Sunday, May 22, 2011

‘Don’t Tase Me, Bro’ Kid Is Headed to Law School

Even if you disregard all of the data, statistics, and anecdotal evidence that going to law school is a terrible idea, this should be enough to convince you that law school is simply not a place that you want to spend three years.

Monday, August 09, 2010

'Unemployed JD' Goes On Hunger Strike To Protest Law Schools

Link

This asshole seriously pisses me off. I hope he starves himself to death. I have no sympathy for unemployed JDs who feel like they were misled. Anyone who is stupid enough to buy into the load of shit that law school admissions feeds them deserves their fate.

At this point, a law school diploma is just a more expensive humanities degree. Worthwhile to a few, worthless to most. What makes you think you’re the exception?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whatever Happened To...

The Desperate Girl

Then: Single female law student urgently seeking a boyfriend.

Now: Just celebrated her five-year anniversary on match.com. No longer requires potential suitors to have hair. Works for the public defender and is always sure to ask her clients if "there's a Mrs. Accused of Attempted Robbery".


The Old Guy

Then: Old Guy in the school. Loved the sound of his own voice.

Now: Whereabouts unknown; presumed dead or fly fishing.


The Philosopher

Then: Unbearable intellectual classmate

Now: Landed a good job but no longer is able to entertain his musings. His new philosophy is "I bill therefore, I am". Desperately wants to get into teaching but is bound to the profession by the golden handcuffs. Rationalizes it by rereading Ayn Rand.


The Hot Girl

Then: Inexplicably hot girl in law school

Now: Got married and left her job to have a kid. Says she's going to go back in a few years, but we all know she won't. One of the 12 people who never misses an episode of The Good Wife.


Jean Shorts Guy

Then: Fashion-challenged weird guy in your class

Now: Low level government attorney; As predicted, wears short sleeve dress shirt with a tie. Still rocks the jorts on weekends. Loved Avatar.


The Feminist


Then: Shrill empowered girl in your class

Now: Single but looking. Spends her days works in public interest. Spends her nights masturbating to Don Draper and then has herself a good cry.


The Frat Boy

Then: Partying bro in your class

Now: Big firm grunt, loves to get wasted on the weekends. Still single, and doesn't see any problem with that. Will soon turn into the old guy at the club.


The Canary

Then: The person you always looked at to reassure yourself that you're not the worst student

Now: Never found a job. Burdened by debt. All to warn you that someone is in a worse spot than you are.

Agent Mulder

Then: Class conspiracy theorist

Now: After getting denied by the FBI, became an IRS auditor. Able to see malfeasance even when there is no malfeasance. Gets very angry if he comes across Lost spoilers.


Federline


Then: The lazy boyfriend/fiance/husband of your female classmate

Now: Got dumped after the sexual/income imbalance became too prominent. Closely following the current situation with John Edwards. Still in a band.


Hypo Man


Then: Extremely annoying classmate who asked ridiculous hypothetical questions

Now: Avid Tea Party member


The Ex-Cop

Then: Cop who thought he could better himself by going to law school

Now: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups, the cops who retire on giant pensions and the ex cops who pay student loans from their meager prosecutor salaries. Bum Bum. Still an asshole.


Lucy

Then: Strong willed ass kicking female classmate

Now: Busting her way through the law profession with gusto and smeared makeup. On Saturdays she dresses like an expensive prostitute (with sexy results).

Red

Then: Person who knows everything about everyone in the law school

Now: Law librarian.


High School Smoker

Then: Pretending to hate law school so as not to be shunned

Now: Dutifully pretending that she doesn't mind working as a paralegal, despite her JD.


Captain Law School

Then: Your school's Mr. Everything

Now: Thought that volunteering for the Obama campaign would turn into a real job, but not so much. Now Captain Document Review.


The BFFs


Then: Female classmates joined at the hip from day one

Now: One got a job, the other didn't. They are no longer friends but stalk each other on Facebook. Still thinks that she is more attractive than her BFF.

If you bet on letdown, you were right

When Russ and I started discussing what we might say about law school that we haven't already said, we came up blank. We have no new insights, no different perspective now than what we had four years ago, when we graduated.

I still don't think that it's advisable for most people to go to law school; if anything, it's an even worse idea now. But I no longer have the energy nor the desire to attempt to talk you out of it. If you want to go, go. It's not my problem. You might succeed, but you'll probably be miserable. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, unless you go into a ton of debt. In that case, you're fucked.

But what became of us? Well, as you probably gathered, I am not a lawyer, by my own volition. I was wise enough to see that there were plenty of people not getting jobs, and those people actually wanted to be lawyers. I threw my hat in the corporate world, and while it's not exactly a satisfying career, I make good money, I rarely get hassled, and I am happy.

Russ kicked around his options for a little while before catching on with a general practice firm. He quickly (and shrewdly) realized that there are tons of Spanish speaking clients out there, and they prefer white attorneys, so he learned Spanish and set up his own shop. He's doing great.

When we initially decided to do this, I envisioned a lot of posts. I was wrong. I am 10% busy and 90% lazy, and the ratio is reversed for Russ. That did not bode well for volume. Plus, like I said, we had nothing new to add. The only thing we could come up with was updating where our "People You Meet" series people are now. So we did, in the laziest fashion possible. That's coming up shortly. Otherwise, you can always catch me over at my current blog, or you can find Russ by telling a Spanish speaking person in Chicago that you're looking for El Abogago Gringo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

We're Putting The Band Back Together

I got my start with this stupid blogging thing five fucking years ago over at Barely Legal: The Blog. That all got started because two bored law students, my good friend Russ and myself, used to send emails back and forth, making fun of our classmates and our experiences. One day, our respective egos kicked in and said “Wow, this shit is funny. I bet other people would like reading it too.” A day later, Barely Legal was born.

The fact that people read it was not surprising. For as much work as law students claim to do, most of their time is spent on the internet. The fact that anyone actually liked reading it is more surprising. Law students are hypersensitive and hyper critical; in retrospect it took a lot of hubris on our part to think people would actually enjoy reading our stupid thoughts.

Anyway, we graduated, talk of writing a book was pushed to the back burner and eventually scrapped, Russ retired from blogging while I soldiered on. Recently it was suggested to me that we do a reunion. Unlike most ideas from people who read my blog, this wasn’t terrible. So, why the hell not?

At the end of this week, Thursday and Friday only, will be Barely Legal: The Reunion. Russ is going to contribute too. The only problem is that we have no ideas. That’s where you, the loyal reader comes in. Use the Ask feature, or shoot me an email. We want questions, ideas, suggestions, anything you’d like to see. Most of them will probably suck and never be considered, but a few will probably inspire us, or at least give us something to write. This whole thing might fail and be a terrible letdown. In fact, that’s probably inevitable, but that’s okay. Further details forthcoming…

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Quick Index To Pretty Much All Law School Posts

Job Search
Interviewing Fun
Personal Injury
Job Skills
Rejection Letter Madness
A Message From Career Services
A Little Perspective
Interview Story
You Don't Want To Hear This But You Should
Screaming Against The Darkness
Finding A Non-Legal Job

Law Students
Recent IM Conversation
Bad Day
Have You Hugged Your Gunner Today?
Gullible 1L
Me, I Thought He Was An Asshole
Brainwashing
Ambition Run Amok
Sour Grapes
Email Exchange
Gunner With Poor Aim

Law School Social Life
Law Prom
SBA Elections
Don Jaun
Law School Cool
Each To His Own
Recent Email Exchange
A New Look At A Cliched Topic
Point/Counterpoint

General Advice
A Speech to Incoming 1Ls
You're Selling the Steak Not the Sizzle
2L Blues
I Too Was Warned
90% of Success is Just Showing Up
For the Undergrads
JD/MBA
Being in the Middle
Ten Commandments for Easy Livin', Part 1
Ten Commandments for Easy Livin', Part 2
20 Tips To Avoid Being a Douchebag in Law School
Welcome to Law School
Reflections on Law School

