Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Economy improving?

Anectdotally, it seems like the economy is approving in JDU. molawmo07/21/17
Doubt it. isthisit07/21/17
There are always have been six figure jobs in law and jdu is triplesix07/21/17
Hopefully not anytime soon. They're the heavy hitter rainmak loblawyer07/21/17
I am sure that when they die... There won't be anyone left f triplesix07/21/17
I agree I think it's more about JDU getting older. Post an a smallyer07/21/17
You get less qualified people for garbage jobs like the one' vohod07/21/17
From my discussions with our summer associates and other law bucwild07/21/17
there are also less students at the top 20 schools dingbat07/27/17
There are half as many lawyers graduating from law schools a guyingorillasuit07/21/17
I predicted this long ago. A few years back, there were a l jeffm07/21/17
I'm headed towards over the road trucking like Luca. Iron vohod07/21/17
"Sewer firms like mine can't hold onto a new hire long." jeffm07/21/17
At my first firm I worked along fairly intelligent recent gr vohod07/22/17
If you're class of 2014 your resume is still salvageable. Do loblawyer07/22/17
Jeff, most people in most professions have to pay their dues guyingorillasuit07/22/17
Tuition is another story. I always have agreed that it is o jeffm07/23/17
In my state things still seem to suck for 2013 grads, as a w themapmaster07/22/17
The economy is improving, but I don't think that's affected patenttrollnj07/22/17
I work for a PD. Last year we lost about 25% of our attorney shitlawsf07/22/17
Seriously? Public defenders are funded by state budgets. jorgedeclaro07/23/17
The lateral market really seems fairly healthy to me. I see shikes07/22/17
Lateral for 5-7 is solid. My hypothesis is when 2008 crashes jorgedeclaro07/23/17
I'm a new lawyer (2016). Got a job relatively easily. It's hobbyist07/23/17
The market is still bad. I don't have any specific stats but gs1307/23/17
Your post and name reminds me of some less savory review sit sobeitunion07/24/17
I think Jeffm hit on the big thing, this site is getting old thirdtierlaw07/23/17
That's exactly what I'm saying, and I am glad it has turned jeffm07/23/17
Things have worked out reasonably well for people who got th jorgedeclaro07/26/17
How bad things actually are in terms of legal employment has 6figuremistake07/24/17
When I started, entry level jobs as a patent attorney were r patenttrollnj07/25/17
Firms and especially doc review sweatshops have continued do flyer1407/25/17
I think we are essentially back to the new baseline. The pro mrtor07/26/17
You just described my Midwest market. I think the Midwest be vohod07/26/17
Hey, congratulations on the new, better gig. inho2solo07/26/17
Appreciate it! It was an absolute fluke. I had less than hal mrtor07/27/17
Healthcare has been hot but it is due for a correction. Hea themapmaster07/26/17
Agreed. There will be changes in the industry during the com mrtor07/27/17
I don't think a return to the baseline really helps somebody dcgootle07/26/17
I should perhaps elaborate on this point a bit. I don't mea dcgootle07/26/17
Im in your boat and yes we are boned for many years/life. C/ vohod07/26/17
yes…i didn't even factor in the competitiveness years late dcgootle07/26/17
The world is ripe dcgootle. Figure out what you value. Purs sobeitunion07/26/17
this was awesome to read this…thank you! glad that you're dcgootle07/26/17
Yeah man. Forget the lousy resume. Make it as good as you ca sobeitunion07/26/17
What happened to going solo? It's kind of the adventure of a guyingorillasuit07/26/17
Good post but I think most, or many, people view "networking loblawyer07/26/17
The problem is: 1) Most lawyers don't get to bill $330 an flyer1407/27/17
the problem is getting started. A friend of mine tried the dingbat07/27/17
And in addition to other issues as noted above, while hiring toooldtocare07/27/17
I think the biggest problem was probably the lack of trainin dcgootle07/27/17

molawmo (Jul 21, 2017 - 4:31 am)

Anectdotally, it seems like the economy is approving in JDU.

There have been numerous threads with people who are saying derogatory things about six figure job offers. That behavior seems to be completely new for these parts of the interwebs.

