Posts Tagged ‘lawyer’

HBO: Underemployed Attorneys Get Taken Advantage Of

The other day I was perusing through the channels and stumbled upin a documentary on HBO about public defenders.

The film focused on attorneys from particular areas in the State of Georgia. Although the documentary followed them through trials; it also took aim at what working for state and local government does to them.

One female attorney said that she gets countless cases and low pay and that “you mean after all Ive done, after paying all my bills all I have is $20  (that’s right twenty dollars) left in my account?” 

“I have six figure student debt.”

“This is what you think of us?” She went on to discuss how a client was plotting her murder in the courtroom just in case the verdict isn’t what the defendant wants. Some other clients in jail warned her and a clip showed her crying and stating how she always visited the jail and was supportive of the defendant even if she wasn’t going to specifically discuss his case but he would call because no family or friends of his would see him.

She apparently cared about her job and work product while her employer saw her as a tool and cog in the hamster wheel with no pay.

The film goes on to a support group for public defenders. What disgusted me was a senior Public Defender tries to convince overworked, burnt out, under-paid over the head indebted aspiring attorneys to stick with it. He had the gall to try to compare what they do to the civil rights movement which he was clearly reaching because many of the attorneys were people of color.

It would have been more accurate to refer to the US Constitution. The civil rights was about human rights and discrimination based solely or primarily on skin color and ethnicity.

Towards the end they get treated to a special lunch in Washington, DC with Congressman Ray Lewis. 
Dear reader,  one now must ask him or herself whether the mental, physical and financial toll worth being an attorney, let alone an underpaid public defender while your future has been or will be cast on a wayward slope—accelerating downhill?

Do not go to law school. It simply is not worth it!

$10,000 First Year Associate Salary-Boston

No,this is not a joke. The article begins with:

Say No to Law School
Protect Your Sanity and Your
Financial Future

By now, most people know a law degree hardly guarantees law school graduates will snag a good job, let alone a high-paying BigLaw position.

But it may be even tougher than you think to get a high-paying legal job just out of law school. Hiring law firms, if you thought you were low-balling new grads, think again. (Boston Business Journal 06/01/2012): Legal job market hits new low: BC Law lists job below minimum wage 

Yahoo’s version: (06/01/2012)  Attention Lawyers: Get Your … $10,000 a Year Salary: 

The beginning of the article states: Attention college students applying to law school: put down the LSAT prep book. You might want to consider another line of work.

How can this be legal, it reminds me of how waitresses are paid poorly on an hourly basis then make most of their money on commission, maybe this is the same scheme. For shame, BELOW MINIMUM WAGE. Sallie Mae, SLM, Access, Nelnet does not care: All they say is _________ , you better have my money with a financial, back-handed slap known as late charges, additional finance charges, interests and other ‘costs.’

This has been going on for decades. Mainstream media is just late to the party; I would dare say ‘fashionably late.’ The kind of oh I was going to get there, so when I (mainstream media) arrive I appear to expose this dying legal market.

The Mainstream Media Harks the Trumpet: Overburden Law Graduates with Usurious Student Loans (NYT)

The New York Times

So, at this point the mainstream media gets it? Why you may ask. Because the Housing bubble put the nation and the world economy on notice that the old way of financially devastating working/middle class persons who took a chance on higher education will not only destroy their way of living but burden the world economies. Interestingly, the author suggest more accountability in accredidation (not likely to happen, if Sallie Mae lobbied Congress to privatized and obliterate “fresh start” by discharging student loans through bankruptcy; I’m sure these for profit institutions will lobby (pay) Congress to keep out of ABA’s ‘free market enterprise’ of exploitation–ironically in the legal field.

He also suggests stripping away tenure track positions. Hmmm maybe professors will be forced to teach with integrity and on merit not based on race, personality conflict or whether the student is the child of a local judge. Doubt the latter, but support the author’s recommendation. Here’s an excerpt:

Two factors have combined to produce this situation: the federal loan system and the American Bar Association-imposed accreditation standards for law schools. Both need to be reformed.

