Six Lawyers You Meet On The Unemployment Line

Bitter Staff Columns, Lawyer 34 Comments

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.

Check out other lists, tallies and scores to settle in Bitter by Numbers. Join Bitter Lawyer on Facebook. Follow on Twitter.

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  • BL1Y

    Anyone have a guess who they had in mind as the unemployed blogger guy?  Sincerely, Doomed Newbie.

  • Schadenfreude

    I applied to be an MMA fighter. There is nothing a right hook can do to my head that a screaming partner couldn’t.

  • NYC New Reader

    Your not doomed BL1Y, your just unemployed as are millions of other citizens in this world.  Times will get better but it’s seems like forever when your unemployed.  During this time of waiting learn to read Chinese, speaking would be great also.  I can remember the 1980’s when many people lost their jobs from all the mergers, etc.  Keep up with your blog, it’s good therapy.

  • BL1Y

    Xiexie.  Wo hui shuo Zhongguo hua, shuo de yidiar.  Hao a?

  • Dan

    We’re all doomed.

  • KateLaw

    Im jealous of my equivalent of Peace Out Guy.  My college roommate.  Currently traveling around NZ, working at the occassional apple orchard to earn a bit of cash to keep traveling, camping.  It sounds so pointless and yet perfect on this dreary & cold Tuesday.

  • Craig

    7.  The law school junkie – – This is the unemployed lawyer who is constantly hanging around his old law school.  He will go to lunch with former professors, hang out during office hours, and attend any and all law school events/seminars/speeches he can find his way into.  He thinks this will be his best chance to break into/back into the legal world.  Except, these were the same people who couldn’t help him the first time around, so there is no reason to think it will be any different this time.

  • BL1Y

    One of my old students decided to forgo the law route entirely, and became a male model in Miami.  FML.

  • Jasper

    LinkedIn is useless.

  • BL1Y

    The trouble with Mr. Networking is that no one wants to network with someone who’s unemployed.  You network with people who have something to offer, and even a working lawyer usually doesn’t qualify.  The networking people are usually just networked to other unemployed people.

  • quadoz

    I want to party with Dan.  Attitudes like that mean a great whiskey shot-for-shot drinker.

  • Dan

    Thanks, but I sip my whisky… slowly and often.

  • Lee

    blogger 1 y. why?

  • BL1Y

    I assume the above question is directed at me.  …Why what?

  • Lee

    Why blog?

  • BL1Y

    Because I find it enjoyable.  And, on any average day writing for my site, more people will read my posts that the total number of people who’d read all the memos I’d ever write over a 40 year legal career.

  • Guano Dubango

    Plus, BL1Y increases his chances with women, who will come to like him before ever meeting him.  After all, there is nothing wrong with socializing with the women.

  • BL1Y

    Btw, can someone point to all the other lawyers who have blogged their despair?  The only ones who come to mind are Tucker Max (not really a lawyer, but still in the spirit of disgruntled lawyer blogger) and PhilaLawyer (who got a book published with Harper Collins).  Of course, there’s some survivor bias, we don’t hear about the failed blogs.  But this article sounds like there’s swarms of unemployed legal bloggers.  Where are they?

  • Guano Dubango

    Tucker Max, he is my man.  I saw his movie.  He doesn’t waste time.  In his view, women are here for one thing and if they don’t put out, they are worthless.  Way to go.  I wonder what his real name is.  Does he really have this name or is he really Max Tucker?  I think Max Tucker might be a Jewish name, no?

  • Craig

    BL1Y, while you may fall under the “me can blog too” heading, I think Bitter Lawyer may have also been taking a self deprecating shot at themselves as well.

  • BL1Y

    Craig, Rick Eid was a producer and writer for CBS, I don’t think he’s blogging about being laid off.  I did manage to think of another laid off blogger though, whoever it is behind Notes from the Breadline.  I probably took this too personally though, the guys running this site have been great and have helped direct a lot of traffic toward my blog.  And yes, there is a book in the works.  I just recently finished up a story titled “Mr. Poopy Pants.”

  • Craig

    BL1Y, from the “About Us” section of the website, “We’ve worked at Big Firms, pulled all-nighters, been stuck in windowless conference rooms for weeks.” Unless I’m missing something, it seems like the Bitter Staff is comprised of former lawyers.  I really don’t know who the creators of the site are, or even who wrote this article.  I may be wrong that the blogging section was a shot at themselves, but I’m not sure why you assumed I was referring to Rick Eid in my comment.

  • hgb

    Has anyone got a client from Linkedin??? I doubt it! Useless voyeurism.

  • BL1Y

    Craig, I went with the description provided on the ABAJournal description of this blog.

  • Cheryl

    OMG, get over yourself.  I laughed the hardest when I read about that catagory!!!  It was sweet of you, BLY, to think this was all about you, but if you look at the ABA Journal, there are waaaaay too many of these laid-off blogs.  I saw most of them while i was writing a piece for my firm’s website.  I remember one called Jobless Lawyer, one called Confessions of a Laid-Off Lawyer, Law Shucks had a Laid-Off Diary for a while, and there are tons more.  But congrats on thinking is was just a big campaign to take a dig on you while you prop yourself up with two unique blogs by non-laid-off lawyers who have book deals.  One true thing is that linkedin is useless.  Good night!

  • Jerome

    Cheryl nailed it.

  • TravelingXBL3Y

    I’m not sure if I count as a Peace Out Guy, I’ve been living/traveling around Italy for the past 5 months but I’ll probably be back in the states in May.  I guess I should get started on my blog!

  • Anonymous

    Blogging while traveling should be double points.

  • Stickler

    “ . . .whatever hostile he’s in”
    FIY, hostel is the correct word.

  • Just Some Guy

    I think you meant “coop” not “coup”.

  • IPOrainmaker

    Cheryl didn’t nail anything.  Even though BLY1 acknowledges the section wasn’t about him, it’s obvious to everyone that reads this site that he posts here everyday and has enough of a presence and relationship with BitterLawyer that they could zing him personally.  And he didn’t try to posit himself as some lone blogger existing above and apart from the “waaaaay too many of these laid-off” bloggers.  The dude’s unemployed, and between his intermissions on MW2 it’s easier to ask who the other bloggers are than to do more research on the ABAJournal.  I scramble to read anything of content during breaks at work and the only “laid-off blogs” that come to mind are this one and Philalawyer, so I think BL1Y asked a reasonable question.


    I stood outside the courthouse this morning in my nicest 3-piece suit with a cardboard sign that read “Will litigate for food.”

  • Rob Shattuck

    Apply to BP Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg for a job. Total attorneys’ fees to be paid from fund could be upwards of $5 billion. Make the argument to Mr. Feinberg that those could be greatly reduced, maybe by 80%, if he structured the program so that all legal work was done by lawyers who are compensated on a salary basis.

  • D Rant

    Ah, it’s good to be the peace out guy.