Are things getting better out there?

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isthisit (Jul 21, 2017 - 7:26 am)

Doubt it.

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triplesix (Jul 21, 2017 - 8:28 am)

There are always have been six figure jobs in law and jdu is aging. Most people are over 30 and mid career. If you make first five years and you use jd in some capacity, it is not unreasonable to hit 6 figures at some point.

Question is of course how is the entry level market? When are the boomers gonna die?

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loblawyer (Jul 21, 2017 - 10:03 am)

Hopefully not anytime soon. They're the heavy hitter rainmakers at my firm and I shudder to think about what happens when they depart.

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triplesix (Jul 21, 2017 - 10:16 am)

I am sure that when they die... There won't be anyone left for rainmaking and the economy will just collapse because no one can match Boomers in skills or productivity.

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smallyer (Jul 21, 2017 - 10:23 pm)

I agree I think it's more about JDU getting older. Post an associate attorney job posting online and you'd better turn off email notifications on your phone because it will blow up for weeks.

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vohod (Jul 21, 2017 - 9:41 am)

You get less qualified people for garbage jobs like the one's at my employer. We routinely have week 1 walkouts, day 1 no shows, people no showing interviews. Its a good thing. Companies and firms need to realize what a joke they are. Getting summa cum laudes at state Us answering phones for 5 years made companies too arrogant.

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bucwild (Jul 21, 2017 - 10:18 am)

From my discussions with our summer associates and other law students, seems appear to be slightly better for students at top 20 schools than when I graduated in 2013.

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dingbat (Jul 27, 2017 - 12:06 pm)

there are also less students at the top 20 schools

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guyingorillasuit (Jul 21, 2017 - 10:30 pm)

There are half as many lawyers graduating from law schools as there were during the scam's heyday. That's tens of thousands of desperate people who would have jumped at any opportunity, for any amount of money, for anything law-related on their resume. Many of us were once in that position. These tens of thousands are missing from the nation's big cities, where they would have otherwise been found.

The economy is no better. It's just that lots of people who would have otherwise been crushed are now too smart to go to law school. There are still thousands of pitiful cases, but not the same number as before.

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jeffm (Jul 21, 2017 - 11:26 pm)

I predicted this long ago. A few years back, there were a lot of newbie lawyers on here expressing sour grapes. What none of them wanted to believe was that on average, they were heading towards an average income of $110k/year, which is the average across the profession. They argued against me, saying the number was skewed since it represented only the lawyers who stayed in the profession. Now, we have a mix on here of lawyers who've been at it a few years, as well as lawyers who chose a non-legal career. On average, they seem to be doing reasonably well, as expected.

Give it a few more years, and these future veteran attorneys will be taking flack from the new fledglings about how Millenials screwed it up for them, and life is bleak. It'll be interesting to see what these former naysayers will say in response.

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vohod (Jul 21, 2017 - 11:43 pm)

I'm headed towards over the road trucking like Luca.

Ironically OTR may lead to $110,000 if I haul ass. In a round about way LS may get me there.

I think the job market for new attorneys is objectively better. Sewer firms like mine can't hold onto a new hire long. They have real options. Only idiots like me and the owner/partner are stuck in the sewers due to a stinky resume.

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jeffm (Jul 21, 2017 - 11:51 pm)

"Sewer firms like mine can't hold onto a new hire long."

That has always been the case for the most part. Get some low-pay training and move on. I started out making a base of $2k/month. I hit "bonus" all the time, so real 1st year was around $36k.

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vohod (Jul 22, 2017 - 12:01 am)

At my first firm I worked along fairly intelligent recent grads. Now we have only the most minimally literate applying. I am only c/o 2014 so I'm not a jaded old timer grumbling about kids these days.

The market is plain better now. The better candidates don't need garbage can worthless jobs and Firms haven't realized that yet.

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loblawyer (Jul 22, 2017 - 7:55 am)

If you're class of 2014 your resume is still salvageable. Don't resign yourself to your fate - get out asap and, if staying in law, move into another practice. Toilet law can be spun many ways to look passable.

