Here comes the next installment of The Shark’s “got hope?” series. First, however, let’s take a minute to reflect on what we’ve heard so far.
They all say that over 50% of their friends are unemployed. None of them seem to have any ideas about how to get jobs or of what “alternative careers” they might pursue. All three have blamed the economy to some extent, and two out of three said that they would not recommend going to law school.
Next up in the series is “Bartleby,” an unemployed 3L who was considering work in both the public and private sectors, and really isn’t a fan of law school.
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?
Bartleby: I always enjoyed arguing and writing and I worked in an office with a bunch of attorneys who I admired and seemed to enjoy being lawyers. People said I’d make a good lawyer and it seemed like a good fit for me.
Brian: Can you give me a brief rundown of the jobs you’ve had in law school or the route(s) you’ve pursued?
Bartleby: My first summer I worked for a judge. My second summer I worked at a smaller class action plaintiffs’ firm. I’ve also interned at the California DOJ. I want to do consumer advocacy or environmental/land use work.
Brian: Why haven’t these worked out? (i.e. Why don’t you have a job now?)
Bartleby: Well, I took a job at a small, but well-respected, litigation firm where I knew I would get good experience. I knew they might not have room to hire me, and they didn’t, but I still figured I could parlay my experience into a job at a similar firm that did have room or go into the public sector. Nobody is really hiring anymore, though, so that hasn’t really worked out.
Brian: Are you depressed/discouraged yet? Do you feel like it’s the economy’s fault and not yours?
Bartleby: I’m pretty depressed and discouraged about employment stuff at least. I feel like it’s mostly the economy’s fault. I guess I should have tried to just get a job at a big firm last summer instead of going for the experience. I didn’t cover my ass very well there, but the reason I can’t get anything at all now is because of the economy I think.
Brian: How has your search for a job impacted your personal life?
Bartleby: Earlier this year I spent a lot of time working on getting a job. Recently, I’ve pretty much given up, so my personal life has been pretty much normal, just a little less carefree.
Brian: What does your family think about you not having a job? Are they freaked out? Supportive?
Bartleby: My parents don’t seem too freaked out. I mean, I think they’re worried that I will have problems paying back my loans and that I’m unhappy, but they’re supportive. They even offered to let me stay on the couch if I don’t have a job after the bar.
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?
Bartleby: I guess I’ll keep applying, maybe try to substitute teach or get a regular job to pay the bills.
Read the rest of Bartleby's interview after the jump.
Brian: Would you consider trying an “alternative career” outside or tangentially related to being a lawyer?
Bartleby: Absolutely. I’m not sure what that is though, yet. I’ve been looking into all kinds of random stuff like fellowships and even the Americorps. We’ll see if any of that pans out.
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?
Bartleby: My school is first tier, but not top 14 or anything. I don’t think my career chances have really been hurt by the school’s ranking, but I also don’t feel like the career center has really helped. I’m not sure what they can do at this point except maybe point out good jobs to tide us over until the legal industry recovers.
Brian: About what percent of your friends do you think also don’t have a job or have lost their jobs?
Bartleby: I’d say around 40% of the people I know don’t have jobs or have lost their jobs. For more info on this, check out our law school joblessness chart.
Brian: Do you still think going to law school is a good idea? Would you recommend it?
Bartleby: I wouldn’t recommend it. The amount of debt most of us have, combined with the poor chances of getting a good job, combined with the poor job law schools do teaching us how to actually do the jobs we’re trying to get, make law school basically a giant rip off and a windfall for law schools and legal academics. If you really want to be a lawyer I guess there’s no way around it, but there are plenty of better ways to make a living and I’d try those out first.