I’m Unemployed and Feel Ripped Off By My TTT Law School


QI am extremely frustrated and a recent graduate. I got suckered into going to a law school that was probably third tier (a “TTT Law School“), maybe even fourth (to this day, I have no clue how you figure that out—nor do I care). I graduated in July with decent grades and won a National Moot Court Championship. Yes, WON it and the award for Best Brief. I am a real person, not a law robot. I communicate with people very well, I have a lot of “life” and work experience in the area in which I want to practice, and, quite honestly, I would make a great lawyer.

Problem is that NOBODY will give me the time of day. I am extremely frustrated and thinking of giving up hope.  Is the legal world REALLY all about the name on your diploma? I never thought or realized it would be like this. I feel like a victim; like I got ripped-off by the law school I decided to attend after they blew the “our school is great” smoke up my hairy, Jewish ass. If another person says, “Bad economy,” or “You will be fine,” I’m going to lose it.

How do I best approach the job search? What do I do to quell the countless rejections and merciless ridicule that I receive from law firms? Can I sue the law school for fraud?  I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks!

AFirst things first: You can’t sue your law school for fraud. I assume you were kidding, but in case you weren’t, the answer is, “Hell no.” What would the basis of your case be?

“I went to a shitty law school because they tricked me into thinking it was Harvard, and then, when I graduated, I found out it wasn’t.”

Unfortunately for you, there’s this magazine called U.S. News & World Report that actually ranks law schools. And believe it or not, everyone—including you—has access to it. So let the law-school thing go, dude.  It’s over. Time to move on.

As for the rest of your question: It’s time to stop bitching and start hustling. You need to target realistic opportunities (i.e., small firms, government jobs, etc.) and find creative ways to get in the door. Exploit college and law school contacts; offer to work on an hourly basis; look for an exciting part-time internship.

You also need to make peace with the fact that your first job might not be perfect. Think of it as a stepping-stone to the next job. But please, stop complaining. No one likes a bitter lawyer—not even other bitter lawyers.

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

20 Comments

  1. Er, no.

    October 21, 2009 at 3:44 am

    You’re screwed.  I know T10 grads who have taken a year to find a job in this economy.  Do the rest of us a favor and find something else to do with your life.

  2. Guano Dubango

    October 21, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Yes, we all have issues, else why are we reading this website.  I only have US LLM, and I too am having great difficulties with my own personal situation.  You are not the only one that is struggling.  You must make the best of your situation, as each of us must.  We take strength from others advice on this website.  I personally am looking for an eligible law bride, among other things, but am coming up empty.  I retain some hope that a pretty, smart and eligible female will fall in love with me and bear me children.  So join the club, fellow law graduate and stand in line behind me.

  3. Craig

    October 21, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Loved the last line. Funny

  4. Guvment Cheese

    October 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

    I hear ya man, I graduated from a Tier 4, largely because the school only charged 10k per year and I wanted to have a little more debt freedom than the next guy.  I got my job in the fall of 2007 before the world ended, but things were tight.  But I sold myself, had an amazing, heavily edited writing sample, and pounded the pavement.  I think you went to law school thinking that you have 100% chance to get a job.  Well, unfortunately 100% employment really only applies in fields with a LACK of people, specifically health care, i.e. doctors, nurses, physical therapists.  If you haven’t noticed, this country has an oversaturated legal market.  I don’t make great pay, but I like my job.  If I didn’t have a job, you better believe I would be working for free, kissing ass, and doing a great job to get experience, while bartending or whatever I need to do on the side, and not complaining about it.  The good news is, after 3+ years experience as a litigator or in some real office where you do real legal work, your diploma won’t matter nearly as much as your ability to actually be a real lawyer.  That’s what employers want out of experience attorneys.  I know a lot of Harvard-educated people who wouldn’t know the first thing about drafting a good summons and complaint or defending a motion to dismiss.

  5. BL1Y

    October 21, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I feel ripped off by my Top 5 law school.

  6. george

    October 21, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I don’t go to a top law school, but I do go part-time and will graduate with minimal debt if any.  These young whipper-snappers still do not realize loans need to be paid back.  I can do whatever I want when I graduate since I don’t have to worry about paying back $150k in loans.

  7. Your Boss (if we hired you)

    October 21, 2009 at 10:21 am

    You’ll be fine; it’s just a bad economy.

