tina fey and alice

10

“She starts preschool in a couple weeks, which I think is gonna be real interesting. Once I finally got her into preschool, and it was like a done deal, I was like “Hey, let me tell you some stuff about her…she is not potty trained, she’s allergic to nuts and she bites…so I gotta go…” - Tina Fey on her youngest daughter Penelope, 4.

Why the Job Market Sucks for Attorneys (beyond no jobs):

I have three degrees. I actually gave up finishing a fourth degree so I could study for the bar because my thesis was due at the same time. I passed the bar and am a licensed attorney. I currently have a job basically making filing runs to court from various law firms. 

I get paid state minimum wage and 42 cents per mile.

I am making a long post, more for my own sanity than anything else. Hopefully some of you feel the same way, please send me any mail with comments or questions.  

1. The Void 

Ah, the void, where your dreams can die before they ever began.

The void happens when you send out your application via the internet and are never sure if it ever arrived and was read. It’s when you attach a read receipt and never get the confirmation back. It’s when you apply and just…NOTHING. 

No feedback, no rejection, no calls, nothing. You’re falling in the rabbit hole chucking out your resume and cover letter like you got the Evil Queen Sallie Mae about to cut off your head. 

(She’s waving goodbye to public loan forgiveness)

You have no idea what you did wrong (if anything). You thought you were a perfect candidate, was the job pool too big? You will never know because you’re falling in the void. 

2. They can either pay you shit or expect it for free.

I recently applied for a job and asked what I could do to increase my chances of getting an interview. They miraculously replied and said in addition to a foreign language skill (mi espanol es muy malo, lo siento), I should think about volunteering. I would love to do that! Ironically I submitted an application for a legal aid group to volunteer and they, wait for it, NEVER GOT BACK TO ME. I literally cannot give away this shit for free.

(I’m fucking trying Heath Ledger, there’s a labor surplus in the legal market.)

Another problem is that I live in the Bay Area and I make minimum wage. For those of you who don’t know how expensive rent is in the Bay Area, this is the most accurate representation of simultaneously living in the Bay Area and paying Bay Area rent.

I pay close to a $1000 in rent and I have one of the best deals in the area. Moreover, I pay $200 a month for my student loans, not even counting my law school loans. In other words, I’m poor as fuck. So while I would love to volunteer, I can only do it either at night or on the weekends because I can’t afford to take a day off. Volunteering will also severely limit my time to actually apply to jobs.

But who knows, maybe a little volunteer work and you’ll get hired! Until you realize…

3. They can dick you around. 

So I recently made a post about how I was a finalist for a position and waited a month and a half to hear that nobody was hired. Here’s some more examples: 

I went on an interview for a super small firm (two attorneys) and was told I would be notified the following week. When that came and went, I sent a polite email inquiring if they needed anything to help assist them with a decision. A month and a half went by and I got a generic email saying I was denied. 

The night before another interview, they had me complete a massive employment application. 

Unfortunately they cancelled two hours beforehand due to a court emergency. That’s fine, shit happens, we said we would reschedule. I called two weeks later and they told me due to a new policy, they would no longer be hiring but would keep my application on hand. Last week I saw a craigslist ad for their firm…for a paralegal position. 

I had another interview with about 20 other people interviewing that day. They told me I would hear back within two weeks. That was a month and a half ago and last week I saw their same ad posted on craigslist. A girl can’t even get a fucking rejection letter anymore. 

It’s their market and you are a easily disposable commodity, and this is the horrible truth. There are a ton of amazing schools, amazing lawyers, and you all want the same thing. Could I leave the only place I always wanted to live in, and the place that was my home for ten years before law school? Sure. The job market is slightly better in smaller locations. That might be another sacrifice I have to make, of course the next point just makes that idea even worse to me because….

4. If you’re not sure you want to be a lawyer, you’re fucked.

The funny thing about all of this is that I’m not even sure I want to be a lawyer. 

I always really enjoyed public policy and politics. I went to law school to learn the law, to try to make effective change. I went to law school to make the world a better place, not necessarily to be a lawyer. 

I recently had a working job interview, where I just worked for an entire day. I drafted a petition, client letters, etc. I HATED IT. In part it was because I really disliked the idea of who I may be working with, but if I was offered the job I felt like I had no choice but to take it. A girl has to pay rent. 

Then I think, “Well I’ll just apply for other jobs. I’ll find my passion.” 

5. You’re now either overqualified or underqualified for all those other jobs.

Sometimes people just tell me that I need to apply for legal assistant jobs, receptionist positions, paralegal jobs. Start in these dream nonprofits and work my way up. Believe me, I applied. I’m now overqualified for those jobs! I used to that that was a total bullshit excuse until I began to experience it. How do I know for sure that I’m overqualified? They tell me. You try to start out in these lower-level positions and they’re concerned that you won’t stay or that you won’t be happy there. 

You know what makes me unhappy? The idea of being homeless. That makes me pretty fucking unhappy. 

The job market is no longer a place where you can start in a job and climb the ladder. You don’t work your way up through the mailroom, even though it would be good for many of us to know the ins and outs of the work. You start as a legal assistant and they want you to die there. 

Even if you’re not overqualified, guess who you’re competing with for those jobs you qualify for? All those older attorneys who were laid off in the recession. Last year I applied for a court position last year as a jury coordinator. I was more than qualifed but never heard a peep. I called in, curious to know if there was anything I could to improve my chances in a future application. I was flat out told that I was competing with attorneys with 10-20 years experience for the same job. It didn’t matter what I did, I just couldn’t hold a candle to them. So now we play the waiting game for the older generation to retire and/or die. 

At this point I’m just hoping that I’m able to keep going, keep going on these interviews and hope I land something. I don’t have any answers for the rest of you but I hope some of you feel the same and know you aren’t alone. 

Ultimately I am sure I will succeed the way I have in the past: by wearing people down until I get what I want.