Attention: Bored, under-appreciated Big Law associates. The U.S. Department of Justice will be adding "dozens of attorney positions" in 2014, reports the Legal Times blog. Justice wants more bodies to police cybersecurity, financial and mortgage fraud, and international intellectual property.
Here's the projected breakdown:
1. Criminal division: 31 new attorneys to work on cybercrime, financial crime, and intellectual property threats.
2. Civil division: 32 new attorneys to work on mortgage and financial crime.
3. Civil rights division: 43 new attorneys to work on human trafficking, hate crimes, voter rights enforcement, predatory lending, pricing discrimination, police misconduct, and other matters.
But if you're an antitrust lawyer, you're out of luck. Ten lawyers are expected to be cut in that division.Where lawyers are needed—and respected. If you're not in the running for a job at Justice or have simply burned out on the big-city law scene, saddle up and head for the heartland.
Remember how we told you that there's a lawyer shortage in Nebraska and North Dakota? Well, apparently, rural America in general is in dire need of lawyers. The New York Times reports that rural America has only 2 percent of the nation's lawyers, though it makes up one-fifth of the population. South Dakota, for one, has started a program for 16 lawyers that pays an annual subsidy of $12,000.
Hey, I know $12,000 seems like a pittance, and living in Bennett County, South Dakota, doesn't match the glamour of Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, or even Cleveland—but it is a job. Plus, your work would probably be much more appreciated.
It's about love, not money. So what's motivating people to go to law school in a job market where only 55 percent of law grads get law jobs? Would you believe a burning passion for the profession?
Recently, Kaplan Test Prep surveyed 200 aspiring law students, and here's how they responded:
- 71 percent say they are applying to law school “to go into a career I am passionate about.”
- Only 5 percent cite salary as the primary reason.
- 50 percent say they plan to use their law degree in a nontraditional legal field.
Since when did law school applicants get so "passionate" and altruistic about law? Since the recession, apparently. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog notes that in 2008, "before the financial crisis and three years before law schools were forced to come clean with more accurate job placement data," students were much more up front about being materialistic. Back then, "73 percent said earning potential was an important factor in their decision to pursue a law degree."
So here's the real test about how "passionate" you are about being a lawyer: Do you want it bad enough to go to some hick community where lawyers probably make not much more money than the firefighter or the hardware store owner? I didn't think so.
Take that as a sign.
Get The Careerist in your morning e-mail. Sign up today—see box on upper right corner.
Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.