Tag Archives: law school

Do-gooder? It’s gonna cost ya.

[insert frowny face here]

Elle Woods, Harvard Law Grad. :p

So I recently heard that Harvard Law is no longer going to cover the tuition of aspiring public interest lawyers. If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know that I graduated from law school. If you’re a close reader, you know that I spent my time in law school focused on public interest law, aka the kind of law that helps people who cannot access the legal system in a proportionate, just and affordable manner. The other side of Big Law and six-figure salaries. Apparently, the recession strikes again. Harvard had been offering scholarships to law students that committed to work in public interest for 5 years after graduation. The program, in existence for less than two years, is kaput. Not only has Harvard succumbed to the economy, but I guess way too many students were taking advantage of it. It’s sad to see a program like this go. My legal education was financed by a similar program.

Temple Law has the Rubin-Presser Scholarship which covers 2 out of the 3 years of tuition for students willing to commit to working in the public interest after graduation. Temple is still offering the scholarship and, as far as I know, they plan to continue. You don’t have to be Alan Greenspan to know that Harvard has a much larger endowment than Temple, but the reason TULaw can offer this scholarship year after year is probably because they only give it to three select students each year. You’d think before cutting the program altogether, Haaaavaaaad would have implemented alternative strategies (offer half tuition, limit the recipients per year, you know… get like Temple).

It’s a shame but I can’t really get TOO boo-hoo for anyone that graduates from Harvard. It sounds mean, even a bit salty, but still. While the work is rewarding, many public interest lawyers are “sacrificing” in one way or another to do the work they believe in. After receiving the same training, spending the same money and taking the same licensing exams as any other attorney, you’ve got to call it a sacrifice to willingly accept a third of the pay and half of the prestige than your peers. Ivy League law grads, however, can afford to work in the public interest, knowing that the institution on their degree gives back some of that prestige (to a certain extent) and may even garner a better salary in some places. They’ll be alright, for sure, but I hate that there’s yet another obstacle inhibiting those who want to be “do-gooders” from going out and saving the world (without going broke in the process).

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Filed under Legal Pad, Routine Ramblings, The Legal Profession

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.  Continue reading

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Filed under Routine Ramblings, Spotlights, Swiped, The Legal Profession

Another downer about the legal job market…

Swiped from the National Law Journal,  just a perspective on the legal job market for the public-interest (aka, me). A bit long, BTW.

Public-interest sector getting a little crowded

Karen Sloan
June 01, 2009

Sending incoming associates into temporary public-interest jobs — with a healthy stipend to cover their costs of living — is intended to be a fiscally smart and compassionate way for law firms to handle an overabundance of young attorneys in this dismal economy.

But some recent law school graduates who have spent years preparing for public-interest careers worry that law firms are hurting their job prospects by flooding the already competitive public-interest job market. They say they resent the suggestion that deferred law firm associates can step into a public-service role without, in many cases, having worked with indigent clients in law school clinics or completed internships with nonprofit legal organizations.

“Deferred associates are getting congratulated for going to public-interest organizations in the final hour and being so generous, while the people who were planning on working at these organizations throughout law school and have demonstrated a commitment are forgotten again by the legal establishment,” said Jane Fox, 28, who will graduate from Brooklyn Law School in New York City in early June. She is looking for a public defender position or other public-interest work in New York.

For people like Allison Standard, 24, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law who is searching for a public-interest job, the uncertainty over what the law firm deferral programs mean for hiring is unsettling. “The hard part is that there is no easy solution to this,” Standard said. “You can’t blame the organizations for taking the free labor. But people who intended on public-interest careers have been working throughout law school to build a path to these jobs, and they might get passed over.”

Brett Church, an incoming associate at Boston-based Goodwin Procter who chose to work at a nonprofit organization for a year, said he understands why some young public-interest attorneys may resent the deferred law firm associates. However, he sees potential for deferred associates to make a difference in their communities. “In this market, everybody is just trying to get by and find opportunities,” said Church, 28, who plans to work at a Boston-area organization geared toward helping children or young people before focusing on venture capital at the firm. “The fact that I went to Goodwin Procter doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about doing this type of work.”

Public-interest law students in the class of 2009 faced a harsh employment climate even before classmates on the law firm track came into the mix. Paul Igasaki, the deputy chief executive officer of Equal Justice Works, a group that promotes public-interest law careers, said that public-interest organizations have struggled with funding reductions from interest on lawyers’ trust accounts (IOLTA), lower donations and fewer grants, limiting their ability to hire. The associate deferrals represent another curveball. The programs vary by firm, but many involve paying a stipend to associates who have had their law firm start dates pushed back by a few months to more than a year and who choose to work at a public-interest organization in the meantime.

The stipends generally range from $60,000 to $85,000 for yearlong deferrals — meaning that deferred associates will make significantly more money than many public-interest attorneys. Some firms are even covering health insurance costs. By contrast, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) reported last year that public-interest attorneys can expect to start with a salary of about $41,000. Continue reading

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grad recap

Warning: self-pitying bitching ahead.

What’s the point of going to your graduation? I’d say there are two major reasons: (1) you do it for your family and friends so they can celebrate your achievement and be proud of you and stuff like that. (2) you do it for yourself so that you can have some kind of culmination, closure and celebration of your hard work. That being said, I probably shouldn’t have gone to my graduation.