First, consider the loan system. For more than three decades, law schools have steadily increased tuition because large numbers of students have been willing and able to pay whatever price the schools demanded. Annual tuition at many law schools in just over a decade surpassed $30,000, then $40,000 and is now more than $50,000 at a few. The reason that students have been able to pay such astronomical sums is that the federal government guaranteed student loans from private lenders, and now it supplies the loans itself with virtually no limits.

To restore some economic rationality, the federal loan system needs to demand greater accountability from law schools: those with a high proportion of recent graduates in financial trouble should lose their eligibility to receive money from federal loans. (A similar requirement is currently applied to for-profit colleges.)

The full article can be found at:

How to Make Law School Affordable – NYTimes.com (05/31/2012)

Summer is in the air, so is the stinch of unemployment: More Rejection Letters

What would be a start to a new season without sharing some additional rejection letters for employment the past few months. Ready, let’s dig in! :

05/25/2012:
This refers to the application you recently submitted to this office for the position below:
Position Title: Public Affairs Specialist
Series/Grade:
1035/11
Promotion Potential: 11
Vacancy ID: 651583
Agency: Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the Office of the U.S. Attorneys
Considered For:Southern District of New York
Duty Location:
New York, NY
We have reviewed your application and found you qualified for the position listed above. However, you were not among the most highly  qualified candidates. Therefore, your name will not be referred to the employing agency at this time. If we receive a request from the agency for additional candidates, or another agency requests a list of eligibles for a very similar position within the next 90 days, your application will again be reviewed for possible referral.

I regret that a more personal form of communication is not possible. For any questions concerning this acknowledgment, please send an e-mail to usaeo.usastaffing@usdoj.gov or contact the agency representative listed in the vacancy announcement. Thanks again for your interest in employment with our agency. (Yes, I am sure you are simply heart broken that I did not receive further consideration, oops wait no real consideration for this position. Let me grab a tissue for you. Meanwhile Sallie Mae continues to threaten me because I am unable to sustain payments.

04/18/2012:
Thank you for your interest in the Attorney position with PGCPS. Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to fill this position. Please continue to check on our website for future positions at pgcps.org. (Here’s clue, stop advertising for positions you have no intent to fill. This is a waste of the local taxpayers money and for those who sent applications/resume via postal mail, it is a waste of resume paper and postage. See it costs money on both sides when you play this game).

04/09/2012:
Dear Applicant:
Thank you for your interest in the Program Manager-Libya position with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). We have received a large number of inquiries from highly qualified candidates for this role. At this time, we have decided to move forward with an individual who more closely matches the skills and qualifications required for this role. (I’m sure you have, while I applied as others encourage me to pursue the versatility aspect of a law degree and to try “something else.” Maybe you can tell them you don’t care for lawyers either.)

02/28/2012:
This refers to the application you recently submitted to this office for the position below:
Position Title: Attorney Advisor CORE
Pay Plan:   GS
Series/Grade:  0905-13
Vacancy ID: 519372
Announcement Number: MG2011-T0333-DAV-519372-COR
Hiring Office: Administrator 000 Office of Chief Counsel
Results regarding your recent referral to the Hiring Official are as follows:
Referral Type: Non-Traditional
Appointment Type: Temporary
Specialty / Grade: 0905 – 13
Promotion Potential: 13
Locations: Washington DC Metro Area, DC
The hiring office has decided not to fill the position at this time. (You don’t say, hmmm is it because of the federal deficit or the fact that people who are the highest unemployed are people of color and that’s the bulk of your applicants. Guess you are waiting for your perfect Harvard bred, Anglo-Saxon, male applicant to fill this position.)

