Making Social Networking Resources Work For You In Your Legal Job Hunt

Facebook can be a great tool when searching for legal jobs if used right!Most of those looking for a legal job are aware of the power of using the site LinkedIn for this purpose. This particular networking site is geared towards business, rather than a site like Facebook which boasts a more social profile. But is it possible for a job seeker to use Facebook in any way for job hunting? Let’s take a look.

Facebook is of course primarily a social site for most. Even though companies have a presence on the site, most of those that do tend to be consumer-oriented, selling products like shoes or clothing that consumers would be interested in knowing more about. These firms can use Facebook to attract new and old customers with coupons, exclusive deals, and other marketing techniques that have a relatively high ROI (Return on Investment) based on the low cost of using Facebook.

At the same time, however, the hard-sell is not something that is generally seen on Facebook, certainly not as it pertains to business. So how can the job seeker use the site in a way that doesn’t alienate all of his or her friends?

The key is to think of Facebook as either an extension of already used networking techniques, or as the electronic version of those same techniques. For example, the savvy job seeker doesn’t go to a networking event with resume in hand, pushing that resume on anyone he comes in contact with. Or at least he shouldn’t! There’s no better way to alienate people than to make them feel as if you’re just using them in order to find a job.

The same principle applies to Facebook. If you suddenly start posting nothing but job-hunting related updates and posts, your friends will tire of you very quickly. However, just as people will post on Facebook when they’re looking for something – be it a new hire or a dentist recommendation – so too should you put out the word that you’re looking for a job. If people don’t know you’re looking, they can’t help you, and by planting the seed without being overbearing, you’ll be top of mind when your friends hear of openings at their company or other ones.

Another tactic that will let you be slightly more targeted in your approach involves sending a message to a select group of people who you think might have the most influence or advice when it comes to job hunting. For example, that group might consist of your law school colleagues. By sending them a specific message, you can hearken back to the camaraderie you shared at school, while being a bit more specific about what you’re looking for. This also ensures that your information doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of a rapidly changing Facebook news feed.

The bottom line is to think of Facebook as another tool in your arsenal, with the goal of letting as many people as possible know about your job hunt. Statistics show that most new jobs are found through word-of-mouth or connections – so take advantage of the ones you have!

Don’t  forget to come say on Lawmatch’s Facebook Page!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Attorney Job Search Tips | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Using The Power Of LinkedIn In Your Attorney Job Search

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for attorneys seeking positions at top law firms...Most savvy legal professionals realize the importance of using all the job networking sites at their disposal in their search for attorney jobs.  One of the most popular sites is LinkedIn, which allows users to build a network of connections that can be hundreds or even thousands of people deep. Even if you’re not directly linked to someone, chances are that one of your contacts is linked to the person you want to connect with, and can facilitate that connection.

Once a person puts his or her profile on LinkedIn, however, he may think that there’s nothing more to do, that recruiters or those with job opportunities will seek him out and be instantly dazzled by his wealth of experience. This is far from the truth, and job seekers can and should take a much more proactive role when it comes to not only connecting with other, but also in terms of establishing a LinkedIn presence.

In order to establish some kind of presence that will make others take notice, one good step beyond simply having a complete and updated profile is to seek out the groups that are relevant to your particular area of professional interest. These may range from groups that cater to Ivy League alumni, to those specific to the legal profession, such as Legal NYC or even those catering to a niche audience, such as Legal Marketing or Legal IT. There are many avenues to explore in the world of LinkedIn groups, and they’re worth taking note of.

For one, these groups have discussion boards that offer a range of topics, with generally a separate section devoted to job opportunities. Here, those in the group post jobs available with their companies, and anyone who is part of the group can either respond to that person directly via LinkedIn mail, or can ask questions and start a discussion about the job on that particular thread.

Another way to have an impact is to start discussion threads yourself. If you think you’re an expert on something in your particular field or have an especially broad knowledge base on a particular topic, let those in your group know it. Not only will you be imparting useful information to others in your peer group, but you’ll also be positioning yourself as a subject matter expert, and thus someone who would be an asset to a company looking for people to hire.