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guyingorillasuit (Jul 22, 2017 - 10:53 pm)

Jeff, most people in most professions have to pay their dues. What we were all complaining about 10 years ago on this board was that there were no jobs at which to pay these dues, because there were too many law schools graduating too many newbie lawyers. We were also complaining that law school education was way too expensive.

The first complaint was mostly corrected by the market - fewer people went to law school as what we call "the scam" was exposed. The second complaint has not, because the government continues to interfere by providing unlimited loans.

I know many people locally who never became lawyers after law school. They could not find jobs, and needed to support themselves. They chose other careers, and yes, they are pulling down $110k after 10 years. What frustrates them is that they are subject to a lifetime IBR tax of 15% in addition to all the other taxes they pay.

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jeffm (Jul 23, 2017 - 9:11 am)

Tuition is another story. I always have agreed that it is out of control.

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themapmaster (Jul 22, 2017 - 12:58 pm)

In my state things still seem to suck for 2013 grads, as a whole, even after a few years out. In my state with a stagnant economy and zero population growth, there seems to be a large number of lawyers between age 65 and 75 who graduated in the early 1970s -- the oldest of the boomers, who are neither retiring, nor dying off.

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patenttrollnj (Jul 22, 2017 - 5:46 pm)

The economy is improving, but I don't think that's affected the legal industry.

There is still a surplus of unemployed and under-employed law school graduates out there. Additionally, new technologies AND a reluctance by insurance carriers to reimburse law firms (the way they used to) has made the overall universe of legal jobs smaller.

Thus, the question you should be asking is if the overall paradigm has changed?

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shitlawsf (Jul 22, 2017 - 8:48 pm)

I work for a PD. Last year we lost about 25% of our attorneys. This year, none have left with about 5 months to go. The office suffers from low morale and people are always muttering about leaving. But the consensus is there are very few places to go (except private practice) if you want to remain in indigent defense, which most do.

So what's the deal?

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jorgedeclaro (Jul 23, 2017 - 10:07 am)

Seriously?

Public defenders are funded by state budgets. These budgets do not increase appreciably until some judge rules that the state is violating the sixth amendment. Why? Because even in the most liberal states no one votes for the person campaigning on spending more tax dollars to pay to lawyers whose job is to defense poor criminals. It's about as unsexy of a use of tax dollars as there is. Look at Cuomo's veto in New York.

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shikes (Jul 22, 2017 - 9:28 pm)

The lateral market really seems fairly healthy to me. I see people moving around all the time. I'll meet attorneys I know in Court and I hear "Oh, I'm actually not at (former firm) anymore, I flipped over to (new firm)" even when I knew they only started at the old firm less than 2 years ago.

The entry level market is "better", but still pretty weak I think. We get close to a hundred resumes for a single position we had last year. The partner in charge of hiring told me he was having trouble finding time to even read the emails let alone open the resumes due to the volume.

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jorgedeclaro (Jul 23, 2017 - 10:12 am)

Lateral for 5-7 is solid. My hypothesis is when 2008 crashes, even the biggest firms cut back on entry level hiring, not to mention everything else down the chain. That pinch remained for several years and might even still exist today. But that means there is a relatively small number of attorneys out there who have that level of experience.

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hobbyist (Jul 23, 2017 - 2:35 pm)

I'm a new lawyer (2016). Got a job relatively easily. It's a pleasant work environment and it pays over $100k. Didn't know anyone at the firm. Mailed in a resume on one of those ads in the bar classifieds (I responded to about four ads like that and got interviews for all but one). Went to a decent state school got pretty good grades. Nothing special.

It sure seems like my experience was radically different from people graduating in the years right before mine. They were sending in hundreds of applications, getting nothing, and when they did get hired, the pay was a lot less. Don't know that it's a sign because I know other people my year who took longer to find something, but they pretty much all found something that paid well. I don't think I would have gotten hired in 2008-2014. Anyway, it's one data point. Mileage will vary significantly.

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gs13 (Jul 23, 2017 - 6:39 pm)

The market is still bad. I don't have any specific stats but I bet a full 1/3 of law graduates don't even practice law.