02/23/2012:
Thank you for your interest in USAID and the position listed above (Contract Specialist). We are writing to notify you that the team has completed the review of applicants and you were not selected for this position. USAID is a rapidly growing organization that must quickly adapt to the changing world. Consequently our hiring needs change frequently. We would like to invite you to continue to look through our open positions at USAID.GOV or http://www.avuecentral.com. There may be other positions that might match your skills. (wait I thought I could do any thing with a law degree including contracts?)
Because of the volume of resumes we receive, we find it necessary to use the on-line application to screen candidates. If you do apply for another position, please provide as much detail as possible on the application form.
We appreciate your on-going interest in USAID and wish you the best of luck… (I usually won’t go there but I’m at my brink so I give a “liar and f*** you” to the person who auto-generated this rejection letter.)

Law Professor and Former Dean Writes Book Exposing the Law School Scam

This article The Bad News Law Schools – NYTimes.com (2/20/2012) describes what a former law school dean but still law professor has to say regarding law schools failings and the American Bar Association’s complicity in the legal industry crisis:

In fact, that news was itself not so new. Uneasiness about the state of legal education has been around for some time, but in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008, uneasiness ripened into a conviction that something was terribly wrong as law school applications declined, thousands of lawyers lost their jobs, employers complained that law school graduates had not been trained to practice law, and law school graduates complained that they had been led into debt by false promises of employment and high salaries. And while all this was happening, law schools continued to raise tuition, take in more and more students, and construct elaborate new facilities.

Well, I think this sums it up.

Even Spain’s Lawyers Can’t Find Jobs

Ok, so we heard about Britain and America and the oversaturation of the legal industry. I’ve even read about American law firms merging  with British ones resulting in the inevitable loss of jobs. India, well between outsourcing contract work and their oversaturation…oh and the Nigerian “lawyer’ who migrates to New York after taking a one year LLM and presto change-o-becomes a lawyer. But Spain? Ok the article is mostly about Spain’s poor economy and unemployment in general but of course, once again one cannot report about a country’s recession without mentioning “the unemployed lawyer”; this may become a new clinical diagnosis under DSMR-VI:

Many Spaniards lucky enough to have jobs these days are underemployed — law graduates working in restaurants, for example.

Here’s the article in full: Spain workers lose bridge holidays in debt crisis austerity move (01/22/2012)

So much for finding a job abroad. In the past year the media has discussed the problem with Greece and Italy. The European Union doesn’t want to bailout Greece until Greece shows it has a plan to get its country in order. The IMF says Italy isn’t doing so bad but is hesitant to loan its government money because its economy is not in the best of shape. So I’m sure we’ll see more about how their economies are affecting the legal industry there as well.

Don’t Go to Law School if You Want a Living Wage

All Rights Reserved

Should have been the title of the following news column, but I guess the current one will have to do:

  January 21, 2011:

Don’t go to law school if you want to make money | Susan Estrich | Columnists | Washington Examiner

At this point, it seems like bloggers, commenters and now even law professors who are exposing the game are becoming redundant. But with millions of futures at stake and an industry that has changed to the point of likely never reverting back to the traditional ways of living wage, true prestige and intellectual competition, we cannot say it enough. Do not go to law school:

In recent years, an increasing number of law students have not gotten jobs like those, because most large firms (who are the ones paying $160,000 to start) have cut back significantly on new hiring. The idea that you can just walk out of law school and into a six-figure job is, for many students at most schools, a painful fantasy.

There’s an enormous amount of Wall Street-style accounting that goes into the reports on employment that law schools submit to the increasingly powerful organizations that rank them. So when you look at the numbers, you might think that almost everyone who goes to a half-decent law school is finding a great job after graduation. Oh my does she dare suggests that big money and corporate finance is used to ‘enhance’ of law school statistics and ability to graduate top notch law students? Perish the thought [o.k. that was some real sarcasm]

My first job out of law school paid $13,909. Granted, it was a long time ago. But even then, it was substantially less than what my classmates were making in private practice and barely enough to cover my rent, food, gas and, of course, those student loans.

