Thursday, January 14, 2010

The National Jurist's Four Articles of Faith

Here is something to look at from our friends at National Jurist. This is from the November 2009 edition. I simply MUST include the entire “article” here – I couldn’t make this stuff up. (My comments appear in non-italic font.)

To anyone currently looking for a post-graduate job:

Submitted by Editors on Mon, 11/30/2009 - 8:39am

I don’t need to tell you that the economy stinks right now. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ve already shot out of bed a few nights from a, “I live at home with my parents again because I’m unemployable,” dream. Fret not, fellow 3L. Below are my four tips for coping with the stress of being not-yet-employed.

First of all, there are many recent graduates who are still unemployed. It is not a dream, or a nightmare. It is reality for legions of JDs.

1. Relax.

I know it’s easier said than done, but you need to just chill out. Worrying will not get you a job. I have a feeling that when most of us are in our mid-forties, we’re all going to be wondering what our big rush to work was. Try to enjoy whatever time you have left as an adult who doesn’t have a full-time job.

Chill out and forget about your worries and impending student loan repayments, because three years of unemployment - or underemployment - wasn’t enough of a sacrifice. Should these people also travel to exotic locations (on credit, of course)? Also, when we are our in mid-40s, many of us will actually wonder, “What the hell was I thinking? I still have to pay another ten years before I pay off my student loans.”

2. Think of the alternatives.

Even if you are without job, have been deferred or have had an offer rescinded, at least you didn’t actually get fired. I’d rather know earlier than later that a company can’t afford to have me around. In my opinion, there’s no better place than school to be hiding out in during the recession. [Emphasis mine]

Great consolation! At least you can defer your student loan repayments, and watch helplessly as interest accrues and your loan amounts continue to grow. As far as “hiding out” goes, this comes across as something a 0L would say. Was this idea reinforced by your law school?! Also, wouldn't you rather know earlier than later that the U.S. lawyer market is over-saturated?

3. Work hard

Don’t let your job search get in the way of school. You’ve got one more semester to really make your grades shine or to enter that writing competition. Work your hardest, get great results and give employers another reason to hire you.

Yes, because legal employers really give a wet fart about writing competitions or whether a student gets a note published in the Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, or in the renowned Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review. Also, regarding your tips: relax or work hard – which is it, Jennifer? Plus, students' future in the law is mostly determined after first semester or first year grades.

4. Have some faith.

Whenever I start flipping out about my future (which is often these days), my parents always remind me of the wonderful Max Ehrmann quote: “The universe is unfolding as it should.” If you are networking your tail off, applying for jobs, sending out resumes and interviewing to the best of your ability, but to no avail, then you have to believe that a better opportunity is around the corner. Accept this difficulty as an experience in itself, and be open to life’s surprises.

Please save this “advice” for the hopelessly lost. We are not talking about gospel – we are talking about people’s investments going down the toilet. Have some faith?! Yes, because having faith and sticking your head in the sand pays the bills!! Can I also eat three cheeseburgers a day - while not working out - and get six pack abs?!

By Jennifer Pohlman, third year student at the University of Nebraska College of Law and student editor for The National Jurist

Essentially, this article comes down to this - “If you are unemployed and looking for a legal job, follow the above-listed, four easy, do-it-yourself steps, and things WILL work out for you." Are you kidding me?!?! Are you trying to induce a stroke, heartburn, high blood pressure, or a brain aneurism among your readers?

In the final, brutal analysis, this article has proved what I have said before about National Jurist, i.e. it is faith-promoting material. Furthermore, this article looks like a cheery, optimistic address given by a high school valedictorian, NOT an article by an editor of a national publication that purports to cover the legal industry. This piece is also harmful, in that it seeks to instill false hope in many. Pre-law students may see the editorial, and think that law school is a great place to ride out a recession. The reality is that the legal market will be further over-saturated in 3-4 years than it is now. Plus, more legal jobs will be outsourced to foreign attorneys and non-attorneys. See ABA "Ethics" Opinion 08-451.