Finally, don’t get so wrapped up in groups and discussion boards that you overlook the obvious! This includes not just keeping your profile up-to-date, but also reaching out to connections that work for the companies that you’re specifically targeting. If you can bypass HR and talk to those who may know about the specific needs in their department or firm, you’re already ahead of the game.

Join the Lawmatch Legal Job Search Network on LinkedIn!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Attorney Job Search Tips | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

How to Use Your Time When Searching for Permanent Employment

Use your time wiselyIt’s always considered the best option to look for a new job when you already have a job – but what should you do if you’re unemployed at the time that you’re looking for something new? What are your options?

Your first priority, of course, should be to make sure that you’re able to pay the bills. This may involve taking on positions that aren’t in your field and may pay much less than you’re accustomed to – but in a difficult economy, it’s important to be flexible and expand the range of jobs that you’d be willing to take on. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck in a seeming dead-end job forever; it just means that you have the maturity to do what needs to be done until you find something that’s more appropriate to your skills and background.

Of course, don’t make the mistake of taking on a full-time low-paying job that won’t leave you with any time to look for your realjob — this is counter-productive and leads to a low return on investment (ROI), i.e. with you working many hours but moving no closer at all to your career goals.

Let’s say you’ve taken care of paying the bills, and you have a number of opportunities in the pipeline that may lead to a promising full-time position. Hiring can be a long-term process, however, one that can take months as companies often interview many candidates for a position, and take their time in making a decision. What can or should you be doing in the meantime?

One good option is to look for interim or short-term work. This is a possibility in most professions, including law. As firms remain reluctant to add full-time employees to their payrolls, they continue to turn to contract employees or consultants, those who have the necessary background and skills to do the work yet do not require an outlay of benefits and other pricey add-ons that make full-time employees an expensive proposition.

Many then wonder how to find this kind of work, as so many avenues in the employment sector are geared towards full-time employment. The first thing to do is let people know you’re interested in shorter-term opportunities. Your friends, former classmates, and contacts on LinkedIn are a great place to start. Be as specific as possible about your skills and where and how you think you can add value. Now is not the time to be shy! The more people know about what you can contribute, the better.

It’s also certainly worthwhile to identify and contact those staffing companies in your area that specialize in short-term legal placement (a good place to start is Lawmatch’s National Directory of Legal Recruiters).  In every major market there are at least several branches of national staffing companies, and often several locally owned firms as well.  While it’s true that the majority of assignments offered through these companies are tedious document review projects, not all of their assignments are in this realm.  And even if you do end up working on a document review assembly line, you’re putting yourself in an environment where you at least have a chance of making new connections or distinguishing yourself in some way.  These kinds of jobs can also help you build a resume of relevant experience that’ll add to the profile that you present to potential full-time employers.  If your resume reflects an eagerness to succeed in the legal field, prospective employers will recognize that effort.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Attorney Job Search Tips | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

What To Look For When Seeking Out A Legal Recruiter- Part 3

Part 3 of the 3 part series… What to Look For When Seeking Out A Legal Recruiter, by Neal Rechtman, CEO of Lawmatch

Once you’ve identified a Search Consultant you want to work with, it is important to verify in advance how the recruiter plans to represent you and protect your confidentiality. You should retain control over the appearance of your legal resume and how it is distributed at all times. Even if you know the recruiter you’re working with is highly experienced search consultant, confirm verbally that your resume will not be sent, nor your name disclosed, to any prospective employer without your prior permission. If your search is highly confidential, make sure that the resume being circulated does not disclose the name of your current employer. If a recruiter wants to contact an employer that you already know, consider whether or not you might be more effective representing yourself to that employer.

