A 2013 law school graduate who blogs about having to work in retail says it was “absolutely detrimental” when he didn’t get a job offer from the corporate law firm where he worked as a summer associate.
That anonymous graduate went to a top-50 law school, served on the law review, and was in the top 5% of his class his first year. He even a got a gig as a summer associate at a big firm after his second year, which often ensures full-time work after graduation.
But the year he worked at the firm there was an unusually low number of job offers for summer associates. The graduate got what’s known as “no-offered.” Other employers often look askance at law grads who’ve been no-offered, and that was the case with this graduate.
Here’s what the graduate had to say in an email Q&A with Business Insider:
It’s absolutely detrimental. It was brought up in almost every interview I had after that. No one came right out and said I was rejected because of it, but you definitely get the sense that you are seen as damaged goods. A lot of the people I know who got no offered have been able to rebound from it, but they have all struggled. And that’s not even getting in to the psychological damage.
In his Q&A with Business Insider, the graduate sheds some light on his reasons for going to law school and sticking it out all three years. Check out the Q&A below, and head over to “Law Grad Working Retail” for tragicomic insights into the post-law school experience of a 20-something guy living in Chicago and selling cologne.
Why did you decide to start your “Law Grad Working Retail” blog?
I started it as a thread on the message board Top Law Schools just because I was bored during training. I didn’t really think the thread would last more than a day. Then I started working and my coworkers were all so interesting that I thought people would be really entertained by the stories. Then I started doing it as a blog so people outside TLS could read it.
Are many of your classmates in similar situations, where they have had to take on non-legal, low-paid work because they couldn’t find legal jobs?
I know quite a few people that are still unemployed or are working non-legal jobs to pay bills, but jobs are such a touchy subject it’s hard to know the exact numbers. I know at least one law grad from California who applied to work at the same department store as me but got rejected. Things are rough out there.
What kind of work did you initially plan on doing after law school?
I did a lot of research about job prospects before going to law school so I didn’t have any delusions that I would do international human rights law or space law or anything. I just wanted to get any job that I could as a lawyer.
How many people from your summer associate class were no-offered?
So many that if I gave you the exact number it would easily out the firm. It was a very unusually low offer rate for a big law firm.
Did you get any feedback about why you didn’t get an offer?
I got some vague feedback that sounded like they were looking for excuses to get rid of me. I didn’t get drunk and jump into the Hudson river or hit on a partner or anything like that. I think it was mostly economics since their overall offer rate was abnormally low that year. I think they needed to cut someone and I was from the lowest ranking school and my grades had gone down a little my 2l year so that gave them enough of a reason to no offer me. I will probably never know the real reason though.
Is it very tough to get a corporate job after you don’t get a job from your summer associate firm? (I was curious about whether you were somehow “tainted” after a no-offer.)
Oh yeah, It’s absolutely detrimental. It was brought up in almost every interview I had after that. No one came right out and said I was rejected because of it, but you definitely get the sense that you are seen as damaged goods. A lot of the people I know who got no offered have been able to rebound from it, but they have all struggled. And that’s not even getting in to the psychological damage.
Is any part of you glad that you didn’t get an offer from your summer associate firm?
Not yet. Maybe someday if I get a job that allows me to have a comfortable life without working biglaw hours. I have gotten to focus on writing a lot which I enjoy. I write a blog entry every day and just finished writing an ebook about when I used to drive a taxi before law school. But right now I eat ramen every day and have no heat in my apartment, so it hasn’t exactly been a blessing in disguise yet.
Do you feel like there’s anything about your situation that makes you very different from other law grads? (You mentioned in your blog that you had some family issues that kept you from taking the bar exam.)
Not taking the bar exam has really sucked. I don’t know if I necessarily would’ve had a job by now if I had taken it and passed, but I can’t even get interviews right now since I’m not licensed. It was so expensive just to sign up for the bar that I had no money left to pay for a prep class, and I worked all summer just to be able to eat. Then I had a perfect storm of personal issues on top of that that kept me from studying properly on my own. So I ended up deferring until February.
Do you regret law school?
It’s tough to say. Right now, with six figures of debt and mounting bills and barely enough money to live, I would say absolutely. But I don’t know what I would’ve been doing otherwise. I knew I was taking a gamble when I went, so I can’t say I didn’t know this was a possible outcome. I regret more the firm I picked to work 2l summer. Everything was going good until that decision. If I wasn’t at the top of my class 1l year I would’ve probably dropped out, but I was in the top 5%. If I had struck out at OCI [on-campus interviews] I would’ve dropped out, but I didn’t.
I didn’t really know I was screwed until I was already almost done with law school. To keep going with the gambling analogy, it’s like I was playing Texas hold em and I was ahead on the flop and on the turn, but then life sucked out on me on the river.
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