Monday, July 26, 2010

Esq, Never's 100th Post

Well, after nine months of blogging about the non-legal job search and the law school scam, I've finally reached 100 posts. It would be great if I could use this occasion to make an exciting announcement - but I can't. I wish I had something particularly creative for this post - but I've been too busy.

Instead, I'm going to do what every great production of the past has copped out by doing when it reaches a milestone of some sort - A "Best Of" episode!

For those of you who have been regular readers since the beginning (or those who have read through the archives), I'm afraid there won't be much new in the post. For those who may have missed some of my earlier posts, I'm going to try to highlight some of the articles I've enjoyed the most that you may want to check out.

If you've already read these posts, I'm going to provide a few additional comments that you may or may not find interesting.

Thanks to everyone for reading. I hope others have found my blog to be either informative or entertaining.

The Best of Esq. Never

Not Another Law Blog

My very first post. Find out why not all unpaid internships are bad. Mine, for example, finally convinced me to move on with my life and leave the futile search for an attorney position behind me.

But I Have a Law Degree!

I wish I had put more effort into getting more people to adopt this catch phrase. Sure, you know somebody who graduated from Bob Jones University who is doing just fine while you're barely qualified to pick up cans on the side of the highway with you first tier J.D., but you have a law degree!

A Law School Carol

I'm probably the only 2009 law school graduate (at least from my school) to be featured prominently in the National Law Journal, the ABA Journal, the Wall Street Journal (law blog), and the National Jurist.

Is this because I'm secretly some hotshot attorney biting the hand that feeds me? No, it's because I spent part of my year of unemployment creating a cartoon known as "A Law School Carol".

The Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Thanks to law school, I'll probably have to eat crow at every single family gathering for the next decade.

E-Mail Scam Alert!

This is almost as honest as the marketing materials that most of the law schools use.

The Fallacy of the Sunk Cost

Say it with me: There's no use crying over spilled milk. There's no use crying over spilled milk. There's no use crying over spilled milk.

This makes sense, so why do so many people continue with law school or with being lawyers just because they've incurred some associated expenses? My guess is that most lawyers never took an economics class in college. Oh wait, I majored in economics, and I still made this mistake. Never mind.

The Greatest Sham on Earth

"Wow! You passed the bar! Congratulations! Now, let's squeeze you into an overflowing room for one of our fifty swearing in ceremonies this year. See everyone else who is here? You'll be competing against them for the eight attorney positions that are available in the state."

I'm Everything I Ever Hated

I used to be pleased with myself for avoiding falling into the trap of earning a worthless liberal arts degree. Thanks to law school, that's no longer the case.

The Federal Student Loan Program

Speaking of economics. Here's an economic analysis of why the law school scam has been able to prosper and thrive. Hint: Free student loans + shameless law school deans = lives of misery and shame for law school graduates.

Esq. Never's Season's Greetings to Law School Deans

I'll bet you think I don't like law school deans, but this year I actually had a present for them: An Esq. Never original poem.

Pride and Prejudice

Remember how that after Elizabeth married Darcy she found out that his wealth was actually illusory and that Pemberley was financed through his Sallie Mae student loans, so she subsequently left him for that loser who was in the military? No? Well, that's probably why Jane Austen made Mr. Darcy a businessman and not a barrister.

Yes, I'm kind of ashamed I know that much about a romance novel aimed towards women. Another reason why I'm glad this blog is anonymous.

In any event, if you're prideful about going to law school, I can guarantee you that you won't live happily ever after.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Look at this picture and tell me it doesn't send a chill up your spine. Bonus: If you're a recent graduate who still thinks you have a crack at a serious attorney position and can look at this without breaking a sweat, you must be fearless, an idiot, or legally blind.

The Networking Trail of Tears

What's worse? Being a Cherokee who is forced to live in Oklahoma or being an attorney forced to rely on the kindness of your network to get you a job? This is an honest question. I don't really know.

The Craigslist Test

Want to find a used washer, an apartment, or a one night stand? Craigslist can help. Want to find an attorney position - or at least one that pays better than home depot? Craigslist probably won't be quite as helpful.

There are some more recent posts that I think are pretty good, but I assume most people have read them.

I know plenty of people question whether it has been worth my time to run this blog, but if it has stopped one person from going to law school or plays any role in eventually encouraging some reform, then it has been worth it for me.

Law school is a scam. There's no reason for there to be an entrenched system that charges thousands of students so much money while providing a reasonable rate of return to only a tiny percentage of graduates. It shouldn't be allowed to be propped up by unjustified loans and distorted employment data.