Bar Exam

Bar Review Observation #1
Bar Review Observation #2
Bar Review Observation #3
Bar Review Observation #4
The Bar is Over

Professors/Classes
Class Participation
The Legal Clinic Blues
Why I Am an Idiot
Let Me Hear Your Body Talk
More Classroom Antics
End of an Era
Applause
All These Things That I've Done
An Experiment
More Webcam Class Fun
I Rarely Speak Up In Class
Special Ed
Recent Exchange
Not Too Long Ago...
Mike v. Professor, Part 1
Mike v. Professor, Part 2
Mike v. Professor, The Final Chapter

Graduation
FAQs
D's Get Degrees
Family Conversation

Bad Reasons for Attending Law School
I don't plan on practicing, but a JD looks good
I have a worthless undergraduate degree
I want to work in a genteel profession
Law school is prestigious
I got a good score on the LSAT
My parents pressured me
I want to make a difference in this world
I want to make a lot of money
I've been in the real world and I don't like my job
I like to argue

People You Meet in Law School
The Desperate Girl
The Old Guy
The Philosopher
The Hot Girl
Jean Shorts Guy
The Feminist
The Frat Boy
The Canary
Agent Mulder
Federline
Hypo Man
The Ex-Cop
Lucy
Red
The High School Smoker
Captain Law School
The BFFs

Random
The Blossoming of a Law Student
Mind of the Lazy Law Student
Law School v Med School
Law School v Barber College
Law School v High School
Online Law Schools
Rising 3Ls Dilemma
Confessions of a Bad Law Student
Referring To Yourself in the 3rd Person
All In My Head
Journal of Thoughts From My Morning Class
You Can't Spell Class Without A-S-S
Wiseguy, Eh?
Law School Timeline
Real Life Law & Order
Regulators, Mount Up!
Family Law

Exams

The Possum
The Braggart
Smugman
The Freak Out
3Lian Gonzalez
Exam Dress
Last Minute Studying
Tabs
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Why You Are Asking Me, I'm Not Sure...
Under Pressure
More Studying Tips
Need An Encouraging Word?
Family Law Seminar
Three Lingering Questions About Exams

Rants
Law Students
Attendance Policies
Last Minute Questions
Paper Passing
Lack of Syllabus
Make-up Classes

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finding A Non-Legal Job

For the past few weeks, Russ has posted some eye-opening stuff about job prospects after law school. And from what I have heard from friends and classmates, it's all pretty accurate. I wouldn't know personally, however, because I didn't even bother taking the bar, so finding actual legal employment was never on my list of things-to-do.

I was in the minority. When I decided not to take the bar and thus not practice law, my decision was met by classmates with a combination of disbelief and jealousy. Many couldn't believe I would spend three years in law school and not want to even take the bar. These people are obviously unfamiliar with the concept of a sunk cost. Others expressed admiration and envy of my decision, wishing that they too could make such a bold choice.

(Sidebar: Honestly, I don't know what makes it so bold. Is it unconventional? Sure. But that doesn't mean it's illogical. There is no law that says law school graduates must take the bar. I mean, I knew I didn't want to practice law. So why put myself through the hassle? I haven't once, in the nearly one year since I graduated, regretted my decision even one iota. So obviously, it wasn't a bad decision. If people are so envious of it, then why don't more follow my lead? I'll never understand people.)

Anyway, regardless of their reaction, I heard the same question over and over: "What are you going to do instead?" And I answered honestly: "I don't know."

I went into my job search blind. I figured that having a finance degree and a law degree would make me very desirable. I was wrong...sort of. I ended up with a great job that I use neither degree for. But I learned a lot along the way, so I thought I'd share some of what I learned with you. So without further ado, here is my loosely structured advice on how to get a non-legal job right out of law school.

First, a few things you must keep in mind...

Don't fool yourself, you are absolutely an entry-level candidate. You might think your law degree somehow sets you apart from the hoards of recent college graduates who have entered the job market. But unless you have some real work experience, aside from the legal work you did over the summers, you are wrong. A law degree does not qualify you to do anything except be a lawyer. Can it help in other jobs? Sure, but most companies don't go out looking for law graduates to fill non legal jobs, even if a law degree would slightly enhance the person's ability to do that job. So you need to go in with the mindset that your law degree doesn't make you special, doesn't mean you're more qualified, and doesn't entitle you to anything more than you were entitled to coming out of college. You might disagree, but read the next point.

Actually, having a law degree when looking for a non-law job does set you apart. People who aren't lawyers don't understand the practice of law at all. They think you're throwing away a winning lottery ticket by not practicing. I submitted a resume and cover letter to one company, and they called me back solely out of curiosity, to see the guy with a law degree who didn't want to practice law. They think something is wrong with you and label you as a flake, which is something you need to overcome. This can be done by coming up with a good answer as to why you're not practicing law, and incorporating that into both your cover letter and your interviews, because it will definitely be the first question they ask you. I experimented with a variety of answers, from the brutally honest to the completely fake. I found the completely fake works better. In order to avoid the flake label, you need to convince them that whatever job it is you are interviewing for is what you set your sights on to begin with, and you went to law school to give yourself a more well-rounded education. If you make it seem like you went to law school, didn't like it, and are now moving on to something better, you will only look flakier in their eyes. So you need to convince recruiters and interviewers that you never intended to practice law, you just wanted to round out your education, even if that's complete bullshit.

Start early. I decided, with 100% certainty, that I wasn't going to take the bar very early in my 3rd year. My mistake was not starting on my job search at that point. Because I was somewhat of an oddity on the job market, it took some time to get things rolling. I had interviews with places where I was overqualified, and places where I was underqualified, and it took me a long time to really get focused on what I wanted to do. If I could go back and do it again, I would have started during the school year by attending undergraduate career fairs on campus and getting a chance to talk to recruiters face to face, and I would have started sending out resumes and cover letters to different places before graduation, just to have gotten the ball rolling.

To paraphrase a line from Pulp Fiction: "When you are out there looking for a job, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps." Lets be real. Law school is an elitist institution, where people look at prestige as a determination of your worth. If you decide not to pursue a career in the law, you need to get rid of all of that law school prestige bullshit and do what is best for you. You're probably going to end up with a job that you didn't need to go to law school to get. But that's okay, because you obviously are looking for a non-legal job for a reason. If you are in that situation, fuck pride. You don't deserve anything because you have a law degree. It'll make your search a lot easier.

What you can learn from my experience. Even though I put my pride aside, I still had standards. I knew that the job search was a lengthy process, and I prepared for that. Desperation is a bad thing. I started going on interviews in July, really ramped up the search in August, and finally got a job I wanted at the end of October. Along the way, I went on many bad interviews, rejected offers which I deemed unacceptable, and held out for something that I actually wanted. Is it my dream job? No, but for first jobs, I could do a hell of a lot worse. The lesson, I think, is to keep your options open, but don't overvalue yourself.

Final thoughts...Much like getting a legal job, getting a non-legal job is going to come down to you being able to sell yourself to employers. In a perfect world, you'll find a company that sees your JD as a positive, and they'll really want you to come work for them, and pay you handsomely. In reality, you'll get a job because you sold yourself to them, and in spite of your JD. Bottom line is, if you are looking for a non-legal job, it's either because you have no desire to be an attorney, or the legal job market put you in that situation. Regardless of why, it's up to you to go out and make it happen for yourself, because nobody is going to hand you anything.

One more thing...it wouldn't hurt to buy a lottery ticket every week.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Screaming Against The Darkness

For the past couple weeks I've been writing about the grim employment prospects for many law school graduates. Certainly, not everyone or even a majority of people are unemployable, but a sizable minority are and no one ever speaks about them. I'm glad some people were candid enough to share their experiences with the rest of you.