Even after you’ve established a rapport with a Consultant, I recommend staying actively engaged and in control of the process. As noted, Search Consultants can be aggressive, and you may encounter those who will suggest, in so many words, “I’m a professional at this. I’ll take care of you – leave it all to me.” I think that approach is valid up to a point, but I advocate that your relationship with a recruiter is like a relationship with a doctor: you describe your ‘symptoms’ (your dissatisfaction with your current employment), and the recruiter will ‘prescribe’ a better job. You, in the meantime, are the only one who really knows how you feel, and you should rely on your own judgment and your own perceptions in determining what is best for you.

There is no rule that says you should only work with one recruiter; you can work with several, but it can be tricky.  If you’re going to go down that path, be well-organized and take notes on conversations with all players so that you can keep your ducks in a row.

(3) Legal Search/Staffing Companies – If you’re not the type of candidate that would interest a contingency-fee Search Consultant, you may want to focus your efforts in the commercial recruitment marketplace on search and staffing companies that work with active job seekers (a good place to start is Lawmatch’s National Directory of Legal Recruiters).

In most major markets there are branches of national staffing companies, and often there are locally owned firms as well.  These companies focus on developing short-term or project-oriented opportunities, and offer temp-to-perm hiring arrangements for employers that don’t want to pay contingency search fees.

While many of the assignments offered through Search/Staffing Companies are tedious document review projects, not all of their assignments are of this type.  And even if you do end up working on a document review assembly line, you’re at least in an environment where you’ll have an opportunity to make new connections or distinguish yourself in some way.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Legal Recruiters | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

What To Look For When Seeking Out A Legal Recruiter – Part 2

Part 2 of the 3 part series… What to Look For When Seeking Out A Legal Recruiter, by Neal Rechtman, CEO of Lawmatch

Know what you're looking for in a legal recruiter...

Anyone with a telephone, an e-mail address and a Web connection can on a whim hang out a legal recruiter shingle and start dialing for dollars. There is no regulation, licensing or other qualification, and as a matter of practice some established search firms will provide a desks and a phone, and the firm’s imprimatur, to a promising rookie who is willing to invest his/her time (no salary or draw). This results in a fair amount of turnover. Many people take a shot at recruiting for a few months: if it doesn’t work (it’s not easy, and takes a while) they may well move on to something else.

Search Consultants may refer to you as their ‘client,’ and they may proffer advice that on the face it appears to be objective career counseling – they do speak from experience. It is important to remember, however, that the Search Consultant’s fee is not paid by you; it is paid by the employer (who is their actual ‘client’ in the traditional sense of the word). At a certain point – when a fee is on the horizon — the Consultant almost by definition loses his/her objectivity.

How do you evaluate a Search Consultant?  I personally believe that experience is the most important factor. You don’t want a novice recruiter advising you on your career anymore than you’d want a rookie dentist repairing your teeth (and recruiters don’t use novocaine.)

A factor directly related to experience is track record. A Consultant who has placed numerous candidates in your particular practice area, or in the practice setting or geographic location you seek, is far more likely to have the referral base and other contacts needed to find a similar situation for you. Again, ask direct questions: how many people have you placed in the field of (e.g.) securities law in the last two years? How many in a corporate counsel setting? By way of reference, ask to speak with a candidate whom the Consultant has represented successfully in your field in the recent past.

It is also very important that you choose a Search Consultant you like and whose professional practices you trust and respect, because this person will be representing you. If a Consultant does not make a positive impression on you, then do not entrust him/her to represent you positively to an employer. This of course is very subjective, but don’t be afraid of your instincts.

Begin your due diligence very early on — during your initial phone conversation if possible. Ask to review the Search Consultant’s Web biography while you are on the phone – in many cases you’ll see a picture of the person your talking to and glean a lot more information in one glance. If you’re going to follow up with the Consultant, bookmark his/her bio. Virtually all legitimate search firms maintain a Web site with profiles of their Consultants: if the recruiter you’re speaking with makes an excuse about not having one, that is a sure sign that the person is new to the marketplace.

Assuming the on-line biography is available, evaluate the Consultant’s profile the same way he/she is reading your resume: years of experience, areas of expertise, significant accomplishments, etc. Ask direct questions of the recruiter to fill in any gaps or ambiguities: how long have you been a recruiter? How long with this firm?