I'm glad that I've been able to play a small role in attacking this corrupt system for 100 posts. I also hope I've been able to assist those looking for non-legal jobs. It's been my pleasure to bring you this blog, and I hope you've enjoyed it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Calico Cat

Calico Cat was one of the first bloggers to try to expose the law school scam. He did so as a top 10% (at graduation) student from a tier 1 school back in 2004! Imagine what he would have to say about today's environment.

Unfortunately, this forefather of the scam busting movement's site is no longer available, so I have decided to run his salient essay on this blog. (Thank you, Google Cache.)

The lousy post-graduation opportunities for new attorneys are nothing new; it's just that both the economy and COA are much worse today. Don't be fooled. Even if the economy recovers, happy days will not be here again (for lawyers).

Law school: the big lie

(Reprinted from the now defunct Calico Cat blog.)

Every year tens of thousands of wannabe lawyers enter law school. The majority will be extremely disappointed by their career opportunities.

Thus the title of this essay: law school is a big lie. People enter law school with the idea that a law degree is their ticket to a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle. In fact, just the opposite, law school for most is a ticket to a worse financial state than if they had not attended at all.

This news is hard for people to accept, because “everyone knows” that lawyers make a lot of money. Right? Well look at the salaries for government lawyers in your area. They probably start in the 30s. Why would anyone take a job paying in the 30s if law jobs pay six figures? They wouldn’t. After a decade or more of service to the state, you salary will most likely max out in the five figures. That’s a pretty lousy salary for a job that requires three years of graduate school education. There are plenty of people without any graduate education earning six figures, and they don’t have to pay back the student loans that lawyers have to take out in order to pay for law school. Bill Gates is the richest man in the world and he doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree.

There are some lawyers who start out with a good salary. They work for what they call “BIGLAW” on the internet message boards. Big law firms pay their associates a starting salary in the six figures. But here’s the sad news: only a tiny percentage of law school graduates will ever get these six figure jobs at big law firms. Unless you go to a top law school, the six figure big law firm job will most likely not be yours.

There are only 14 top law schools. That’s right. Not 10, not 15, but 14. They are, in descending order of prestige: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, UC Berkeley, and Georgetown. And that’s it. Go to any other law school, and your chances of getting a big law firm job will be slim to none.

There are also distinct levels of prestige within the top 14. Yale, Harvard, and Stanford are head and shoulders above the rest. Then Columbia, NYU and maybe Chicago round out the top 6. Attending one of these top top law schools will vastly improve your odds. The guy graduating at the bottom of the class at Harvard will have better career opportunities than the guy graduating at the top of the class at an ordinary law school.

Outside of the top law schools, the only law school graduates having decent job opportunities will be those who graduated in the top ten percent of the class and who made law review. Law review and top ten percent are usually the same people because at most law schools the law review members are selected from those whose grades are in the top ten percent at the end of the first year. If like me, your grades weren’t in the top ten percent at the end of the first year, but you managed to graduate in the top ten percent, you are screwed because you weren’t on law review. Furthermore, most big law firms make offers to their summer associates, who get interviewed and hired during the second half of the second year, thus it’s mostly your grades during the first three semesters of law school that determine your entire legal future.

If you are reading this, and you’re a law student who already received your first semester grades, and they aren’t top ten percent, then my advice is to drop out now instead of throwing more money down the law school black hole.

Despite being warned that the only way to get a decent job in law if one attends a non-top 14 school is to make law review and the top ten percent, tens of thousands of suckers will enroll anyway. They think “I will be the one who makes the top ten percent” or “even if I don’t make the top ten percent, things will work out.” Let’s state the odds clearly: 90% of the class will not make the top 10%. You are not the only person in law school thinking they are going to bust their butt to make the top ten percent. 80% of the people start out thinking they are going to bust their butt. And some people from the 20% who are slackers are going to wind up in the top 10% too, because law school grades have a huge random element. One of the biggest slacker/party girls in my first year law school class made the top 10%. She wound up getting a high paying job at a big law firm because the law school gods decided to randomly grace her during her first semester.

The law schools will trick prospective students with bogus statistics about the great career opportunities available to graduates. Don’t believe everything you read. First of all, there are the documented lies, like the admissions brochure for my law school alma mater, Arizona State University College of Law (ASU), which listed the average starting salary for graduates with job offers at graduation from private law firms. But what percentage of the class graduates with a job offer in hand from a private law firm? About 10%? Trumpeting the average salary for 10% of the class is damned deceptive.

