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Disgruntled UVA Students Show Their Ire

The Careerist

April 8, 2011

If you assumed that law students at the top ten law schools are not feeling the same pressures and frustrations of looking for a job as those at lower-ranked schools, think again. As Above the Law reports, some law students at University of Virginia School of Law are fed up, and they aren't going to take it anymore--at least not silently. UVA is ranked number nine on U.S. News & World Report's latest law school rankings.

In late March, Above the Law's Elie Mystal reported that according to tipsters, "a number of UVA 3Ls have been menacing the incoming youngsters at UVA admitted students' weekend. The disgruntled current students" wore T-shirts that read "Virginia Law $40,000 a year and no job," when they met with the admittees. Apparently, a student is selling the shirts for $10--which certainly shows his or her entrepreneurial spirit.

One tipster reported, "A couple of guys wore them to our first admitted students' weekend, but they changed when the admissions director strongly urged them to do so and gave them free UVA Law shirts." You have to wonder about the free shirts. Were they a necessary part of the negotiations?

Rejection-letter-UVA And just a few days ago, in another Above the Law post, Mystal discussed an unidentified UVA law student's creative method of showing his disgruntlement. The 3L created a model of the University of Virginia School of Law-- made entirely out of employment rejection letters (click on the images for the enlarged versions, and see how many law firms you can spot). Mystal notes, "If you are one of the firms that rejected this kid, you need to rethink your interviewing process and figure out how you missed out on this motivated, creative, and most likely slightly deranged individual."

Rejection-letter-UVA-22It's too late to enter this year's contest, but if this student still has some free time next year, he may want to think about entering the ABA Journal's "Peeps in Law" Diorama Contest. Just think what he could do with rejection letters and Peeps! And if you're interested, you have until Tuesday, April 19, at noon to vote for your favorite peep diorama at the ABA Journal's Web site. 

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 or deputy blogger Audree Wong at awong@alm.com.


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Another fabulous article Vivia. What I like about it is that you're dispelling the myth 'the grass is always greener' one article at a time!! I'm certainly not happy to hear that people are having employment struggles, but it’s good to hear they're occurring at all schools and not just happening to those who can't afford the top schools!! I can't help agree with a bit of everyone’s comments but will make the following comments:

- Michael: yes it seems like these people are being whiny and drawing attention to themselves in an unattractive fashion but you obviously haven’t felt the ‘sting’ of a bad economy, otherwise you would understand a little more how frustrating the situation is.

- Joel: I agree: law students want the big paying jobs – good on you for making your own, you’re a trooper and I think there’s some real merit in a person creating their own luck/job after law school. No doubt these students should take a page from you book.

Way to miss the point entirely, Caroline and Michael.

Meanwhile, there is a huge unmet need for legal services in this country. Creativity is fine, and so is anger and frustration, but I can't help thinking that if the time that had been spent building that thing had been used on a few volunteer hours, he'd have a job much faster. He will get a job, and he will get a good job -- eventually. Most of the world is not so fortunate. I would say to them, Go find a person with a disability and ask them about difficulties in finding a job, good economy or bad, good education or not. Then maybe you'll understand how incredibly lucky you are.

Actually, I graduated during these rough economic times from a low ranked school. I've actually found alot of work doing court apps, teaming up with other attorneys, etc., I'm just not making much money. The funny thing is that I never expected much in terms of firm offers, I always just assumed I would be responsible for seeking out mentoring, writing to judges to get court app work, and eventually building my own practice. The fact is that I might never make a ton of money doing so. It seems that the hardest pill for recent law grads to swallow isn't necessarily that there is no work, it's just that there is no work that really pays well. I can't blame newly admitted attorneys for feeling this way. The thing is, that the practice of law will most likely be this way for a very long time. So what can you do? You can vent on the internet. You can even go to your old school and warn incoming 1l students of how things really are, like the students in the article at UVA. However, at the end of the day it won't change anything. You'll still have a mound of debt and be jobless. The fact is that law grads have to be willing to create their own jobs now, and just like anything else you may fail miserably. That's it, it's reality and it isn't changing. Now I have to get ready for my first trial on Tuesday (it's of course a court app and I won't get much $). I might fail miserably...but just like in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", at least I'll try.

Michael is full of crap. If he was lucky enough to graduate into a good (or well connected) hiring environment, he should count his blessings and keep his head down. If he had failed to secure work as an attorney, he certainly would feel differently about the value of such an expensive degree and the student loan debts that go along with it, which will be there for a lifetime. He graduated during the legal "boom," but he deserves his succesful carreer no more than those who graduted later into the bust and lack of openings. It's a numbers game Michael, your timing was good, that's all.

What whiners! They got a first-class legal education while living in a beautiful environment (Charlottesville, VA). And they think it's the University's fault that they don't have jobs? Maybe it has something to do with (1) the economy, combined with (2) their sense of entitlement? I wouldn't want to hire -- or even work with -- these characters either!

Admittedly, I graduated from UVA Law in more halcyon times (1984), when law firms were falling over themselves to tempt us into joining them. But I never felt it was the University's job to get me employed. Its job was to teach me the law, which it did superbly. Whether anyone wants to pay me for my legal skills is another question entirely.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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