You don’t have to look very hard to realize that getting a law job is probably harder than ever. In case you haven’t heard, it’s a terrible time to go to law school. However, perhaps there is still hope from Shit Law Jobs (SLJ):
Are you a laid-off lawyer or a recent law school graduate and desperate for a job? Perhaps we can help. We don’t list jobs everyone wants. Instead, we list jobs most lawyers likely wouldn’t want. But, hey, it beats being unemployed.
In short, it’s a subset of lawyer jobs that are low-paying with long hours and often involve insipid work.
Considering the current state of the legal job climate, many of the jobs listed on SLJ don’t really seem that shitty, at least in my humble opinion. On the other hand, if you can’t find anything there, you might focus on a rural law job, or come up with an in-demand niche practice.
Getting A Law Job
However, if your heart is still set on a BigLaw job, then you may want to consider what DLA Piper partner Kimberly K. Egan has to say about everything associates didn’t learn in law school:
What do law firm partners mean when they talk about whether an associate “gets it”? And how can students make sure that they do? Here’s a running list of the unspoken and often intangible attributes that drive the profession’s most successful lawyers.
The bad news is that students don’t learn these skills in law school or as a summer associate. The good news is that they can start developing all of them now — from day one.
I encourage you to read the full article, however I have taken the liberty to paraphrase the list here:
- cocktail party conversation
- dress for the job you want, not the job you have
- respect support staff
- don’t be rude
- give others credit where it is due
- flexible scheduling
- develop your reputation
- client service
- be on time
- solve problems
- proofread your work
- don’t complain
- have fun
Now I freely concede that I have never had a BigLaw job. I didn’t go to a top 25, or for that matter, a top 100 law school. However, it strikes me that during a time when the NYT says law school is a losing game, many are saying bag law school altogether, and there is a market for shit law jobs, that there is more to getting a law job than getting dressed up to talk about current events while following the golden rule, following basic rules of competency, oh and having fun.
I certainly don’t intend any disrespect to the author. Clearly, all of these play some role in being a successful lawyer, or a successful anything else for that matter. And I do think that it’s important to be able to both “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” amongst one of the most sophisticated, educated, and intelligent segments of our society. And there can be no question that developing one’s professional reputation and being nice, respectful, humble, and diligent are all absolutely critical to getting and maintaining a big law job. But it seems to me that there must be more to it than that. Am I wrong?
Admittedly, this topic is outside my areas of expertise and experience. And so, I will be the first to defer to the more knowledgeable and experienced on the subject of getting a law job today. However, I worry about the statistics that make it a terrible time to go to law school:
Now I’m not a pessimist and I certainly believe that there are law jobs available (see SLJ). And I also believe that a legal degree has value in many other arenas, including small business ownership. But I just can’t help but wonder what the x number of unemployed recent law graduates that now has $100,000 in law school debt and is fighting for a $40K per year law job thinks about shit law jobs and the above advice. So, I’m asking.