Archive for the 'Law School' Category

The Great Law School and Law Firm Scam

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Disregard Anything Positive I’ve Ever Said About Contract Attorney Work – I’ve Finally Come To My Senses

It has been over a year since I posted here and much has happened. For one thing, I’m no longer a contract attorney. In fact, I’m not even practicing law anymore, although I’ve held onto my two existing bar memberships, paying the annual dues for old times sake – perhaps just so I can continue to call myself a lawyer (for whatever it’s worth).

Since then, I’ve moved onto other lines of work – most notably I’ve started several online businesses – and have found the Internet to be quite a treasure trove of money making opportunities. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve managed to do quite well online.

For my fellow contract attorneys and tempers still working the salt mines of click-click land, my advice is to get out while you still can. Times are bleak, pay is low, and working hours are getting shorter by the minute – but the legal working situation for temp attorneys is also not going to get any better anytime soon. Contract attorney work is not only a dead end job career wise – but it’ll suck out your soul, pummel your pride, and leave you financially depleted years from now. If you can, try to strike it out on your own as a full fledge attorney. I know it’s incredibly difficult to compete in a market that’s super saturated and getting worse every day, but you must try – for sanity sake. I continue to curse the law school system to this day and continuously pray for numerous plagues to afflict the overrated law firms that choke our social system – but at some point, it’s time to move on to greener (or in my case, less-brownish) pastures.

And read Tom The Temp‘s blog regularly – he’s a morbid dose of social pessimissm and legal comedy for contract attorneys all rolled into one. He’ll bring you down and pick you up at the same time. Misery always loves company and there’s plenty of misery to go around.

Chasing The Dream, But The Dream Has Changed – What Now?

Friday, January 4th, 2008

It’s been years since I graduated from law school, clerked, worked a few “real” attorney jobs, and yet I find myself now sitting at my workstation, pondering my situation. The world stream is passing me by and sometimes I wonder if I’ve missed it completely or whether I’m simply fishing in the wrong pond.

Reflecting On Past and Present Goals But Facing Reality

I am generally an optimistic person so it’s pretty difficult to get me down, but sometimes it’s not easy working as a contract attorney. The temp lifestyle is lucrative and stress free, but the uneasy instability can be hard to handle sometimes. It’s great to preach faith and resiliency, but sometimes reality can be rather harsh and unfeeling. Yes, I am a contract attorney. I bounce from position to position collecting a pretty stellar paycheck from week to week. Projects range from weeks to months to even years, but at the end of it all, I am still on my own. I don’t have my own legal practice and I don’t have a growing client roll to build off from. But therein lies the quandary I am faced with. With 3 years of legal education and the subsequent degree and job experience to show for it, why is it that I haven’t continued to chase my dreams then? The answer is – my goals and dreams in life have changed.

I entered law school with delusions of legal grandeur with the equivalent sense of reality enjoyed by the ostrich that chooses to plug its head into the ground. Upon acceptance of admission, I was immediately cocooned and safe for the next 3 years from working expectations and the real world. My goal was to study hard in law school, get good grades, join a journal team or moot court, and graduate with a perfect lawyer job all lined up.

Reality did not finally set in until my third year and second semester of law school, when one day I looked around and realized that I was in the wrong place. No I was not lost, but I came to the understanding that the practice of law wasn’t the lucrative and exciting profession I had naively envisioned. Gazing at my modest pile of student loans I wondered, was 3 years of expensive legal schooling really worth it? Perhaps my life would have taken a better turn if I had walked a different path.

We Can’t Go Back But We Can Make Our Own Paths From Here On Out

Eventually, we all have to come to grips with reality and recognize the cards we’ve been dealt. Reality is reality, and things can only get better not worse if we’d only take the time to look at all of the positive skills and experiences we have accumulated since the beginning.

I know contract attorneys come from all backgrounds. Not all temps have come to such a realization that the traditional legal rat race isn’t really going to make them happy. Some, and in fact many are still striving for their original law school dreams. If you are one of those chasers, I encourage you to keep striving higher to meet them and not grow bitter with your temping situation. Contract work will cushion your financial transition and allow you to use the opportunity as a stepping stone to a situation better geared to suit your dreams.

As for myself, the goals and dreams I started law school with are no longer mine. I look at my life now and I have many things to be thankful for. My monthly bills are paid and I have an otherwise healthy and enjoyable life. I have the abundance of time and freedom to pursue my non-legal side businesses and investments. Contract attorney work pays very well and I am not even close to wanting. While I might be honed in the art, I know now that I was never cut out to be a legal hustler in the traditional sense. I have other side ventures that drive me now. Talking to other contract attorneys and listening to their stories about their real estate exploits, interior decorating businesses, and even presidential campaign team aspirations – their experiences are reminders that I am not alone.

Doing Document Review Out of Financial Necessity

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

With the near fraudulent way law schools have been shamelessly advertising their misleading employment statistics, the last few years has seen an increase in the number of students choosing to attend law school with the expectation that they will all be rewarded with lucrative six figure attorney salaries upon graduation. I think the sad reality is that many of these hapless students will be in for quite a shock and won’t fully understand the saturated state of the legal employment market until they’ve graduated. Saddled with huge burgeoning student loans, many law school graduates will ultimately enter into a form of financial servitude as they struggle to find a way out.

My own law school loans are comparatively tame and I managed to consolidate them at a time when interest rates were extraordinarily low. But I know many who are struggling with the realities of being debt ridden. There are those who end up spending months or years submitting resumes for attorney positions they may never get. Others transition into another non-legal field altogether, while others choose to perform contract attorney work until they get their employment life together.

Working As a Contract Attorney Because Of Student Loans

Talking to some of the other contract attorneys at work, I get the sense that many chose to perform document review work out of financial necessity to pay off crushing student loans. Contract attorneys get paid pretty well, albeit for relatively short stints at a time. But during those periods of available employment, they have the potential to earn quite a bit depending on the overtime hours available. When you are indebted with a sizable amount of student loans, sometimes your realistic employment options are limited.

I know a few contract attorneys who left law school with dreams of working in the non-profit sector or working in areas that would allow them to help low income people. Eventually financial reality set in and they ultimately could no longer afford to work in those relatively low paying areas of law. Some of these people did not willingly choose to work as contract attorneys but their financial realities ultimately did not give them much choice.

Instead of being bitter, I would hope that they would see contract attorney work as an honest and sensible alternative that can help them stabilize their financial lives and help them tackle their student loan payments. Everyone eventually has to find his or her own path and we are fortunate to have this type of work available as a stop gap solution.

Recent Observation

I’ve noticed something recently that disturbs me. It seems a few staffing agencies are vehemently against hiring contract attorneys who also work as solo practitioners on the side. At least one staffing agency has indicated in its job posting that one qualification criteria is that the applicant is not a solo practitioner. What is the deal with that? Do they want only lifers or something?