Does the media tell you that law school is a waste of time?

 Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm serving the law and finance industries. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition based on his experience in law, legal marketing, public relations, and his Secured Solo Practice model. Nick shares career growth strategy and experience with legal job seekers.

Recently I saw another editorial article suggesting law school is a waste of time. Rubbish! There are plenty of clients and cases in our communities. During challenging times, successful professionals adapt to market demands. Forget about the doom and gloom in certain media, whose advertisers are happy when fear tactics are used to attract readership. Most of the bad press you see is a product of groupthink and isn’t based in reality.

People make decisions based on emotion. If 10 people told you not to go to law school because the job outlook was no good, would you be scared to take the plunge? Most people say yes, some even reconsider. The optimist thinks, “Maybe if I don’t get a job in the private sector I can clerk for a judge.” Using logic, consider history. Do you think the need for lawyers has decreased? There are always new and developing practice areas, you just have to pay attention and think out of the box to find the practice areas with available work.

Economies and job markets are cyclical. When I graduated from law school in 2002 the insurance defense jobs were plentiful. It was easy to get a job. Today this is not the case. Tomorrow it will not likely be much better, but who knows where things will be five years from now. Where will you be then? Maybe you take a lower paying associate position now and in five years when you are ready to move up the ladder the markets might be very favorable. The best way to handle the economic fluctuation is to budget and manage your finances, keeping your chin up and nose to the grindstone.

Making the best of a poor economy is easy if you practice optimism. Self-fulfilling prophecies are dangerous in down economies. If you believe there are not jobs you are less likely to work hard to find a position in law. Meanwhile, there are people out there who are so busy they have a hard time understanding how some lawyers cannot find any work. You have to go to the work, aggressively, and with hat in hand sometimes, always believing the next win is just around the corner. Optimistic people tend to create situations that serve their best interests. Engage in optimism.

If you have extra time you should get involved. If you are looking for job offers, referrals and good contacts, then you should get involved in your community. Think about social networking websites – you likely know more people than you think. If you take the time to connect with people in your network then you will have a chance to tell them about you or your firm and the services offered. If the price is right, you might attract work from someone who otherwise might have gone to a legal document company or do it yourself resource. The best way to market yourself in a down economy is to tell many people what you do and engage in dialogue to find out if you can help them or someone they know.

Closing the loop on negative media, consider that in good economies we might hear more about tort reform and the lawyers making very large salaries. How likely is it that the average lawyer is at either end of the spectrum of the economy? Ignore the bad press and keep busy.


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