Friday, March 11, 2011

My morning in court

I had a post mediation status conference at Los Angeles Stanley Mosk courthouse. The judge was calling all parties into his chambers so what would have normally taken several minutes turned into 90 minutes. I see this younger attorney sitting close to me so we start chatting. Fifteen minutes into the conversation I asked him what case he was on and where he went to school and he responded with University of Chicago. I was like what the fuck!! He was there doing an appearance for some firm (contract attorney). He said he was from the class of 2009 and that several of his class mates were struggling to find work. For those that don't know University of Chicago is in the glorious 14 law schools, ranking number 5 in the country. What a shame, 2 years out of one of the best law schools in the country, just to be doing appearance work.

The other day I learned that my firm once hired a top 20 law grad a few years ago. He lasted a few months before getting fired, and was the ONLY attorney ever to be fired from my firm. In my line of work (plaintiff's personal injury) it is necessary to have thick skin, be able to think on your toes and be able to accept a good amount of abuse from clients from time to time when the case goes to shit. So even though Mr. top 20 didn't last 3 months, Mr. Subprime tier 4 is doing a great job. So for those that are in the game do not be intimidated by better ranked adversaries. I have beaten down defense counsel from tier 1 schools on a regular basis. While the LSAT and law school grades serve as an indicator as to whether biglaw will be in the cards, these statistics fail to test for personality, character, balls, and general people skills. Despite being a lowly tier 4 grad working in small law, I have managed to intimidate seasoned attorneys just by giving them a stare of confidence. The other day my boss obliterated a tier 1 grad in trial as this top tier lawyer lacked people skills and just bored the jury out of their minds. There are some things that rank cannot buy.

Again, to reiterate my general message, going to law school is a extremely risky bet. Obviously the higher the school is ranked the better the odds of getting employment. However, as my anecdote shows, even grads from the best schools are having trouble getting full time law jobs. The situation at the TTT level is a complete disaster. If you do decide on going to law school, make sure you are well aware of the risks as the law schools are lying about employment data for their graduates. For those that have graduated from low ranked schools like myself and plan on working in the legal field, stay confident and plug away at those facts and rules. You will be surprised how little opposing counsel cares about rank when there is money on the line and you have a theory of liability that is solid.

And sometimes, once a month or so, a case concludes nearly perfect where you end up with a great settlement and an ecstatic client. Those days are the best.


  1. Subprime - I work in a similar law field. You're right about the above. There are a lot of graduates who just aren't likable people. Likability has to do with personality, humor, charm, APPEARANCE, and non-tangible factors that law school/law review/LSAT does not emphasize.

    In situations where YOU MEET THE CLIENT, these are all very important factors. The more of the above qualities that you have, the more likely that people are to give you money (i.e., business). Client-based jobs are a lot about sales. However, these qualities also are important when dealing with judges, trustees, and other attorneys.

    If you're going into BIGLAW though, it's my understanding that you never meet the clients anyway, so it's OK to be lame.

  2. Yay! I love this happy post! I emailed David Segal from the New York Times and told him you wrote a happy post about being a law school grad!!!

  3. LWIC:

    For the most part I enjoy being an attorney. I know numerous successful attorneys and am hoping to become one myself someday. That being said, the purpose of this blog is to WARN people about the scam that law school is for many graduates that can't get jobs and fall into the student loan hell trap. You should read some of my earlier posts. It took me 20 months to get my current job and I had my family support me during that time (they still support me). Many others don't have this support and are relying on the fantasy employment and earnings statistics that the schools publish.

    Once true data is published then the law schools will no longer be scams but instead will be overpriced institutions. At least with real information available, it will be caveat emptor for the student.

  4. You're right, people should be informed about how hard it is to get your first job, how low paying it can be and how much money you have to pay on loans each month.

    But there is hope! You can get a job you like. It just takes a LOT of work.