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 3: How to Manage the Process

Did you miss part 1?  Find it here.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Legal Recruiters | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

What To Look For When Seeking Out A Legal Recruiter

A post from Neal Rechtman, CEO of Lawmatch, a legal job search directory

What to look for in a legal recruiterI have been in the search and staffing business for over 30 years. I founded Lawmatch in 1996, and prior to that I was a principal in three successive recruiting firms serving the legal marketplace. I have seen it all (as you might imagine, there are some outrageous stories to be told), and it is this experience that is the basis for my modest attempt, below, to address the nuts and bolts of working with recruiters effectively: what to look for, how to evaluate, how to manage the process.

What to Look For In A Legal Recruiter

There are several different types of recruiters who approach the marketplace in very different ways.  For purposes of this discussion we’ll define these different types as follows:

(1) Partner/Practice Recruiters – These recruiters specialize in helping established lawyers who have portable billings (clients billings that will follow the attorney) to move their practices to a new firm.   These practice moves involve potential conflict-of-interest issues and the transactions more closely resemble the sale of a business than a change in employment.  This is a fairly rarefied part of the marketplace that we won’t address further in this article.

(2) Search Consultants – For ease of classification, we’ll label all legal recruiters who work on a contingency fee basis as “Search Consultants”.   In some cases Search Consultants will act as “headhunters,” where they search out a specific type of talent or skill that their employer-client seeks, or they may function as traditional recruiters, where they try to match active job seekers with open positions.  In either case, because the Search Consultant makes money only when a placement is made, this “contingency fee” arrangement determines how this market functions.

In order to get a Search Consultant (contingency recruiter) interested in working with you, you must represent a potential fee to the recruiter. Recruiters’ fees are paid by the employer (typically ranging between 20% and 33% of your first year’s compensation – which may seem hefty, but is pretty much a standard in the wider world of corporate executive search), so the recruiter looks at you (or your resume) and asks: what is the likelihood that I can place this person for a fee?

Here in particular it is dangerous to generalize, because Search Consultants come up with all kinds of search assignments, and it is the recruiter’s fee-paying client – the employer – who ultimately defines what the search criteria are (and therefore what types of candidates they want to see). That being said, the overwhelming majority of placements made by Search Consultants meet one or more of these criteria:

- the candidate is currently employed

- the candidate is a graduate of a top tier (top 40) law school, and/or has a notable academic record

- the candidate is at least two years out of law school, and has a stable work background

The degree to which your resume reflects these criteria will – generally speaking — largely determine how much interest you will generate among Search Consultants. If you meet all of the above criteria, chances are you already receive occasional ‘headhunting’ calls, which is a sure sign that you will be a viable candidate in the contingency marketplace. If your resume doesn’t shine in these particular categories, you may find the following additional criteria correlate with recruiter interest:

- large law firm experience and training

- specialized skills, e.g. foreign language proficiency

- Science or engineering undergraduate degree (for IP)

- notable professional experience (high-profile clerkship, strong career progression)

Once you start to talk to (or meet with) recruiters, I think you’ll discover in short order what I have verified (anecdotally) over the years: most legal Search Consultants are smart, aggressive people who approach their work professionally and ethically (many are former practicing attorneys). Long-term success is usually achieved by building a practice over time based on good will and referrals, and this model in and of itself encourages and rewards professional conduct.

HOWEVER (weren’t you just waiting for it?), you should be aware of the  pitfalls, which are also built in to the landscape of the marketplace and its contingency fee business model.

Stay tuned for part 2- Beware Of The Pitfalls Of The Legal Job Search, coming tomorrow.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Legal Recruiters | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

The Art Of The Informational Interview

Informational Interviews Can Give Attorneys An Edge In The Job SearchThe typical person heading into a job interview at a law firm has done his or her homework. Generally this involves finding out whatever details and background information are available about the company and its principles, while also learning about the specific position being offered. Yet invariably, no matter how prepared one is, an interview is a high-pressure, high-stress situation. You’re aware that you have just this one chance to make a good impression, and that your interviewer has likely heard it all before, so it may be difficult to actually say anything that would impart a favorable or distinctive view of you, regardless of your qualifications. Is there anything an interviewee can do to up the odds in his or her favor?

