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The reports on the employment woes affecting recent law school graduates reiterate the knowledge most of us have from friends who are still seeking work that could justify the time and expense of law school. Look beyond the crowded field of linear options to see a world of opportunities accessible with: a positive attitude and work ethic; an open mind; and the willingness to repackage the skills of law school.
Human Resources departments want to see a clear benefit to hiring someone with legal skills. Some departments may need you to shift their perception of your law degree from one who would be a potential asset, as opposed to a potential litigious individual, to someone with vital skills that improve the overall workplace.
It may be a bit late for many of us to reap the benefits of dual-degree programs. There are a growing number of evening and abbreviated programs designed to provide flexibility for working professionals while still avoiding online course stereotypes.
One area of employment shifting is education. Some school districts seem to be moving away from Doctorates in Education in favor of less academic, more business-focused, leadership. An MBA/M.Ed program might be a nice supplement if you are considering going back to school until the job market improves, or if you can convince your employer that paying for more education would be worthwhile.
Public procurement cooperatives are springing up with frequency to match shrinking budgets. These tools allow pooled acquisition that reduces prices, saves purchasing staff time, has faster turnaround, provides access to engineering and other expertise that public entities may not have on staff or otherwise be able to afford. This generally allows school districts, non-profits, local governments, and other groups to conserve resources. As the field expands, there will be a need for litigators for contracts and contract managers that really understand the underlying rights and duties of agreements.
Avail yourself alternative opportunities by getting involved in the community. Green initiatives growing, and those related organizations' gatherings tend to attract city officials, executives, and a host of other decision makers with internships to offer.
Keep in mind positions that offer added benefits. My pay is less than the $65,000 per year median, but before vacation, personal, and sick days it is a 240-day work year. Combine this with good medical insurance plan and a taxpayer-guaranteed retirement, and the check holds less weight.
Cooperative Purchasing may not be new, but its popularity is likely to increase exponentially as staff are cut and time and money savings surpass “fiefdoms” in importance. Corollary benefits include the capacity to generate revenue for communities and services otherwise un/under-funded. The Choice Facility Partners Cooperative pays expenses and salaries; remaining funds go to a Cooperative for After School Enrichment and other initiatives geared toward the disadvantaged.
Lawyers also can be catalysts for improvement and increased profitability. One only needs review U.S. Communities' troubles with the giant Office Depot to see that the Securities and Exchange Commission and various Department of the Interior divisions are not alone in ethics definition issues. Well trained and educated attorneys can mitigate the likelihood that such instances will occur.
Law schools today seem to allow ample learning in areas of business and marketing. People who compliment my intelligence are told that my parents taught me how to think instead of what to think, and this enables me to incorporate new information without internal resistance or conflict. So too, law schools provide techniques that are not plaintiff- or defendant-oriented; rather these lessons teach us how to methodically analyze facts, law, and context.
The key is this: Do not settle for less than you are worth. Determine the value you think you would add to a workplace, and remain firm. This may mean a longer period of joblessness, but it will allow you to stay focused on your goals.
About the Author
Barred in MS, taking TX exam in February. Graduated Ole Miss Law in 2009. Doing online Master Degree program. Worked in 3 different careers though only 28.