Friday, April 22, 2011

Confessions of a Car Salesman

I am really into cars, repairing automobiles and if worse comes to worse I will become a mechanic with my own auto body shop. A good friend of mine was recently looking for a new car and so she decided to bring me along with her to go car shopping for a new sedan. She looked into Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, etc. and we went to several different dealerships. We went to the Cerritos auto square and Tustin auto mall, looking at different cars.

We ended up at one foreign automotive dealership to look at Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys. Most of them were used and only had low mileage, so it would be a much better buy for her other  than buying a new car and losing money on depreciation.

The car salesman was Sam* the sales executive.

He began to talk to me about selling cars and how he was the #1 sales guy two years ago, but due to the bad economy his sales have fallen drastically. He used to pull down 7-8 grand a month but now he only makes about 3-4 thousand dollars a month.

He started asking me about my background and I told him I was in sales, too. I told him I was also a paralegal, notary and tax preparer. He said, "It is very hard to make it as a Paralegal these days" and I told him that there are no jobs to be found anywhere.

We talked about how horrible it was and I said "I don't get these news articles about how great it is to be a paralegal and how there are all these jobs. There are no jobs anywhere!" and he said "Yes, I know. All of my friends from law school are working as paralegals and legal assistants!"

I took a step back.

I was in shock. He told me he graduated from a fourth tier law school in San Diego and struggled to find any legal job after finishing in 2007. He has done internships and worked in different firms, but no one offered him a job. He was offered a shit law job paying $15.75 an hour, but he was making more than that selling used cars. He said he doesn't know if he wants to stay in the car business forever, but when you have $128,000 in student loans, you need to find a way to pay back your loans.

He said the worst part of it all is that once you leave the legal profession, it is extremely difficult to get back into the law and find a job as an attorney. He doesn't like to tell a lot of people that he has a law degree, but he knew since I was a poor paralegal that I would understand his dire financial situation.

I told him about how I lost a job offer that paid over 70k a year because they thought I was going to be a "flight risk", but I am still trying hard to get a full time job with benefits.

This is the biggest misconception that many people don't understand.

He said, " A law degree is not a Super MBA, you can't do anything with a law degree. If you apply to banks, financial firms, consulting firms, marketing and management positions, they won't even look at you. I have been turned down for those types of jobs with my JD, and this is why I'm still selling cars."

He was really impressed with knowledge of cars and automotive repair, and said he would ask the dealership if they had any openings. I wouldn't mind working in service or sales, but man must fucking suck to have 128k in student loans and find whatever job you can to pay them back.

I told him that I doubt I will ever find any legal position, and said that about half of his graduating class in 2007 is working in non legal positions. At this point, most of them are so desperate, they are willing to do anything just to pay the bills.

We ended up leaving without buying a car, but will do some more shopping next weekend. I was really surprised to have such an insightful conversation with a car salesman. It makes me wonder about how many other JD's are out there selling used cars?!

That's all for now, and everyone have a happy Easter!

-The Poor Paralegal

*Name has been changed to protect privacy


  1. Another Outstanding Post!

    And I would just add the Time aspect.

    The valuable years wasted.

    In the old days, from what I understand, people would send their young sons away to become apprentices for 13 years or so, after which they would have a trade mastered and thereby have a way to earn a way to survive in the world.

    How does one recover and survive after all of those valuable years are wasted?

    With massive Debt to boot?

  2. I too worked in car sales after graduating from my top twenty law school. I did not like it, you wait around all day for some customer to come in. I dreaded the hours just waiting, staring, at the lot. Then you have to fight the other salespeople if someone comes on the lot. One of the other salespeople, their top salesperson, was a deranged sociopath that had started work their while on work release from a prison. He would push other salespeople out of the way to get to a potential customer. I can really relate to JDpainterguy being around crass, uneducated people working in car sales. My last manager was a real piece of work. He was an egomaniac, and he was always doing annoying things like recording my phone calls, spying on me, screwing up my pay, complaining incessantly, being overall negative and telling me how great he was. I always enjoyed it when it was his day off or he was not at the dealership. The sociopath salesman called the manager the Lord of Doom. I never told him I had a law degree. Another salespeople was from the middle east, his desk was at the front of the building, so unless I stood outside I would not get a chance to talk to a customer coming on the lot. They all smoked like chimneys. I did not like going outside because the second hand smoke was overwhelming. They would fill outside ashtrays in one day with cigarette butts. I used to think if only, I made as much money as the people that worked their spent on cigarettes, I would be a wealthy man. They were two faced, they had to put on the facade of being human to customers, but when customers were not around they would return to there regular prick personality. Not everyone was a jerk. I would have stayed if it was not for that manager but I could not take his day to day bs. One day, I said to myself that I have never done anything so horrible in my life to another person, that I deserved to live like this and I quit.

  3. Which top 20 law school did you go to? how long has it been since you graduated and what are you doing now?

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  5. What we really need is to get this type of information out. What information? We are not the anchors of our class. We came from typical TT and TTT programs. We passed the bar exam. But, despite our diligent effort we can't find work or enough work in the legal field. And, we are not atypical. Now, we are stuck in jobs or doing 2d jobs just to make ends meet if that!

  6. I am finishing my BA in International Business Administration. I had high hope that in less than two years I would graduate and then apply to law school. However, after reading a New York Times article entitled, "Is Law school a losing Game" and reading Shilling Me Softly, I am rethinking my long-range plans.

    I was a paralegal for more than 5 years and I absolutely loved it. I am now a manager for a poorly run retail company. I am grateful to have a job but I am far from happy. Poor Paralegal keep your head up and continue to push forward with interviews. At least you are getting interviews. I've only had one interview in 6 months.

  7. i haven't had a chance to post a comment on your blog yet but have read a few posts. I saw where you posted on BIDER about the teacher wanting to go paralegal. I'm actually thinking the reverse. August last year I got a paralegal position with a big firm here and was thrilled well shocked actually because I have no paralegal experience whatsoever. They wanted someone they could train, so they said. Flash forward 6 mos and I got laid off. Luckily I got anothe job as a file clerk/ legal secretary at another firm but I make significantly less. And its kind of like a temp-to-hire sort of thing. I'm paid through the temp agency for 12-13 weeks for what would be my probationary period, then after that I would be hired on fully with benefits. Tomorrow would start my 11th week. There is a girl that works there that started a few weeks before me and I couldn't hear all of the conversation but she had been in a meeting with the Office Manager and was telling one of the other girls about it. From what I could gather she was still going to be going through the temp agency and hadn't been hired on fully yet. Before I was at the firm that laid me off, I was at another firm under the same temp to hire and was there for like 6 months before they decided not to hire me on. I am starting to get the feeling that at this firm it's going to be the same way, or I am going to be like a long time temp or something (with no health insurance)

    After working in 3 different firms within the last year, I'm not sure if law is really where I should be or where I am suppose to be rather. I keep coming back to teaching but because I don't have a background in teaching and my degree is a liberal arts degree I'd have to go back to school. I hate having to go back to school and take out loans again. I don't have much compared to a lot of my friends but I really don't want to have to add to it you know. I'm very thankful to have a job but at the same time I'm def not happy where I am at. And I def not make enough to even be able to put something back so I can move out of my parents house.

    Sorry for the long rambling post. I just started typing and with having so much on my mind it just started coming out, lol. Maybe I should start a blog. One thing is for sure though, def need a new career path.