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sobeitunion (Jul 24, 2017 - 8:30 pm)

Your post and name reminds me of some less savory review sites

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 23, 2017 - 7:23 pm)

I think Jeffm hit on the big thing, this site is getting older, so a lot of the people who were struggling were able to grind through it and are still practicing. So they are 5 or 6 years out and doing alright for themselves.

You've also got a few really smart people who weren't making it in law but able to jump ship to a different field and excel, or in the case of government jobs ride the automatic grade increases.

It doesn't mean that people should start applying to law school again. I'd have likely made a different choice today. But it may be moving past the crazy doom and gloom it was a few years ago.

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jeffm (Jul 23, 2017 - 11:12 pm)

That's exactly what I'm saying, and I am glad it has turned out reasonably well for most everyone. However, if somebody came to me and said they were thinking about borrowing $150k to go to law school, I'd tell them the career is decent, but starting out with that much debt ought to be concerning. A good bachelor's degree would be a lot more bang for the buck.

I still have to say, however, there aren't many better gigs than being a solo and collecting $250/hr. with minimal overhead. 2 hours a day, baby! LOL!

One thing I don't think I mentioned before is that the older you get in civil/transactional practice, the wealthier your clients tend to be. That always helps. It can be frustrating in your 20's, but after you've been in it for 20 years, the network is bigger than you know.

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jorgedeclaro (Jul 26, 2017 - 3:38 pm)

Things have worked out reasonably well for people who got their foots in the door practicing. Didn't work out for people who got washed out from the start.

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6figuremistake (Jul 24, 2017 - 8:45 am)

How bad things actually are in terms of legal employment has always been hard to discern because the data either isn't available or obscured. It's why Simkovic can claim that there's a million dollar premium in having a law degree - because he's largely only looking at those who have remained in the legal field and for whom data is readily available (e.g. big firm attorney, in house attorneys, etc.)

The data we do have for recent graduates is self reported school data published by the ABA. For just about every school out of the top 10 to 20, the numbers almost always breakdown as follows: 1/3 "goodish" jobs, 1/3 not particularly impressive jobs, and 1/3 non-legal jobs/unemployed. A full third of people have pretty much wasted their time and money (and potentially their lives). 1/3 will have acceptable outcomes and the middle third may move up in the world or may very well leave the law or be stuck in small law purgatory for life. Not exactly worth a $250k gamble.

At lower tier schools, the odds are even worse. Maybe things are looking a little up because the economy is doing pretty well, but 1) Until we have actual numbers, everything is anecdotal and 2) We're starting to push the limits of economic expansion; politics aside, we're due for a recession, and when it comes, it's right back to the legal hiring doldrums.

Another good benchmark are the starting salaries for entry level attorneys. There isn't a lot of data except for those at the top and bottom of the food chain. Big firm associates in NYC usually start at $180k, which is up from the pre-recession salary of $160k, but when you take inflation into account, that salary is pretty stagnant. Moreover, on the other end of the spectrum, it seems like doc review rates have actually fallen both in real and nominal terms since the recession.

If legal hiring was really cranking up, wouldn't big firms and doc review sweatshops alike have to jack up compensation in order to attract law grads away from other employers? That's not happening, so I'm pretty skeptical that things are that much better - except for maybe a return to normalcy for elite law grads (after 8 years).

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patenttrollnj (Jul 25, 2017 - 11:18 am)

When I started, entry level jobs as a patent attorney were rarely under $100K, and usually about $160K. Today, I'm hearing about salaries starting at $50+

Those salaries at top NY firms seem to be an oddity. Most salaries for entry level legal jobs (or any legal jobs) are a mere fraction of that.

But again, I'm going by what I see and hear ... the hard data isn't there.

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flyer14 (Jul 25, 2017 - 11:43 am)

Firms and especially doc review sweatshops have continued downward salary pressure for two reasons:

1) The number of law grads is still too high. Even though applications have dropped by a third, it needs to drop by two-thirds and remain there for a decade or more for the market to balance out.

2) Outsourcing, offshoring, and downsizing will continue to take their toll. Especially when document review can be done in Hyderabad for a fraction of what it cost here in the States.

