Oh man, I was led to this article by a link at JD2B today and I felt like I had hit the motherlode -- there's so much in here that I can snarkily tear apart, I almost don't know where to start. If I was a lion this article would be a geriatric zebra with three legs, cataracts, and a faulty sense of direction. And also deaf. No offense to the author...he's allowed to have his opinion...and God Bless America, so am I.
Resolving a Catch-22
After graduation from law school, the Harvard or Yale graduate will have an easy time finding a job because most of the top firms around the nation will come to him/her. But what of the other law school students? Looooooosers! Yeah, I'm looking at you Stanford. For those students, finding a job can be tough, (now you're singing my song) especially because the reputation of the law school one graduated from carries a lot of weight. So, you're saying that my JD from the Robert E. Lee Night School of Law and Pager Repair isn't going to get me a job at a Big Firm? DAMNIT! Why didn't someone tell me to go to Yale before? Shit! Well, this was the only place I could specialize in the International Law of Bejeweled, so I guess I can't really say I regret my choice. From now on I propose that we refer to Harvard and Yale as First Tier Plus and all other schools as First Tier Lite.
The current job market is a catch-22. On one hand, firms would like to hire candidates who have job experience. What? Like being a military officer? And working full-time to put myself through college at night? Huh. I must be applying at the wrong places. However, giving recent graduates without job experience a chance is the one thing that most firms are not willing to do. (Isn't it customary when starting the first part of a comparison with "on one hand" to start the second part with "and on the other hand?") The solution is planning ahead by finding jobs, internships, or externships at law firms or corporate legal departments. This can be done during law school or summer breaks, and law firms are always more than happy to obtain volunteers. What if I don't want to work at a firm? Oh right, shut up. Got it. Also, volunteers my ass...I think they're called "subjects."
Judicial clerkships are also instrumental in providing the legal experience needed to get a job after law school because much of the work will be trial-related and the positions are highly competitive. Legal experience doesn't count unless the process through which it is obtained is highly competitive. Let me write that down. Also, no offense to people doing clerkships because I myself applied to a couple and think they can be really wonderful opportunities, but is a clerkship honestly "instrumental" in getting legal experience? I think that might be overstating it just a tad considering how many practicing attorneys out there didn't do a clerkship and seem to be muddling through just fine.
Alternatives to obtaining internships, externships, or judicial clerkships can be participation in moot court, legal clinics, or law review. Awards for the highest grade in the class or competitions are also beneficial. Well, over here at First Tier Lite, they don't give us awards or grades. They just hand out copies of the Harvard and Yale job placement statistics, along with a box of Kleenex and a razor blade.
In each case, it demonstrates to a potential employer that the candidate is a capable individual who strives to provide the best work product. Nevertheless, these alternatives are not as impressive as a combination of work experience and law school activities. OK, highest grade in the class = providing the best work product. Well, I might be a big ole dummy, in fact, it's almost certain, but I'm gonna go ahead and call bullshit on that one. I provide one mean work product and I've only received the highest grade in one law school class thus far. Well, there was that Text Twist for Dummies class...I totally DOMINATED that...but that probably doesn't "count" because it's an "internet" "game" and not "academic" or "legal." Whatever.
So what type of experience is good? Almost any experience, short of being relegated to secretarial work, is good experience. If more people had been secretaries, less people would be total dicks to work with...that's the truth from a girl who worked her way through college as a secretary. Even if one were merely researching and writing motions and memoranda all day, the experience is helpful because it is still a part of law practice. Merely?? A *PART* of law practice?? Isn't researching and writing pretty much the bread and butter of most legal jobs?? Did I miss some other part of law school where they teach the secret class of the things you REALLY need to know to practice law? Things like Brainwashing Your Minions 101, and Seminar On Waxing The Partner's Car?
Most law firms will not expect recent graduates to have conducted trials. Well thank God for small favors! How would I fit a trial in, what with Law Review, Moot Court, Judicial Clerkships and Making The Highest Grades In Every Class sucking up all my free time?! I barely have time to watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition anymore! However, internships with district attorney's offices, public defenders, or law school legal clinics may provide opportunities for law school students to demonstrate their oral-advocacy skills in trials. In the end, how much experience is enough to get a job will depend on what the firm is looking for and how well one can market him/herself in a resume and cover letter and in an interview. And pole-dancing skills. Let's not forget those. I always like to bring my own portable pole and then do a dance right with the resume clenched between my teeth. Finding a tear-away suit was a bitch though, Im not gonna lie. But some experience is better than no experience at all, because one still must compete with one's peers after graduation; and in that battle, the more experience one has, the better off one is. Oh God, if one is still reading this article after one gets past the horror of realizing one is never going to get the job that one might want, one might want to go straight to the nearest bar and have oneself a few drinks to take the edge off while one thinks about what life will be like as an abject failure knowing that one's only hopes for long-term employment are researching and writing skills, a cursory knowledge of the law, and a poorly written anonymous blog.
I guess I should apologize in advance to the author of this article. Because, knowing how blogs work, someone probably knows this guy and is going to email him this post and he'll either be all hurt that I poked fun or he'll send me an email telling me what a heinous bitch I am...or even worse, he's the nicest guy in the world and I made fun of his article and he probably spends his free time reuniting orphans with their long lost pet chipmunks or some shit like that. Oh well, if that happens, I'd like to state ahead of time that I realize that the article is meant to be read one way, and I'm reading it in a way that suits my purposes, which is probably unfair and evil, but, well, that's free speech. And also, it's exam week and I'm tired and cranky and this article for some reason really got me all fired up. Only God knows how these things work...it's not for me to ask "why?"