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Old 05-15-2010, 08:57 AM
 
6 posts, read 22,697 times
Reputation: 18

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Hi everyone

Well, I have spent a long time in school and had very good grades and worked very hard to pay for it all. I eventually went to law school. However, it seems like I had a bunch of bad luck in the workplace.

In my first job, I worked for someone who was just a couple of years more senior than me. I became frustrated because he would always go home and leave me the work to do, and I could never really get my own clients or career because I was always helping him even though he was not the main boss (it was just a hierarchal system). Well, I left that job and started a new job that I thought would be better. I really regret that.

From day one in my new job, it seemed like this one woman just didn't like me. She was not much older than me but she was the supervisor and she treated me as though she didn't want me there. The firm consistented mainly of men, except for a few women. This one woman boss constantly said rude things to me and I just never saw anything rude happen to the guys. I was always the first one in in the morning and last one to leave, but for some reason, it seemed that I was always expected to work more and I would get into trouble all the time for not finishing my work, even though I had much more work to do than anyone else. So, eventually I left under the impression that I had a new job, but this new job didn't work out.

So, I have no job. I have been applying for six months and I am not even getting any interviews. I must have applied to 200 jobs. Meanwhile, some others have left the firm I used to work at and they got the same jobs I applied to (even though they had less qualifications and did not work as hard). Now, it is at the point where no one will give me a job because my resume has a huge gap where when you look at my qualifications, it would suggest there must be something wrong with me because I can't find a job.

I am an extremely nice person and very hard working. I worked at places where the lawyers would yell at their secretaries and not get into trouble, and I wasn't like that but it seems like those people succeed. I have no references or at best, I have mixed references. I am not sure what to do. Would going back to school even if it is expensive give me a chance to start over and find references? I am close to 40 so going back to school is not ideal, but I don't want to work minimum wage jobs the rest of my life.

Thank you for any advice.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:48 AM
 
6,585 posts, read 22,885,710 times
Reputation: 3199
I have worked in the legal field for 11 years now (staff, not attorney) and the attorneys that don't make it or who are run off have bad work product, are bad writers, are clock watchers, or are too nice. I work in litigation and "nice" is never a good thing for an attorney in this area - granted they shouldn't treat their staff like crap. I have seen lots of attorneys come and go over the years.

What area of law are you in?

Last edited by FarNorthDallas; 05-15-2010 at 03:03 PM..
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:09 AM
 
1,468 posts, read 1,878,563 times
Reputation: 642
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parrotcarrot View Post
Hi everyone

Well, I have spent a long time in school and had very good grades and worked very hard to pay for it all. I eventually went to law school. However, it seems like I had a bunch of bad luck in the workplace.

In my first job, I worked for someone who was just a couple of years more senior than me. I became frustrated because he would always go home and leave me the work to do, and I could never really get my own clients or career because I was always helping him even though he was not the main boss (it was just a hierarchal system). Well, I left that job and started a new job that I thought would be better. I really regret that.

From day one in my new job, it seemed like this one woman just didn't like me. She was not much older than me but she was the supervisor and she treated me as though she didn't want me there. The firm consistented mainly of men, except for a few women. This one woman boss constantly said rude things to me and I just never saw anything rude happen to the guys. I was always the first one in in the morning and last one to leave, but for some reason, it seemed that I was always expected to work more and I would get into trouble all the time for not finishing my work, even though I had much more work to do than anyone else. So, eventually I left under the impression that I had a new job, but this new job didn't work out.

So, I have no job. I have been applying for six months and I am not even getting any interviews. I must have applied to 200 jobs. Meanwhile, some others have left the firm I used to work at and they got the same jobs I applied to (even though they had less qualifications and did not work as hard). Now, it is at the point where no one will give me a job because my resume has a huge gap where when you look at my qualifications, it would suggest there must be something wrong with me because I can't find a job.

I am an extremely nice person and very hard working. I worked at places where the lawyers would yell at their secretaries and not get into trouble, and I wasn't like that but it seems like those people succeed. I have no references or at best, I have mixed references. I am not sure what to do. Would going back to school even if it is expensive give me a chance to start over and find references? I am close to 40 so going back to school is not ideal, but I don't want to work minimum wage jobs the rest of my life.

Thank you for any advice.
You are in an extremely difficult situation but even if you had no gap in your CV you would still be facing nearly insurmountable odds in today's legal market. FarNorth is also correct: successful lawyers are rarely nice people.

I don't know how much research you did before starting law school about the structural oversupply of lawyers in America for which there is no end in sight. One of my online heroes, Nando from Third Tier Reality, commented recently on this issue:

Quote:
In the U.S., we talk incessantly about the value of attaining an education. But that is all it is – empty talk. Our policymakers and the political class don't really care about education. If they did, we would not sentence young people to a life of debt servitude. Instead, we would limit the number of seats to reflect the actual need/demand for workers in a particular field. In the alternative, we would provide education for free, or at an affordable price. Or we would allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings; in contrast, we do allow people to walk away from gambling debts and frivolous spending decisions.

