California Here We Come!
I got a call back from a Legal staffing recruiter in Orange County to meet during lunch and discuss potential employment opportunities. My friends cousin knew a guy who was a head of a legal staffing firm and he kindly offered to help me out in my quest for legal employment.
I met Larry* the Legal Recruiter at his office in Newport Beach, CA...
That's right, THE OC !
Larry was an interesting guy. He was a dark featured white guy (possibly Jewish or Italian) and his late 30's or early 40's. I looked on his wall and he had both a JD and an MBA from a top 20 law school and a BS from an ivy league school. He kind of looked like an older Shia Lebouf. He was very high strung, full of energy, but he had the worst adult ADHD I had ever seen in my life. I walked into his office and it was a mad house. There were resumes and files discarded like frisbees all over the floor. Water stains from non decaf coffee mugs left rings all over the counters and on his desk.
This was very odd considering the fact that he had a beautiful office in a very modern building ( especially in Newport Beach).
I said "Hi its nice to meet you! I am a friend of Amanda she referred me..." and then he quickly interrupted me and shouted "Yeah ..Yeah..GIVE ME YOUR COVER LETTER AND RESUME.." and I gave him copies of my documents.
He went over my cover letter and resume and began to edit it like a madman with his red pen. He kept making grunting sounds, and saying "hmm...ooh....ahh.....errr...!"
Suddenly, a phone call came from his secretary and he yelled "ONE MINUTE!" and went outside on his patio balcony walking back and forth. After a few minutes he came inside, scratched his head and sank into his chair. He folded his arms and put his head down on the table. I didn't know what to do, and then foolishly I opened my mouth...
"Is there something wrong? Are you okay?" I asked him.
He put his head up and said,
"WELL, ITS ONE OF THOSE DAYS.....SOMETHING ISN'T WRONG...EVERYTHING IS WRONG ! IT'S NOT OK! NOTHING IS OK! I HAVE CLIENTS FUCKING YELLING AT ME BECAUSE I HAVEN'T PLACED THEM IN LAW JOBS AND I HAVE LAW FIRMS WHO ARE GIVING ME THE FUCKING RUN AROUND!" and he shoved a stack of files that went flying off his desk!
I didn't know what to do. Never in my life have I ever seen an HR person or staffing recruiter lose it...
He then began to confide in me about his own personal problems. Oh my...
It turns out Larry had graduated from USC with a JD/MBA over 10 years ago. He told me he went to law school but after working two summers as a biglaw associate, he knew the legal profession wasn't for him. He did the MBA with the JD only so he could find a business job and escape the cruel realties of the legal profession. He got a job at a legal recruiting agency out of grad school and was making good money but branched out on his own a few years ago.
He said, if he knew then what he knows now, then he would have just got an MBA from a top 20 school and gone into investment banking, consulting or done something in the business world. However, even when he would send his resume to recruiters when graduated from USC they all would assume he wanted a legal position, and would not take him seriously for other non legal business type positions.
He flat out told me:
" The legal profession is an absolute crisis. Most big law firms are not hiring and taking in new associates until 2012. All the entry level attorneys are taking the jobs as paralegals that YOU SHOULD BE GETTING! This is the worst legal job market I have ever seen. Jobs are being outsourced, firms aren't hiring, and its just a mess. I am not trying to put you down or be negative, but you are a bright guy and you have worked in corporate sales with a business degree...and I will blunt: GO BACK TO SALES! Seriously, there are probably a lot more opportunties out there and I can refer you to two recruiters in the Long Beach area to help you find a job."
Larry said that through out the country, all entry level legal jobs are hard to find. He has lawyers and paralegals looking for jobs, but that law firms are giving him the run around. They don't want to hire people, and attorneys don't want to work low pay document review jobs. He said he gets beat up every day, by both sides: the law firms and unemployed both give him bs about their own difficult situation.
He said there were no legal assistant/paralegal, filing, and entry level type positions available at the moment, but he will keep a lookout.
I have heard lawyers, paralegals, and even news media say the job market is bad, but never had a legal recruiter tell me how bad things are. It really opened my eyes. Now, I guess I have to really get aggressive and start looking for jobs outside the legal profession.
-The Poor Paralegal
*Name has been changed to protect privacy