There is, in fact, and it’s called the informational interview. Please note that the informational interview is not a backdoor way to finagle one’s way into a job, and it should never be viewed as such. Your interest is in gathering information – about a specific type of job, company, or industry – and that’s all. Anything else and you then become the reason why many people try to shy away from meeting with others for informational interviews. Don’t be that person.

So what is the purpose of an informational interview exactly? Just that – to find out specifics that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise, in order to make yourself more marketable. Let’s say you’re working as in a public interest setting, and are interested in exploring the private sector. One of the questions you’ll certainly be asked in any interview will revolve around why you want to make that switch, and how well you know what working in the private sector involves. You might think you know – after all, the internet is an amazing tool for scouting out useful information – but you don’t know things from a personal standpoint. And that’s where the informational interview is most useful especially when looking for attorney jobs. Meeting with someone who works in private practice can yield numerous gems of wisdom, about expectations, the hierarchy, corporate politics, moving up in the firm, and so on. The possibilities are endless.

When setting up an informational interview, remember that that person is doing you a favor. Be prompt, respectful of their time, and again, remember that the words “So are you hiring?” in any permutation should not pass your lips. Don’t be high-maintenance – meet at a time and place convenient for the person with whom you’ll be meeting. If you can do this over lunch, all the better – that gives you a chance to pick up the tab as a thank you to the person taking time out of his or her busy day to help you out. And make sure you follow up with a thank-you note, so as to leave the most favorable impression possible. After all, even though asking about job openings is a cardinal sin, it always pays to have someone in your corner, especially if that someone is working for a law firm that’s hiring or in a type of job that you’re interested in.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Job Interview | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Job Search for the Currently Employed

If you’ve not really thought about it before, it’s worth a reminder: the best time to look for a legal job is when you already have one.

Why is this so?  It’s human nature: when an employer sees you don’t have a job, they reflexively ask themselves, if only sub-consciously, “what’s wrong with this person that he/she doesn’t have a job?”   There is an implicit assumption that you’re not working because you’re flawed in some way.  This is patently unfair – you may be highly qualified and unemployed because there are so few jobs available – but just because it’s unfair doesn’t mean it’s not real.  The reality is that employers much prefer to hire people who are already working – for a whole complex of reasons.

So, if you’re currently working and are unhappy with your situation, it’s far better to line something up before you leave your current job.  If you resign and join the ranks of the unemployed, you’ll find it that much harder to land your next position.

The problem is, if you’re working and dedicating yourself to your current employer as you should from a fiduciary perspective, it’s very hard to simultaneously look for another position.  You don’t want to be taking job search phone calls and going out on interviews during working hours, but if you don’t – how will you ever advance your career?

Solution A

One way is to get a recruiter (agent) to help you find your next position.   This is definitely a good way to go if you can get a recruiter to represent you, but that will happen only if your credential and experience are such that your next employer will pay a $50,000+ recruiter’s fee for the privilege of meeting you.  How do you know if your experience and credential are such that would interest a recruiter?  Chances are if you’re already receiving unsolicited calls from “headhunters”, you have the kind of background a recruiter would find of interest.  Also, if you have more than, let’s say, $750,000 worth of “portables” (client relationships), you would garner the interest of a recruiter, who would earn a percentage of your portables as part of his/her fee.  If neither of the previous conditions applies, you may still find recruiters are interested in working with you if you have especially strong academic credentials, or some substantive prior experience at a large corporate law firm.

If you’re interested in pursuing the recruiter path, you’ll find Lawmatch’s National Directory of Legal Recruiters (lower-left link on the Lawmatch homepage) to be a terrific resource.  This free, searchable database contains entries for all US-based search and staffing firms that specialize in the legal marketplace (not just those that pay for a listing).   You’ll be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive resource anywhere else on the Web.