I further suspect that some law schools outright lie on their reported career placement statistics. Think about public companies. They have a strong incentive to lie on their financial statements, so that is why they have to prepare their statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and the accounting has to be audited by an independent public accounting firm. Despite these safeguards, companies like Enron are still caught lying on their financial statements.

Law school career placement statistics do not have to be prepared in accordance with generally accepted principles, and they aren’t audited by independent public accountants. Therefore they can’t be trusted. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because they are “non-profit” they can be trusted, or that they are run only for the benefit of the public. There’s no such thing as no one making a profit. “Non-profit” only means that no one owns the residual profits from the law school, there are plenty of stakeholders making out like bandits. Law schools are run for the benefit of the law professors who have cushy six figure jobs, and the money for their salaries comes from the gullible chumps called law students.

How cushy is a job as a law professor? Law professors earn six figures and only have to work six hours a week. And they get summers off too. How much better can it get? That’s right, law professors are only allowed to teach six hours of classes a week. If they taught more than six hours a week, the law school would lose its accreditation. Maybe some of the new law professors have to spend some time preparing for class, but by the time the law professor has a few years under his belt, he knows the material cold. Some of the older law professors were able to recite the entire textbook without ever even looking at it. In class one day, all the students looked quizzically at the law professor while he recited the exact details of a case that wasn’t in the textbook. Finally this was brought to his attention. It turns out that he was reciting from the last edition of the book. He didn’t even bother to look at the textbook in front of him to see that the case wasn’t in there.

The only time that law professors have to do any real work is when they grade exams. And law school exams are only given once at the end of the semester. So we are talking about two weeks of real work at the end of each semester. And in one case, a law professor at ASU, was apparently too lazy to even put in his two weeks of work and he made up fake grades for the students in his class. When his deception was discovered, all he got was a temporary suspension, and a short time later he was back at law school teaching law.

So we see, law professors have cushy jobs, therefore they have a strong incentive to lie on the career placement statistics because those are equivalent to a for-profit company’s financial statements, and it’s what the prospective law students look at to decide if they want to “invest” in the law school education.

Another fallacy that prospective law students hold onto is that the law degree has some kind of value outside of law. They think, “if I don’t practice law, at least it’s a prestigious degree that will help my non-law career.” This is completely false. Having a law degree hurts your chances of getting non-law jobs. No one wants to hire you if you have a law degree. Because “everyone knows” that lawyers make so much money, they can’t understand why someone with a law degree would want to do anything else but practice law. If you say “I couldn’t find a job practicing law.” which is probably the truth, they will think “this person is a loser because everyone know how easy it is to find a job practicing law, and we don’t hire losers around here.” If you say “I was just exploring my options but decided I didn’t want to practice law,” then they will think “this person has no idea what he wants to do, we want to hire people who know where their career is going.” There is absolutely no way to spin the law degree in a way that it helps you get a non-law job. Hiring managers are looking for cookie cutter resumes, not resumes where people have education unrelated to the job. From their perspective, they’re not hiring a lawyer so they don’t give a crap if you know how to synthesize appellate cases (assuming they even know what “synthesize appellate cases” means, which is unlikely). The only way I have been able to find any jobs outside of law is to leave the law degree off my resume. Whenever the law degree has been on my resume, it has been the kiss of death that prevents me from finding a job.

Finally, this essay would be incomplete if it didn’t discuss the burden of student loans. Whatever salary you make after graduating from law school has to be discounted by the cost of your student loan repayments. The student loan payments are not tax deductible (except to a very limited extent which will likely not apply to you). Your marginal tax rate will probably be around 45%, which means that for every $100/month in student loan payments, you need to have a stated additional salary of $182/month to cover the student loan payments. This means that if your law school education adds $500/month in student loan payments, you are paying $6,000/year in student loans and you need to earn an extra $10,910/year to cover the payments. This means that a $40,000/year job as a law school graduate gives you the equivalent disposable income of a $29,090/year job if you didn’t have a law degree. And it’s a lot easier to find a $29,000/year job with a bachelor’s degree than it is to find a $40,000/year job with a law degree.

Even if you are one of the rare and lucky law school graduates who can obtain a six figure job at a big law firm, those jobs are rumored to be bad. I can’t say much about this because I never worked at a big law firm, but according to what I’ve been told, a large percentage of the partners at big law firms are jerks who treat their associates like garbage and make them work ridiculously long hours. Some of this may be unjustified whining, because I was treated like garbage at a job where I was making $9/hour. Nevertheless, one needs to consider that the ultimate goal of law school, a big law firm job, attained by only a small percentage of law school graduates, may not be the great reward it’s supposed to be.