  1. Good find, Nando. Living with you parents after graduation is a "dream" (nightmare)? Right. Sorry, Jenny, in a few months you won't be waking up from this reality.

    Somehow, I think that when we're in our 40's we're going to have plenty of regrets but getting a job "too quickly" out of law school isn't going to be one of them. It'll be more like regretting that we could never own a home or have a family because we're still carrying more debt than some small countries.

  2. Great post, Nando. I have so many friends planning on going to law school and one planning on going to a humanities Ph.D. program in the fall. They have the same mentality as Jenny and think that everything will be okay and work itself out in the end, even though the odds are against them. I think it's important to work hard and care of your mental health by retaining a healthy sense of optimism, but after a certain point you're being delusional. Getting yourself into an industry where you will be set up to fail is not a smart pursuit and certainly not worth wasting your youth on.

    Also, I really hope this Jenny character has no loans and can live at home rent/bill free if she can't find a job, because anyone who says you shouldn't be in a rush to find a job after graduation does not understand the value of a dollar and will sink in the real world.

  3. Good find!

    Barbara Ehrenreich has something to say about delusional optimism:

  4. Lemmings are bad when they are 0Ls... but they are worse as 3Ls. At what point do you face reality and start lobbying Congress to allow you to discharge your worthless debt? If these kids weren't so diluted, we could have legions of debtors storming capital hill for their rights. Oh well.. but wouldn't it be nice?

  5. I'm glad some 3L at Nebraska wants to cheer us up. "Things WILL work out." Save it for your group meetings, sister.

  6. This 3L sounds like the 3 professors who tried to convince me that the way to ride out the recession was to stay in school get an LLM degree - I just laughed and said thanks, but I have enough debt

  7. (1) Jennifer's perspective may be influenced by the fact that in-state tuition at U of Nebraska appears to be 12,153.70 for first year students and slightly lower for 2Ls and 2Ls. See In other words, you can actually get your JD from that school for under $35,000. And the cost of living in Lincoln is quite reasonable -- one bedroom apartments can be had for $500. Many of her readers are not so lucky.

    (2) There are only 2 law schools in Nebraska. U of N graduates about 140 students a year, maybe fewer. Creighton University in Omaha graduates about the same number. Total from the two schools is thus maybe 280 or so. Based on results from Martindales, there are probably about 5,000 lawyers in Nebraska, maybe a bit more. It is not impossible, therefore, that there might be 200 or so jobs for new Nebraska lawyers each year. Again, Jennifer's readers might not be so lucky if they are from NY, CA, MA, or pretty much any other state except Kansas.

    (3) Jennifer's suggestion in the article that one's 6th semester grades will make a difference to employers suggests a certain lack of mathematical acument. From a purely statistical point of view, if you carry a 3.0 GPA into your last semester and want to move your cume up to a 3.1, you need get a 3.6 in that last semester. To move it to a 3.2 you would need a 4.2.

    (4) Jennifer's parents may believe that "the universe is unfolding as it should" but Jennifer might want to check out the news from Haiti. Sometimes things don't go well.

    (5) If Jennifer does get a job, there will be many lawyers excited to litigated against her. After all, if her motion papers are briefs are as persuasive as her National Jurist Essay, they will be looking at a pretty big recovery.

  8. Unbounded optimism can be very dangerous. While this advice may be fine for her fellow Nebraska classmates (preferably living at home still), this is one of the most-affordable law schools in the country.

    Good point about sixth-semester grades. They simply do not matter to potential legal employers. They look at class ranking, and first-year grades. "Having faith" won't help you find a job.

    "Accept this difficulty as an experience in itself, and be open to life’s surprises." How's this for a surprise - getting into a top tier school and landing a job making $35K?

  9. Hi Nando - The article that you linked to was an interesting read. However, like you, I am not sure if the author is fully engaged with the current reality. Passages like "there's no better place to be than law school to hide out during a recession" are just laughably untrue in the current climate when the class of 2010 is going to have very high loan debt, but few prospects. I will certainly agree, as pointed out above, that the value proposition is far better in Nebraska than in NY, for example.