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mrtor (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:28 am)

I think we are essentially back to the new baseline. The profession's "glory days" are a thing of the past. Industries are always shifting. Legal has come to be viewed an expensive cost, rather than valuable loss prevention. Companies are now using data, technology, and alternative dispute resolution to avoid litigation like the plague. Its a trend I don't see changing.

That being said, hiring seems to be up. The lateral market is very healthy for anyone with 3+ years of experience. Entry level positions seem fairly plentiful too. Unfortunately, pay is often low and raises are stagnant. I'm in a low COL secondary Midwest market, but starting salaries are still only around $45-55k. Early raises are $1-5k/year with only the biggest firms approaching $3-5k. Raises seem tied to billing rates which have not gone up around here. Bill auditing has resulted in lower returns as well.

After a paltry $1.5k raise this year, I'm glad to moving out of practice and into a healthcare risk manager role. Significantly higher pay ($25k+), no billable hours, better benefits, actual PTO, no client development/engagement pressure. Healthcare is very, very healthy compared to legal.

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vohod (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:57 am)

You just described my Midwest market. I think the Midwest being a low rent dump is the bigger factor here. Other sectors are lagging in pay too.

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inho2solo (Jul 26, 2017 - 10:07 am)

Hey, congratulations on the new, better gig.

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mrtor (Jul 27, 2017 - 12:10 pm)

Appreciate it! It was an absolute fluke. I had less than half of the experience they were seeking and no clinical background beyond some medical knowledge from my personal injury practice. I think a lack of other qualified candidates in my secondary market aided my candidacy. The office seemed happy and everyone is a lifer, so I think it will be a great long term opportunity.

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themapmaster (Jul 26, 2017 - 4:05 pm)

Healthcare has been hot but it is due for a correction. Healthcare expense increases have been significantly outpacing growth in household real income and that will not last forever, especially with Republicans in power that want to cut Medicaid and repeal Obamacare which has had the wonderful effect for the healthcare industry of insuring and empowering sick people, and making the healthy people and taxpayers pay for it through mandates and penalties, government subsidies, and cost shifting.

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mrtor (Jul 27, 2017 - 12:03 pm)

Agreed. There will be changes in the industry during the coming years. From what I have seen, healthcare jobs are essentially quasi-government jobs where administrative offices are overstaffed, overpaid, and underworked. They could, and may have to, trim quite a bit. That said, I think the small number of risk managers insulates us from any contraction.

It is my hope that healthcare reform focuses on fighting fraud, regulating prices, cutting pharmaceutical costs, and increasing transparency. I think most salaries are a fairly insignificant fraction of the gross profiteering that is going on in the industry.

Regardless of reform, the demand for healthcare is only going to continue to increase. I think it's a safe industry for the foreseeable future.

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dcgootle (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:08 pm)

I don't think a return to the baseline really helps somebody like me. I graduated in 2013 (definitely not the worst year, but definitely pretty bad and with the biggest graduate pool). I squandered some opportunities to work my way into some potentially good jobs (e.g., clerking at a firm while already licensed, screwing up while working for an abusive employment practice). My problems might be unique to me, but it has been easy and actually somewhat addicting to blame my fortunes or lack thereof on the market. Maybe I wouldn't have had a bad attitude about clerking 18 months after graduating because I would've had a true associate position instead. Maybe instead of working at said clerking opportunity, I could've held out longer to see what was best for me as a long-term opportunity instead of going all in on that job, being disappointed with the result (firing before promotion to associate) and then flubbing my way through the next 2.5 years with a series of contract jobs, doc review and endless disappointment? I think it's the person like me who will never recover from the crash of the legal job market, even if it were to recover to pre-2001 levels. Why would anyone want to take a chance on me with my resume, even though a lot of it was out of my control? I caveat my statement with the possibility that I might've inevitably been destined for some of these situations even in a healthier market. I've had some mental health issues that might have been brewing for a long time and certainly were set off in my situation. I'd imagine there are many more like me, and some who are way more deserving of a good opportunity.

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dcgootle (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:15 pm)

I should perhaps elaborate on this point a bit. I don't mean to say that what has happened to me wasn't my fault or, at least in large part, due to my actions. What I mean to say is that it was a "take whatever you can get" atmosphere in 2013/14 and, honestly, for me still is. I feel like I have to justify a lousy resume (admittedly I didn't make the best of some long-shot opportunities) in large part because of the market at the time of graduation and beyond, and it's just something I feel like I will never be able to catch up with.

