"2012 Law Grad Happy to Work in His Hometown," by Jo Mathis (Washtenaw Co. Legal News)
A former colleague forwarded me this article. It is apparently second in a series of three articles profiling young lawyers and law students trying to make it in the legal profession. I couldn't find the first article in the series because the paper isn't indexed very well. However, the young attorney that is profiled seems to have a fairly typical story -- if not better than most since he actually passed the bar exam and is actually practicing -- so I thought perhaps our readers would like to leave some comments about what this young lawyer did right, wrong, and his likely career path. Overall, a great little article but not likely to be read by many pre-law students since it is in a legal newspaper so let's give it some exposure.
Here are some vitals although I would encourage you to read the full article.
Name: Jeff Alber
Hometown: Chelsea, Michigan (Outside Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Undergrad Degree: Albion College (Private) Political Science Degree
Law School: University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (Private)
Bar Passage: Passed Michigan Bar First Attempt (55% Pass Rate)
Student Loan Debt: $150,000 but parents paid it down to "only" five figures
Relationship Status: Girlfriend (thinking about law school)
Legal Career Goal: Return to his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan, to practice law preferably with local four-person established firm in town
Back up plan: Hang a shingle in town
What he is currently doing: Of counsel with desk in conference room of the local four-person Chelsea law firm
How he ended up in law school: Not clear. He was going to attend The Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan but took the LSAT to give law school a shot instead.
Money Quote: "'I still don't know what political science means,' he said. 'I wasn't sure what I was going to do.'"
Big Law Aspirations: None. Worked lots of small firm connections during law school.
Money Quote: "'In law school, there's no emphasis on being a small solo practitioner or small firm lawyer in a small town. It's all, 'Oh, you're going to graduate. You're going to work for Honigman, you're going to be an associate, you're going to bust your ass and you're going to be a partner and that's the way it is.'"
Job Offers: Went on job interview when he had no work to do and was offered 65 hours a week for $35,000/year
Money Quote: "'The (office manager)....said, 'This job is long hours, there's no money, the benefits are bad, the boss is a jerk, and it's horrible. Is this something you want to do?'"
Clients: Doing contract work from local attorneys who he networked with in law school, overflow work with firm he is of counsel for and networking at local bar association
Does he like it? Seems to, at least for now. He mentioned his best friend is a sous chef. I wonder if in the back of his mind he is wishing he went to culinary school instead.
Money Quote: "'There are days I get a lot done and I do it well and I'm happy. And there are days I'm just struggling over some innate project and that's frustrating. But for the most part, I love it.'"
Does he think there are too many lawyers? He says college is overrated and he wishes he had a tangible skill that he could go anywhere with.