But so what? I didn’t go to law school to make money. If that were my goal, I would’ve gone to business school, got a job in investment banking and yearned for one of those eight-figure Goldman partnerships.

I went to law school because I believed in the power of law to change people’s lives for the better. And I have never been happier, professionally speaking, than when I was making almost no money but believed that what I was doing mattered.

If the primary reason you’re applying to law school is because you want one of those $160,000 jobs, don’t . Forget it. Like medicine, law used to be a sure-shot to making a very, very good income.

Not anymore. The students who apply to med school know that there is no pot of gold waiting.

There are many better and easier ways to make money. Kids go to medical school today because they want to be doctors, not because they want to be rich. The same rule should apply to law school.

Law school almost certainly is a losing game if what you care most about is money. In my book, that’s probably a good thing. I understand to mean that if one’s primary goal was to seek justice and help others, one is less likely to be corrupted in their judgment, political leaning and more dedicated as a zealous advocate. The question is for those people who thought like that, why should they not be able to do an excellent job in their field helping others WHILE earning a decent wage. It appears that she has assumed that the current economy is weeding out the shysters and get-rich scheme and big corporate lawyers. I would caution that if anything, desperation for money could just breed more of what she surmises the industry was getting rid of.

Many of my former students started out in those high-paying jobs and now feel trapped and frustrated. Many who didn’t have that option have, through necessity, found careers they enjoy much more.

At a certain point in life, the escalators just stop running. When they do, you have to fend for yourself — decide what you care about, what matters to you, what tradeoffs you are and are not willing to make. The problem is that many students weren’t debriefed about what those tradeoffs were and were given misrepresentations of what the payoff would likely be. I agree that you do have to “decide what you care about’ a decent living wage, quality of life, time for family to make new friends rank high. Going to law school greatly interferes with it though.

That’s what being an adult is about. There are no guarantees.

We all learn that sooner or later. And learning it in law school does not strike me as a losing game at all. Says the woman with a decent paying job. Just say ‘no.’

Welcome to the Collapse

All Rights Reserved

The news article is entitled:

Welcome to the Collapse, January 3, 2011

A bleak summary of different lives of normal people in chaotic and overpriced New York. Of course you can’t have a story about the economy without referring to an unemployed lawyer right?:

The spinmeisters are playing the same record over and over, recovery, recovery, scratch, scratch, recovery’s in da house!….

Weird, such candor from the VOA. Maybe their CIA check bounced? In any case, let’s meet some denizens of Philadelphia’s the Gallery, my local shopping center. Mrs. Fischel runs a meat and cheese shop. Business has steadily declined over several years now. To make matters worse, management has raised her rent, to make up for other merchants who have closed shops or who are behind in their payments. The third level of this mall is completely dead, and the second is barely hanging on. Just this week, Payless Shoes as well as G&G, Unica and Sunshine Blues, all clothing stores, have gone belly up.

Fischel’s son, a recent graduate of law school, has moved back home from Orange County. He has no job, only mushrooming debts from student loans and credit cards. He loved California and never expected to live in Philly again. It used to be that once you moved out, you stayed out. It was an American rite of passage. By 2006, however, two-thirds of American college graduates were already returning to their parents. Now, the number is up to 85 percent[….] skipped section

Meet Mr. Ali, who runs a modest kiosk offering cheap purses, belts and watches made in China. He used to sell Gucci and Coach labels — not the bags, just the labels — which were tacked or sewn onto knockoffs by the customers themselves. Many of our poorest are infatuated with brand names. With a CK, say, slapped onto their person, they feel instantly higher class.

An immigrant from Pakistan, Ali’s first job was at a Seven Eleven, before he saved enough to buy a gas station. With his current business, it was no big deal to sell $1,500 daily. Now, he’s lucky to gross $500. Whenever this mall’s open, Ali’s in there. All he does is work. Even if there were 12 inches of snow on the ground, Ali would be there at 9AM, waiting for his first customer.

