The job market isn’t really getting any better. But as the economy limps along and the legal sector continues to feel the pain, one thing is for certain: The unemployment line takes all kinds of lawyers. And here are six types you’re likely to meet.
1. Gotta Network Guy
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Right? Right?!? What’s your name again?
That’s the mantra of a Gotta Network Guy. He’s all about networking—ALL THE TIME. He calls everyone “my buddy,” tweets inane details and Facebook-bombs anyone who will hand him a business card. Hell, he’s even the “mayor” of his local Starbucks on foursquare. But here is how you know all that activity stems from a recent layoff: He just completed his LinkedIn profile… and wants to add you as a reference.
A better approach may be for this type to stand outside a local courthouse and hold up a sign that reads, “Unemployed Lawyer.” That’s basically what you’re doing on LinkedIn anyway.
2. Doomed Newbie
You know that guy in college who arrived at a frat party late? The one who only ever talked about how they ran out of beer and he is still sober?
Well, that guy may have been doomed for the night, but his professional equivalent—the kid fresh out of law school—may be doomed for his entire career. All he can talk about is how he has big debt ($100k or more) and nary a prospect (whether it be in BigLaw, ShitLaw or working for the government). In other words, he’s screwed. He knows it. And he’s definitely not afraid to tell you about it.
3. Finally Following Her Dreams
You gotta hate this chick. She got canned, and it was “the best thing that ever happened” to her, she says. More emphatically, she swears it is. She took her severance and her longtime passion, and she’s going to…wait for it…culinary school! (Yes, that’s what too many unemployed days in front of the Food Network will do to you.)
Look, there’s nothing wrong with being a professional chef. The lawyers who didn’t get canned gotta eat somewhere. But did you really need four years of college, three years of law school and a couple years of practice to figure out that you prefer sautéing to citing legal authority?
Really, stop acting like it helped you build the proper business acumen already. Just try to forget the last decade. All of it. You’re a chef now. End of story.
4. Me Can Blog Too
I know…. I’ll blog about being an unemployed lawyer. That will lead to a book deal. The book will do decent sales, and Hollywood will option it for $1 million. John Krasinski will play me in the movie, even though my wife says I’m WAY better looking. When the film is nominated for an Oscar, the partners at my old firm will realize that they made a big mistake firing me. But I won’t care. Because I’ll be rich and famous.
All you need is a URL and a CMS, and the world is yours. Yeah, that’s the plan, all right. But hey, Mao had a plan too. So before you start chronicling your despair, take a look at the Web and ask yourself how many lawyers already tried to do the exact same thing. Ask yourself how much money they’ve made doing it. How many job offers that blog netted them? Then go do something worth your time. Like audition for reality shows. That’s how you really get ahead in America.
5. Re-Brand Guy
So what if your resume screams corporate lawyer, the public defender’s office has got to have a few white-collar cases, right? Wrong.
Or, maybe you were let go from a big-time litigation practice and now you’re trying to convince a bunch of granola-eating hippie lawyers that you should get that $40,000 fellowship to help protect some rain forest. After all, you recycle and even bring your own canvas bag to the grocery store (when you remember, which is about half the time).
Face it. No matter how he spins it, this guy was never interested in helping the public, and it shows. The revised resume, the subscription to The Nation, the flannel shirt and the corduroy blazer… they were all a waste of time and money.
6. Peace Out Guy
Technically, you won’t meet this guy at all. He’s flown the coup. When life handed this guy lemons, he cut them in half and squeezed them into a shot of tequila. Why? Because he could do the math.
Too many lawyers + Too few jobs = Zero career prospects.
The minute he got his pink slip, he cashed out—big time. He sublet his apartment, boxed up his things, and bought a one-way ticket to someplace warm.
So what’s he doing? Whatever the hell he wants. Who’s he doing? Whoever the hell he wants at whatever hostel he’s in. Maybe he teaches the odd English class in Thailand for beer money, surfs his way through Bali or runs a Scuba school in the Caribbean. Who cares? He got out with a vengeance, and now his life is a series of Jeepneys, white-sand beaches, rich tans and $10 massages. Because he didn’t want to continue in a rat race that features more rats and less cheese.
Yeah, you’re jealous. Major. You secretly live for his mass-email updates only to hate him even more after reading. The only way to stay sane is by telling yourself this guy will be screwed when he comes home and tries to re-assimilate into the real world. Keep telling yourself that.