I’ve often said that a big benefit of the Hamster World is the ability to turn to HR when you encounter assholes in the workplace. And I will say this: Some HR reps are sloppy, but most of the people I’ve worked with genuinely want to help. I can think of one person who should probably earn a Lifetime Achievement Award in HR.
If that isn’t the case and you have an issue, what do you do? Well, I hate to say this, but you might need to lawyer up. Very few people are excited about hiring a lawyer. It’s expensive, and they have a bad rap from all those late-night ads that scare people with nightmare scenarios like getting hit by a rampaging Oscar Meyer Wiener Truck or catching salmonella from tainted licorice. Whatever. You name it, and there’s a lawyer who can handle it.
But using the words “I am CC-ing my lawyer” will put the fear of a Higher Power in others. One of my neighbors had a problem because the landlord wouldn’t repair a water leak that destroyed some of his books, and he was lucky enough to have a sister-in-law as a lawyer. He wrote a nastygram to the landlord, mentioned that he had consulted a lawyer, and threw in a CC at the bottom of the nastygram for good measure. Within a day, my neighbor received a visit from some efficient handymen, plus money for his books.
I’m not a lawyer. I know a few lawyers. Lawyers can be scary, but they can also be your best friend if you are serious about stopping a problem. Unlike what you may think from seeing “Judge Judy,” no one wants to be dragged into court, and no one wants to pay a settlement.
Caricature of a lawyer from Vanity Fair, 1873, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
Given the state of the economy, attending law school might be as bad of an investment as attending graduate school–a situation that several publications have noticed recently. Now Psychology Today is getting into the act with some practical advice for those considering a postgraduate education in the legal realm.
For anyone tempted to go to grad school or considering quitting, this post is a must-read. I say this a lot, but the article makes it crystal-clear that the life of the mind isn’t right for everyone, especially those who are already in a troubling financial condition.
The smartest tip from the article is to calculate your best-case-scenario hourly wage after you get out of law school. In this case, take the law school stats in the post and substitute with the stats you think are likely for your career or debt situation:
–Suppose you land a legal job after graduation paying $65,000 (which sounds good). First, assorted taxes will take about 25% of your salary, so now you’re earning about $4000 per month. (And if you’re working 60 hours a week– not uncommon in the law– your net hourly wage is about $16.00/hour).
–Now let’s say you have $100,000 in student loan debt at an average interest rate of 6.8% … and you plan to pay it off in 10 years. That means you’ll be paying about $1150.00 a month for the next 10 years– making your actual law school debt about $138,000. (If you lower your payments by extending the loan for 20 years, your overall debt for law school becomes $184,000.
On the bright side, grad students tend to get a free ride plus stipend, so they don’t rack up the kind of debt that law students do. But keep in mind that, even with all the handwringing and hairpulling that law-school students are dealing with right now, they still have a better shot at a job.
To be blunt, it sucks that those who have the talent but not the funds can’t pursue their academic or lawyerly dreams, but do you want to roll the dice on getting a job and losing? Do you want to be the guy or gal who defaults on a student loan because you can’t find a job? Even if you choose to go anyway because it is your passion (and no one here at Post Academic wants to get in between you and your passion), you need to know the numbers up front, and you can’t always count on your advisors to reveal them to you.
Caricature of lawyer and politician Jules Favre from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
Another burst of “Advanced Degrees Are for Suckers” articles has hit the Internet. The Wall Street Journal profiled various law school grads who are un- or underemployed, and Gawker rebroadcast the story with a beyond-depressing image of a guy hanging himself.
Suicide snark and scary job shrinkage aside, the WSJ article had some optimism. The lawyers are starting to go Post Academic:
Bar associations say more lawyers are asking for tips on ways to apply their skills in other fields.
When the New York State Bar Association originally created the Committee on Lawyers in Transition, it was meant to help attorneys re-join the profession after an absence. But when the economy declined in 2008, the committee changed its focus to help attorneys who were laid off and exploring other industries.
A law degree is well known for being flexible, and is it really a sign of failure that lawyers are taking their skills elsewhere? Even the guy in the WSJ article who is a comedian is using his legal abilities. After all, a keen understanding of slander must help anyone in charge of writing punchlines.
More after the jump! Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
In the past, law students could shoulder massive amounts of debt because they could be fairly confident of getting a job. Now they are facing a situation that should be eerily familiar to Post Academic readers: Firms aren’t hiring the way they used to, and that student loan debt isn’t going anywhere.
Above the Law sums up the anger at the situation: “But do you know what the real bitch of it is? If it turns out you made a terrible investment by going to law school, it’s impossible for you to get out from under your mistakes. You can’t discharge law school debt through bankruptcy absent a showing of undue hardship.”
You sure can’t. But, chin up, o lawyer friends. Post Academic can help you look on the bright side! You still have it better than grad students! Here’s how:
Going to a big-name school can still help you. In academia, there are so few jobs that an Ivy League PhD can only get you so far. In fact, it might not get you far at all. A JD from an Ivy or otherwise big-time school still means you’re hot stuff, however, or at least you’re well-connected.* Even if you don’t have a JD from a top-tier school, you have a better shot at a job than your peers in the humanities.
More reasons for lawyers to feel a little better after the jump! Image of The Illustrated London News – Tichborne Case (1874) from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.