Posts Tagged ‘no money’

Another Law Graduate Shares Her Woes of Unemployment and Poverty

(Over)Educated, Black, Broke, and Jobless in NYC

“Share my day to day struggle of trying to find gainful employment in New York City after earning three degrees. Will I make it or will I end up homeless? Only time will tell, and there is not much left. . .”

http://diariesofanunemployed.tumblr.com/

You cannot make this stuff up! I don’t recall how I stumbled across this page. It appears to be similar to a blog but the posts are shorter.

From the title and caption summary it appears this person has a PhD–wrong a law school graduate.

If you scroll down to the post entitled “Bitter” you will realize it is yet another unemployed law graduate struggling to provide for her basic needs. Another one bites the dust. You who still want to attend law school, should perish the thought. Or let homelessness, malnutrition and depression and unemployment be your demise. Your choice.

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

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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.’

US News & World Reports: (Law School) Know What You’re Getting Into

US News & World Reports
Ann Levine
November 22, 2010

I am proud to be a lawyer and I am proud to help other people reach their dream of becoming a lawyer. [sounds desparate to sell the profession]. However, there have been numerous stories recently that may discourage you from applying to law school. There are negative and disgruntled law students and attorneys warning you about the evils of law schools, of the profession, and of anyone remotely related to it. My goal is to make sure you don’t join that disgruntled bunch. [Which can simply be prevented by not attending law school]

So, if you decide to go to law school, you need to feel that the benefits outweigh the sacrifices and potential drawbacks that many of the naysayers routinely harp on. Go into it with your eyes wide open, ready to work hard, ready to make your way and create your own career. [Sounds like a tort in the beginning you are proceeding into a known danger and that it’s forseeable that you will have damages]. You won’t expect anyone to hand you a six figure job at graduation.

[This is such a misleading characterization, that most attorneys EXPECT six figures. No most attorneys expect after committing and investing time, money, effort and basically their life into achieving admittance into a noble profession that one can obtain a job in which one can have DECENT housing, food and transportation. The only graduates who really expect six figures upon graduation are those set for the patent bar, trust fund babies, IVY League graduates with connections.]

You will go into this with an understanding of the realities of the profession. You will know that success does not happen overnight, that your dream job isn’t the first job out of law school, but the one you hold ten years down the road. [false misrepresentation, how in the world can such a writer state this with a ‘straight face’ without submitting statistics or even state based on people he or she knows. It appears the author writes in theory or the same rhetoric that continues to be told to unsuspecting 0Ls.]
There is no fast track to success in law school or in anything else in life. The key is to make the best decisions you can about your future with the information you currently have at your disposal.

I want you to really consider whether to go to law school, and I want to share the questions you should be asking before you go. Plus, I want to make sure you are equipped to make good decisions about where to attend.

Let’s start here: Reasons NOT to Go to Law School:

1. Money (How much does law school cost and how can I pay for it?)

2. Time (three years full-time, 4 years part-time)

3. Bad career outlook in current economic environment

4. It’s difficult

5. It’s competitive

6. There are too many lawyers

It appears that 1, 3, 5, 6 are all related to NOT being able to get a job or make decent money with a law degree. Decent refers to enough money to sustain you and your family (whatever that may be) with food, gas, heat, electricity, housing and transportation. Four out of the six reality checks are stating that you cannot live a normal life with a law degree. So those of you who are already making $50,000-$75,000 without a law degree; you are in a much better position than most licensed American attorneys. So, does it make ANY sense to encumber your life with unnecessary debt to be in a profession with superficial professionalism, mentally disabled persons who many have broken down after realizing the reality of what going to law school has done to them, all while struggling to meet your monthly financial obligations and reaching for straws to keep a facade of upward mobility. Reason with yourself and don’t ignore the signs.

Points 2 and 4 are related to losing valuable years of your life to spend hours, days, weeks studying to impress law professors who already made their decisions of who each student is, where they will fall in the mandatory curve within the first week of classes, all the while subjecting students to the Socratic method with the intent of satisfying a power-trip. Now all professors are like this but most are. Your first year you do not select your law professors and many have tenure, so good luck in being treated fairly while learning about the law–ironic isn’t it?

Now, the Reasons TO Attend Law School:

1. Learning how to think

2. Profession you can always rely upon/Job security

3. Helping others/contributing to the community

4. Being important and respected

5. Financial security, prosperity

Points 2 and 5 do not make any sense in light of the previous set of points. Although most professions and both the private and public sector is suffering due to the current economy, the legal profession has forever changed. There is no such thing as financial security in general when there is a permanent oversaturation of law graduates and attorneys. Due to this saturation how can point 4 be valid? Value is based on quality and rarity. Many media outlets have exposed how unprepared most law graduates are and have been over the past few decades. When lawyers are a dime a dozen, how are you important? Though theoretically an attorney is to advocate, be a defender of the Constitution, etc, most attorneys are either focused on keeping their financial security which inevitably compromises the value of the services and as a result the profession. Additionally, when there is not a demand for a product or service, the price steadily decreases (oversaturation).