I predict that some prospective law students will find this essay, read it, and not believe it. Because no matter how much you try to tell a prospective law student the truth about law, they don’t believe it. “Everyone knows” that lawyers make a lot of money, how can this be true? Believe me, it’s true, and if you attend law school you will learn this the hard way. Don’t waste three years of your life and go into tens of thousands of dollars of debt that can never be discharged in bankruptcy to find out that your career opportunities suck after all that. Please, learn the truth now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Joined the ABA

If learning this comes as a surprise to you, it actually came as a surprise to me as well.

Apparently, while the law school scam is humming along nicely during the recession thanks to an endless supply of federally backed loans, the ABA hasn't been so fortunate. (I guess even recessions have bright sides.)

This makes sense as struggling solos and unemployed lawyers, who need to decide between heating their homes or eating from somewhere other than the nearby dumpster, probably are not in the position to pay the annual $125 dues to the ABA.

Therefore, it looks like Ms. Lamm and her criminal buddies need to engage in some creative marketing techniques to ensure the long term fiscal help of this worthless organization. One such tactic is apparently to offer free one year ABA memberships to "recently" barred attorneys with the hope that many of us will lazily renew our membership at cost the following year.

I put "recently" in quotations because the ABA granted me free admission to the ABA under the guise of congratulating me for passing the bar - a "feat" that is now several months old.

The letter they sent me promises that as an ABA member I'll get networking opportunities, access to the ABA website, and use of the ABA's "economic recovery resources". In other words, I get nothing.

Oh, but they are going to mail me my PRESTIGIOUS ABA membership card. Yes, they actually used the word "prestigious". I didn't realize that being able to write a check for 125 dollars is all it takes to earn prestige.

The most insulting part is that they advertise my ability to sign up for CLE's and that if I send in a survey, they'll match me with appropriate products and services. Pretty much they have to hide behind the veneer of doing me a favor when they're just trying find a way to sell my information to make more money for themselves. Thanks for looking out for me, ABA.

Ah, but it isn't entirely a loss. After all, I received a certificate of membership to the ABA, which can double as a place mat for my Chinese food, and I was able to save a whopping ten bucks on a car rental thanks to some deal they have with Hertz.

That almost makes up for the $90k I wasted on law school. Oh wait, it doesn't.

Carol Lamm, if you're not going to do anything about the law school scam, please just leave its victims alone. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Five Weak Reasons for Attending Law School

Above the Law recently ran an article defending attending law school. They were kind enough to link to this blog, but sadly not kind enough to provide a particularly compelling justification for their wayward advice.

To be honest, I actually think this article may be an example of very subtle satire. Can David Lat really believe that educational trust funds and potential sinecures are really relevant to the debate?

In any event, here are my summaries of his five "arguments" and my brief responses to each point.

Argument 1: Hey, winning the lottery is possible.

Sure, there's a better chance of getting a BigLaw job than winning the Power Ball. Nevertheless, when you win a lottery jackpot, you walk away free and clear with millions. When you "win" a BigLaw job, you still have to work long hours for an annual salary of $100k plus dollars.

Would I have taken a job like this if it was offered to me? Sure, but that doesn't mean it's fun. Many lawyers are miserable and plenty end up washing out of these jobs after a few years.

More importantly, however, is the penalty for not making the OCI cut for BigLaw. In the legal world, it's a loooong way down if you're not in the magic top X% of your class.

If you play the lottery and lose, you're out a couple of bucks. If you lose the law school gamble, you could throw yourself into massive debt and torch your career trajectory for years to come.

Argument 2: You can always become a law professor or work for daddy

If you don't have BigLaw grades, you don't have law professor grades. Plus, do you really want to be part of the law school scam?

Also, we all know that if your name is William P. Buffington III, your old man can find you a law job. He can probably also get you a non-attorney position. This is axiomatic, and anyone in this position already knows he is set for life. This isn't germane to the debate.

As for some of the other jobs listed, sure they're all possible. It's also possible that you could be a PG in the NBA, but I wouldn't risk six figures of debt on that potential opportunity either.

I can't believe people still suggest that a law degree is useful for pursuing "alternative careers". Unless the alternative career they have in mind is in janitorial services or being a "professional companion" to male executives, please see the rest of this site for my rebuttal.