Anyways, for those of you who choose to see law school through even though you feel like you might be unemployable (or at least your professor's grading curves do), I want to give some final departing advice for the desperate.

1) Distinguish yourself! If you're not at the top of your class or on a journal find something else about you that will separate you from the pack. I first chaired two jury trials in law school which distinguishes me from the vast majority of law students (and even most lawyers). My current boss seemed impressed with that.

2) Get a job to get a job! Before law school, in law school, and out of law school get any kind of legal employment you can. Even if you're working in a mail room, you'll get exposure and connections. I worked as a paralegal for a few months for a law firm. This made interviews far less embarrassing when I could announce that I was "currently temping at a law firm".

3) Do anything you can to get some applicable experience! Join your law school's clinic, volunteer at legal aid, call up any and all government offices seeing if they need a free legal intern. If you've seen a divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit through from start to finish you'll be much more employable (and you'll sound like you know what you're talking about) than any other candidates.

Good luck guys. It's way tougher out there than anyone says but if you're truly active and strategic about your job search, things will work out.

www.abogadodechicago.com
www.rdklegal.com

Monday, April 02, 2007

Conversation With A Friend

Russ: How's the job search?

Friend: Awful.

Russ: Write about it for my blog.

Friend: I would but it's too depressing to think about let alone write about.

Russ:
Don't others deserve to know?

Friend:
They'll just be as naive and optimistic as I was. I mean, I was average. I got average grades in law school, didn't do anything special during my summers, never took on any special projects. I thought an average law student would get a job. But here's the thing, I was average at a really good school. The average LSAT score for someone attending my school qualifies them for Mensa but apparently not for the lowliest mouth breathing entry-level legal job.

Warning Signs

I've received several emails from current law students who bemoan the fact that they can't find an internship, summer job, or job after graduation. I choose not to post them because they don't have the angry, frustrated quality that will actually jar a law student out of his stupor and follow the true Socratic method, leading an examined life.

But, something bizarre does occur to me when reading these emails: These kids can't get someone to let them work FOR FREE. They are being turned away by government agencies and charities. The demand for free labor should be infinite. Therefore, your average 2L's presence at a legal job site must provide a negative value to any possible employer. What does that say about your legal education.

So, guys, if no one is letting you work for free, read the writing on the wall. Even less people will be willing to pay you to work.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

From a Reader:

Subject: I don't know whether to hate you or thank you. Maybe both?

You guys have seriously either saved my life or ruined it. I was ready to be a law student. Top of my class with a 4.0. 178 on the LSATs. Extensive volunteering for a well known non-profit and even regular work in a law firm. I got accepted to one of the top three Law Schools and I was ready to graduate and go off this coming year. I didn't want a big firm job. I wanted to work for non-profits and hopefully have my loans forgiven. I was set. I was happy. God help me I was excited. I had been reading various law blogs and books for a year to try to get an idea about whether or not I'll enjoy law school and god help me I was convinced I would be a gunner. I genuinely love the law. I love briefing cases, I love staying up all night discussing them, I love it. But now for the first time I have doubt. Not just doubt, I lie awake wondering if I'm making a mistake. It's not too late for me to get out. I've signed up to take the GREs and have started looking at jobs after graduation. I now not only have other options, I'm seriously considering them. I'm terrified of law school and what it will mean when I graduate and pass the bar. I'm really not sure that I'm going any more. So yeah, your mission was accomplished. You've scared me to the bone. Whether you saved my life or ruined it? I'll let you know in a few years.


If this person isn't going to law school then why are any of you? Because they're one less person clammoring after the same job?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Submitted Law Employment Story # 4

From a reader:

While I generally prefer to lurk and not contribute, your request for scare stories for law students (or those considering law school) was too much to pass up... so here's mine:

Top 25% at a first tier school (University of Wisconsin), Law Review, clinical and externship experience but no firm work. Couldn't get a job for 6 months after graduation (and had obviously been looking since before third year). While I was perhaps being a little picky about the type of work I wanted to do, I was applying for everything and anything across all geographic regions, as long as it was the area of work I wanted (environmental law - which I have a hard science background to support). Private firms (of all sizes), non-profits (my first choice), government, EVERYTHING. I only got a job by agreeing to move to the middle of nowhere to do family law (which I have no experience in) for a very hard-up non-profit agency.

I don't actually regret my decision to go to law school, but I really think students should know the reality of what they're getting into. The debt is remarkably humbling and the jobs just aren't there to make it worth while. If someone wants to practice in small-town USA, they *may* be okay, but it's definitely not a sure thing these days.

Thanks for spreading the gospel!

Submitted Law Employment Story # 3

From a reader:

I ran across your blog tonight and I felt compelled to write in with my own diatribe. I never really gave much thought to going to law school until I was halfway through my master's program. I have come to conclude this has been the worst mistake of my life, to date.

My grades were fine - I made the Dean's List, got an award, even graduated with honors. I clerked for a small firm my 2L year, volunteered for varies legal groups, networked, etc. Everything the good law student should do. During my 3L year I submitted an article to a law journal and it was accepted for publication. I also graduated with honors. I thought all of these things would guarantee me a job. Seriously, Master's degree, work experience, honors, publication - my firm bio would look beautiful. I was WRONG!

I graduated in May of 2006 and now it is March 2007 and I finally got a job - as a frickin' document reviewer...second shift. I'm not even good enough to get a 9-5 job. I'm pretty sure in my next few interviews I'm going to explain the gap in my resume as being caused by a very sick relative who eventually died.

I never understood why lawyers always told me never to go to law school. Now I do. Bar review is the closest thing to hell on Earth. When you do finally pass the bar you either stay unemployed or get a soul-draining job as a document reviewer. My advice to law students is - quit while you're ahead!

Thanks for letting me rant.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Plural of Anecdote is Data

I hope some of the legal employment anecdotes we've posted have scared you (and there will be more to come). But some of you are smart enough to say, "Russ, this is one person. Unlike me, they're unlucky/stupid/ugly/socially awkward/unconnected." We don't want you to trust law school brochure anecdotes so don't trust ours either. So, to prove there are more lawyers than there are jobs available, please look at the two links below: (hat tip: some UT student)

There are something like 1.2 million JDs in the US, but guess what, there are only about 530,000 practicing lawyers. What do you think all those other people are doing? If you don't believe me, have a look at these:

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes231011.htm
http://www.abanet.org/lsd/stulawyer/sep02/thetruth.html

The second one is from the ABA. Even the national bar association is telling you to be prepared to do something else with your life.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Submitted Law Employment Story #2

From A Reader


While you may believe that this blog is unnecessarily harsh regarding law school, it is not. Every single syllable is true. I graduated from a big ten school with a 3.6, had a decent LSAT score and attended a local tier-three law school. I was the quintessential "average" law student. I tried my best but never managed to make Law Review or graduate in the top 20% of my class. Still, I thought I would make a "good lawyer" so I held my head up high and finished.

I graduated in May 2006, it's now March of the next year and I cannot find legal work of any kind-not contract work (because it all requires loads of experience), or even work as a paralegal (because no one wants someone with a law degree as their assistant). Employers ask, "Why should I invest in training you as a paralegal when you will leave if you find something better?" I'd like to respond that there is nothing better, but morbid negativity during job interviews is never a quality that gets you hired.

The irony is had I become a paralegal in undergrad I would have a great job. No one told me that good paralegals earn as much or more money than average lawyers. I saw two job postings today. The first posting was for a paralegal at a corporate headquarters for $55,000.00 with full benefits. The second for an entry level attorney at the county prosecutor's office for $35,000 with full benefits. I rest my case.