Taking on such large sums of non-dischargeable debt causes many to push back the following milestones: marriage, having children, and buying a home. Many highly-educated Americans simply forego these life events altogether. Who can afford to have kids when they owe $176K in student loans? We already have a declining birth rate, in this nation. (This is often used as a justification for allowing more foreign workers, skilled and un-skilled, into the country. Regardless of one’s views on immigration, how is that healthy?)

The government has allowed corporations to offshore blue-collar work, for the last 40 years. (Companies are free to move their production offshore. However, governments can impose tariffs to discourage this conduct. Our political "leaders" do not have the will or the backbone to do so, as they don't want to hurt "international commerce"- even though "free trade" hurts us more than it helps.) Those manufacturing jobs have been "replaced" with low-wage, service jobs. Tax bases have been decimated. For years, cities and states have been engaged in a race to the bottom, i.e. tax abatements, tax holidays, exemption from local property or sales taxes, etc. - with the intent of attracting industry to their particular locales.

We are bankrupting people who decided to IMPROVE their situation through hard work and persistence. This is why I go after the law school industry – and the greater higher educational industrial complex – so aggressively. I will not let up. Every year, legions of young people are financially ruined by pursuing higher education. How is that fair or equitable, i.e. punishing people for following advice that has been beaten into their brain since infancy? ANYONE who defends the actions of the higher education industry has shown themselves that they cannot be taken seriously. I still do the best I can to be civil to these apologists.

On a related note, I have also contacted DOZENS of “law professors” and law school deans – for the purpose of debating the state of legal education – to no avail. Not one of these “legal scholars” has accepted my offer so far. Surely, Harvard-educated lawyers can run circles around me, right?

THIRD TIER REALITY: Follow-up Letter to the JD Class of 2010
I don't know what you did before law school, but you are obviously a college graduate. You said you worked hard to pay for law school, so I am hoping unlike most unemployed lawyers you are not crippled with debt. If this is the case you are in much better shape than most.


My advice is to turn your back on the law as a career and reinvent yourself in another profession just as tens of thousands of other lawyers are trying to do. This will probably take time especially in this abysmal economy. You should not be stuck in minimum-wage jobs for the rest of your life, but you will need to tweak and spin and massage your CV (as a lawyer you should be pretty skilled at how to do that) and hopefully will eventually be able to devise a strategy for a new career.

One more thing--I would not rely on "going back to school" to get references. You get references from working, even if the jobs are temporary or volunteer. I would also look into taking some classes at the local community college in the evening in an area that could lead to alternative employment (do your research first--due diligence--on the job market). I think it's vital though that you get out into the workforce and establish yourself as a credible worker at some type of job.
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:21 AM
 
4,805 posts, read 20,264,493 times
Reputation: 4973
For starters, why worry about your references when you haven't even landed an interview yet? References are the last step. And what would going back to school have to do with references? I'm confused on this point.

It sounds like you are thinking of references as a stagnant, fixed thing, and there's nothing you can do about it. That's not true. Reconnect with people from your past jobs. You may find that you can get valuable references in the form of colleagues or clients, even if not your supervisor. And start building new connections and potential references. Remember this isn't the only time in your life when you will need them, you will need them in the future. Look for non-work participation opportunities (volunteer, mentoring, consulting, community organizing, industry) where you can create new networking spheres beyond your job. You don't need to accept your past references or lack of as fate, and you don't need to wait for a new job to start acquiring new references.

Beyond that, I think you need to take a more critical look at your skills and your resume. You aren't even getting interviews, and you know these jobs aren't going unfilled, so there must be something these other people are doing that you're not. Ask yourself: are you applying for the right kinds of jobs--or were perhaps these people truly a better fit for the job that was advertised (for example are you overqualified or lacking in specialty experience required)? Are you marketing your skills and accomplishments adequately, or did these people do a better job of promoting themselves? And is there anything that you can do to make yourself more desirable (training, certifications, et cetera)? You say you know who these people are that got the jobs, so look at their LinkedIn profiles, or if you're comfortable ask if you can see their resume. And it might be worth paying a professional to review your resume and provide some feedback.