  5. Another hope that I have.... is that LWIC will finally stop posting BS deflection and strawman assertions.

  6. Sub-Prime JD,
    I'm a CA 2009 graduate from a TTTT school. I just got licensed in December 2010. I had to take the bar exam twice, skipped February 2010 because I was supremely devastated in July 2009 when I had to unexpectedly handwrite the test.

    Now I cannot find employment, at all. I've worked for free for the past few months, I'm getting canned now, and experienced attorneys just laugh at me and say I'm extremely fucked b/c i have no experience, and I do not come from a good school. I really want to work hard and pay my dues, but no one is letting me!! Please tell me what I can do to get my foot in the door somewhere, I do not want to get left behind in the workforce.
    BTW, I do not have any student loans of any kind, but I will feel like an utter failure if I do not even get a shot to work in my profession, and the more time that goes by, the less marketable I am =(.

    To Living Well in California,
    Would you be so kind as to post up some contracts vendor management positions? I appreciate your posts I would love to apply to them. . .I'll really apply and move anywhere at this point for a real job.

  7. why was my comment deleted?

  8. I posted a comment about asking Subprime and Living Well in California for some advice, and it was deleted. I do not understand, I was not flaming or insulting anyone.

  9. That's odd because I never deleted any comments

  10. Ok, I thought i posted it, but no worries.

    To Subprime JD
    I have been following the blog for a month. I would like to humbly ask you for advice on how to proceed on finding a job. I too, and a CA 09 graduate. However, I only recently became licensed this past December. I took the bar exam twice, in July 09 and July 10. I was too burnt out after July 2009 where I had to unexpectedly handwrite since examsoft crashed on me to retake it in February 2010.

    Now, I am unemployed, I'm actually getting canned from a free job that I am working at right now, employers laugh in my face because I have not had any real legal experience for a couple years now, others sneer at me that firms are going to know I did not pass the first time, and how I will not be able to get a job b/c I come from a shitty school. I do not have any student loans, but I really want to make it as an attorney, as I spent so much time and effort to become one. . .I do not want to get left behind! Any advice would sincerely be appreciated.

    Living Well in California
    I appreciate your posts, and would like to know if you know of any contract vendor management positions that are open right now, I would like to apply to them.

  11. Hi 10:52,

    I would look at the major job boards like,, Monster and Careerbuilder.

    I would search titles like: contracts specialist, contracts administrator, contracts manager, sourcing, procurement, vendor management.

    Hope that helps!


    " -- With unemployment still high, job seekers who have been discouraged by a lack of work might be inclined to take the first opportunity they're offered. That will help pay the bills, but it could cause other problems: A new study suggests that some jobs are so demoralizing they're actually worse for mental health than not working at all.

    The findings add a new wrinkle to the large body of research showing that being out of work is associated with a greater risk of mental health problems. In the study, which followed more than 7,000 Australians over a seven-year period, unemployed people generally reported feeling calmer, happier, less depressed, and less anxious after finding work, but only if their new jobs were rewarding and manageable."

  13. SubPrime JD,
    I'm the same anonymous that posted asking for advice on finding a job. Please, whenever you have time, no rush at all, give me some advice, as since we are both TTTT graduates, maybe you understand where I am coming from. It would be extremely appreciated, and I'd be more than happy to buy you a drink to show my gratitude.

    I interviewed for a total of 4 different legal positions last year (law clerk), none wanted to take me on because I had not passed the bar exam yet, and felt I would jump ship, which was totally not true, because I am dying to get experience. Now, licensed, attorneys tell me I have put myself in the worst possible position by somehow being licensed a year out of law school, with no real substantial experience.

    I do not really know how much more to the bottom I can go, as I am getting canned from a free position I have been working for the past two months.

  14. @ 10:22 pm

    I can't give much advice with regards to your job woes. Keep looking as it's the only thing you can do. It's a tough time for many people in the JD world right now. I got my gig from craigslist so you never know. If anything, try not to stress about it TOO much otherwise you will go crazy. Keep looking and stay as active as possible to avoid going into depression which will only make your situation worse.

    Good luck


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