Heard the saying, "you can do ANYTHING with a law degree?" It's a lie. You can be a lawyer with a law degree. Unless the Gods have smiled on you, you will be unemployed. Having more education than your employer is never a good thing. Welcome to the world of you are "overqualified." Law school is like attending cosmetology school. Do you believe you could do ANYTHING with a cosmetology diploma (aside from being a beautician)? Of course not, well the same theory applies to law school.

The fact of the matter is unless you are the brown nosing legal eagle A student gunner that everyone hates, you have a relative that owns a law firm, you are independently wealthy or you are attending law school to put off marrying your father's best friend's daughter from your homeland-DROP OUT IMMEDIATELY.

The constant stress and anguish from attending law school is what I imagine having herpes must be like...just when you think you will never face it again, you have an outbreak. Law school ravages your finances, your self-esteem, and your relationships. I include relationships because your family and friends will gather together to harp on you and criticize you until you are ready to check yourself into a psych ward. Either your family has a successful lawyer who looks at you across the dinner table on holidays like you are a genetically inferior misfit because you didn't make big law at graduation and still can't find a job, or your family is middle America blue collar that feels having a J.D. is like having a winning lottery ticket. Both scenarios leave you drained emotionally, and wondering why you didn't become a stripper at 17.

I know you feel this will not be your fate. But it is the fate of countless people. Law schools do nothing to protect the profession. They churn out graduates like run-down online diploma mills. It is expected that Online-University.com may give you a degree that isn't worth the paper it is printed on. But waking up one year or two after graduating from local tier-three state university law school, and realizing your degree is the equivalent of toilet paper will be devastating. Especially when you are forced to live in a van down by the river because Sallie Mae reams you monthly with interest rates that are higher than credit cards. Another lovely consequence is if you miss a payment, not only will your credit score be 112, but you will jeopardize your license or getting one, if you don't have it, by putting your financial fitness in question with your State Bar Association.

In sum, law school was the single biggest mistake of my adult life thus far. It is a far reaching, expensive and painful mistake that will not seem to go away. Sort of like getting pregnant at 15 or becoming a drug addict. Take my words as a public service announcement. Don’t let my fate become your own.

Submitted Law Employment Story # 1

From A Reader

Mike and Russ, you are exactly correct on both of your posts. I graduated last May from a second tier law school. I was in the middle of my class. I put together what many have called a very solid resume for what I wanted to do (labor and employment law). I clerked for a year at a labor and employment law firm, I was the president of the Labor and Employment Law Society, I was on the Moot Court Arbitration Team and participated in our Unemployment Compensation Clinic. In May, I thought that there was no way I would have a problem finding a job. God, was I stupid! Big firms would not even look at my resume and the small firms are not hiring if you have no experience (they can't afford to pay to train you). I met with 40+ attorneys, went to CLEs to network, joined different labor and employment groups and I even started my own firm to take public defender assignments. What did that get me? Well, I got lucky, I got a job doing plaintiff side labor and employment law. I don't think it pays enough to pay all my bills (I am lucky to have a wife bringing some money into the relationship). It took me ten months to get a job. Luckily, I snuck in just before a whole new batch of law school graduates are pushed out of their comfy, fantasy land law schools into the real world where they will soon find jobs as waitresses, bartenders, and that guy from Starbucks who will give you his resume with your latte.

Thinking about law school? Seriously, don't do it unless you know what it is really like out there! And if you think you know, you don't!

Friday, March 23, 2007

You Don't Want To Hear This But You Should

Do you believe in irony? Well, I have been working as an attorney for a few months now and I really like my work. I am lucky to have such a great job. The sad part is, though, I am lucky to have any job at all.

The legal market is much tougher out there than law students expect. My conclusion is that career services aren't just useless, they're largely pointless because there simply aren't enough jobs out there for all law school graduates.

Here are your options as an upcoming law grad:

1) Big firm: You already know how these work. Either go to a great school or graduate at the top of your class. Otherwise, they're not an option.

2) Government: The public defender or the prosecutors office will hire anyone, right? True but they hire much more rarely than you think. In my county, they instituted a hiring freeze and all PDs and Prosecutors and clerks with less than 3 years experience have been let go. Do not plan to fall back on this because there are people with much more experience who also have the same plan (I interned for the State's Attorney where I worked under two big firm burnouts)

3) Small firms: These mysterious small firms are supposed to soak up the remaining law graduates. This is a myth. Small firms have neither the time nor the resources to train law graduates. You really don't know anything upon graduating and some attorney is not going to take an hour or two to train you each day because he simply can't afford to. Why would they, when they can just hire one of the thousands of people big firm and government shed each year.

4) Contracting: contracting firms do hire new attorneys to do document review. You spend all day, deciding relevant or irrelevant and privileged or unprivileged, while your career stagnates. Believe it or not, these jobs are competitive as big firm burnouts frequently gravitate to them for a well deserved rest.

Don't believe me? Look at your local law bulletin for "help wanted" ads. You'll find they all want at least 2 years of experience. The reason the employers ask for experience is because they can always get it as big firms shed employees each year.

I went to a good school, University of Illinois, and I know lots of people with good grades who are still looking for legal work. And, sadly, the February bar test takers will be flooding the streets of my state with 600 more attorneys and in May another few thousand grads will hit the market and the vicious cycle will continue.

If you are a law student and you have no way to distinguish yourself: good grades, good experience, good network, then you will most likely not be able to find legal employment. Not immediately after graduation. Not after you pass the bar. Not after a younger fresher class does the same a year later while you have to explain your year of unemployment on your resume. Save yourself a lot of grief and a lot of money. Drop out.

But, knowing law students, you all think you're the exception even though your 3.2 from the University of Toledo says you're exactly average.

So, law grads, e-mail us with your stories of unemployment, underemployment, or misemployment and we'll post them so that law students can be fairly warned.

Update: A 2L from a third tier school with a sub 3.0 GPA is both unimpressed and incredulous regarding my post. Someone set them straight.

Update #2: Mike added
his thoughts on the topic over at his new blog.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I wrote this once, never got around to posting it...until now

Q: I went to an interview, and the job sounds awful, but they offered it to me. What should I do?

The biggest reason so many people end up disillusioned in law school is because of unmet expectations. We come in expecting great jobs, interesting work, and endless opportunities. We later come to find out that jobs are scarce, the work is boring, and the opportunities are limited. Thus, there often comes a turning point when we have to decide whether to accept it for what it is and take it, or move on to look for something better. If you have been offered a job that you don’t want, but think you need, you have an important decision to make: Do you accept it and the accompanying unhappiness, or do you take the road less traveled and go for what you really want?

My second year of law school was a personal struggle: I realized that I wasn’t really interested in becoming a lawyer anymore, but I didn’t want to burn that bridge yet. I had no interest in a large firm job, so by default I thought I’d end up with a small firm. I had a few interviews, with varying success, but I hadn’t accepted any jobs yet. Then, during spring exams, I got a call from a local bankruptcy firm that I had applied to. They wanted to do an interview. The firm was well-known locally, and was a highly respected small firm around town. It would have been a great opportunity for someone interested in doing this kind of law.

I went in for the interview, where I met with the two partners. The office we were in was messy, stacks of paper all over the place, files piled on the floor, a half-eaten sandwich on the desk. The two attorneys looked to be in the same condition as the office: large bags under their eyes, sleeves rolled up on their dress shirts, top buttons unbuttoned and ties loosened, and they seemed genuinely relieved to be able to take a 45 minute “break” to interview me.

From the outset, the interview was going well. I established a good rapport with them, I gave good, bullshit answers that they wanted to hear. They explained the position to me, and I could not have been more bored. Bankruptcy law is just as dry as it sounds. My interest in the job went from ‘low’ to ‘negative’. I looked around the messy office, looked at the two stressed out lawyers interviewing me, and realized that I had no desire to do this.