You need to do your research about each one of these pros and cons. How much can you expect to make in the area of law you plan on pursuing? What would your student loan payment be? Your rent? Your car payment? Etc.

So, how can you research this? Talk to lawyers in big firms, lawyers who work for the public defender, lawyers who work in a firm with only two or three attorneys, or insurance defense attorneys. Ask them how much they made in their first five years of practice and how much they made after ten years. Ask them what they really do all day. Ask them to describe a typical case they are working on. [A simple approach is to read these blogs. The following two questions are good suggestions though:]

Ask them what time they get to the office everyday and what time they leave. Ask them if they like their jobs.
Ask them where they went to law school. Did they take a scholarship to a lower ranked school? Why or why not?

Do top law schools open some doors? Do you want to clerk for the Supreme Court? Be a law professor? I suggest you look up people who have jobs you would like to have one day and see where they went to law school.

It’s essential you have a firm grasp on what the profession entails before you commit. Comparing and contrasting the answers to these questions with your expectations is key to helping you make your decision.

If you’ve gone through this thought process and you still decide to attend law school, you will know what you are getting yourself into. You will be in a position to make good decisions about your future. And then you’ll be ready to hear this podcast: How to Get Hired as a Rookie Attorney.

In other words you will definitely be “proceeding into a known danger.”

Economy, job losses, higher taxes, homelessness, debt, oh my!

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Today we are reporting regional play by play of the economy and job loss:  Sallie Mae: Yes, District of Columbia-metro area residents, it’s right in your backyard. Remember the jobs cuts from those big corporations such as Citigroup, AIG and the like and their failing assets? Well, I highly doubt Sallie Mae is suffering as it can thrive on the interest payments alone that are paid by unemployed professionals, those who financed their education at trade schools and other institutes of learning. But did you know Sallie Mae decided to lay off a major segment of employees and close locations? (March 2010-http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2010/03/22/daily16.html) Not only are federal jobs few and hard to come by, major regional corporations aren’t hiring but firing.So for people who continue to say that DC is a “good” place to move in this down economy are highly mistaken. An article published in December listed Maryland and Virginia around 15 out of 55 of the states [I know there aren’t 55 states, but that’s how the article designated it] with the HIGHEST unemployment while California was much lower on the scale (ok I’m kind of surprised too). So that’s only Virginia, Washington, DC, what about Maryland? Well, as most people know, southern Maryland as well as some residents further north (such as Baltimore) and Pennsylvania commute all the way to the District of Columbia to work.  Now, DC wants to tax commuters for working in DC, though these commuters already pay their own state, local and federal taxes based on where they live (http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=101759&catid=158). But what of those who work in Maryland? This past winter increased Maryland’s deficit because of the snowcastrophe also known as a blizzard. Maryland went over its budget to render the clearing, salting and snow removal services. So what will they do, well, how about we tax people again? You know take more money people don’t have.   Now more Marylanders are scheduled to lose jobs next week, an estimated 600, specifically Baltimore city workers. ( http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9EL6N7G0.htm   ). I think Baltimore city needs to raise  over 40 million and should they not be able to render an agreement with trade unions the city government will have to raise another 64 million. Can uou imagine even more disgruntled laid off city civil workers roaming around Maryland in addition to the 100,000 unemployed Marylanders with a depleted unemployment insurance fund? You think crime is bad now, let’s watch the next few feeks. Run for the border.

…while New Jersey prepares for budget cuts, ok proposals to lay off workers (more?) in their state:  Tens of thousands rally against New Jersey budget cuts http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/may2010/newj-m24.shtml). The state wants to eliminate free lunch for poor school students? Everyone knows that having meals, especially breakfast contributes to energy and academic performance. The snowball continues to roll bigger and bigger.

In New York the state is trying to balance their budget which is affecting local universities: New York’s Budget Woes Could lead to Furloughs, Layoffs at SUNY, May 26, 2010 http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=77276&catid=37

In California the government proposes to cut teachers (Solano County teacher union chief among hundreds to protest cuts http://www.thereporter.com/news/ci_15163841) is it just me or do some of these states find schools and education dispensible? One California state university is laying off staff to balance their budget: (Sacramento State lays off staff to cover $26M shortfall – Sacramento Business Journal May 25, 2010)

Recently, a Texas state university laid off employees and plans to cut more (Univ. of Texas lays off 122 workers, may cut more, May 11, 2010 http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9FKMRKO0.htm)

Although states are not doing well, this article claims that local economy within Ohio isn’t doing so bad: (Construction jobs boost economy: http://www.mariettatimes.com/page/content.detail/id/522157.html?nav=5002)

The good news I guess is that Congress is considering extending unemployment benefits again (.http://www.marketwatch.com/story/12-million-unemployed-may-lose-federal-benefits-2010-05-24)..because: Jobless Claims Rise By Largest Amount In 3 Months (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103396584 and choice (D) “All of the above”.

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.

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.

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