Argument 3: A B.A. in liberal arts is also worthless

A J.D., for many people, is essentially a graduate liberal arts degree. It doesn't teach you anything practical, and aside from the mostly inaccessible legal jobs, it isn't valued by employers.

You don't get out of a hole by continuing to dig yourself deeper; you get out by trying to climb out by working your way up from low level jobs and picking up some practical skills.

Argument 4: Not Everyone Takes on Debt

Yes, but most do. Once again, if your old man can write a check to cover the ordeal, congratulations. This website probably isn't for you. For everyone else, even "a little debt" can still mean big payments for many years in return for a largely worthless piece of paper.

Debt isn't even the biggest problem. Thanks to the IBR, even larger debts are now manageable (if annoying).

The big problem is having a three year gap in your resume and a degree that makes you overqualified for virtually every non-legal position that would otherwise be accessible to you.

Even if you do go the attorney route - for those who aren't at the top of the class - your sentence is a life of toilet law and/or document review slavery.

Argument 5: Pride

I have been introduced as Attorney [My Last Name], and I receive mail addressed to [My Name], Esq. I also live at home with my parents and spent about 14 months unemployed. That kind of takes some of the wind out of the old sails.

I look forward to Lat eventually letting us in on the joke. This article would have been better suited for April 1.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Present from Esq, Never: Resume Advice for the J.D. Looking for a Non-Legal Position


After reading the title, some of you may think to yourselves that this "gift" is the equivalent of receiving tube socks for Christmas. After all, aren't "resume tips" a dime a dozen on internet?

Others may contend, "Right, Esq. Never. Why on earth would anyone take advice from you - a man who has frequently complained that he couldn't even buy a job since this blog began?"

Well, fair enough, but let me try to respond. As to the first point, it's true that virtually everything from to pay-per-click ad based "filler" sites host content regurgitating the same basic advice for preparing a resume. In my case, however, I'm offering advice that's specifically tailored to those with J.D.'s, who are looking for non-legal jobs.

As to the second point, it's also true that I've struggled to find employment. However, within the past month or so, I've had three "waves" where I've submitted my resume via job listing sites (probably no more than ten submissions per "wave"), and I have received an interview for a substantive position each time. (Though the interview wasn't always substantive.)

I also met a recruiter at a job fair who practically begged me to apply for an analyst position based entirely on my resume. (I declined because I am not currently in the position to relocate.) Finally, I'm on track to actually be gainfully employed (see my last post) also largely due to my resume.

Now, maybe the economy is getting better. Maybe I, at least, live in a part of the country where the economy is improving. I don't know. It's certainly possible that more is at play here than my resume, but my improved fortunes in terms of receiving interest in my resume began when I made some improvements to it - thanks to some advice I received from a free resume critique at a job fair.

At the very least, my resume isn't seriously flawed, and I want to take the time to help out others who have faced the same struggles I have.

Preliminary Points

Before proceeding, here are some caveats. The university to which my law school is attached is pretty well regarded in the region in which I live. I had a reasonably practical major - economics via my undergrad school's business school. I worked for two years in a substantive position before law school, and I have pretty well developed computer skills.

The good news for those of you liberal arts majors who went to law school right out of undergrad and can barely do anything more than check your e-mail and update your Facebook status on your computers is that I think a good resume can still compensate for limited practical skills.

After all, I'm not really a specialist in anything. Economics requires good math skills and a logical thought process, but I highly doubt that any job will ever require me to calculate the optimal price for a firm to charge in a monopoly market.

Moreover, while I had a solid, white collar job before law school, I was sort of a jack of all trades - I really didn't have a specific position like being a financial analyst or a programmer. Finally, while I have solid computer skills, there really isn't an area or relevant piece of software over which I have mastery.

Therefore, nobody was really going to hire me because I brought a specific skill set to the table.

What Not to Do

With that out of the way, let's focus on how to write an appropriate resume.

At the risk of sounding like some insipid career adviser guru, it's important to remember that your resume really is a sales pitch. Okay, if I heard some CSO slug say the same thing, I'd probably roll my eyes too, but it's true.

Aside from your cover letter (which is usually essential), it's pretty much what every employer is going to use to judge you. It's an advertisement for your "employee services", and it needs to tell your prospective employer why he should shell out tens of thousand of dollars for those services by way of salary, benefits, and taxes. (Particularly because you have so many competitors).

Now, don't take this analogy too far. Your resume should still be pretty conservative even though it's an "advertisement". Use of graphics and other gimmicks should be saved only for the most creative marketing and related jobs.

