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Venting For a Friend

I provide this venting post via proxy. Please feel free to e-mail me your jobless vent at

A good friend called me at 9:00am yesterday. Mind you when you are jobless this is actually quite early since you have no real reason to get up, so I knew this had to be interesting news.

My friend is a lawyer who was similarly chewed up and spit out by big law, his firm which went bankrupt actually had the nerve to ask the associates, all of whom were promised non-existent associate jobs to give back the bar study stipend the firm had laid out. Talk about outrageous behavior. After an arduous few months of job searching, luckily my friend was able to land on his feet making 75k at a tax law firm.

Although he finds tax law dry it endowed him with very valuable real-world trial experience. After all the few litigation jobs that are available all want at least 1 year of actual trial experience. He now regularly attends pre-trial conferences, argues motions, deposes witnesses and the sort. In sum, the type of real world legal experience that ELF lawyers get only after they have been with their firm for seven years (if they are lucky to make it that long).

Looking to get out of tax law my friend interviewed at a prominent mid-sized litigation boutique, who has recently been all over the news and has brought in record profits this year for the partners in many lucrative trials. While on his interviews he impressed, in fact he had more experience than everyone except the partners he interviewed with.

The interview was arranged by a family friend. They liked him. They called to offer him a position. They were aware he was making 75k at his current position.

The offer was … 57k! And the real kicker the billable hours requirement was 2,000 hours! So much for record profits.

I guess they didn’t realize that in order to exploit bright legal talent on the cheap they should focus their efforts on the unemployed.

According to a Yale Career Services Memo it takes approximately 2,420 to bill 1,832 hours.  My personal estimation is that 70% of your hours wind up being billable, meaning you would have to work 3,000 hours to make 2,100 billable but rather than go with my anecdotal evidence we will go with the Yale memo.

For the purposes of my example I’ll round it out to say an even 2,640 hours results in 2,000 billable (yes I did set up a proportion and solved for “X”, anyone interested in hiring me for an accounting law positions please note these skills).  This means the effectual hourly wage offered my friend as a “promotion” from his current position was… $21.50 an hour. This is understandable as the partners must have needed to furnish the maid’s quarters at their weekend Hampton homes.  He currently makes approximately $36 an hour.

Go figure. We had a good laugh about this, then I realized if a litigation boutique offered me $57k a year I’d probably jump on it. But for me, a member of the 405 club, it would be an exorbitant raise, it was quite the insult to someone making 32% more than that already.

Good for you in saying no to legal exploitation!

Here is the e-mail that was sent back in response to the offer:

I have given long consideration to the offer you presented to me last week. I am extremely appreciative of everything that you have done for me. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you.

Unfortunately, I cannot accept the offer. The only reason I cannot
take the offer is the compensation. I understand the current state of the legal economy and I understand why someone with my credentials is receiving offers at $57,000. I am currently at a higher salary level at my employer and I am struggling to make my student loan payments. In taking an offer at your firm, I would also be adding a substantial commute that is quite costly.

I am sure I would learn intangible skills at your firm that cannot be quantified by salary but unfortunately I have invested heavily in myself to go to law school and it has put alot of pressure on me to forgo a great opportunity at your firm.

Again, Thank you so much for your time. I understand how busy you are and I did not mean to waste anyone’s time. Thank you.

The subtleness the author uses to convey the message “this offer is insulting.” Does not go unnoticed. My favorite line is  ”I have invested heavily in myself to go to law school”.. and therefore must “forgo a great opportunity at your firm.”

The response was:

I understand and wish you the very best of luck.

I want to thank the unnamed for getting me this information, I have come to learn that through some e-mail malfunction the sender experienced a rather embarrassing “reply to all” mishap.  Although, some may argue this got out his preferred message just in a much less subtle way.  Let this post remind you it wasn’t in vein.

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