But it wasn’t that simple. I needed to do something that summer and I wasn’t in the position to be turning down jobs. It would be so much easier if I wasn’t offered the job; then I could go out and take a risk, find something I really wanted. But from how the attorneys were treating me, I knew they would make me an offer. So at that moment I made a decision. I was going to take a dive.

I would throw the interview.

Just when I made that decision, they gave me the perfect opportunity to start, by asking if I was going to be able to work during the school year. I looked right at them and said, “I don’t know, my schedule is going to keep me pretty busy.” I was hoping it would turn the interview sour, but one of the attorneys said “That’s okay, we understand. We’ll work around your schedule, whatever it is.”

Damnit! I needed to do better than that. So when they opened it up to me for questions, I put Interview Mike back into his box and brought Real Mike out to continue with the rest of the interview. “What kind of vacation time will I get?”… “What sort of hours will I have to work?”… “How long can I take for my lunch break?”…”Can I run home at some point to let my dog out?”

When they told me there would be long hours, I winced. When they told me that I probably couldn’t take any vacation time, I grumbled. When they told me lunch was an hour and that I could go let my dog out then, I seemed positively confused.

Soon, the interview ended. Their demeanor went from happy and enthusiastic at the beginning of the interview to cold and annoyed by the end. Obviously, I had met my objective. So you can imagine my shock when they called me and offered the job. So I did what I should have done in the first place; I asked for a ridiculous amount of money, and when they refused, I told them I had to pass.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Counting Down To The Last Post....

Could you post your thoughts on gunners with poor aim? I think those poor souls who try so hard to be gunners but whose answers are so completely inane and/or off topic deserve some blog space.

Excellent topic. I have been meaning to post about a former classmate of mine who fit this description to a T…

Most law students fall into one of two categories: Those who came to law school for better career options and those who came because they didn’t know what else to do. A very small minority of law students came of another reason altogether; they have a genuine interest in learning about the law. (Quick sidebar: Many people will claim to have a genuine interest in learning about the law, but most are just fooling themselves. If law school didn’t offer better career options than a liberal arts degree, then they wouldn’t be there. And if they say otherwise, they’re full of shit and well on their way to being a successful lawyer).

But there was one guy in my class (we’ll call him “Darren”) who was in law school first and foremost because he wanted to learn about the law. He was middle-aged and left his successful career on a whim to go to law school. He was eager and enthusiastic and hungry to learn. He always had a bounce in his step and was always ready to discuss that day’s reading, or any other topic so long as it related to the law. He loved law school for what it was. This would have been somewhat refreshing, but his newfound love affair with the law gave rise to three annoying traits which drove his classmates crazy.

1) He took every opportunity to volunteer not as an option to speak, but as a duty. Often he would raise his hand before the professor even asked for volunteers, ensuring that he would be heard before anyone else had a chance. He approached class like there were two people in the room and thus, many classes devolved into one-on-one conversations between him and the professor. Now this wouldn’t be so bad, except…

2) He was one of those guys who liked to research topics outside of the reading, and bring that information to the classroom discussion. But that wasn’t the problem (although it’s totally gunnerish). The problem was, he usually got way off track with his research, confusing the issues, and often the professor in the process. It wasn’t that he was trying to expand the topics; he just missed the mark. It would be like if you asked someone to explain the impact of the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series on Boston sports fans, and they came back with a report on the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. Related? Somewhat. Relevant? No.

3) He had no Time-Left-In-Class Awareness. Countless times he broke the unwritten rule that you are not allowed to raise your hand in the last five minutes of class. The ends of classes would become anxious with him around, everyone nervously shifting their eyes back and forth between the clock and his right arm, hoping he didn’t have anything left to say. When he would raise his hand, there would be an audible groan, which didn’t deter Darren in the least.

One story that I have perfectly describes the Darren experience. Fall semester of my 3rd year, I took Landlord/Tenant Law with Darren. The class met for two hours one afternoon per week. During the last class before exams, with 15 minutes left, the professor passed out a sample essay question and told us to just identify the issues. Since I hadn’t read a page all year and had yet to study for the final, I had no idea so I just kept on surfing the internet while my classmates dutifully identified the issues. After ten minutes, the professor told us to stop because she wanted time to go over the correct answers.

“Would anyone like to share their answers?” she asked as Darren’s hand shot up. She looked hesitantly at him for a second, knowing all too well there this was going, and undoubtedly regretting offering him the option. But before she could change her mind, he launched into his list of issues.

Instead of sticking with the expected landlord/tenant issues, Darren went all out. He found legal issues that fell under commercial paper, secured transactions, contract law, and civil procedure. Conspicuously absent, however, were many landlord/tenant issues. The professor interrupted him, in an attempt to reign him in, but he couldn’t be stopped until he read all 16 issues that he found. He finally finished, pleased with himself. All 70 people in the room were staring at him, with the same look of confusion and amusement on their faces. A few people snickered, and one person was loudly laughing at Darren’s answer. (Okay, that was me.)

“Um…well,” the professor said, choosing her words carefully. “You should have found five issues in this question, all of which pertain to landlord/tenant law. How many landlord/tenant issues did you find?”

“Two, but…”

I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and left. To my surprise, half the class followed my lead, leaving the poor professor and an oblivious Darren there to discuss how civil law would apply to landlord/tenant situations in our common law state.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This Won’t Be The Last Post, But...

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the posting on this blog has become sporadic lately. Both contributors have been dealing with some serious personal issues.

Russ recently had an old girlfriend return to his life with twin sons he never knew he had. The old girlfriend is no longer in his life, but she left the twins to him to care for.

Mike is experiencing advanced kidney failure and is desperately awaiting a transplant, and he just can’t find the humor in life anymore.

This isn’t the last post, necessarily. If Mike finds time between dialysis treatments, or if Russ finds time between cleaning spit-up off of his shirt and trying to support this new family, they may post something from time to time.

May your prayers be with them.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Job Search Post #7

For some people, especially those out in the working world, this post is going to go straight into the “No shit, Sherlock” category. But for other people, those na├»ve souls still lucky enough to be sheltered away in undergraduate or graduate schools, or the even luckier jerks whose family connections ensure that their next cushy job is just one phone call away, I came to learn a hard truth over my three-month job search: Employers treat job seekers like shit, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

I could make a list a mile long of my grievances, but I’ll stick to the three worst instances:

1) I had an interview with one company that was scheduled for 2:30. Like a good little candidate, I arrived ten minutes early and was instructed by the secretary to take a seat in the lobby. So I sat down and waited….and waited….and waited. I kept pulling my cell phone out of my pocket to look at the time. 2:30 came and went, and no one came to get me. By 2:40 I was annoyed. By 2:50, I was furious. The fact that the secretary sat 15 feet away from me but made no attempt to find out what the delay was or even acknowledge my wait only added to my anger. I decided that if 3:00 came and I was still waiting, I was going to leave. After all, if I had shown up a half hour late to an interview, would I have a chance at getting the job? Of course not.

I was staring at my cell phone, rooting for 3:00 to come so I could justify leaving. Finally, and to my chagrin, at 2:58 the guy came out to get me. By this time, I was livid and I had no desire to be there, but I decided to give him one more chance; if he apologized for the wait and gave me an explanation (even a bad one would have sufficed) I would have been appeased.

We sat down, he looked at his papers and said “So you’re my 2:30?” I told him that I was. And with that, he launched into his questions. I decided right there that I was no longer interested in the job, and my answers reflected as much. I gave short, sometimes monosyllabic answers to all of his questions; I told him that I wasn't really interested in the industry; and the only question I asked him was about vacation time. Twenty minutes later, the interview was over. My whole experience there led me to believe that it would suck to work there. That impression was solidified when, an hour after my interview ended, they called and invited me back for a second interview. Given how intentionally bad I had made my interview, I certainly didn’t want to work for any company that would have that version of me as an employee.