That being said, if somebody has any advice that could prove me wrong, please let me know.

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vohod (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:30 pm)

Im in your boat and yes we are boned for many years/life. C/o 2014, got first real law job in March 2015.

But if we graduated today the job opportunities are better. Its also easier to get into a T20 school.

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dcgootle (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:36 pm)

yes…i didn't even factor in the competitiveness years later….getting into my school now (Tier 1, not T20) would be a joke…i might even get a full ride, whereas when I applied, I squeaked in off the waitlist.

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sobeitunion (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:33 pm)

The world is ripe dcgootle. Figure out what you value. Pursue that.

I got screwed by the market as well with a 6.5 year gap in legal employment (2 years of experience in sh!tlaw from 2008-2010 before being laid off). Spent the middle years doing a variety of things but mostly bartending.

Woke up one day and decided to give it another shot. Terrible resume, but I have grown up a lot and BELIEVE IN MYSELF. Maybe 15-20 resumes later, 6 interviews, and 4 job offers later I'm back in the game. Not practicing (turned down a lawyer job offer because I could tell the boss would be awful), but I've got a plan and the title doesn't matter anyways.

Smart people like us tend to complicate things. Critical people like us tend to sabotage ourselves.

My advice - get out f your own damn way and go live a little.

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dcgootle (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:35 pm)

this was awesome to read this…thank you! glad that you're headed down a path that makes you happy

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sobeitunion (Jul 26, 2017 - 9:42 pm)

Yeah man. Forget the lousy resume. Make it as good as you can. And then stop worrying about it. People don't hire resumes, they hire people.

Figure out who you are and then put that in a compelling cover letter. My resume would have gotten me zero interviews. My cover letter got me in every door and it said nothing about the jobs I applied to.

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guyingorillasuit (Jul 26, 2017 - 10:38 pm)

What happened to going solo? It's kind of the adventure of a lifetime, but once you get the practice going, it's worth it. You can make a very decent living working relatively few hours a day. Your other hours will be spent in "networking", which is basically having lunch with people, shooting the sh*t, and going to various functions. These are all tax write offs. If you charge $330 an hour, which is a reasonable rate for a young-ish lawyer in a big city (5-10 years of experience), you will make $990 if you bill 3 hours per day. If you're in trial, 7 hours a day of trial time plus 3 hours a day of post-trial prep is $3,300 a day.

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loblawyer (Jul 26, 2017 - 11:06 pm)

Good post but I think most, or many, people view "networking" as a four letter word. Seems to be consensus around here that pressure to generate business is a major downside of private practice. I think many, myself included, want to work 9-6 or so, be challenged and work hard, but otherwise leave work at work.

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flyer14 (Jul 27, 2017 - 8:28 am)

The problem is:

1) Most lawyers don't get to bill $330 an hour, and
2) You rarely bill 10 hours a day. In reality, you bill four and a half hours, and spend the rest of your day doing non-billable crap such as "networking" or office admin business. You'll still work a ton of hours, but you'll bill far less.

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dingbat (Jul 27, 2017 - 12:10 pm)

the problem is getting started. A friend of mine tried the solo route in an expensive major market, made $25-$30k his first year, maybe $45k second year, then took a state job that paid $80k.

Eating Ramen Noodles and living in a shthole 3 years out of law school just isn't the way most people want to go.

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toooldtocare (Jul 27, 2017 - 9:29 am)

And in addition to other issues as noted above, while hiring may have improved a little-there's so much smoke and mirrors and outright lying about jobs in this profession it's mind-boggling-wages are dead stagnant, holding firm at 2008 levels.

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dcgootle (Jul 27, 2017 - 2:45 pm)

I think the biggest problem was probably the lack of training in the lower-tier firms (good firms but not ranked or anything). How do you develop skills for real jobs (assuming they are offered) when you're a licensed attorney whose only assignment is to research crazy issues (which I admit is fun) or bluebook a long brief.

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