What you don't want to do, however, is hand in some plain resume that contains only the most basic information about your background. Unless you have a background that immediately is going to catch somebody's attention (e.g. 4.0 GPA in CS from MIT), then you can't get away with this.

If your resume just states your contact information, where you went to undergrad and law school, and that you worked a couple summers at the Olive Garden, your phone isn't exactly going to be ringing off the hook.

Aside from having a "non-sales pitch" resume, the biggest mistake a J.D. can make in applying for non-legal jobs is using his legal resume to pull this off. Nothing says, "I'm just settling for applying to work for your business because I can't find an attorney position," like submitting a resume better suited for a law firm than the business to which you're applying.

CSO's usually advises students to create a resume with this format:


Law School: GPA (if good); Honors; Co-Curricular Activities (Journal/Moot Court); Other Activities

Undergrad: GPA (if good); Honors; Activities


Most Recent Legal Internship to Least Recent: Bullet points based upon tasks performed

Pre-Law Work Experience and Any Relevant or Impressive Internships

Additional Skills
CLE's/Other Practical Experience Interests

This may work well when applying for attorney positions, but it's not going to work for other jobs. Some of you may be thinking, "No kidding, Esq. Never", but I'm not sure if it's quite that axiomatic.

After all, if you're apply for both attorney and non-attorney positions, it can be very tempting to submit the same resume for each. Some people who haven't applied for non-legal positions before may not even have experience using a non-attorney resume. Also, there is a certain logic to using this resume for non-legal positions: Ostensibly, it does tell an employer that you're well educated, intelligent, and that you've spent the last few years working intellectually demanding jobs.

The problem is, as mentioned, that it tells employers that you're really only suited to be an attorney and are not a good fit for the non-attorney positions to which you're applying (particularly entry level positions).

Professional Summary

So what should you do? Well, obviously, I'm not an expert, but let me go through the categories I used on my resume that helped me improve my job search fortunes.

A great way to market yourself is to provide your prospective employer with a brief introduction to your resume. When employers have to sift through reams and reams of bullet point laden resumes, anything that can help focus your "sales pitch" is going to give you an advantage.

First, give your professional summary a title that will grab the reader's attention. If you're a computer programmer, it would be something like:

Computer Programmer with 7 Years Experience Developing Software in Java and C++

If you don't have a specific field in mind, then use a broad term and highlight some aspects of your skill set. For example:

Entry Level Professional with Strong Writing and Editing Skills


Business Professional with Excellent Quantitative and Computer Skills

After writing your title, you should then include your professional summary in paragraph or bullet point form. (I recommend a paragraph format, so it stand outs.) Use three or four sentences to summarize your background. Make it sound professional and objective. Do not use personal pronouns.

Sentence 1: Hit the best points from your previous work experience.

Example: Two years as a researcher using VB script and Access databases to organize, calculate, and report data.

Sentence 2 (optional): Additional highlights from your professional work experience.

Sentence 2/3: Undergraduate education - Can substitute additional explanation of work experience if more relevant than undergrad degree.

Example: Graduated from well ranked communications program that emphasized public relations coursework and concise writing skills.

Sentence 3/4: Addressing the J.D. It's going to come up at some point. This is your chance to take "the question" head on and try to explain why you pursued a J.D. even though you don't want to be a lawyer.

Example: Recently received a J.D. [don't say law degree] for the purpose of enhancing [insert skill set here, e.g. analytical skills, writing skills, communication skills, ability to be a heartless parasite (j/k), etc.]


Now that you've given a summary of your background, it's time to get into the "meat" of your resume. How you approach the divisions within this section depends what type of experience you have.

What you want to do is try to emphasize the non-legal skills you have acquired while downplaying your legal acumen. This can be tricky if most of your work experience is legally related. (If you were a paralegal for three years before law school and then had a bunch of legal internships, I don't know what to tell you.)

Also note, we're including experience BEFORE education in order to help to downplay the law degree.

There are three ways I would recommend dividing this section depending on your experience.

If all you have is legal experience, then you really have no choice, start with your most recent legal position and list them all (see next session for some caveats) under the heading "Experience".

If you have some non-legal experience, but they're only internships or part time jobs, you should divide this section into two parts. The first part should be called something like "Business Experience" or whatever best describes your non-legal experience. You should list this experience chronologically.

The second section should be labeled as something such as "Recent Internship Experience" or "Other Experience". This allows you to chronologically list your legal internship experience while drawing more attention to your non-legal (and with any luck, more relevant) experience while still highlighting important aspects from your legal internships.

