Unemployed Kid Lawyer writes to small-firm-owning Young Lawyer (obviously not me) after four on a Friday afternoon:
I am a recent cum laude graduate of [third-tier law school], and write to express my interest in potentially joining your firm. A colleague of yours, [Some Friend], whom I met at a networking event, recommended that I contact you about a possible position. Please see my attached résumé, writing sample, transcript, and list of references. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you should you decide to contact me about a potential opportunity.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
YL’s response, an hour later (after five on Friday, now):
Do you want to come in Monday afternoon to chat?
What we are looking for is someone who is considering starting a solo practice but doesn’t have the capital to get an office, supplies, malpractice insurance, etc. I have a lot of overflow right now, but given that we just opened our doors last year, I can’t pay someone $85k a year, salary, and benefits. Maybe soon, but not right now.
On the upside, we have a nice office, conference space, etc.
KL says he wants “opportunity”; that is the essence of opportunity:
- Not a guarantee but a chance.
- Someone covering the overhead while you figure out what you’re doing.
- Two smart, hardworking young lawyers who aren’t yet grumpy, jaded, and cynical, and whose doors are open to you.
- More experienced lawyers’ table scraps.
KL didn’t feel that way. His reply, three days later:
Sorry for the delayed response.
I really appreciate your getting back to me and offering to meet with me. Unfortunately, I don’t think this would be the best fit. I just don’t really have an interest in a solo practice. But all the best to you and your new firm.
That made my jaw drop. Scott Greenfield keeps telling me about the entitlement of the slackoisie, but I didn’t believe it—the young lawyers I deal with regularly show no character defects (though I may unconsciously select for initiative; nobody without gumption is likely to spend more than a minute on the phone with me)—until now.
Some people—such as KL?—see self-employment as a last resort, preferable only to unemployment. Those people should by no means be self-employed, but they are increasingly unemployable because employment requires initiative. Being paid $85K a year to learn your craft is not “opportunity.” It’s the gravy train. Maybe KL will find that ride on the gravy train that he is looking for. But such rides are few and far between nowadays, and a lawyer with no interest in working for himself isn’t going to be much good to anyone else for anything but contract document review (not that there’s anything wrong with that—there are documents taht need reviewing).
On the other hand, some people see every other option as a stepping stone to self-employment. Lawyers like that will see that what KL offers—an office, mentoring, and overflow—is worth more than money.
If you are in the Mid-Atlantic states, and interested in such an opportunity, email me and I’ll connect you with YL.
(And if you’re in Houston, and interested in such an opportunity, email me. I had given some thought to creating an incubator for criminal-defense lawyers here, but if KL is representative of the new generation of lawyers it’ll never work.)