2) In early September, a little more than a month into my search, my first really good opportunity came along. The job was a good combination of my undergraduate and law degrees, they were hiring multiple people to make up a training class; and it paid well. For the first time in my job search, I found something that I was actually interested in and I prepared accordingly. I’ll spare the details, but the interview went very, very well. The guy I spoke to was so impressed that he went and got his boss to meet me. The big boss and I hit it off as well, and spoke for almost a half hour. Among the topics of our conversation was how important professionalism is in that company, and how important it is to treat coworkers with dignity and respect. I dutifully agreed with him, and he passed me back to the original interviewer. We spoke a little longer, and he sent me on my way. As I left, I was sure that I would get the job. So sure, in fact, that I decided to take a break from job search activities for the rest of the week, and I even started to splurge on some nice new clothes to wear to my job (not suits though).

The following Monday, there was an message in my junk mail folder from the HR department of the company. I opened it, and was treated to the following:

Mr. [Mike],

Thank you for your interest in the [job I interviewed for] position with [the company]. We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a position at this time. We will keep your resume on file in case something else meeting your qualifications becomes available.

Human Resources

What happened next was like the five stages of job rejection. At first I was in denial. This email read like some generic auto-response that I received when I submitted applications to other jobs which I never interviewed for. Surely this must be some sort of mistake. "Maybe I should call the HR department and get it straightened out," I thought.

Next there was disappointment. I was so sure that I would get the job, I had mentally gotten away from the job seeking mindset and moved back into lazy relaxed mode. The prospect of going back to the job seeking grind was not a pleasant one.

Next, I got confused, because my interview had gone great. I had every single qualification they were looking for, my law degree actually brought something to the table that impressed them, and they were hiring five people. Sure, one person could be a better candidate than me. But five? No way, not for this job in this market.

After that, I got pissed. I accepted the fact that they didn’t want me. I can take rejection. But it was the way that informed me that made me mad. They didn’t have the decency to call me, mail me a letter on company letterhead, or even send me an email from a real person. They sent me a generic rejection letter from an email address I couldn’t even respond to. I wanted to call the guy I interviewed with and tell him to be a fucking man.

Finally, I accepted it, but I wanted answers. I figured that if I wasn't going to get the job, I at least wanted to know why. Over the next two weeks I left four voicemails for the guy I interviewed with, none of which were returned.

Professionalism my ass.

3) About a month ago, before I was offered the job I eventually accepted, I responded to a job posting in the Sunday paper. It wasn’t particularly interesting, but it was a decent opportunity, so I figured I might as well apply. The next day, Monday, I got a call from that company, asking if I could come in for an interview the next day at 4:00. I accepted, and was happy to find on mapquest that the company was located in the office park across the street from my apartment complex. So at 3:50 I hopped in my car and drove across the street.

By 4:05, I was home.

What happened? Well, I walked in and was directed to a conference room. A minute later, some guy walked in and introduced himself, and asked for a copy of my resume, which I handed over, freshly printed on high quality resume paper. He looked it over and asked me about my experience in the field. I told him that I had none, and launched into my spiel about why I was uniquely qualified because I went to law school, blah blah blah. When I stopped, he said, annoyed, “Okay, but the job requires at least three years of experience.”

“Then why did you call me for an interview?” I asked.

“Uh….Not sure, to be honest.”

“Oh, well that makes sense,” I responded sarcastically.

“Sorry,” he said, as he stood up to indicate to me that it was time to leave.

“Not to worry,” I told him as I also stood, this time in an overly cheery manor. “I’m sure it happens all the time.” He looked at me blankly for a second, then finally got that I was making fun of him. As I was walking out the door, I stopped and said, “One more thing…I want my resume back.” I snatched it from his hand and left the building.


So those are my stories. What are yours? Send me your best job seeking stories to barelylegalblog@gmail.com, and we might post a few of the best.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sworn Into the Bar Today

So, I'm officially an Esquire.

I've joined the elite ranks of Bill S. Preston and the only men's magazine that doesn't have nudity and yet still manages to sell copies.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Job Search Post #6/Random Rant #9

You know what really bothered me more than anything during my job search? Having to wear a suit to interview with a company where professional dress is not required for the job. There are few things more awkward than wearing an uncomfortable business suit when the guy across the table from you is comfortably kicking back in some Dockers and a polo shirt. If the job doesn’t require you to wear suits to work, then why wear one to the interview? (Also, why do we wear the same suit in warm weather as we do in cold weather? No one else wears jackets when it’s 90 degrees, except crazy homeless people. Shouldn’t it be a sign that something is wrong with a social trend when the only other subset of people who follow the trend are the mentally unstable?)

My question is, what is the point of wearing a suit? It’s all well and good if professional dress is required for the job, because if you are required to wear a suit to work, wearing one to the interview proves you own the proper wardrobe. But if the job is business casual, wouldn’t you want to look business casual? Just because it makes you look professional doesn’t mean you are professional. The only thing that wearing a suit signifies for certain is that at one point in your past, you purchased a suit. It’s not as if owning a suit is prestigious. Suits are not a scarce commodity, only sold to those people with the dignity and class required to wear such a fine piece of clothing. Suits are getting cheaper and cheaper to purchase. It won’t be long before Wal-Mart is marketing a suit, shirt, and tie combination for $49, meant to be worn to custody hearings and weddin’s. Any idiot can put on a suit and have someone tie their tie for them. Employers can’t possibly gauge any real level of professionalism from what they wear to an interview.

Maybe it has some other aesthetic qualities, but so what? Lots of things look nice. Can’t we come up with a more comfortable way to dress well? Whenever a suit is considered proper attire, it is undoubtedly an important event (interviews, business meetings, trials, weddings, funerals, and so on.) These events are the most likely places where a man is going to get nervous. So why did we settle on the most uncomfortable combination of clothing to be the proper attire for formal and professional events? It’s like a cruel joke. “Hey, let’s take a heavy fabric, like wool, and make a jacket and a pair of pants out of it. Then we’ll make a shirt out of cotton to wear underneath. But we don’t want that shirt to be too comfortable, so we’ll add starch to it, so it’s stiff and rigid. Then, we’ll take a long silk piece of fabric and tie it tightly around the neck, thus constricting breathing. For shoes, let’s not give any padding or support, so as to limit comfort. Then we’ll make it pretty much mandatory for men to wear this crazy costume to every important event in his life.” Now tell me, does that make any sense?

People say, “clothes make the man”, but if anything, it’s the contrary. After all, a genius in sweatpants is still a genius, and an idiot in an Armani suit is just a sharply dressed idiot.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Recent IM Conversation

Reader: That wasn’t very nice to call Courtney an ignorant slut
barelylegalblog: I didn’t really mean it, it’s a classic pop culture reference
Reader: I’m not familiar with it
barelylegalblog: Well you’ve proved your ignorance…was that the only part of it you were offended by?
Reader: Haha, I may be a slut but I’m not ignorant
barelylegalblog: Your parents must be proud
Reader: Why?
barelylegalblog: I guess I’d rather have my daughter be known for her ignorance

Monday, October 30, 2006

Point/Counterpoint

…with Mike and Courtney.

Topic: Did the social scene at our school suck more than at other schools?

Courtney: I contend that the social life at this school is much worse than at other schools for several reasons: First, the city itself sucks. There isn’t anything fun to do and all of the bars are overrun with undergrads or local white trash. Second, the people at our school suck; they’re either overly serious and pretentious dorks, or they’re obnoxious idiots. There are very few people cool, laid back people who are fun to be around who won’t discuss law all night, or who don’t start acting like 19 year old loud sorority sluts after three apple-tini’s.