For those who were fortunate enough to have worked in a full time position prior to law school, you should divide the "Experience" section into two sections "Professional Experience" and "Internship Experience" both under the larger banner "Experience". This, once again, allows you to draw more attention to previous work experience than your legal experience.

Improving the "Experience" Section

The order in which your work experience appears is important, but there's more you can do to help emphasize your non-legal attributes and downplay (but still receive credit for) your legal background.

Chronology: There is such thing as a "functional resume". That is, a resume that emphasizes skills rather employment history. This may be a tactic some of you can use, but from what I've heard this will confuse if not annoy employers. If you're taking steps to conceal when and where you worked, employers may assume the worst and not consider your resume.

The reason why we're dividing the "Experience" section into subsections is because it allows you to maintain a chronological resume while still emphasizing your non-legal experience prior to your legal experience.

Detail: This is pretty standard resume advice, but don't just list the tasks you performed. Give details about the assignments you were responsible for and emphasize your achievements.


Awarded 2006 salesperson of the year for most B2B sales in department amounting to over 20% of company's revenue

instead of...

Successfully engaged in B2B sales

If you want anymore advice on this type of writing, most resume assistance sites/books should be able to give you additional information.

Emphasize Non-Legal/Transferable Skills: You need to be careful when explaining the tasks you performed for legal employers. If you worked for an administrative office, a non-profit, a company, or a judge during law school, that's good. It will be easier to spin your experience.

If you worked for a law firm or anything that put you into a courtroom (i.e. a DA or PD internship), you may want to reconsider including this experience. It may be something to mention in an interview (e.g. "I can handle stressful situations thanks to arguing for indigent clients in municipal court."), but try to not confuse a prospective employer.

Skills to Emphasize:
-Writing - particularly getting something published
-Research - particularly computer and on-line research
-Managing projects
-Meeting and speaking with clients

Skills that are Generally Irrelevant:
-Court room observation
-Filling out legal forms
-Arguing/Appearing in court
-Taking depositions


Education should be a chronological listing of the institutions from which you've received your degrees. Usually, this will be your law school and undergrad school though some of you may have a masters in between.

There is still, however, work to do in this section to "de-attorney-ize" your resume.

Law School: I recommend just using the name of the university, noting your J.D., the year it was received and then moving. Listing an impressive GPA (but not class rank) is okay, but nobody cares about Order of the Coif, Law Review, Moot Court, or any of that other garbage in the real world. Also, don't mention that you are licensed to practice law. "Just the facts" and then move on.


TTT University
, Anchorage, AK, J.D., awarded May 2010

Following this, you should list your undergraduate degree in a similar format, but this time do everything you can to emphasize your achievements and degree.

Things to include:
-Major (particularly if it's a practical major)
-Good GPA
-Honors (Latin Honors, Honors Program, Honors Societies, etc.)
-Activities (particularly if you were an officer or leader)
-Relevant courses (computer courses, writing courses, math/quantitative courses, business/finance courses, etc.)

If You Have Room
If you have additional space, you should add any other skills (particularly computer/software skills) you have, volunteer experience, and/or your (appropriate) personal interests and hobbies.

So There You Have It

I'm going to provide you with a sample resume at the end of this post, but this is pretty much the format I used. Am I full of baloney? Maybe, but this formula helped me.

If I don't know what I'm talking about, well, at least you didn't have to pay for this advice. Nevertheless, I sincerely want to help everyone else who is going through this ordeal. Feel free to modify this format as you'd like. There's no magic bullet, but I hope others will see some success as well. Let me know if you think it's useful.

(Look for Part II: More Esq. Never Advice: Cover Letters and Where to Apply)


Ralph Marley
123 Document Review Purgatory -555-5555 -

Experienced Sales Professional with Ten Years Business to Business Sales Experience

Ten years as B2B sales professional for fifth largest software vendor in the state. Received multiple awards for outstanding sales performance. Graduate of ABC University with major in communications that offered practical curriculum in client interaction and business writing. Recently received a J.D. for the purpose of enhancing client assistance and presentation skills.