When he had savings, Ali made the fatal mistake of investing in Fannie Mae and Citigroup, among other supposedly blue chip stocks. Like millions of others worldwide, he lost his shirt. A hundred-and-forty-six thousand dollars gone. Ali sold his home and his new truck, hired a lawyer to consolidate his credit card debts. He now drives an unheated lemon. “In a couple of years, I’ll buy another house for my wife and children,” he insists even as his earning nosedives. He’s lost money the last two Christmases[….] skipped section

Back to Giuliani: he inherited his house, so Giuliani doesn’t have to worry about a mortgage, but thanks to the housing bubble, his property tax has ballooned. For sentimental reasons, Giuliani doesn’t want to sell his childhood home, but he may have to. With 10 rooms, the heating bill is enormous, and there won’t be too many buyers lining up.

The Gallery is a hub for commuter and subway trains. This design brings in more customers, sure, but the labyrinthine concourses also provide a haven for many homeless people. Dazed, they wander among shoppers, to be shooed away by guys like Giuliani. Dozing in wheelchairs, collapsing in corners or picking through trashcans, these resilient men and women seem oddly unaware that the recovery is in full swing, and that even dogs, according to our cynical media, got expensive toys this holiday.

The collapse will not be televised. Ignored and alone, each of us will experience it singly. As blemish and accusation, you will be photoshopped from the American Dream group portrait. The lower you slip, the more invisible you will become. The disconnect between what’s real and what’s broadcast will become even more obscene by the day.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

Well here’s the good news; should you not land that dream job after law school, or any law-related job for that matter, especially if you’re a few years out you can always be a poster-child of why you should not go to law school. Just think when you share your heart-wrenching experience of inexplicable debt and mounting sorry you will be paid nothing. Even news writers get paid from your misery

Another Law School to Open = Another tragedy

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Good day, today we report that Boise, Idaho will open it’s first new law school in 2011. Because what’s better than opening a law school,  getting more Americans in excessive debt with the high risk of little or no ability to repay it and have a decent standard of living or quality of life.  Boise’s first law school set to open in 2011 | Idaho News from KTVB.COM | Boise news, Idaho weather, sports, traffic & events | Home June 23, 2010.

BOISE — A new law school coming to the heart of downtown Boise had its official ground breaking Tuesday…Some people say the law school is long overdue. Potential deans and law professors waiting to make a financial free fall from the estimated costs of the school via subsidized student loans, contracts and endowments.

I think the picture in the news caption is so fitting. A man or woman burying his future by going to law school. You will be looked upon as dirt by elitist and family members who wonder why you won’t be working as apologists for the legal industry continue to shovel false hope down the publics throat. Now that’s what I call symbolism.

“The new dean of the law school, Cathy Silak says after surveying more than 40 sites, the Portland-based Lutheran univerity decided to open their first campus in downtown Boise.” Not sure why one university in one state is opening a law school in another. Maybe this will start the true trend of McLaw; franchising, where one university opens multiple law schools in different states for the cheapest real estate and biggest financial returns. Maybe I shouldn’t give the proponents of the legal industry any more ideas.

Mayor Bieter says this addition to downtown will not only be advantageous to potential law students, but to the community as a whole.  In fact Mayor Bieter says Boise is one of the largest urban areas without a law school. It does not necessarily mean that it should have a law school; but why not jump into the big business of lawyer making. One can just read the cookie-cutter recipe posted before the legal industry conveyer belt:  unwitting 0Ls, application fee, LSAT fee, tuition (with increase), Sallie Mae helping to deliver them into the hands of financial aid officers, law professors, law school deans and the real world of unemployment. Here’s the U.S. economic stress map, look at the entire state of Idaho, though Boise which is located in Ada County had an 8.5% overall rating [Associated Press Interactive: AP Economic Stress Index], imagine in three years additional concentration of lawyers will likely do to the unemployment rate, state budget and welfare system.

