I was at a party recently and talking to a fellow attorney. Who, when I said that I was working as a law clerk, responded with, “oh! so you’re not like, working as an attorney at all?” With a “that is just so sad for you” look on her face.
My response should have been, “go screw yourself” but instead I yammered politely about how I felt that I needed life experience and private practice experience and I wasn’t really interested in starting my own firm straight out of law school, especially when I went K-JD. I also pointed out that I don’t have debt, which is the number one thing that changes the tone of the conversations I have about my job search. As soon as people find out that I don’t have debt, they go from asking why I’m not taking just any job available to me to why I’m not volunteering somewhere until I can get my dream job. (Because even if I don’t have debt, I still don’t have a money tree in my backyard. I would like to have children and a house and a retirement account, people.)
So I just wanted to go over a few things you should not say to under or unemployed lawyers.
1) “Oh! So you’re not like, working as an attorney at all?” No, I’m not, lady, and it bothers me way more than it bothers you, so why would you bring it up at a party?
2) “Have you heard of Idealist.org?” You mean the job search engine that’s gotten me half of my internships since I started college? No, what is that?
3) “Have you thought about starting your own firm?” I can guarantee you that there is not a lawyer in this economy that hasn’t thought about starting their own firm. If the one you are talking to hasn’t yet, don’t push the issue. Also, maybe we shouldn’t encourage brand-spankin’-new attorneys to go into private practice and risk their licenses quite so much?
4) “So is your husband supporting you?” Seriously, why the eff do you care how my family puts food on the table and shoes on our feet?
5) “Is the market really that bad?” I graduated magna cum laude and am working as a law clerk. Yes, it’s that bad.
6) “You would have made a great law clerk. Why didn’t you do that?” I dunno. Why don’t you go ask the judges that didn’t hire me?
What have you heard? Any other things I should avoid saying to people who are on the market?