    I would imagine that the author's purpose in drafting the article was to lift the spirits of those having difficulty with the job search. However, "you just gotta believe" does not trump supply and demand.

  10. Grad school pointlessly delays adulthood. It's another excuse not to work and lost opportunity to earn real money and build savings.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. To the cretin who posted at 9:11,

    Do not make any baseless, vulgar, personal attacks on this young woman, you filthy wretch. It is obvious that you are some troll trying to act like a supporter of this blog. Now go play somewhere else - preferably in the middle of a busy freeway.

  13. Nando is a scumbag hypocrite. Making vulgar attacks to prevent vulgar attacks. hahaha. What a loser. Typical LIBscum hypocrite.

  14. At 9:35,

    Maybe you should read something other than "Guns & Ammo." There is a HUGE difference between me calling you a wretch (which you are), and you referring to the student editor the way you did. Attack the position, not the person. You have no position, other than hating anything you deem "liberal."

    If you want to engage in adult conversation, then your comments are welcome. We are talking about the law school industry producing far too many graduates, and placing thousands of those people in massive debt - with not much chance of being able to pay those loans off. How is that "conservative"? How can you consider that to be the "free market?"

    Wouldn't the free market dictate that these schools make it on their own, i.e. no federally-backed student loans? Without these loans, tenure-track law professors at non-top 14 schools would not be making $150K a year or more, as the demand for their services would be MUCH less.

    So that you can understand - without these loans in place, there would be less students in most schools' incoming classes. There would be less seats filled. This means that some schools would choose to close down. And less new schools would open. You would also have less JDs driving taxis, taking phone orders, unemployed, selling insurance, etc. Get it?! (Make sure to give a well-reasoned answer attacking my position.)

  15. "Have some faith?! Yes, because having faith and sticking your head in the sand pays the bills!! Can I also eat three cheeseburgers a day - while not working out - and get six pack abs?!"

    "Nando", has your rage improved your problems or resolved them?

    I suspect not.

    Yes, perhaps this 3L is naive, but if she keeps the attitude she has now, she will be able to overcome any difficulties that she experiences much easier.

  16. PERHAPS she is naive?! Are you so neutered that you cannot make a basic discernment? I actually don't care that she is naive. I am upset that she is trying to sell this garbage to other law students.

    The magazine is understandly pro-law school. (Their ad revenue depends entirely on the industry, after all.) But, the editor of this publication is well-aware that the market dynamics are changing. Biglaw firms want to outsource most of their discovery work to foreign lawyers and non-lawyers. See ABA "Ethics" Opinion 08-451.

    When the economy gets better, are law firms and government agencies suddenly going to hire a bunch of new attorneys? They will see that they got through the lean times with less. In better financial times, employers will want a thin crew to help the partners and key players make money hand over fist!

  17. JC on a Christ. She was HIRED by a LEGAL MAGAZINE to write a FLUFF PIECE. What was she supposed to say, "take a handful of pills, your life is over?" Give the girl some credit. None, I repeat none, of the advice she gave was out of bounds. In fact, it was sound advice for anyone going through an employment crisis. You should listen to your mothers...If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Boom!

  18. "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Boom!"

    I guess "JC on a Christ" is something nice to say, dumbass. All of this woman’s "advice" was garbage; if you are graduating and do not have a job, it is time to panic, not relax. Also, do YOU think it is ethical - or the embodiment of integrity - to write a putrid puff piece, in a magazine that seeks to lure in more hapless law students?

    Hey, if someone pays you to do something, it must be okay, right?! This is a morally reprehensible position to take. Telling anxious, soon-to-be law grads to relax; consider the alternatives; work hard; and have some faith DOES NOT CONSTITUTE advice for serious job-seekers. I guess calling a spade a spade is offensive to you. Get over it.

  19. Did you see this update on Ms. Pohlmann?

    She appears to be living her worst nightmare and has seemingly run short of platitudes.

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