Craigslist Ad Breaks Our Hearts; Advice for the Unemployed

By William Peacock, Esq. on November 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In 405 words, a talented writer, and a frustrated, unemployed recent graduate engages in a bit of catharsis, and summarizes, quite aptly, the feelings of every person who has gone to law school with dreams of a decently-paying career, yet graduated into the world of working for low or no pay for the Saul Goodmans of the industry. He does so in the form of a craigslist classified ad (SFW version).

We get it. We've been there.

Right now, it's like you spent $100,000 to learn calligraphy the week before movable type was invented. It's a crushing, hopeless feeling that will only be alleviated when you find a long-term career. Meanwhile, with each passing day of mooching off of your girlfriend, parents, friends, or family, another piece of your soul dies.

The Ad: 'Law school destroyed me and destroyed my life.'

For anyone who doesn't understand the frustration of unemployed recent graduates, read the ad. Imagine that you've just spend three insanely difficult years, and easily more than $100,000 in tuition, to get into an industry with a giant No Vacancy sign.

I remember one particularly promising interview, with a firm on Santa Monica boulevard in Hollywood. It turns out the firm was a paralegal farm, staffed with thirty-seven female models-turned-paralegals, supervised by one middle-aged creep (whose job, it must be admitted, I envied greatly). I knew my top-tier degree meant nothing to the man who was running America's Next Top Model out of his paralegal firm-farm. Every interview for every shady employer made me want to slam my fist through my car windshield in frustration.

The man behind the craigslist ad pledges to do "doc review until [his] prostate explodes," and be a firm's whipping boy, because even the worst jobs would be a step up from unemployment. He is me, only two years later.

The Best Advice We Can Offer

Step away from the computer. It's the holiday season: Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's, whatever -- take a few days off of the job hunt and spend it with family.

As for your career path, your options are obviously limited. Yes, you can continue to beg for a minimum wage job in the dregs of the industry. And by all means, if you find such a job, take it, work it, and apply anywhere and everywhere else in the meantime. (Whatever you do, don't appear as the attorney of record on any of the shady firm's cases. Exit strategies are much more difficult to pull off if you have to clear a client list first, plus there's that whole malpractice issue.)

Maybe your experience and courtroom demeanor will impress another firm. Or you'll start your own firm in a year or two and make a decent living.

Otherwise, long-term, it may be time to look elsewhere, especially if you continue to strike out on entry-level gigs. The sunk cost fallacy is applicable here -- just because you've spent three years and an unfathomable sum of money on a law degree doesn't mean you have to stick around in an industry where there is no financial security or future.

Think about it: every year, schools are churning out tens of thousands of additional graduates, in addition to the tens of thousands who are already out there fighting over doc review and shady small law gigs. And no, there have been no clear signs of an impending industry-wide recovery. You may feel like you have to give law a shot, just to justify your J.D., but evaluate your skill set honestly and see if you can wedge your qualifications into a different industry.

Bottom line: it gets better. We promise. And if you need advice, or to vent, feel free to do so on our Facebook page.

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