WHERE ARE THE JOBS?
Young Lawyers Face Tough Employment Choices
and Student Debt
Would you study law for three years, tack on an extra year to earn an LL.M., and incur a mountain range of stu- dent loan debt just to
serve drinks at Applebee’s? For nearly 25 percent
of new and young lawyers entering the job market today,
working behind the bar, instead of working as a member
of the bar, is their best available option.
The Great Recession forced the need for reinvention
upon many industries, including the legal profession.
Those who graduated in its wake — that lot of students
called “The Lost Generation” — entered a job market as
barren as the dust bowls of the Dirty Thirties.
by Vincent D. Humphrey II
Kim Letter (who asked that I not use her real name) is
among the lost. “Initially,” she says, “I thought my time
with Applebee’s would be short. I wound up working
there for almost four years.” Letter graduated from law
school, earned an LL.M., and entered the job market in
2011. “Frankly, I took whatever I could get,” she told me
recently over the phone. Even after landing contract legal
work here and there, she continued bartending at night.
“The student loan debt was not going away and it
caused stress and frustration. I answered Craigslist ads
and found a position with a legal referral company. I was
making slightly more than minimum wage. I was a new
lawyer working as a contract attorney, but there wasn’t
really any guidance.”
Letter tried to see the silver lining. “Even though I © I S T