Category Archives: A View From Law Students

Law Space Match – The Perfect Online Service for New Law School Grads

gavel.gifLawSpaceMatch.com is the perfect online service for newly graduated law students who are thinking of starting their own solo practice or small groups of graduates who want to hang out their own shingle. The purpose of LawSpaceMatch is to help attorneys looking for office space find law firms with available space. It is a match.com for lawyers seeking shared office space.
The founder of LawSpaceMatch, a Mercer Law graduate, Elaine M. Russell was looking for a new office space for her solo corporate law practice in Atlanta, Georgia. After a frustrating search, yielding no website or source that connected her with open office space, she resorted to a door to door search for office space. Since pounding the pavement was not the best use of resources or time, Elaine developed LawSpaceMatch to save other attorneys from having to do the same legwork.
This online service is free and easy to use and accessible to attorneys and firms with office space needs. Law firms with space to rent or sublet can post these listings and upload photographs on the website. Attorneys search for law office space that would match their needs. Since the online service covers all regions of the country, it enables solo practitioners in transition to hang a shingle in a different state or find a partner in a different part of the city or state to with which to share space.
Lawyers and law students may also post their professional profile. Since attorneys are able to view each other’s professional profiles, finding attorneys with similar practice areas with whom to share space is easier. Whether you are a new solo practitioner or a current practitioner looking to start a new practice, www.LawSpaceMatch.com can help you save time, space, and ultimately money. This website is free to use.
Also, check out the legal blog at LawSpaceMatch.com Mercer law student Sarah Phaff has posted on the blog along with many others. If you are interested in contributing a blog post, please contact elaine@lawspacematch.com. Feel free to be creative with topics; anything that pertains to law or the importance of office sharing is welcomed. Our ultimate goal is to create a blog that not only informs readers about the open office spaces and the benefits of office sharing, but also paints them a broad picture of the current legal landscape.
Also check out the podcast at http://bit.ly/pIIJax.
Contributed by: By Sarah Phaff, 2L via Mercer Law Free Press
See Also: A View From Law Students,

A Resolution for Student Debt?

student-debt.jpgDebt. It is a word that strikes fear into every law students heart, and is an ever growing issue for post-graduates. Recently, the Young Lawyer’s Division’s 111A Report reported that educational debt, which is almost exclusively incurred by young college and graduate students, has exceeded credit card debt in the United States. This is mainly because college and graduate school tuition has risen at a continuous rate throughout the past 30 years in the US.
In response to this growing issue, the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division proposed two Resolutions; one, Resolution 111A is aimed at providing financial assistance for those students in extreme debt, while the other, Resolution 111B, is geared towards getting Law Schools to provide more transparent reports on job prospects and median salary figures.
As proposed, Resolution 111A seeks to extend federal student loan repayment terms and programs to those students burdened with excessive financial debt due to education. It also calls for programs that give income-based repayment options and loan forgiveness programs. Finally, it calls for a decrease or complete elimination of income levels associated with the federal income tax deduction for interest paid on student loans.
Another factor in student’s debt is their initial misconception of job prospects and beginning income upon graduation; this information is key to making the decision to initially delve into debt, as a high perceived return will encourage students to paying more initially, as they figure it can be made back relatively quickly. Unfortunately, figures published by law schools pertaining to this matter are frequently misleading. In fact, according to a National Association for Law Placement (NALP) report, 8.7 percent of the class of 2009 was unemployed (based on the 36,046 employed graduates out of 40,833 for whom employment status was known). Resolution 111B seeks to address this disconnection between perception and reality by requiring law schools to explain their numbers more clearly by stating how many of these jobs are permanent and how many are temporary (less than 1 year). In addition, the resolution calls for law schools to communicate the cost of living post graduation and while attending law school.
While both of these resolutions have been passed, debt is still a serious issue facing law students. One of the biggest costs a new lawyer faces upon beginning his or her practice is the cost of real estate. In 2010, Elaine Russell, a lawyer operating in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, created LawSpaceMatch.com to help address this issue. This free service allows firms with open office space to quickly and easily post their openings and get into contact with solo practitioners who are in need of this space. This subleasing opportunity allows newly minted lawyers to cut down on a large cost, easing their already-prominent burden of debt.
Reference Article: ABA Adresses Law Graduate’s Job, Debt Woes
See Also: Job Outsourcing: What Does it Mean for the Legal Profession?, Lawyers Sharing Space: Benefits and Responsibilities,

Job Outsourcing: What Does it Mean for the Legal Profession?