Mike: I contend that you’re wrong. You aren’t describing our law school; you are describing every law school. Sure, our city isn’t great, but unless you’re in Las Vegas or South Beach, what would you expect? It beats some hick town with four bars and a college where the locals look down on book learnin'. And do you think there is some magic school out there with only cool, laid back people who are fun to be around? Of course there isn’t. It’s no secret that law students aren’t the most happenin’ group of folks, but I think you’re being pretty harsh. It could be worse. Law school will not be as fun as undergrad, if you did undergrad the right way. Your best bet is to find a handful of people like you and ignore the rest. You’re just bitter because you think you made a bad school decision, but in reality it’s pretty much the same everywhere.

Courtney: Nuh-uh. I know people who went to law school at [Fun Undergrad Party School] and they had a blast, always going out and having fun.

Mike: Yuh-huh. If you had gone to [Fun Undergrad Party School] for law school, you’d be just as annoyed by your classmates. There’s nothing to stop you from going out all the time here. I knew people at our school who went out all the time, and they were really annoying. And having more options as to where to go out doesn’t mean the people are going to be any better. After all, if that really obnoxious drunk girl that everyone hates had gone to any other school, she’d still be just as annoying, right?

Courtney: Okay, fine, but other schools have other graduate schools, so you can hang out with med students or MBA students or whoever, instead of just law students, so I could go out to bars and not be surrounded by classmates or undergrads or townies.

Mike: Courtney, you ignorant slut. Do you even hear what you’re asking for? Have you ever hung out with a med or MBA student? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll take my chances with law students. I just think you’re letting your passionate bitter hatred of law school get in the way of reason and logic.

Courtney: Reason and logic having to do with law school? Now who’s being ignorant? Plus, I’m not being unrealistic…

Mike: No, you’re not being unrealistic…You want a law school filled with cool, laid back people to hang out with, but saving that you want a school that offers bars and other establishments where there are no law students, undergrads, or townies, filled with fun and exciting med and MBA students. Is this correct?

Courtney: Yeah…

Mike: No wonder you can’t find a man.

Friday, October 27, 2006

They're Looking for a Few Good Men

I'm trying to start a business, so I need someone to employ me part time as an attorney straight out of law school. Needless to say, it's not easy. Especially since i graduated in the fat part of the curve, which seems to always come up in interviews, especially the one "C" I received. Here's how one of my interviews went.

Interviewer : "According to your transcript here, you got a C in Advanced Torts. What happened there?"

Russ: "You want answers?"

Interviewer: "I think I'm entitled."

Russ:"You want answers?"

Interviewer: "I want the truth!"

Russ: "You can't handle the truth. We live in a world where 100,000 law school graduates are plunked out onto the streets every year, hungry to pay off their student loans, thirsty for tortworthy issues. You want those attorneys to casually abandon the law as a youthful dalliance while they move into real estate or consulting. Well who's gonna make them do that? You? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You question my grades while you curse the law system. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that my legal inneptitude, while widespread, probably saves people from lawsuits. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves people from the anxiety of dealing with our labyrinth of a legal system. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at ABA funtions, you want me getting a C. You don't want me in that courtroom standing next to your ex-wife. You need me with that C, not knowing that the bird feeder in your backyard could be classified as a "nuisance". I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who sleeps under the blanket of legal impunity that my legal incompetence provides."

So, if anyone needs a part time attorney in Chicago, let me know.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Know Your Customer.

The other day I was at the grocery store. While pausing and looking at the products a man approached me and said, "Can I share something with you?"

I was going to say, "Thank you but I already have a Book of Mormon", but I just nodded.

The stranger then said, "Have you ever heard of prepaid legal services?"

"Yes I have," I replied.

"Then you know that that with prepaid legal services you just pay a small policy and if an incident ever arises you'll have access to fully paid attorney to assist you..."

"Actually," I interrupted, "I am an attorney. So, essentially, all legal services I'll ever need have been prepaid."

The disappointed salesman stopped his pitch and glumly said, "Yeah. I suppose so."

"In fact, my prepaid legal services plan cost me $75,000. I bet you guys offer a better deal."

We shared a frank look and he said, "We sure do."

"Well, I wish I had run into you four years ago"

Like any good salesman, he had suddenly come up with answer to my objection. "Don't they say that if you use your own legal services you'd have a 'fool for a client.'"

"Tell me about it," I said as I turned and headed towards the liquor section.

Monday, October 23, 2006

It Had To Happen Eventually...

I finally got a job. Not just any job, but a job I actually wanted and am looking forward to. I will post more details later (including how I almost blew it before I even got an interview), but for now, here is what I want to know:

I start two weeks from Wednesday. To all the people who are now stuck in the working world, what is the best way to spend the last two weeks of absolute freedom that I'll have for the next 40 years? What would you have done if you knew you had two weeks before work started, if you could do it all over again? Email me at barelylegalblog@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Book Update #1

As many of you know, we plan on writing a book. Actually, we have two books that we want to write; the first one will be geared towards the law school crowd, while the second one will be for a much larger audience and has a lot more potential to make us relatively rich. But we want to do the law school book first, and so that’s what we’re focusing on.

Part of the reason we kept the blog going after we graduated was to keep our readers updated on the book process. I’m not quite sure what we expected to be happening; perhaps being jetted off to New York by big publishing houses trying to woo us with expensive Manhattan dinners and meetings with smart, urbane editors who share our vision. And while I still hold out hope that that happens, we are learning that the publishing industry moves as slowly as the obese guy in your class when he gets to the third flight of stairs. Basically, at this point, we have written a proposal, which our agent (who is fantastic, by the way) sent out to a handful of publishers. Depending on what happens with those publishers, she will keep sending it out until someone decides to make a very smart decision. And when someone does, we’ll let you know.

In a nutshell, our law school book is going to be an anti-guide; an insider’s look at law school written by the average law student, for the average law student. It’s going to be brutally honest, funny, and hopefully informative. It’s not going to paint law school in a negative light, per se; rather, it’s going to be the honest appraisal of two people who didn’t like law school and found that a lot of people shared their view.

This brings me to the point of this post. Today, our agent let us know that a publisher had passed on our proposal. This isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but what did strike me was the reason why. After explaining that our proposal was very funny, and that the book could do very well, the publisher said that she thinks the authors need to come from “big name schools” and that our schools lack name recognition (which isn’t really true; our schools lack ivy covered walls.) Essentially the publisher was saying, “If you had gone to Harvard, I’d publish this book.”

This logic pretty much flies in the face of why we want to write the book to begin with (other than money). All the law school books out there suck because they are written by top students from big name schools, and are about as useful to the average law student as an advanced English dictionary would be in the kitchen of your typical restaurant; only a few people can actually understand it, and even fewer actually get anything useful out of it. This blog, and hopefully our book, is meant for the proletariat of law students, whose numbers far outweigh the big school elite. For every kid at Harvard or Yale or any of the other handful of elite schools, there are hundreds of law students on the other side who have to do more than show up and graduate to get a plum job. So when it comes to name recognition, I have no doubt that our lack of “elitist” pedigree will speak to a much larger audience than some “insider’s” guide written by a guy from a school that most of us had no shot at.

But if it’s name recognition that they are looking for, then look for the book under our new pen names: Russell Hemingway and M.D. Salinger.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Job Search Post #5

As soon as I walked into the office, I got a weird feeling. The lobby was drab, with beige colored walls and tan couches, with no art work on the wall, and only a slightly pitiful looking fake plant in the corner. I followed the secretary back to the boss’s office, and I noticed that the employee cubicles were devoid of the typical decorations and individual touches that usually pepper modern offices. It didn’t sound like a normal office either; I didn’t hear any boisterous employee banter or even a spirited phone voice. The employees seemed subdued, speaking in hushed tones or busily staring at a computer screen. No one was up walking around. I made eye contact with one woman, and she looked warily at me with exhausted eyes. Just as I was starting to wonder what the hell was wrong with this place, I got my answer.