  8. Robert Smith

    October 21, 2009 at 10:57 am

    After practicing for 30 plus years, suffering a big firm collapse, losing money on it bigtime, and now having enough clients to largely stay above what is happening now, I extend my sympathy.  And I am not kidding. I am appalled by this disaster. 4th years with kids and a mortgage w/o a job or an prospect of finding one. New lawyers with no where to go.  It was a bit nasty in the early 80’s when interest rates were over 12% for car and home loans. It was again nasty in ‘91-’92 for a while. But not like this. But your law school is no more responsible than anyone else.  They were as blind as the brokers urging people to buy more houses to boost comissions; as blind as the government lowering interest rates to lows not seen since I was a kid, generating a rush to borrow; and as short-sighted as speculators who got caught in a bad market and 5 houses they can’t sell.  Anyway, you had to have been around in the 80’s to see this one coming.  Or be reading a lot of “How can we keep spending like this?” books?  You could blame everyone older than you–and yourself too- for not wondering how we can deindustrialize our country, (those mean carbon footprints!) support the economy on deficits, force manufacturers overseas, raise taxes like no tomorrow and still think law firms here will have something to do.  Did you tell your congressman or congresswoman since you were 18 and voting to stop worrying so much about the Kyoto treaty and more about having a manufacturing base here to provide jobs and sales revenue?  No?  You wanted to feel good about carbon footprints like everyone else in your class?  You didn’t say “Sir/Ma’am: how can we force companies offshore that sell goods that provide jobs and taxes-and law firm work- and rely instead on deficits to sustain our economy?” Well, now you have part of the consequences.  Jobs providng revenue from manufacturing sales are gone. We just trade with each other based on government debt.  Wait till inflation hits from the new deficit of 1.4 trillion. Oh wait? “They” say not to worry? The same ones that have been running things up to now?  Anyway, enough ranting.  Not being a politician, I am obviously not qualified to discuss economics.  Some thoughts: one, law difffers from unionized government jobs-law firms can and will cut salaries and that will hopefully enable them to avoid more slash and burn reductions and cautiously hire more people as time moves along. if you can wait, jobs should open up.  Two, now as in all times past, deal making ends but litigation moves along. At least for now.  Some litigation firms still are hiring.  Some Plaintiff’s work is quite lucrative, especially where the law provides fees to the winning party.  Plainitff’s employment law is a hot area now and has been. Should stay hot for a while. Three, some dealmakers are still in business. If you can annex yourself to a dealmaker-lawyer (real estate in big cities plods alog still–people are trading, refinancing) you will learn a lot and can break off after a few years. A big firm may not hire you: they have too much deadwood: try smaller firms or a solo. Humiliating? Not at all. You’ll learn more and do well in a few years. I bet a lot of those nimble lawyers are still working.  Much better than at big law I bet.  Four, I think law will come back: but it will take longer than before. remember all the old geezers can’t work forever.  So all must adjust. ….Partners will delegate less to hold on to work and clients. Associates need to be more USEFUL, less feckless about the bedrock of law practice (hint: its not pro bono, its not drinking after hours). Your law school bought into the “it’ll never end” like you and everyone else. You all think the life we have here is some guaranteed lifestyle: its not: past generations worked hard for it.  in India and Asia they are now working around the clock to take your jobs–even the law jobs!  Welcome to the real world.  But…it will get better. Things will turn. The country has seen much worse. Find a way to be useful!  If BigLaw isn’t hiring, find a place that will at least get you in a door and working.  Hang in there!  And good luck!

  9. Anon

    October 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Yo pretty funny last line—even bitter lawyers don’t like bitter lawyers. funny

  10. Miles

    October 21, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Feel you man hard time to be a recent grad.

  11. BL1Y

    October 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I don’t feel ripped off because of how hard it is to get a job out there.  I feel ripped off because the job I’d have in a good economy would still suck.  A lot of professors have been attorneys at big firms, but they left (with a 80% pay cut) because of how awful the legal profession is.  Why the hell didn’t they warn us, tell us to get the f— out before we racked up too much debt?  What type of person watches year after year as hundreds of their students blindly march off to waste their lives?