globe-outsourcing.gif“Outsourcing” is not a term with which I am particularly familiar. The word is tossed around as something that takes jobs away from Americans, as companies take advantage of cheap labor prices in other countries. I have always associated this phenomenon with industries such as computer technology and automotive manufacturing. When I heard of law firms practicing outsourcing, I was baffled to say the least. And the most intriguing fact is that this technique is not a new development.
After finding an article in the New York Times 2010 archive reporting on legal outsourcing, I was curious to know just how long this practice has been in use. It turns out, the earliest occurrence of legal outsourcing dates back to the mid-nineties. Considering all the backlash industrial outsourcing has received, it is surprising to see that legal outsourcing has not only stayed, but actually has grown.
For the firms there is a practical and economical reason for sending certain jobs overseas and it is the same reason that drives many other industries abroad–labor is cheaper. Why spend 200 dollars an hour for an employee performing basic research when you can spend half that abroad? Or, as the website CPA Global puts it, “when [lawyers] are free to focus on the big things, they can produce even greater results.” CPA Global posits that with the removal of menial tasks, lawyers can truly work to the best of their ability. This sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t want their lawyer to have a clear mind when the time comes for trial?
But as an undergraduate, this is not good news. Many of the jobs that are sent to countries like India are those that normally go to entry-level lawyers and law students just getting their feet wet. This is sadly just more bad news to consider along with the decline in jobs for law school graduates. How is a student supposed to find work when that work is suddenly being shipped elsewhere?
Well, there really isn’t cause to worry, yet. Legal outsourcing is still a rather small niche. But some very good advice can be found in an article posted by Merrick Pastore in April on LawSpaceMatch.com. The article impresses upon all up-and-coming lawyers the importance of networking. When a firm hires a lawyer from another country, they are a faceless and possibly nameless being. An American law student on the other hand certainly doesn’t have to be. Networking allows employers to see potential and gauge drive of legal hopefuls. By showing a little tenacity, it is possible to convince others that you are worth the greater paycheck.
Sources:
http://www.cpaglobal.com/legal_services_outsourcing/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?pagewanted=2
Contributed By: Meg R. DeFrancesco
See Also: The Pre-Law Outlook, Advice on Summer Jobs: Both for Now and in the Future, Should I Stay in School? Just Look at the Unemployment Rate

Should I Stay in School? Just Look at the Unemployment Rate

student-loan-debt-2.jpgOne of the largest trends I’ve noticed in the last few years is the increasing rate at which newly graduated college students and those older are extending their stay in school. Of my friends who recently graduated, very few of them were content to go back to mom and dad’s to live at home and work in an entry-level position. Many didn’t even take the famed gap-year–instead choosing to go straight into graduate school. It’s really no surprise. More and more employers are seeking those who have achieved some sort of college degree. An Associate’s degree is good, a Bachelor’s is better, and a Master’s or Doctorate degree is like writing your own check to success…or so I thought.
In June 2011 the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an estimated 87.6% of 2010 Law School graduates found employment in the months following commencement. After reading this I found myself a little disconcerted considering the national unemployment rate for May-September of that year averaged around 9.6%. While a 2.8% disparity doesn’t seem like a great deal, the difference is still unsettling for one very important reason: student loans.
As an undergraduate I am fortunate not to have any debt to my name, but with so many of my peers already neck deep in loans or on some sort of financial aid I can’t help but think that I will be amongst them soon enough–especially when a year of law school can easily cost $45,000. Often times I think many undergraduate students choose the pre-professional tracks such as pre-health and pre-law simply for the expected big payout in the long run. It’s true that lawyers tend to earn more in a given year than many other occupations (the median annual salary settling just above 100K as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but if no one is hiring, than those already considerable debts will only compound.
A debt scenario runs on a continuous loop through my mind that goes something like this:
Social and parental pressure dictates you attend a First Tier school + 45,000$ tuition x 4 years (taken in loans) + rent + cell phone bill + groceries + gas (prices of which may or may not force you to take public transit) + health insurance + auto insurance + 45,000 tuition x 3 (or 4) years graduate school + taxes (can’t forget them) = severe debt, impending depression and subsequent reliance on Parents
This situation may seem slightly exaggerated but when you consider the rising costs of living and the slump that the employment rate for law students has fallen into, it really isn’t so difficult to imagine. So maybe this could also explain why so many have decided to stay in school. Maybe right now “real life” is just too terrifying. At least in school we’re safe–albeit temporarily.
Contributed By: Meg R. DeFrancesco
Notes:
See Also: The Pre-Law Outlook, Persistence of Economic Downturn Forces a New Legal Landscape, I Need a Job!

