“One More Thing … “

Nancy Glazer is manager of Legal Launch LLC.  The goal of Legal Launch LLC is to provide uplifting, career counseling for 3Ls, recent law school graduates and experienced attorneys. Nancy offers her clients endless ideas and possibilities to help land them the right job in a competitive market. Nancy thanks Bob Sirott for his inspiration for this writing. For more information visit LegalLaunch.net or e-mail Nancy@LegalLaunch.net.

I have lifted the title “One More Thing” from Chicago newsman Bob Sirott’s famed nightly musings on the local Chicago Fox station at 9:56 pm.  If you don’t know who Bob Sirott is, he is a Chicago treasure.  Bob is always insightful; he regularly brings a grin to his nodding, tired, baby boomer viewers before they really nod off for the night.

I’m temporarily stealing his material to throw light on an added issue affecting both new and more experienced attorneys looking for gainful employment: How are unemployed and underemployed attorneys getting their health insurance? The scarier question is, are they covered under some kind of insurance plan or are they taking risks every day that they will stay healthy and accident-free? Yikes!

Options, good, bad and ugly, do not abound:

  • If an attorney is downsized from a company or from a firm, COBRA coverage may be available and purchased usually for 18 months, depending on the circumstances.  COBRA coverage applies to former employees and does not apply to law students who graduate from law school.
  • A recent law school graduate can buy health insurance coverage under a law school insurance plan while in school.  Under the Public Health Services Act and Affordable Care Act, however, to be covered after graduation, a law student must have purchased coverage in her last year of law school. If the insurance year typically runs from August 1st to July 31st, for example, and most law students graduate in May, the student must be able to find a job with insurance coverage by July, within a two-month time period. If she exercised an option to continue that coverage, she will only have until January 31st, an additional six months, to find employment and insurance coverage.  In the current market, finding a job either in a two- or six-month period, even for a grad who is aggressively pounding pavement, is not realistic.
  • Currently, there are no added continuation privileges addressed in these insurance coverage statutes.
  • Overriding all of this is the fact that insurance coverage for students can only be provided under their parents’ health plans up until the student reaches age 26. Many law students are older than age 26. What health coverage is available for them? Even a typical 25-year-old law graduate cannot easily find full-time employment with insurance benefits in today’s market in a one-year time frame.
  • Many insurance companies have ceased offering student health plans altogether because student plans have simply been streamlined into individual or group policies.

Usually, when I write these pieces for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Attorneys in Transition, I like to address an issue and provide solutions for my readers. Today, I am simply hoping that insurers of law school plans are starting to address these issues and extending continued coverage for law grads.

I hope that all the law school grads with no insurance coverage – who are taking serious chances while carefully watching their every step – will be grandfathered in on extended coverage plans.

These times may be the most challenging ever for our industry and for our new attorneys. Oh yeah; it’s just one more thing …

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