my thoughts exactly

When you don’t have a job, you tend to spend hours online looking for work and after that you spend more hours Googling random crap or wasting away on social networking sites. One of my fave finds from those late night internet binges are blogs written by law grads who have either taken and failed the bar or have never elected to take it in the first place. Some of the blogs focus on gearing back up to take the bar while others talk about the gift and the curse of possessing a juris doctorate. As I am one of those law grads without a license to practice, I am amused to no end by the stories. More than anything, I think I like the fact that others out there have gone through similar things. It’s something how when life’s got you in a tight spot you think this has only ever happened to you. How selfish and small huh? In a way, these blogs are like my support group, except instead of standing up and saying Hi, My name is Kia and I have a JD (Hi, Kia!), I can click and read from the comfort of my own home aunt’s apartment.

One of my recent finds is Waitress, JD.  Unfortunately for me many of these blogs haven’t been updated in quite some time. Hmm, wait. Maybe I should look at that as a good thing for me. They’re not updating because they finally passed the bar or they finally got that job they were looking for. They spilled all their dissatisfaction, dissapointment, confusion, angst, and pride onto blogger or wordpress then they moved on. Maybe I’m on to something here? Ok, back to Waitress, JD. Apparently she failed the Colorado bar then spent some 7 months looking for work while returning to waiting tables. Eventually she did some paralegal stuff while preparing to tackle the bar again, which she passed. :) I used to wait tables and I’ve only been riding the unemployment train for two months but I feel like I can identify with Mrs. Waitress. Peep this entry after the jump in which she took the words right out of my mouth. 

Who am I kidding? The bar exam is a way of keeping potentially good people out of the legal profession. I have had it with the legal profession. The whole process of becoming a lawyer is closer to the hazing that occurs as part of initiation into a fraternity or sorority. They start with scaring the hell out of you in your first year of law school, then continue by overloading you with work in your second year, then encourage you to become part of the OCI rat race during both second and third years. You are further scared into sacrificing grades for a job search during your third year, lest you end up like me, broke and unemployed a year after graduation. The hazing continues with the bar exam, beginning with the monotony and overload of information in the standard bar review course. The bar exam bears little, if any, resemblance to what a lawyer actually does. The grading of the bar exam is at the whim of random lawyers and law clerks. Kind of like law reviews: articles are edited at the whim of a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year law students. In most other disciplines, scholarly publications are reviewed by peers – other people who are already established in their fields. Not so with law, where someone who thinks s/he knows something just because s/he is at such-and-such law school on such-and-such law review/journal reviews “scholarly” writing. Most of those people have never even held jobs and they decide the fate of authors. That’s the way it was always done and that’s the way it always will be. If one person had to put up with it, so do the rest. And thus we perpetuate the ritual of hazing people to become part of the legal profession.

I am sick of it. I am also sick of looking for jobs and finding that my law degree is a liability, rather than an asset. I apply for paralegal jobs, and the general response is “JDs need not apply.” As for associate jobs, I get the “we are not looking for associates at this time,” or “we are seeking someone with more experience and a current license.” I have applied for numerous law clerk and judicial assistant positions within the state court system, and I have only received one rejection letter. They don’t even acknowledge me the rest of the time.

Outside of the law, I encounter similar problems. Prior to law school, I worked for a few different organizations and amassed a large number of invaluable skills applicable in any organizational setting: HR, IT, project coordination, accounting, and victim advocacy, among other things. I revise and re-revise my resume over and over, targeting different job categories. I think most of the time, my resume gets tossed into some pile, paper or electronic, and probably laughed at. I guess that most hiring people look at it and say, “why would she want to do this?! After all, she’s a lawyer.” That is exactly what the boss of one of my friends said, after my friend submitted my resume for a project manager position. Yes, lawyers, everyone thinks. There is some mystique that is apparently protected by the hazing ritual of becoming a lawyer. Nobody understands what it is all about except the people who have been through it. So the mystique, although largely false, continues about the law. People who don’t know think lawyers are rich, powerful, smart (ok, generally, most of us are smart, but I conducted a couple plea negotiations while at the DAs office where I felt like I had to dumb myself down so the defense attorney could understand me) and just altogether exotic in some weird way.

Yes, lawyers are certainly exotic. We end up, after an altogether unsuccessful job search (whether or not we pass the bar) doing things like teaching high school, working as truck drivers, and of course, waiting tables and bartending. The oh-so-exotic and intellectually challenging life of a J.D. The degree is about as useful as any other doctorate degree. I am just glad I never could afford to have it framed: I would have smashed it to pieces and burned it weeks ago.