Solution B

Another way to pursue a new job while your currently employed is to use passive, Web-based job search tools such as the Lawmatch National Resume Bank.  A legitimate concern with this approach is that if you put your profile into a public database, your current employer may end up seeing it and learning that you are looking for another job.  The counter-argument is that there are ways to abstract your resume so that even the shrewdest recruiter utilizing the most advanced data search techniques won’t be able to identify you.  If you are currently employed Lawmatch will be happy to work with you to develop a truly anonymous abstract for your profile that will absolutely not identify you, but still provide enough substantive information to attract the interest of employers.  For more information please read about our Concierge Service for currently employed attorneys.

Neal Rechtman is the CEO of Lawmatch.com and has over 35 years experience in the legal recruitment marketplace.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Attorney Job Search Tips | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Active v. Passive Job Search

Help law firms and legal recruiters find you

Before the days of the Internet, the only way to find a new job was to look for one.  Nowadays, with the emergence of on-line recruiting tools, there is another way: you can get the job to find you.

What do we mean?  It’s best illustrated by referencing two different job search methodologies: “active” and “passive”

Active Search

In an Active Job Search, you look for jobs that meet your career objectives. This traditional method involves searching and monitoring job listings posted by employers and recruiting firms, and typically involves a substantial and consistent time commitment on the part of the job seeker.  Although the Web makes it convenient – you can access it all from the comfort of your chair – it also poses a problem: with all the information about jobs out there, how do you find the source that actually represents your next job?  You’re still left with a high-tech version of the proverbial needle and haystack.  And some web sites charge you for access to their job listings …. do you need to be doing that, or can you get the same information for free if you know where to look?

In an active job search, the onus is on you to find answer these questions and find the sources that are most likely to have the type of opportunity you’re looking for.  Although you should certainly look at other sites, at lawmatch.com our jobs database contains over 2,500 unique current listings that are updated daily (the updates are noted on the homepage).  These listings consist of opportunities posted directly by employers at Lawmatch.com, plus hundreds of additional legal jobs culled nightly from the Web sites of thousands of corporations, law firms, non-profit organizations and government agencies.  We exclude listings from search firms and agencies, and otherwise spend considerable time manicuring this data so that it is best-targeted to our audience with the least amount of duplication and chaff.  If you’ve not looked through our listings I invite you to do so.

Passive Search
In a Passive Job Search, you post your resume and credentials in an on-line resume database that is searched by employers, and you rely on the employer to make the match.  Or alternately, you establish a “search agent” at a jobs database that will forward to you any new listings that meet certain criteria that you specify.

This passive method has the advantage of requiring less time from the job seeker: you fill out your profile (or search agent) once, and then wait for appropriate jobs to come to you. In addition, a passive search also gives you exposure to opportunities that might not otherwise be posted on any job board (some employers no longer publish their open positions at all because their ads get picked up and re-posted all over the Web, generating endless streams of resumes and candidate inquiries long after the position has been filled).

If you’re not currently employed and engaged in an open-ended search, there’s no reason not to apply both methodologies (it’s a numbers game).  If you’re currently employed and your legal job search is truly confidential you might be reluctant to add your resume to an on-line database – a legitimate concern that we’ll address in our next entry.

Neal Rechtman is the CEO of Lawmatch.com and has over 35 years experience in the legal recruitment marketplace.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Attorney Job Search Tips | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Let’s Talk: An open conversation between the legal community and law school students

Lawmatch is honored to post our first guest blog from our new friend and soon to be one heck of a lawyer… Jack Whittington.  We met Jack, as he explains on Twitter- where he spoke his mind and sparked some good conversation on something that all professionals, educators, and students in the legal field should talk more about:

Jack Whittington

World Wide Whit's Jack Whittington

First, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Lawmatch.com for inviting me to write this guest post. Lawmatch.com and I came into contact under interesting circumstances. It is no big secret that I am not a fan of the cynics in the online legal community. Lawmatch.com had retweeted a story on Twitter from the infamous Elie Mystal of Above the Law fame about “stupid law school students” and the amount of debt they incur to go to law school. Feeling a bit surly on this particular day I fired back at Lawmatch.com and asked why they felt the need RT his stories. They said they didn’t mean any harm, but just wanted to talk about law school student debt. Let me point out to you as I did with the fine folks at Lawmatch.com that if you want to have honest and open dialogue with law school students, it’s not a great idea to ridicule and belittle them in the process.

