So, we’ve seen a lot of upsetting statistics recently, but it’s sometimes hard to tell how the tanking legal job market is really affecting law students who don’t have a job lined up. To get a better handle on how jobless 3Ls are dealing with the poor job market, I asked several 3Ls about their experiences, outlooks, and prospects. We’ll be presenting these interviews to you throughout the week. Look for the got hope? logo on each.
Ed. Note: If you are interested in participating in an email survey on your job search experiences, please contact us.
Disclaimer: To encourage candid responses we’ve used pseudonyms to disguise the interviewees’ identities.
Brian: Why did you come to law school?
Jaggers: I wanted to continue my education rather than get a job just to get by after college. I also figured going to law school would allow me to better pursue practically any serious job I wanted.
Brian: Can you give me a brief rundown of the jobs you’ve had in law school or the route(s) you’ve pursued?
Jaggers: I’ve worked for the major crimes unit in a DA office, a nonprofit organization called the Senior Legal Hotline, and for the California Attorney General.
Brian: Why haven’t these worked out? (i.e. Why don’t you have a job now?)
Jaggers: DA offices in California have let go many of their newer attorneys and even rescinded offers for 3Ls that have been assured a job. For the DA office I worked for, 400 people interviewed for 4 open spots – most of those people included displaced deputy DAs and other 3Ls from schools all over the state. The senior legal hotline had its funding substantially cut and is unable to take on new employees while struggling to keep the few it already has.
Brian: Are you depressed/discouraged yet? Do you feel like it’s the economy’s fault and not yours?
Jaggers: I absolutely feel like this is the economy’s fault. I’ve consistently been in the top 15-20% of my class at a top tier law school, I have letters of recommendation from each of my employers and I have experience in several different areas of law.
I’m no longer depressed about the situation though – I’m viewing it as a blessing in disguise. Truth be told, I don’t even want to be lawyer. The lack of legal jobs out there will allow me to pursue something I actually enjoy, rather than get sucked into a career that will destroy my soul.
Brian: How has your search for a job impacted your personal life? Your school life (i.e. Do you dedicate a lot of time to it? Do you feel like you still have to work harder?)?
Jaggers: My search for a job did take a lot of my time at the beginning of the year. Now, however, with the consensus being that there are no available jobs out there for law school graduates, I feel that a continued search would be fruitless. I’ve read articles about how a law school grad’s best option is to move to Dubai or get into scooping dog poo.
Read the rest of Jaggers' interview, in which he assesses the number of his friends who are jobless or on a fruitless hunt and levies some pretty serious criticisms against career services offices, after the jump.
Brian: What does your family think about you not having a job? Are they freaked out? Supportive? Do they still think law school was a good idea?
Jaggers: My family members all seem to agree that I will have no problem getting a legal job once I graduate. They have all been very supportive and seem to be of the mind that everything will work out for me. I can tell they’re sort of nervous though, considering the amount of debt I have.
Brian: Are there any types of firms or government agencies that you feel are hiring with more frequency than others?
Jaggers: Nope – everybody seems to be equally frozen. The only difference I’ve seen is that firms are actually collapsing while government agencies are only shrinking.
Brian: What are your plans if you get to the point, say you’ve taken the bar, and you still don’t have a job lined up?
Jaggers: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so I’m looking at this as my opportunity to pursue something in that area. I might look into publishing houses or magazines for openings.
Brian: Have you found any resources that have helped you (either practically or emotionally) that might help others?
Brian: What tier is your law school? Do you feel like your career chances have been hurt by your school’s ranking? Do you feel like your law school/career center has helped you in your search for a job?
Jaggers: My school is a top tier school, but I think rankings have become irrelevant at this point. Employers aren’t even looking for new people to hire, so there’s no need to weigh the applications of prospective applicants. I feel that the school itself has done nothing to help with the current job situation.
Brian: About what percent of your friends do you think also don’t have a job or have lost their jobs?
Brian: Do you still think going to law school is a good idea? Would you recommend it? If you had to do it all over again would you go?
Jaggers: I don’t know if I’d do it again. I unexpectedly enjoyed my three years in law school, but I don’t know if that outweighs 100k of debt and no realistic way to pay it back.