As we get ready for the New Year's countdown, and to say goodbye to 2010, 2011 will be ushering in a new reality for law grads: true unemployment.
As a 3L, I have the opportunity to talk to many of my classmates about their job search and prospects for the coming year. The forecast is grim. This is no exaggeration: I know of two (2!) law students graduating from my second TTTier law school in 2011 who have jobs lined up and both of them are patent-bar eligible. (Which introduces an interesting conundrum - people who are patent bar eligible are the only people who seem to be able to make law school work at a non-T14 these days, and yet they are the very people for whom law school is essentially a waste of time, as they could make a fine living without the three-year hiatus from the work force. Rendering law school a good idea for... essentially no one.)
I'm sure that there are a few people with job offers lined up that I don't know about, but none of them are friends of mine. The strange thing is that those of us who don't have jobs lined up really don't have anything tangible we can do about it. The school tells us to send out tons of resumes, but there are no employers for a 3L to send resumes to. When I ask people where they have applied, the response is always an embarrassed shrug. And I totally understand the awkwardness because it counters everything we are told about a bad economy: "Don't be complacent, don't be shy, network, etc..." Local governments are on hiring freezes and we are not in an area with big federal placement, the private firms are really only hiring from top schools, and public interest organizations are mostly hiring people with experience... there's really not much to do. There's a sort of purgatory consisting of a ton of people who need jobs and would love nothing better than to send out tons of resumes but really don't have anywhere to direct that energy.
I know that many people were counting on job fairs or OCI to get the ball rolling to an extent. No such luck. I have already written about the pathetic number of employers hiring 3Ls in OCI. The job fair numbers were equally pitiful. I know of a handful of people who did screening interviews and no one who got a callback.
The most annoying part by far is listening to the 2Ls who think that the world is sunshine and roses because they got an offer to work for a DA's office in an unpaid internship this summer. THAT is their evidence that the job market is turning around. I actually overheard a 2L with a position like that saying that she couldn't understand why the 3Ls can't find jobs because it was just so damn easy for her to find a "job" as an unpaid hack. (I may have added the last part.) I wish I could take pleasure out of the rude awakening she is about to face, but it's just too tragic.
Anyway, Happy New Year everyone! I will be enjoying my respite from law school with a nice chilled bottle of five dollar champagne. Cheers!