Alright you unwashed hordes of freshly-minted Esquires, stop sucking the marrow out of bones and fighting over the scraps of unemployment hearings and gather round.
Recently I’ve been bitching about law schools, so maybe we should talk about how fucked up the job market is for those who graduate law school. I’m not talking about those “JD Preferred” schmucks who come out of law school and head straight for the nearest unemployment line (and let’s be honest, that’s about the only thing a JD alone will get you). I’m talking about those honest-to-god, freshly minted lawyers that have passed the bar but don’t have an office to work out of, a shingle to hang, or an offer to come work for someone. You know, all of you morose assholes who convince yourselves that practicing law was a good idea while huddled over your nightly meal of Vienna sausages and saltines in the one suit you own. Those of you who flood law offices with unsolicited resumes praying that we’ll see something on your unwanted, cream-colored, cotton paper, which you bought in a 25 sheet pack at Office Depot for just this occasion, that’ll make our office want to create an immediate vacancy for you. That’s who this article is for.
Also, it’s for the law students. Those who keep hearing that the drought of law jobs is ending. Those who have dreams of six figures dancing in their heads. Those who think Cravath certainly waits in their future because they’re ranked Number 1 at Ave Maria and can down an entire case of Natty on their own. Yes, this article is for you, too.
Because I like to fuckin’ crush hopes and dreams beneath my bootheel.
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Look, being a lawyer is an exhausting job, unless you’re one of those namby-pamby “in-house” guys who spends his days sipping lattes placed on the backs of interns that are brought in by the company for course credit. By and large, lawyers are responsible for their own practice and case file management, and are responsible for their own time management, and everything about firm life, be it small, mid, or big, is geared to encourage that. Take me for instance. I spend about thirty-forty minutes a day working on this type of shit, a blog post. However, if you’re a frequent reader you’ll have noticed there are days where my post consists of “Too damn busy, will have something up tomorrow.” Part of this is because posting substantive content three times a week as a practicing lawyer is incredibly ambitious for me, but another part of it is the fact that, when weighing shit against my case load, the blog comes in second every time.
That’s something every lawyer is familiar with: “The X comes in second place to my cases.” X could be video game time, it could be going out to dinner with friends, it could be that vacation you’ve been planning, it could be the birth of a child. “X” is the real world that exists beyond the confines of our law offices, where people rarely use Latin and never use it correctly and where time isn’t measured in six-minute increments. You know, the world that exists outside your office window.
The problem comes because some lawyers, myself included, don’t know when to hit the off-switch on lawyer mode. That’s fucking sad, because the end result is many attorneys burn the fuck out way too soon to reach their full potential.
So in about four hours I’m likely going into a meeting where I’ll lose one of the firm’s oldest clients.
The client is a corporation, and we do most of their litigation work. The firm has been their civil litigation pit bull for the past 15 years, but like every corporation it goes through changes. The old President and CEO of this family-owned business is on his way out the door, and the new generation is shifting the style in which they do business. For the first time, they’re bringing in younger blood with fresher ideas, and the problem is the incoming class is less friendly towards lawyers in general. As such, despite collecting over $2,000,000 for this client in the last couple years, we’re on the chopping block and the writing is on the wall.
It isn’t anything we did, and it isn’t anything they did, it’s just the sentiment of the client that many of the old relationships should be severed to “shake things up.” You know what, it is something they did, because they hired an executive who uses words like “incentivize” and “reassessing the creditor-debtor paradigm.” Fuck that. I’m much more straight forward: “Pay my client or I’ll sue you into the next century. Your children will speak in hushed tones of how you lost the family fortune.” But que sera sera, eh?
However, that leaves me with a $4,000 per month hole in my billables that needs to be filled, and that means it’s time to start originating new clients to make up the gap. However, the firm advertising budget is “what fucking advertising budget?” This does not bode well for bringing in future originations.
Let’s take a minute and talk about assessing your cases, okay?
I know everyone out there wants to get the most money they can, especially in these days of an over-saturated legal market and attorneys on every corner. Practicing law can sometimes feel like hopping into one of those booths at the county fair where you spend a minute trying to grab as many dollars as you can.
Note: open your shirt and let the dollars blow up it. It works best.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a letter come into my office from some guy who took on a case with only the barest facts, and, in taking my measured time in responding, sent back a letter that contained a number of enclosures which completely shot their theory of the case to shit.