The Pre-Law Outlook – Importance of Networking with Lawyers as an Undergraduate

479608_shaking_hands.jpgAs a junior year college student finishing up my sixth semester of undergraduate education, the thought of graduation is very scary. This idea is equally if not more scary to many of my peers in the college of arts and sciences here at Emory University, located in metropolitan Atlanta. After all, with the current Atlanta job market on the decline and no pre-determined tract to follow, what’s a History or English major to do? The answer for many of these stressed out individuals is Law School. After all, Law School requires none of the prerequisite undergraduate work that Medical School does, and a Law degree is among the most useful degree one can obtain. Sure, you have to take the LSATs but what’s one more standardized test in the grand scheme of things? Plus, while Law School applications are certainly time-consuming, they do not require the interviews or extensive extra writing samples other professional schools do.
This is simply not the right mindset one should have when figuring out their future. The decision to go to Law School should not be a cop-out decision but rather one that is thought through long and hard. As a Pre-Law student, I have spoken to numerous lawyers, and just asked seemingly simple questions such as what a normal day is like in the office, what they deal with and do day in and day out, and most importantly, if they enjoy it and why. Through this process I have realized that pursuing a Law Degree is the right move for me, but may not be the right move for everybody. Even if a job is not available after law school graduation, I have the opportunity to network and work with lawyers by sharing law space with established lawyers, such as Diane Baker, in the Atlanta metro area.
I believe that all undergraduate students interested in pursuing a legal career should network as much as possible as they near graduation, both in order to confirm their interest and to create a network of colleagues in the field. After all, when it comes time to apply for legal internships either as a summer undergraduate or a law school student, connections you have made can potentially tip the balance in your favor. In short, it is never too early to begin networking, even if it is exploratory in nature. www.LawSpaceMatch.com can help with this networking, as you can set up a profile and instantly be connected with attorneys from all over Atlanta. Although many attorneys do not offer undergraduate internships, as I have found out throughout the semester, almost all will offer you advice if you simply ask, and some may even offer to set up a coffee meeting. This advice and communication can get you further than you think, and will undoubtedly be a positive asset going forth. Students interested in pursuing a legal career should thus put legal networking at a high priority as it both aids on in confirming their interest in law, and establishes important professional connections going forth. www.LawSpaceMatch.com can help one accomplish this, and easily allow one to get their foot in the door of the legal profession.
Contributed by Merrick Pastore (not a law student but hopefully will be soon)

Sunrise in Atlanta

5:00AM finds me walking into the kitchen of my sorority house with my computer, backpack and highly caffeinated tea. During any other time of the year I would expect the common area to be empty but this morning someone beat me and the sun. One of my sisters has fallen asleep at the table–computer open and books strewn from her lap to the floor. She’s pre-business and I know there is a macro exam today. Sensing my arrival she awakens, sheepishly looks around, gathers her belongings and goes upstairs (hopefully to bed). I’m left alone in the brightly lit space to think about the work that needs to be done. I also begin to think about the noticeable changes at Emory.
It’s once again the time of the year when campus is filled with energy. But unlike the typical energy that one expects to feel from young adults, this is the tense, electrified sort that can only arise from finals season. Walking around campus there are fewer and fewer students playing ultimate Frisbee on the quad and more and more with books and binders. Emory’s student life undergoes as dramatic a change as its flora. Everyone from Public Health and Law students to freshmen and seniors are feeling the strain of final papers and thesis defenses. Even the once bustling Greek life is winding down to wind up for the end of term. The multiple libraries are all full and the once “secret study spots” nestled in the basements of various buildings are no longer secrets.
By 3:00PM I find myself sitting in Starbucks watching the various patrons attack biology books, LSAT study guides and marketing strategy materials. It’s interesting to see each person with their books and their headphones, attempting to block out the world so they can better focus on the words in front of them. Sure, it seems like Emory just traded “play hard” for “work harder” but truth is that’s how things always are here. Emory, located in Decatur Georgia is very much an academic school. So much so that during December and May, the students here develop tunnel vision that borders on singularity.
Being one of those single minded students I understand how important it feels to stay afloat when it seems as though my peers are miles ahead. But as I enter into my sixth semester I’m beginning to realize that much of that feeling is perceived. My dad always says that life isn’t a race and there isn’t one way to get where you want to be. It’s taken me 20 years, but I think I’m finally starting to understand. During a run through Emory’s Lullwater Park last week I had the opportunity to watch the sun rise over Candler Lake. I took nearly half an hour for the sun to rise above the trees and in those minutes I felt calmer than I had in weeks. I think in our haste to be the next Supreme Court judge or corporate guru we forget that not everything needs to be done at full throttle. If the sun can take it’s time, so can I.
Contributed by: Meg R. DeFrancesco