Yes, I think there needs to be an open dialogue between the legal community and law school students about the difficulties facing our profession, but the cynics should not run the conversation. So here I propose that calm and rational heads prevail. Realistic Optimists must be the ones who are heading these debates and conversations. We must be realistic in our expectations for ourselves and our profession but we should approach the conversation with a positive outlook. With that let us turn the conversation the issue of student loans, networking, and the current economy.

In a ten year span from 1998 to 2008 the average cost of law school tuition had risen 74%. Currently the average law school student graduates with $150,000 of personal debt due to the costs of attending law school. There is also a large gap between the average costs of attending public universities versus private. Many of those in the legal field say that the level of debt one sinks into attending law school is not worth it. However, recent legislation and the overhaul of the student loan industry may provide a better outlook for law school students facing high levels of debt upon graduation. Also students now have the opportunity to take jobs in government and non-profit organizations that will allow their loans to be forgiven after a period of ten years (provided they’ve worked in the public sector continuously and consistently made their loan payments).

Many in the legal community look at their current plight and try to warn law school students from entering into the field. The hours, stress, and emotional toll is not worth it- many of them cry. Yet students keep entering law school in droves. Regardless of the stress that comes with the legal profession, too many it still represents at a chance to achieve a better quality of life than most other professions could afford them. You’d be hard pressed to argue to the general public that lawyers on average don’t do that well for themselves. So to many, a JD is a key to financial success. The reality of it is that in a weak job market many students are forced to take jobs paying well below the figures they had in mind and in some cases students are unable to find jobs period. Law school students need to realize that a JD no longer equals a job. So the emphasis must be placed on networking while you are in law school to position yourself to where you can get a job as soon as you graduate. This requires a fair amount of diligent effort on top of keeping up with your studies. I am reminded of the story of the adjunct professor I had during my first year of law school. She wasn’t much older than me and had just graduated from law school two years ago. She explained to our class the most important aspect of law school was networking. She had graduated number four in her class, but never took the time to network; the end result was it took her eighteen months to finally secure a full-time job in the legal field.

Law school students should be made aware of the potential pitfalls of the profession. Taking out a vast amount of debt to secure a JD is a gamble. In the current economy we are no longer guaranteed high salaried jobs as the graduating classes of yesteryear were. Law school students are bombarded from the minute they step foot in law school with people (particularly those in the legal field already) telling them what a terrible choice they made and how we’re going to be racked with debt for the rest of our lives, and there are no jobs to be had and on and on and on it goes. Many of us already know this. We did our homework, weighed the pros and cons of debt and decided to take the gamble anyway. For some getting a JD is more about the money rather than the job. Others truly want to make a difference in some fashion and they see the legal field as the way of carrying out their goals. No one should be deterred from legitimately wanting to make a difference in the world. We know the challenges that lie ahead, we have accepted that challenge and we aim to overcome it. However, we know we cannot do it alone either.

The Baby Boomer Generation is reaching retirement at an alarming pace as Generation Y comes into the job market. Someone is going to have the fill those shoes. I stress to the older generations the need to work together with the young up and comers to correct the problems or else we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. No nonsense, no sarcasm, no belittling – just give us the facts and help us to fix the problems, we’ll all get a whole lot further that way.

Follow Jack where we met him, on Twitter-  @j2_Whittington

Make sure you check out Jack’s blog for some more “Gen Y blawg about Law, Law School, Pop Culture, Social Media, and Sports, coming from the “Sunshine Kid” and self proclaimed Champion of Realistic Optimism.”  You’ll be glad you did.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Posted in Guest Blog | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments