Posts Tagged ‘legal profession’

Kansas City Star: Would-be Lawyers Find it Harder to Break Into Profession: 02/06/2012

No Job After Graduating Law School

Excerpts from this article: Would-be lawyers find it harder to break into profession (02/06/2012) This news piece focuses only on law graduates from 2008-2011 and does not even mention the hordes of struggling and unemployed attorneys with experience from years prior. While the larger, established Kansas City firms have prospered or at least held steady through the recent recession and weak recovery, they have cut back on hiring associates.

 So the big firms who are very selective already are cutting back on hiring permanent attorneys from top rated law schools. The masses of attorneys do not have a chance at a decent income. The big firms are: “Many are outsourcing more work to contract employees.” —hiring contract attorneys or sending the work to India.

 “I’m not sure if we’re going back to the status quo, but the legal profession as a whole is doing well,” said Nancy Kenner, the board president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. “For new lawyers, it’s very difficult to find jobs right now.

Right after is the subtitle: A Tighter Market; who does she think she’s fooling? The journalist tries to downplay it, it’s not dozens, it’s thousands nationwide. This is your future for the majority of you who insist on attending law school:

 Take David Winter, who graduated last spring from the University of Missouri Law School. Now back home with his parents in the St. Louissuburb of Maryville, Ill., he owes $90,000 for law school and is taking temp jobs reviewing legal documents for $20 an hour while he searches for a full-time position. It is not encouraging that he works alongside dozens of unemployed lawyers doing the same part-time work.

 Don’t be this law student: “We’re all cautious,” she said. “Some people have regrets — ‘If I’d known the market would be that way, I wouldn’t have gone to law school’ — but I don’t think that’s the prevailing view. In other words, many law graduates have deluded themselves into believing they will get that big firm job, make six figures and pay off those student loans in short period of time. They are suffering from a psychosis, built and reinforced by false hopes, rhetoric and advertising and the elusive American Dream that has dwindled to a nightmare of poverty and scavenging to survive.

So that you won’t regret your decision, make the wise one—just say no.

Center for American Progress Report Entitled: What Can We Learn From Law School?

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For those considering law school, this is a good read, a summary report entitled: What Can We Learn From Law School (click title for pdf) December 2011 by the Center for American Progress. I highlighted some quotes:“This report explores the field of legal education with the hope that putting a magnifying glass to this small part of higher education will help us better understand the problems that face all colleges. (see sidebar) It details the steady rise in law school enrollment, despite high tuition rates and a heavy reliance on student loan debt. And it describes the unpleasant surprise that awaits law students upon graduation: Though a few lucky grads will make more than $130,000 per year, most new lawyers can expect annual salaries of around $63,000. With monthly loan payments near $1,000, graduates are finding that membership in the legal profession is not the golden ticket they thought it would be.”

 p. 7: The high demand for legal education is somewhat surprising given its hefty price tag.  It’s difficult to locate the cause of this steep rise in tuition. Though some have claimed that stringent accreditation requirements drive price, a 2009 GAO study showed that this assumption is incorrect.

So not only student enrollment screening has become more lax, so has ABA accreditation.

p. 9 On the whole, this low default rate does not seem like a big deal. But for the individuals who fall into the default category, it can have devastating effects. Federal student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy.

That University of Maryland student that filed for bankruptcy should have had access to this report before going to federal court.

p.13: Though the return on investment in law school has been in question for young graduates since at least 2008 and possibly even earlier, this news was not widely reported until recently. This may be due, in part, to the fact that statistics about the legal profession as a whole mask the circumstances that young lawyers face. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the legal profession show that the growth in law jobs slowed over the past several years. In other words, law schools are able to admit large classes, maintain the same educational model, and continue to push tuition higher because students still turn out in droves for a chance to be in their entering classes.

Basically, as long as the 0L public continues to buy into it, the law schools will continue to rope you in. You have the power to stop this madness, stop buying into the law school degree can open so many doors and you can do anything with a JD. It is obviously not true. These people are laughing in your faces at this point. You are now willingly and openly proceeding towards a known danger.

To ensure students, colleges, and policymakers react to the forces that are changing the value of college degrees, the following policy changes should be implemented:

• The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, should collect and publish average employment and salary data for recent entrants into an occupation. Would provide 0Ls reality of the legal market and what they’re getting into.

• The BLS should work in conjunction with the Department of Education to make this information available to prospective students. So 0Ls/general public are not duped by misleading and in some cases blatantly false statistics provided directly on the law schools’ websites who have obvious financial interest to skew data and currently no repurcussions to ensure accurate information.

• Accreditors in all sectors of higher education should create standard definitions for employment and salary statistics, and require member schools to make such information readily available to students. Accreditors should audit member schools’ adherence with these standards from time to time. Audit, compliance then the federal government can fine them, and they would lose money they hold so dear.

 The beginning of the report appeared to be slanted by providing the reader with the impression that although the legal industry is shrinking/worsening and the value of the JD degree is decreasing the legal education sector only accounts for a small amount of those enrolled in graduate degree programs. However, this report doesn’t provide any statistics to support that.  It is a good read for general summary which hints to the reader that law school, especially at this point of America’s development and economy is not a good investment, no matter how you play with the numbers.

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.

A Law Degree and Nowhere to Go: January 24, 2010 (from Psychology Today)

I thought this was an interesting article, especially for those CONSIDERING going to law school; what’s kind of funny is the books she recommends at the end of the article, like the legal profession has dissipated!____________________________________________________

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/career-transitions/201001/law-degree-and-nowhere-go

A Law Degree and Nowhere to Go

Lawyers face unique challenges in the job market.

Published on January 24, 2010

When the recession first hit, we heard that there were certain “safe” career fields like health care, higher education, etc. But as the recession drones on, so-called safe industries are belt-tightening and finding themselves subject to the same economics stresses facing other industries. Even the practice of law.

The public perception about legal careers is generally inaccurate. People assume that a law degree guarantees a permanent job, a great income and an exciting, high-powered life fighting for justice. Not to mention a great career for those who like to argue. And the portrayal of lawyers in the media tends to support that image. When warned about this, college students planning to attend law school often say, “well I know the law isn’t exactly like “Law & Order,” but….” – and that’s where the line between myth and reality starts to blur. Sally Kane, writing for About.com identifies some of the prevalent myths about the practice of law.

The Wall Street Journal’s legal blog recently wrote about the increasing isolation in the practice of law and its relationship to depression and suicide. But the legal profession was struggling prior to the recession.

A survey in Legal Careers Blog pointed out growing dissatisfaction with the practice of law. Almost half of all lawyers expressed dissatisfaction with their careers and only 4 in 10 lawyers would recommend a legal career to others. People were looking to leave the practice of law and do anything else.

That was 2008. And then the recession really hit. Law firms have gone bankrupt. Thousands of lawyers have been laid off. New law school graduates are finding the offers less attractive and less plentiful. A legal blog, Above The Law, tracks the legal employment situation, noting weekly layoffs. Another blog, Law Shucks, runs both a “bonus tracker” and a “layoff tracker” simultaneously pointing out the appeal and the risk of the field. Both blogs point to the challenging job market for new graduates and for mid-career lawyers laid off from what were once guaranteed-for-life jobs.

All this leads to more lawyers in the general job market who, as a group, face particularly unique challenges. Employers will assume that you went to law school to be a lawyer so any other career path must be a second choice and the minute the market for lawyers returns, you’ll be gone. They may also assume that you’ll want a higher salary than other workers.

So I’m going to be blunt here: You WERE a lawyer. Get over it– if you want to get a job elsewhere. Let me explain. A law degree provides a great learning experience. You learned to create compelling arguments, develop writing skills, conduct legal analysis, solve problems creatively, etc. As a lawyer, you handled deadlines, dealt with crises, worked long hours, etc. All things employers might want.  But you also know that the word “lawyer” comes with a lot of baggage. People can view lawyers as money-oriented, manipulative, and at worst– litigious and always looking for the next lawsuit. No employer wants to live in fear that their employee will sue them, and hiring a lawyer for a non-legal job seems to invite that.

So how do you make the transition from lawyer/law student to “working anywhere but the law”?

Here are a few tips:

1. Start by analyzing your strengths and interests. What other career fields have you considered? Where would you like to apply your talents? Some career fields lend themselves more naturally to a background in law, including: academic administration, banking/finance, consulting, environmental, government, human resources, intellectual property, journalism, immigration, labor relations, publishing, real estate, and tax preparation. How would your legal background make you a better employee in your newly-chosen field?

2. Focus on the field you’re going into– not where you’ve been. Research the career fields you’re considering. Talk to people in the field. Join professional organizations related to your new field to demonstrate a sincere interest. Develop an understanding of what they do on a day-to-day basis. Determine if/where/how your legal background could contribute to the field. Remove legal jargon from your resume– make sure it speaks to the new field you’re moving into, not the old one you’re leaving.

3. Determine what percentage of time your legal education/background would come into play at the job and then tailor your cover letter, resume, and interview responses accordingly. Obviously, if the position/employer would greatly benefit from your legal degree, then go to town and tell them everything about your legal background. BUT—

4. If people can be hired for the position without a law degree– that’s a clue that your law degree isn’t the be-all and end-all and should not be the first thing you bring up. So don’t have your identity bound up in being a lawyer. Your resume will indicate your legal training and background. You need to come up with other more compelling reasons for the employer to hire you in your cover letter. For instance, don’t start your cover letter with, “As an attorney…” or waste a paragraph detailing your legal acumen when the employer doesn’t care.

5. Know why an employer might have concerns about hiring a lawyer. Don’t waste energy bemoaning the lawyer jokes and complaining that it’s not “fair.” Since you know the problem ahead of time, be ready to address concerns which might not even be voiced. Make sure employers know your skill set is greater than practicing law. And find a way to answer the unasked questions: Can you get along with people? Are you too argumentative? Are you overly competitive? Intense? Do you have hidden agendas?  Here’s a particularly unique challenge for lawyers: they think differently. Let’s put that another way: they are pessimists– it’s what makes them successful lawyers. Unfortunately, the law is one of the only career fields that rewards pessimistic thinking: optimists do better in virtually every other career field. Read the link to learn more about this.

The job market is tough for everyone.  Don’t make it harder for yourself by making the mistakes other lawyers make when they try to move out of their fields. I met a floral arranger recently whose business card had “JD” after her name.  I asked her why she put the degree on her card.  She said, “Well I earned it– I might as well flaunt it.” She has a point, but she also confessed that she went into business for herself because employers weren’t “open-minded enough” to hire a former lawyer. And it made me wonder: was it the employers who weren’t open-minded or was she just too attached to her degree?

Here are some resources to check out about transitioning out of the law: “Running from the Law: Why Good Lawyers Are Getting Out of the Legal Profession” by Deborah Arron

“The Unhappy Lawyer” by Monica Parker

What Can You Do with a Law Degree” by Deborah Arron