying my dues,” Kay said. “The problem is, I can’t even get a job at the bottom.” When a person pays dues, he or she in return is negotiating some form of benefit, the mere fact that this guy is unable to make it as a bottom feeder in the American economy should alert the reader there was a switch and bait, “gotcha” game played.

The article becomes a little more honest: “The National Association for Law Placement released a survey last month showing an overall employment rate of 89 percent for 2009 graduates for whom status was known. That’s 3 percentage points below 2007’s historic high and the lowest rate since the mid-1990s. The group noted that the new number reflects increases in temporary and part-time employment.” [emphasis mine]

Meaning out of the thousands of alumni of the various law schools throughout the country that actually partook of the survey (could’ve been 50 or a 1,000) 89% were employed. If I went around and asked 10 people I knew were employed and they all said yes I can easily offer that out of the people I surveyed, 100% were employed, which by no means reflect the actual legal industry and broader economy.

“In good times, top law students were almost guaranteed good jobs based on first-year grades and their experience as summer associates.” Some of us didn’t know this game either, many first years’ would have saved tens of thousands of dollars in debt had they just quietly banished themselves from the law school game.

We can say, this is good that the curtain is being slightly lifted, but proceed with caution, note how the article makes it appear that this change in the legal industry just happened and it’s all due to the recession. The article doesn’t discuss the MASSIVE shift in the business aspect of practicing law nor does it mention the proliferation of law graduates in the past 10 or 12 years, yep it’s some extraordinary feat that only the economy is responsible for. Let us not forget cause and effect…this change in the legal industry was not by happenstance people.

The final advice that these blogs have been trying to inculcate in your head is summarized here: ”

Niels Schaumann, vice dean for faculty at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., said: “The more urgent question is: What do you tell people who are thinking about going to law school?

“I don’t recommend it to people looking to make a lot of money. If you’re not interested in helping people in some way or providing service to your clients, it’s not for you.” [emphasis mine]

O.k., that was some honesty…but what could’ve been a little more accurate is: “I don’t recommend it to people looking to make a decent living or survive off an average lawyer’s salary.” There, that about does it.

An article and the idea of Law Practice Reform

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I first would like to say, too little, too late for those attorneys who aren’t considered seasoned nor are newbies to the legal field. Many blogs have outlined the mass-marketing, mass-commercialization of modern, U.S. legal education. Some suggest the apprenticeship manner of practice to get the legal industry back to its roots. As noble as it sounds, it’s too late. The legal industry has thousands upon thousands of intelligent attorneys who have most likely missed a great window of opportunity to take advantage of these suggestions. Whether due to economy– thus a poor job market, lack of connections, graduation from a non-top-tier, discrimination and simply put a field that casts its law graduates aside like roadkill. Others have noted that the purpose of these blogs is to prevent wide-eyed, ignorant potential law students from taking the plunge, both economically and mentally to attend law school. I stumbled across this article: – Three Law Firms Claim Success With New Apprenticeship Model

By no means is this some new idea, in England, which is what most state common law is modeled after, this was the norm for trades and guilds. At some point somewhere, proponents of free market and capitalism decided to mix these ideas with higher education and voile a disasterous recipe: adults with excessive debt and postponed lives with a rice-paper facade of having attained success. With any sweeping change, casualties abound. Those lawyers who weren’t IVY leagued or graduated at the wrong time will be included among the counted losses.

Apparently, the majority is not embracing this legal industry reform: “Not that there’s any rush to jump on the bandwagon — no other firms have announced similar programs since last summer. Critics worry that lower apprenticeship salaries will hurt a firm’s ability to recruit top prospects and that the programs aren’t worth the necessary partner time and resources. The few firms that have made the transition are either litigation-focused or regional in scope. No large general practice or white-shoe firms have started apprenticeship programs…”

Clients have certain demands that ingrains the lineage of prestige and the have vs. have nots. Major firms whose focus is the financial input, overhead costs and maintaining a certain level of clientele which funds their business/firms aren’t willing to sacrifice these efficacies to help produce quality attorneys. Economically it makes sense for the firms not to invest so much, since we read or have first-hand knowledge of associate burn-out, it is likely those would produce high-turnover, so why would a firm enhance skills of a non-partner, non-promotional/lateral attorney who would likely leave the firm anyway? “Partners at all three firms with apprenticeships conceded that they entail significant costs — and each said they had yet to tally up their actual costs thus far.”  Because of the nobility of the profession…[caught you laughing]

Whether the firm is a top level business or mid-sized, these are the ones that can actually afford to implement such a program, resulting in younger attorneys gaining more practial experience that they may use to advance their individual careers. Then there are the rest, who at the end of the day, regardless of whether these firms decide to follow the apprentice model, you will not hear them tell you “You’re Hired.” For the majority it doesn’t matter.