  12. Alma Federer

    October 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Sometimes I think the same way.  Many of my professors only told me what I wanted to hear, and often told me what they thought I wanted to hear.  But I don’t think many of them actually practiced serious big firm law, other than my Corporation’s professor, who was a big player in a now defunct BigLaw firm.  Most had jobs in government or at other law schools before they landed at mine.  These were not the most hard working types either.  I think they enjoyed sitting around having young students looking up to them as legal gods (I never did).  I know that one tax law professor prided himself by being able to sleep with a very pretty young blond law student, but I think that student is now out of work, too, so what good did it do her to offer herself up to that jerk?  Yes, law is not the same as it was 10 years ago, when I first applied to school.  It is different now, after 9/11 and after the recession set in.  It is not what it was in 1999.  Times have changed and we either have to change with it or we will get swept away.

  13. MommaKittyKat

    October 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    I graduated from a T1 in 2003 when it was pretty bad.  I graudauted bottom 3rd.  I am a partner.  So…heres a way to do it.  Get Mediation training.  Offer your services for $50 less an hour than average. get a CHEAP office space.  Advertise on Martindale.  If you are in Illinois, go to the “how to lectures” that are offered.  Again, if your in IL, but a Gitlin for divorce.  It ain’t glamourous, but I am making it.  BTW our office is hiring a hungry smart recent ilcensed grad.

  14. Twerp

    October 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Um, yeah, I think you should sue your law school… …breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. …breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
    Why would anyone attend law school without the opportunity to get a job post graduation?  The fact that a law school exists should be proof positive that there is a large market for its graduates.
    The dirty secret is that the lawyer overabundance thing didn’t happen in 2008 – it has been going on for years. The crisis in the economy only exaserbated the crisis in the profession.
    Sue those bastards. They are more about revenue than about finding you a job. Just beware: you will never work in the legal profession again.  …and if your case is not iron clad, you will get crushed by a motttley army of big firm alumni.

  15. Ex-Partner

    October 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    There are no guarantees, whether you go to Harvard or some lesser, no-name school… You have to make something happen on your own.  Especially today.  Knock on every door you can and don’t take no for answer. Be creative, be persistent, and be flexible. Good luck.

  16. Desi

    October 22, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I hear ya 2 – it’s all up to you to make something happen these days.

  17. Me

    October 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    What a whiny bitch. The only people that care about your law school rank are still in their 20’s, or top law firms.

    You will be fine. Just give it some time. Quit complaining.

  18. RAMS

    October 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    As Bruce Willis said in the movie ‘Die Hard’:
    “Welcome to the party pal.”

  19. L.C.

    November 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    It’s all about creativity, and what effort you will give to become a lawyer. I just graduated as well. I applied for one job and made it to the final round of interviews. During the final interview I asked the partner, whose name is the first listed for the firm, why he decided to have his own practice. He laughed and shared his story. Then I shared mine. I’ve listened to my classmates tell me every job they would take if they did not find a hiring law firm. I’m not going to bartend, wait tables, or become a journalist . . . I’m going to be a lawyer, even if I have to open my own firm.
    As soon as I left the interview, I knew what I wanted. Instead of stressing myself out with interviews and resumes, I started finding mentors and planning my business. I asked the lawyers I clerked for to give me more responsibility so I could learn the ropes while waiting on bar results- and in return they had months of very cheap and productive labor. I went to the law conference and networked. I read Jay Foonberg’s book. Sure, I have to worry about marketing strategies, trust accounts, and I’m continuing to live like a law student for maybe a few more years, but unlike some of my peers I will be practicing law.
    The best part about this is when my friends call me complaining about their jobs. My friend got lectured for leaving 5 minutes early on a Friday. No boss = no lectures for leaving early, or taking a 3 day weekend (just make sure you meet your deadlines)!

  20. Ken

    December 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I feel for you brother (in Massachusetts, lawyers actually do call each other “brother” or “sister” in open court, not something I was accustomed to having attended law school in Florida). At any rate, I ended up launching my legal career in Boston, probably one of the most competitive places to find a law job. Nonetheless, after 6 years out there doing doc review and covering matters for other attorneys I finally have established my own practice, and I have been able to get by. It is pretty dismal when I look at how much is outstanding on my student loans, but then again I answer to nobody except my clients (and of course my wife, but she is very t t), I take days off when I feel like I need it, hop on a flight to Tokyo every year, and keep my clients happy by doing good job for them.
    Graduating law school I was ready to conquer the world, now I am just trying to not let it conquer me!

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