A ground-level report on the effects of the current economic crisis, from a law student.
I’m a third year at a law school in Boston. Basically, everything we’ve dreamed of and been promised by our advisers/professors is no longer available. Job offers already accepted have pushed their starting dates back from September to January. Students are receiving surprise rejections for bar study loans, and I know a few who literally cannot afford the bar exam application fee ($820) because of it, let alone the bar prep courses. For the first time in any professor’s memory, students received offers for clerkships in the Massachusetts Superior Courts contingent upon funding to be established this spring. I hope to work in a government job with an agency or attorney general’s office, but am finding that there are literally no entry-level positions available, even for students from highly-ranked schools such as BC and BU.
I myself worked at the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General for the past nine months and interviewed for a really exciting fellowship. I received a call from the AGO’s HR Director: I was third in line for the position, but they were cutting the number they were hosting from three to one. In four other positions I’ve interviewed for, I’ve received word that the position itself was canceled, or would not be filled at all this year. There’s also a state-wide hiring freeze in Massachusetts, and a lot of established attorneys suddenly on the market after record layoffs in Boston law firms.
I am extremely flexible in terms of geographic location (no kids, I don’t own property), and I’m being very aggressive in my search. But it’s slow going – I fully expect to have nothing lined up when I finish the bar exam at the end of July. The thought of having nothing, absolutely nothing, to do on August 1st petrifies me.
Without a job, I will not be able to afford malpractice insurance on my own and would not risk practicing law without it. I’ll have over $130K in debt from my law degree. Thankfully, I live in Massachusetts and can utilize MassHealth – anywhere else in the country, I would have to do without health insurance (I have no pre-existing conditions, but the quotes I’ve received are so high as to be ridiculous). If I stay in the city, I do not know what I’d do for rent. I’m 26 years old, and am frightened to death I will have to move back to Ohio and away from my gay community, and live with my parents. With a law degree. I feel like a chump sometimes.