If you're working as a summer associate at a big law firm, count your blessings. Despite the uncertainty in the legal market, many firms are rolling in dough again, and most hiring partners I've chatted with say they expect to make offers to almost all of their summer hires.
Normalcy has returned to the profession--but not for everyone. Certainly not the so-called Lost Generation--those unlucky newbie lawyers who lost their jobs (or never got one) during the recession. Remember them?
They are still there, pressing their noses against the thick law firm windows. I hear from them every now and then, and this is their message to the profession: We're still looking for jobs. And if you're hiring again, why won't you give us a look?
Sadly, they know the answer. "There's a glut of us," says a 2009 law graduate who got laid off from an Am Law 100 firm after less than four months on the job. And though they're told that it's not their fault that their careers derailed prematurely, few firms think of them as associate material.
"Maybe firms think we've already been [picked over] or they feel we're too cynical," says the 2009 graduate. "You'd hope that the industry would recognize us, but the behavior is to chop us off and forget about us."
Of the 30 laid-off lawyers that this graduate knows from the class of 2008 and 2009, only two have gotten jobs in Big Law--and both were through personal connections, he says. "It's a total waste of time to go through HR," he adds. Even those who were superorganized about finding work, who made their job search a full-time job--most got nowhere, he says.
"I've fought hard not to have any gaps in my resume," says this lawyer, adding that he took a job in finance, then an unpaid legal position in government, to keep himself viable. When he came out of law school, he says, he had 11 offers. Now working in the public relations sector, he says he's still hoping to get a shot at a big-firm job.
But he says his laid-off colleagues are finally throwing in the towel about working in a big law firm: "Most have given up and now are doing different things; some are going to business school."
So is he at all optimistic that he'll be able to get back into Big Law? "Well, I think it's useful for me to stay positive, but it's definitely an uphill battle." And though he says it's important to tell the story of the Lost Generation, he winces at the idea that he's part of it. "I don't like the phrase because it sounds like a tragedy, and I still have hope."
Readers, what do you hear from the laid-off lawyers? Are they still trying to get law firm jobs? Or have they moved on?
Related post: Stop Making Sense--Hire, Fire, Hire Again.
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