And put away the resentment. Arguing that you worked harder than everyone else makes you sound petty and whiny. There's no way to measure it or compare 'works harder' as a skill. You can't put it on your resume, and its not going to get you a job, so you might as well spend your energy on more positive and effective efforts.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:12 PM
 
39 posts, read 234,070 times
Reputation: 87
Hi Parrotcarrot,

I've been a lurker for a while, but had to register today after I read your post. I really feel like I could have written it myself! I had a pretty similar experience at my last job and ended up leaving without another job b/c I was beyond miserable, and was becoming physically unhealthy as well. I've been without work for about three months now, and although I still occasionally apply to and interview for legal jobs, I've pretty much decided that I am going to change careers. I've also been accused of being "too nice" and the confrontational atmosphere of the legal world is 100% against my nature. Although I am almost 40 as well, I am going to pursue a career in healthcare, which will require more education (an associate's degree at a community college, so fortunately it won't be anything like the cost of law school). I've done a lot of research on this career, unlike what I did before law school, to make sure I understand what it entails and to feel confident that there will be jobs available.

It's been a hard and scary decision, as I am giving up a well-paying career for one where I'll probably be making only half of what I would have been as an attorney (if that). But my recent experiences have made me realize that money is not the most important thing, and I need to be doing something where my personality is an asset, rather than constantly putting me at a disadvantage. I'm tired of trying to be someone that I'm not. I'm smart, and a very hard worker, but that just wasn't enough for me to succeed in the legal world.

I'm sorry you're going through this, I know how difficult it is right now. If you do choose to remain in the legal field, I agree with some of the others that you should look into volunteering. In my area, there are a lot of pro bono organizations (which will provide malpractice insurance for you), and I think that would look very good to potential employers as you are staying active in the field even while unemployed. And it could very well lead to some good references. Also, have you tried working with recruiters for contract positions? The contract attorney market also isn't great, but I have gotten some calls for document review projects, which can help pay the bills.

I hope this helps. Please continue to post if you have any questions or just to vent. I completely understand what you're going through!!
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Old 05-15-2010, 01:13 PM
 
47,573 posts, read 60,710,438 times
Reputation: 22283
I also agree that the legal field might not be the right fit - is there a way you can transfer your education and skills to another field?

Also, you might want to be a little more assertive - it seems that you feel that you are given more work, and then not appreciated, but you might have to be up front with the people you work with. It's possible you are dumped on - but that might be because "they" pick up a passive attitude that allows them to dump on you.
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:55 AM
 
6 posts, read 22,697 times
Reputation: 18
Thanks all for your comments.

As to the nature of my work, at all places where I worked there was no problems with my work product or work ethic. The problem appeared to be I just didn't work for nice bosses. I know how whiny that must sound, and I now know I should have just accepted the situations and kept my nose down and worked. But, sometimes bad work environments are the result of bad bosses. In law, you often have people who inflate the number of hours they work.

I said that I was not getting any interviews, but in fact, I had a few. And for at least a couple of them, I am convinced it is bad references. For example, I found out one of my first bosses said he couldn't remember me, which is hard to believe as I asked him for a reference and had strong evaluations while I was there. So, at one of the places I interviewed at, they hired a guy I used to supervise. He was a decent guy and a decent worker but defefintely no superstar.

My mother keeps saying that the reason I am not getting a job is that a better one is waiting around the corner. But, I don't think that is always true. Sometimes, we just have to take any job because another one will not come up.
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Old 05-16-2010, 12:08 PM
 
2,017 posts, read 4,975,288 times
Reputation: 1668
Well, what you could do is get a friend (who sounds polished and believable) to do a reference check on you. See what your former managers are saying about you.

I imagine the legal world is very small in most communities. My best friend is a paralegal and when I was looking for a equine attorney (not at ALL her area of law) she knew the law firm VERY well and gave me a heads up of their reputation (which was really good although not a bargain basement price).

I would also advise leverging your legal background for something else. In our HR group that deals mainly with employee relations, A LOT of the HR folks are lawyers. Many decided they didnt want to practice law and went into compliance, regulatory, HR, etc jobs.
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Old 05-16-2010, 03:26 PM
 
6 posts, read 22,697 times
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Here I am again. Not to drag this out any further, but it may be insightful to know another reason for my own failure at my last workplace. I came from a really poor background and had a troubled and abusive childhood (I am not trying to evoke pity, just stating the facts). Going into law and succeeding was a way to finally break away from this background. So, in my last job where the partners just seemed mean and really uptight, I was completely stressed out about the lack of work and I was constantly worried about my own failure (it was not a supportive atmosphere). If I would have relaxed, that would have made it better. I guess fear of failing often leads to failure.
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Old 05-16-2010, 05:03 PM
 
660 posts, read 1,358,910 times
Reputation: 386
Having read some of what others here have had to say, let me say this. I have an aunt and uncle who both worked many years in law. They were partners in a small firm the two owned. My aunt went from working as a lawyer to teaching real estate and family-centered classes at a community college, to working as a community development specialist with a university. My uncle now work as a claims investigator for an insurance company.
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