Monday, March 16, 2009

Open Thread: Safe Job Choices?

It is easy to feel dejected as a law student these days—the 1Ls are getting shut out in their summer job hunt, the 2Ls are fearful of failing to obtain a full-time job offer, and 3Ls are facing offer revocation and deferred start dates. To make matters worse, even clerks are struggling in this economy.

While I do think Josh’s earlier article makes a good argument for the fact that we, as a group, tend to overreact to market trends, times are clearly bad (albeit, perhaps improving). Many of our readers have asked us to address what avenues of employment are safe in this economy. The easy—albeit disappointing—answer may well be that there are none. But we did some rudimentary research, and were prepared to write a segment featuring secondary markets as the route for wistful 1Ls gearing up for fall OCI.

There are, after all, good reasons to believe secondary market firms would be safer in a volatile economy. Featuring lower billable rates, clients looking to cut back on expenses could actively seek out such firms. Interestingly, though, other outlets have reported mass layoffs at secondary market firms. And, perhaps more onerously, we have heard that at least one Midwestern firm has recently cut associate salaries by $15,000 per year.

So, frankly, we just don't know what to think anymore. Were we wrong to assume that there may be safer "regions" as opposed to "practice areas?" Are our profession's woes extended across America? Across all types of firms? We turn to our readers to weigh in on these questions.

----------

UPDATE (3:54 PM): We've received some e-mails noting, quite correctly, that our statement regarding 2Ls being "fearful of failing to obtain a full-time job offer" suggests that all 2Ls have summer jobs lined up in the first instance. Implying as much was not our intention, and we apologize if this somehow sounded insensitive. We realize there are many 2Ls still looking for jobs in this tough economy, and are cognizant of how lucky those of us who have secured summer employment truly are.

12 comments:

  1. Well Craig, I don't really think there is a "safe" job choice right now. Perhaps "safer" in the sense there is a smaller supply of lawyers with specific skills than demand for lawyers with said specific skills. A good example of this may be patent attorneys or attorneys qualified to sit for the Patent Bar. Even then there may or may not be a downturn in that practice area, I don't have the relevant data but I'd venture a guess that Patent holders generally want their patents enforced regardless of the economic situation.

    My own view in reaction to this economic downturn is to cast a wide net along with networking every possible chance I get and I don't mean lame firm receptions. I mean actually going to events where attorneys in your practice area are talking to them or better yet be somewhat self promoting by letting friends, family and associates know what it is you are up doing and if they know anybody who could give you advice or something along those lines. I know these strategies have been used and suggested by people in the past and I think it is because there is a great deal of merit to them. In times like this you really have to have a "hustler" mentality in that you are willing to "grind" if one day you are trying to "shine".

    At the end of the day you have to remember that nothing is really a 100% "safe" so you may want to have contingency plans if things don't pan out as expected. Also, it may not be very comforting right now, but this is not the first nor will it be the last economic downturn. However, the economy will recover and bounce back as it has done previously and will do again. So the goal should be positioning yourself to ride out this current downturn as best as you can and to be ready for when the economy does recover.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I disagree w Justin though he's right its all relative. BigTex is the bet for ITE

    ReplyDelete
  3. 12:00 --- this is an intersting proposition. Craig, I work for the government, but am considering a lateral into a secondary market. So far, the responses have been great. The market I am moving into is, admittedly, small-midlaw (WV), but the economy does not, at least on the surface, appear to be affecting it as much. I think it is because the state environment towards attorneys is much more favorable, and because coal company work has never really died down.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Midlaw is a good bet

    ReplyDelete
  5. What's "midlaw" 4;31?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think a good bet for everyone is to look at niche markets like Minnesota, Delaware, etc. Banking is huge in these areas, and there's a big focus on keeping corporations in through corp-friendly laws. Obviously top firms in primary markets are also a safe bet, as always.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Minnesota? Do you mean South Dakota?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not 11:09, but I assume so 4:36. I mean, Minnesota? Do they even have law firms there?

    ReplyDelete
  9. 11:47 here again, does South Dakota have law firms? I know Delaware does but the other places seem random.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 11:47, no... everyone in South Dakota is just pro se

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey, watch it! I'm a S.D. lawyer!

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.