Professional Experience

Software Company, Anchorage, Alaska, Senior B2B Sales Representative (1997-2007)

-Awarded Salesperson of the year award from 2000 - 2006 for generating the most sales for the company
-Frequently made sales presentations to top business executives that resulted in a successful sale more than 70 percent of the time

Internship Experience
County Office of Revenue, Anchorage, Alaska, Clerk (Summer 2009)
-[Sorry, too lazy to come up with some non-legal spin for a legal job]

Hon. Judge Steven, Anchorage, Alaska (Summer 2008)


TTT University, Anchorage, Alaska, JD, awarded May 2010

ABC University, XYZ School of Communications, Honolulu, Hawaii
BA in Communications, awarded May 1995

Honors: Dean's List, Communications Honors Society
Activities: Assistant Editor, ABC Newspaper

Relevant Courses: Public Relations, Marketing and Advanced Marketing, Web Design

Additional Skills: Quark Publishing, Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver

Activities/Hobbies: Public Speaking Society, Volunteering at Dog Kennel, Amateur Photography

Friday, July 2, 2010

Almost There...Plus, Ranking the Job Search Methods

Well, folks the end of my nightmare may be drawing near. I recently received word that I've been accepted for a temporary position.

Now, that may not seem like big news, but I have received strong assurance that should things work out, the position will be made permanent. It looks like a great company, and I think if things do work out, I will be in a good position to put my career back on track.

I'm going to hold off on giving any further details or analysis about the position and how I got it until I see what happens at the end of the trial period.

As a bonus, let me break down the levels of success I've had with the various job search methods I've used.


Grade: D-

This is the bread and butter of CSO and job search guru advice, but I've seen almost nothing but failure from using this method. I've e-mailed, called, and talked with people in person. I've talked to friends, alumni, school officials, former employers, and even potential employers.

Sure, I've received plenty of encouragement, promises, and even a bit of advice, but most of what I've received has been pretty worthless. I've seen multiple promises broken; I've been blown off more times than I can count, and I've even been outright ignored by people who I know.

Sure, the critics will say, Esq. Never, this is probably because you're a huge jerk and nobody you know wants to help you. It's a possibility, but given what I've heard from plenty of others, the majority of job seekers must also be "jerks" and this method simply doesn't work for us.

I give it a D- because I did get put in touch with ONE person who was hiring, but was in a part of the country I wasn't able to move to at the time.


Ranking: C-

These guys (and gals) tend be quite friendly when you first contact them. Once they realize that your J.D. and minimal to non-existent work experience makes it more likely that they could place Dean Matasar on a date with JJD, you'll be lucky to ever hear from them again.

Let's face it, these folks don't eat unless they can place candidates into positions, and this usually means taking cookie-cutter IT, financial, and administrative professionals and dumping them into corresponding positions at big companies.

I got a few temporary employment offers through recruiters...or more specifically offers to be offered to the companies, but none of them actually turned into real interviews.

One recruiter actually called me in to interview me a few days after contacting me. Meanwhile the company filled the positions with somebody else.

Unless you have a cookie-cutter resume (and if you have a J.D., you don't), these people won't be much help.

Job Fairs

Ranking: C+

Job fairs can range from depressingly pathetic - just showcases for commission-only positions with insurance and financial advisory companies - to somewhat helpful - larger events that bring together serious employers.

The best thing about job fairs is that they give you the opportunity to actually speak with people who may have influence on the hiring process. Unfortunately, in many cases, plenty of people manning the booths are just there to promote the company, and it won't give you a leg up in the hiring process. They'll be happy (maybe) to explain the position, but then point you to their website to apply. (If you're lucky, they may take note of your presence at the fair.)

I got a couple bites after speaking to HR reps at a couple fairs, but unfortunately, the positions didn't turn out to be good fits for me.

(Bonus Tip: If you're an attractive woman and don't mind being hired primarily for your looks, you should definitely investigate being an HR rep at these sorts of events. The women at many of these booths look like they also have side jobs as super models.)

(Real Bonus Tip: Many times they have free resume critiques and other workshops that are surprisingly helpful.)

Job Listings/Job Fairs

Ranking: B

I know what many of you are thinking - you mean the black holes into which I've thrown my resume multiple times only to never hear a word back?

Hey, I've been there. Between November and March, I had one single interview. I was lucky if even got rejection letters.

Nevertheless, all of my substantive interviews have come from responding to jobs listings. In fact, virtually all of them have come from using my local Craigslist. I think this is the case because CL tends to attract smaller companies that are more likely to consider those with unconventional resumes.

The key to finding employment via the job boards is to have a resume and cover letter that stands out. How do you write such cover letters and resumes? Well, for only $19.95, you can purchase my new e-book "Esq. Never's Guerrilla Tactics for Making Money off of Desperate Job Seekers"!

Actually, I think I have found a good formula, and I plan to share it for free in a subsequent post.
Web Analytics