Okay, fine. I will totally admit to being a blogging slacker. But, despite all my slacking, you still seem to find my blog. And then a few of you leave comments, thereby renewing my blogging energy. This post is a direct result of such a situation.
I recently received a comment from someone in a similar situation to mine – my situation hasn’t changed since I started writing. The commenter asked how to explain to loved ones why he isn’t earning a six figure salary right now, fresh out of a top tier law school. He ended, rather sadly, by saying “Oh well, guess nothing really matters … anymore.”
Well hell. Where do I go with that one?
Let’s start with the money issue. Ah, the six figure starting salary. The firm sponsored CrackBerry. The mythical BigLaw office, with a convenient pull-out couch, so you never have to leave. I don’t know about you folks, but these are the images I was fed before going to law school. These are the images that lingered in my mind as I signed the notes for all the student loans. And no doubt, these images were in my parents’ minds when they co-signed on those notes. I thought, “so what if I come out $150k in debt, I’ll be earning at least $100k a year right out of school.”
Overtime, my expectations changed. A year ago I was telling my fiance that I just wanted our joint incomes to total $100k a year in 2009.
Of course, this goal has fallen into the soul-sucking blackhole that is this recession. I’m living the dream as an administrative assistant (an AdAss, as I’m fond of saying). I do some pro bono work, and when I write a work memo, I Bluebook my citations, just to flex my Esq. a little. It keeps me sane.
But,the hardest part, by far, is the questions. Friends, loved ones, strangers in a bar – they always ask what you do for a living, or how the job hunt is going. And then you’re faced with telling them the craptacular truth:
“I went to law school, passed the bar, and now I’m doing something completely unrelated to my over priced degree. And I’m broke. Are you going to finish that drink?”
And then a little piece of your soul dies. No, it up and leaves. Probably because you’re such a train wreck.
Here’s the thing though: there’s nothing you can do about your unemployment. Yeah, yeah, you can apply for jobs, network your bum off, and stand on the corner with a sign that says “Will Shepardize for Food.” But somethings just aren’t your fault; you can’t control it all. (Unless a certain ex-President and some ex-CEOs are reading this. Then it is sort of your fault. And yes, that window does open wide enough.)
There is something you can do about being a train wreck though. Do something you’re proud of. Civil Legal Aid organizations are hurting BIG TIME right now, and I am sure that somewhere out there you can match up with some group and take on a case or two.
Proudly use your skills. Put it on your resume, brag about it in your cover letter. And then go wait some tables in the meantime: don’t forget that you’re rather accustomed to food and shelter at this point.
Finally, remember that your loved ones love you too. Love and support should not be directly connected to your earning capacity.