The secretary led me into the manager’s office, where I met the source of everyone’s discontent. A short, muscled man with a crew cut and a sour look on his face was standing behind his desk, waiting for me. I immediately guessed that he was an ex-Marine. Within 30 seconds, he confirmed my premonition and informed me that he did two tours in Vietnam. After 90 seconds, he twice informed me that he was the regional vice president, and that he had been brought in here from the Pittsburgh office “to right the ship” and that he had done just that. This man was clearly a stern disciplinarian, a micromanaging taskmaster who took a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. He had succeeded in hiring an office full of people who would roll over when he bullied them around. Finally, after his ego stopped talking, he started the interview.

At this point, I could sit here and write out the transcript of the first ten minutes of our conversation, but I won’t because it mostly consisted of him asking a question about law school, and then before I could answer, he would go and make a negative comment about lawyers. Now, I have no problems whatsoever with talking bad about lawyers. I do it all the time. But my comments are well-informed critiques coming from personal experience, not ignorant opinions lifted from a book of lawyer jokes. Nor would I have had a problem had the man been kidding around. However, I failed to find the slightest hint of humor or irony in his voice when he told me that “lawyers would have everyone burning flags and let terrorists run free”, apparently confusing lawyers with liberals. (I told you he was ignorant.)

Finally the conversation turned to the actual job, and with every answer I could see that he despised me. Granted, he didn’t know anything about me, but he must have seen my kind before. So when he asked the next question, he gave me the perfect opportunity to transform from “Interview Mike” to “Normal Mike”.

“Let’s say that you have to manage an office full of 25 people. What do you think the best way to do that is?”

“Well, there isn’t one best way to do that. I think the most effective managers are the ones who can get to each employee individually, and learn how to best motivate the individual. What might make X work at a high level might make Y pull away and alienate them. Some people like to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. Others like to be made to feel like they have an input in the decision making process. Others can be left alone with just the occasional pat on the back. The real talent in managing is to identify what works best for each person and to do that.”

Then I added the kicker. “Any idiot can stand in front of his subordinates and tell them what to do. Good managers are adaptable. Bad managers are not.”

He stared through me with a look that was previously seen only by the North Vietnamese soldiers he killed 30 years ago. Finally, he found the words to express what he felt. “Where did you learn that?” he asked, with utter contempt. “Law school?”

“No, it’s just common sense.”

And the job search continues.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mike and Russ Email About Grey's Anatomy

From: Mike
To: Russ
Subject: (none)
Date: Thursday, 12 Oct 2006 21:34:01 -0500

I am sitting here watching Grey's Anatomy with my girlfriend and we had the following exchange…

Me: I'm sorry, I cannot watch this shit any more.

Her: Why?

Me: Okay, so you have Patrick Dempsey, who is apparently "McDreamy" and every woman in the world thinks is amazing...

Her: Definitely

Me: And you have Chris O'Donnell, who's hotness you have commented on five times so far...

Her: Oh my god yes....

Me: And I am expected to believe that these two men are both pining after a squinty, pursed lip, lisping, slightly whorish woman who spends most of her time bitching about men and waxing poetic in conveniently placed soliloquies about life, when they could reasonably go out and have any woman they want.

Her: I guess.

Me: Well I don't buy it for a second. I cannot suspend disbelief here. Let's just say that I am very aware that I am watching a pipe dream written by some single, day dreaming woman. This is porn for women, and I'll have no part.

From: Russ
To: Mike
Subject: Re:
Date: Thursday, 12 Oct 2006 21:51:33 -0500

They need some male perspective on that show. I'd like to see the blonde handsome guy doctor go out to the bar each night in his scrubs, go home with some girl, take care of business, say he's got to get back to the hospital, leaving nothing but a bottle of penicillin on her dresser.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Attention Fellow Bloggers

Someone recently asked me what it takes to get a link on this blog. The answer is surprisingly simple: Just ask, and link us in return.

I'll admit, we aren't the best linkers. Sometimes someone emails us their blog, with a link request, and I have all the intentions in the world to update our blogroll. But I forget, and their link is never added. But this week, since I'm bored, I decided to do a link cattle call.

If you have a blog and would like a link on ours, just shoot over an email and let me know. Don't be shy. I know there are lots of blogs out there who have linked us for a long time, so it's the least I can do. And don't take the lack of a link to your blog as some sort of insult; it's just laziness. So good or bad, we'll link you if you ask. So send me an email at barelylegalblog@gmail.com and I'll take care of it.

Update: Keep them coming. If you don't see your link on the side (or any link) it's because blogrolling.com is having issues, but don't worry, it's getting fixed.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Email Exchange With A Reader

Hey guys,

My friends and I have been having a debate. What is the proper etiquette for missing class when you are sick? I say that you should miss when you are contagious, otherwise you should suck it up and go; one friend says you should go if you want, contagious or not; one friend says that you shouldn't miss class if you're sick becase you are showing weakness if you do, and one friend says that you shouldn't go if you're sick, because, "why would you?" Who is right?

Josh


**********************************************

Um...Is this a joke?


**********************************************


No, I'm serious, we need you to settle this. We have a bet going, and we decided to let you settle it. So please, who is right?

Josh


**********************************************

Congratulations, Josh. In this email, harmless at first glance, you were able to express everything that is wrong with law students in just 88 words. It would have taken me a trilogy of phonebook sized volumes to capture the essence of what you said about law students in just one paragraph.

You see, Josh, you were able to demonstrate the overall dorkiness of law students with the premise of your bet, while capturing the four main archetypes of law students through the individual stances of you and your friends.

Still with me, Josh? If not, let me elaborate. First off, who the fuck would sit around debating the "proper etiquette" for taking a sick day? Seriously, I cannot think of a stupider topic to debate, and yet, here you are, with enough difference in opinions to need to ask a neutral party to settle it. But that isn't the worst part, Josh. When I got the email, I figured, 'this must be a joke'. I even asked you if it was a joke, but in my heart of hearts I knew it wasn't, because you are a law student, Josh. I wasn't surprised at all when you told me it was a serious debate. So to answer my seemingly rhetorical question,who would sit around debating a topic such as this? Law students would. That's who.

But it was so much more than that, Josh. In each of your four unique opinions, you showed us just how warped the law student mind can be.


"I say that you should miss when you are contagious, otherwise you should suck it up and go."

Luckily, Josh, you aren't one of the bad ones. Your viewpoint is noble but misguided. It's considerate that you wouldn't want to go to class when you're contagious. But if not, you should suck it up and go? Why, Josh? If you are feeling ill enough to consider taking a sick day, what good will showing up do you? Is sitting in a class for an hour with a low grade fever and nausea going to improve your grade? Has anyone ever said, "I sure am glad I went to class that day I had diarrhea, or else I'd never have gotten that question right on the exam. I remember the professor talking about it between trips to the can."

"One friend says you should go if you want, contagious or not."

Now this is more like it. Not only is this person misguided, but he doesn't even have the decency to consider the classmates. No, this is the person who doesn't share outlines, raises his hand with a minute to go in class, and happily reports classmates for honor code violations. The fact this person even has friends to debate with is surprising to me.

"One friend says that you shouldn't miss class if you're sick because you are showing weakness if you do."

I never understood this attitude. What is this, boot camp? If someone misses class because they're sick, does this guy say "Looks like Sam can't deal with a little strep throat. How will he ever understand joinders? I can safely say I'll do better than him." What a tool.

"One friend says that you shouldn't go if you're sick, because, "why would you?""

Josh, I am glad to see you have one sane friend. My advice: dump the other two idiots and hitch your wagon to this guy's star. He's going places.

So do you need me to settle the bet? Okay, fine, here's my answer: You all need girlfriends.