Before I start my rant and complaining, I want to thank my friends who came to see me walk across the stage, especially those who traveled across states to do so. Everyone contributed in their own way (a ride, emergency funds, their apartment lol). Even though I had six friends there with me, I couldn’t help but be aware of the fact that I only had six friends there with me. Let me start from the beginning though.

Yesterday was really rushed, I felt. I had to take a bus from NYC down to Philly the day of the graduation. As of right now, I don’t really live anyhwere so I didn’t have a spot to stay overnight in Philly before the graduation. As soon as I got in the city, I had to get picked up and taken over to the bookstore where I was supposed to pick up my graduation regalia (cap and gown, hood and tassel). I had planned on having it earlier but was unable to get to Philly. They wouldn’t let anyone pick it up for me so I had to wait until the day of. Anyway, I get there and they tell me that they don’t have any regalia for me. EXCUSE ME? Naturally, I stopped dealing with that undergrad lackey and started talking to the managers. Phone calls were made, we searched for the confirmation, everything. No dice. Yo, I know I sat in my room in Tokyo and ordered that shit. Well they don’t let you walk in the graduation if you don’t have regalia. One of my friends had to purchase the $80 doctor’s gown set for me about 10 minutes before I had to be lined up. The stress of that whole ordeal sent me into tears which pissed me off because I was messing up my eye makeup and I didn’t want anyone to think I was crying because I was graduating cuz, well, that’s lame. Continue reading

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Filed under I type too much, My Life, Now I'm pissed, Routine Ramblings, School Daze

Commencement 2009

Hey all. My school is live streaming graduation for those who want to but cannot be there. Cool, huh?

Catch the ceremony on May 21st at 4pm HERE!

Honestly, the thing is kind of boring but you know, be on the lookout for your girl!

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Update 5/9

Grades are in and I didn’t do as poorly as I had thought possible. That’s pretty much always the case, but I guess it’s best sometimes to expect the worst so that you’re pleasantly surprised in the end. That International Dispute Resolution exam was the one I worried about the most and I ended up getting a B! That’s pretty amazing considering that I had lost all my  notes prior to the exam, I had the time wrong and ended up with 30 min less than everyone else to take the test and I never got around to finishing or fixing the first answer that I knew had mistakes in it. The only explanation for my grade is that everyone else in the class did a pretty lackluster job on the test, fixing the curve in my favor. Thanks guys!!

So what am I doing now? As I said last entry, I’m back in the USA. For the past week I’ve been hopping around 3 cities staying wherever while I try and land a job. I have a hard time understanding how people are content with having nothing to do all day (unless they live in paradise). Now that I have no classes to wake up for and no job to run out to and no money to spend on anything I’m pretty much just reading and job searching and sleeping… a lot. It’s borderline trifling because I’m all out of my “i’m jetlagged” excuses. I know, this is so not bourgie but trust, I can remain pretty bourg in my poverty and desolation. LOL.

I’m kind of excited tomorrow though because my mom is coming over and cooking. I will put my mom’s cooking up against any of yall’s. Seeing as I haven’t had her cooking in ages, I’m pretty hype. I’m not even gonna be shy. I’m gonna have multiple helpings. It’s pretty good that I don’t visit home that much, or else I’d probably be fat. I’m not really sure how long I’ll be here. My family tends to grate on my nerves pretty easily. To be honest, I’m considering going back to Japan and taking the NY bar over there in the winter. Tickets aren’t so bad right now but I’d still have to tap dance with bottle caps stuck into my chucks to raise the funds :/

That’s it for now. I’ll just catch up on television I missed out on while in TKY.

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Last Day/Girls Talk

I ain’t pass the Bar but I know a lil’ bit, enough that you won’t illegally search my shit. – Jay-Z

Friday, April 17th, 2009. The last day, the last class of law school. Let us exhale. Sure I have two weeks of exams to go but once I battle the beast called Int’l Dispute Resolution on Monday, the others (Comparative Immigration, Japanese Law, Int’l Human Rights) will be a cake walk. Then there’s a brief respite before suiting up in my doctor’s gown and crossing the stage to grab my J.D. Sometimes I think I might want to go to school again, but I really need a break. My brain and my spirit are weary from all of this law school yameanery. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy the study of law in general. However, three years of statutes, cases, draconian exams and professional pressure is a lot, even for me!

A friend IM’d me to congratulate me on finishing up school. I was kind of nonchalant about it because, well, I don’t feel particularly excited. For reasons expressed before, I don’t really feel like I’m moving on to anything so great, at least not right now, not in the near near future. I’m mostly relived just to be done but not super pumped for the next chapter (especially because I have no idea what that really is). But then I got to thinking about one really positive thing… I’m finished.

I finished what I started. Not just back in 2006 when I started out as a first-year (1L). This harkens back to 2003 when I graduated from undergrad and was set to start at Tulane Law that fall. Through various decisions (some poor) and unforeseeable life circumstances, I ended up at another law school then left. I was never happy with the way that turned out, especially because I could have already been working as an attorney by the time I started school this time around! So I finally finished what I started out to complete six years ago and I guess it wasn’t so bad because I had some good life/work experiences in between.

Okay, okay. In other news, Che Grand put out a video for his jawn “Girls Talk” featuring DBM. I like listening to this while riding my bike dodging Japanese people who don’t know how to move out of the way (I digress). The vid is fun, Peep:

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Filed under Music & More, Routine Ramblings, School Daze