“It just bolsters everything around it. its added jobs, more economic activity and its a presence thats important to the future of our city.”  says Bieter. [sic] [emphasist mine] Yes, added jobs, but not for the law graduates who will leave the halls of this institution of higher education and actually contributed to the temporary economic boost in the local economy to begin with.

Concordia isn’t the only university with its sights set on Boise. The University of Idaho is also working on bringing part of it’s law school to the Treasure Valley. Wait, the State of Idaho does have a law school which plans to expand in Boise but the article makes it appear that The University of Idaho will simply open up something new there; see [College of Law in Boise] wonder if there was a bidding war or University of Idaho School of Law just didn’t have the Boise metropolitan area in its sight. So the mayor encourages the construction of a law school specifically in Boise, because the city didn’t have any, but now they’re going to have two, how about three or four, there’s no end to the madness. Here’s the College of Law in Boise justification:

 Lawyers serve the state in many ways including economic development. Idaho has a growing need for legal expertise to support a growing economy, the administration of criminal and civil justice, and the services needed by Idaho families. At the same time, legal education is changing due to globalization, specialization, rising demand for practice-ready graduates, and increased use of law degrees in business and other occupations. Law school is no longer simply a gateway to the practice of law. Yes, developing the local economy of the state and industry itself without the necessary financial benefit whose back the industry depends on. Rising demand? Maybe, for slave labor. Seriously, have they no idea of the oversaturation of the legal job market, none whatsoever? These are your job prospects: http://boise.craigslist.org/lgl/, notice most aren’t even advertising length of employment or what the actual pay the firm is offering.

 “The eight-year span (Fiscal Year 2009 to FY 2017) of this implementation plan and budget projection reflects a careful, conservative estimate of a realistically expeditious time frame for developing the academic program and the statewide student enrollment while maintaining our commitment to quality. After FY17, the stable level of student enrollment and the programmatic advantages of the two-location operation are expected to make the law school increasingly attractive and even more selective and competitive.” Our law school won’t have it together until 2017, meanwhile you will mortgage your lives while being our guinea pigs to see if our programs work out.

Now back to you.

Poor Journalism: Not Reflecting the True Face of the Legal Industry

Please let me know how one company hiring four recent law graduates is a sign of good news when TENS of THOUSANDS of recent and older lawyers are unemployed, underemployed, not working in the legal field at all? How is this great news, the number of people hired you can count on one hand and still have room. This appears to be moreso a press release for Hewlett-Packard than an actual article. The piece discusses hiring the recent law graduates as in-house attorneys making nearly what they would as first year associates at BigLaw but actually gaining practical legal skills. “The new lawyers will learn substantive law, litigation skills and business acumen, HP leaders say. But most important, they’ll learn those things from the client’s point of view.”

 

O.k., it’s great that a company seized an opportunity to make attorneys work for the money while benefitting the corporation, but really how does hiring 4 graduates give hope to the masses of Sallie Mae indebted, near homeless, caught in the sweeping tide of one of the worst recessions in this country? “We saw an opportunity when the recession hit,” said Deputy General Counsel Gabriel Buigas, who helped develop the program. “We could actually go and recruit people on an equal footing with a law firm and we could probably do a better job internally in training them.”                  

“He likens HP’s training program to the apprenticeships recently created by big firms like Howrey, Orrick, Drinker Biddle & Reath and others.”

Press release for Hewlett-Packard and free advertisement for the three firms mentioned in my previous post concerning the apprenticeship model: https://lifesmockery.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/an-article-and-the-idea-of-law-practice-reform/]

Here’s the actual article: Law.com – HP Decides to Hire, Train Fresh Law School Graduates, June 21, 2010. Notice in both articles there’s doubt whether the apprenticeship model for newly minted lawyers will be the new trend among companies and firms. Thus, it will not, as now, benefit the majority of attorneys in the future.

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