Effect on Stock Market

745243_u_s__supreme_court_2.jpgWhen one thinks of the stock market, their head becomes filled with corporations, interest rates and rises and falls in the economy. A new phenomenon sweeping throughout the Internet, however, is bringing a new meaning to “playing the stock market”. These new markets, coined “prediction markets” allow users to buy stock pertaining to whether future real world events will occur or not.
For example, a current hot market in the legal “subsection” is whether the Supreme Court will rule individual mandate to be unconstitutional before December 31st, 2012 at midnight. Predictions run at $5.00, and from current buying and selling of these stocks, a 50% chance of this happening has been generated. Thus, the people purchasing and selling these shares are creating the probability of the event occurring. Other hot topics include the potential leader of Libya at the end of the year and who will win this season’s “American Idol”.
This system obviously will not directly effect whether individual mandating will be ruled unconstitutional, but it shows how the general public feels about the situation. Furthermore, since real money is being put down, these predictions represent an accurate portrayal of people’s true feelings. This is simply because people would rather make money than lose it, and will seriously consider the possibility of an event actually occurring before purchasing “stocks” in it.
How does this pertain to the everyday practice of a lawyer? Well it does not really now but this concept is still in its infant stages. Give it a few more years and who knows what kinds of real world questions people will be able to buy stocks in. All types of public cases brought to trial may be open to trading in this prediction market, and the probability statistics generated by buying and selling tendencies would prove to be very useful for each side to gauge where they stand in a given argument. Going further, these probabilities may demonstrate to lawyers how people feel about certain issues that they may encounter with clients, allowing them to shape their approach accordingly. Law Firms would most certainly see these probabilities as somewhat legitimate, as they reflect the view of the public, which is exactly the role a jury has in the court of law. This may sound slightly far-fetched and even ambiguous, but crazier things have certainly happened. After all, don’t we all sit around sometimes and wonder where this increasingly interconnected world is taking us?
Contributed by Merrick Pastore

The Need for Law Space Match

“Hold on”. Two words that law students are having trouble digesting when it comes to searching for jobs. Getting into law school reflects the driven, self motivated, problem solving, and controlling aspects of a typical law student’s personality. Hard work starting from grade school, to college, to the LSAT paid off when that coveted acceptance letter finally came in the mail. So why is hard work not paying off in this economy, as employer after employer tell students to “Hold on”?
It’s no secret that this country is in a recession. As the number of law school graduates increase and the market dwindles, it is no surprise that employers are halting the hiring process. At school, the stress of finding an associate position doesn’t wait until graduation, but it has slowly started creeping in as early as the first year.
Recent emails from our school’s student services read, “Other Career Opportunities Outside the Legal Field” and “Nonprofit Volunteer Opportunities in the Area”. Recent speakers visiting the school from big firms promote the “emotional fulfillment” that volunteering provides. As the debt slowly surmounts to six figures, and the career opportunities, even for those top in the class, dwindle, it is no wonder that students break into a hot sweat every time they hear the words “Hold on”.
As a second year, Type “A” personality, for me the stress of a future job has lead to anxiety and sometimes even heart palpitations. After talking to a recent third year student, on law review and moot court, I decided that if she couldn’t get a paying job out of law school, my chances were slim to none. As a self-proclaimed tax law geek, I have recently begun considering the idea of getting an L.L.M. in tax. Not only would a master’s degree give me an edge in the mediocre job market, it would delay graduating for another year. With the economy slowly on the rise, hopefully by the time I enter the job field, there will be a position available for me. But if not, then sharing law space with other attorneys is a viable option. Atlanta law space is available.
For those future attorneys who either cringe at the idea of another year of law school, or are ready to enter the job field immediately after graduation, there is Law Space Match. Law Space Match is a way for students to network with local attorneys in the area. Not only can these attorneys provide insight and experience, but the chance to talk to attorneys in the area provides networking opportunities, contacts, job references and even job leads. The best part about Law Space Match, especially for law students, is that creating an attorney profile and initiating these contacts is free.
As more and more employers tell us students to “Hold on” until the economy gets better, Law Space Match provides a forum for us to network with local attorneys in the area interested in helping us start a rewarding career. In the past, hard work has gotten us where we want to be, when we want to be there. Although the economy will eventually turn around, and hopefully lawyers will begin to prosper financially again, students are able to connect to the local legal community through Law Space Match as the current job market forces us to “Hold on”.
Contributed by: Natalie Lynn Fears

I Need a Job!

fist.jpg
“I see all this potential, and I see squandering. . . . [D]amn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables–slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war . . . our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
–“Tyler Durden,” 1999*
“Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!” I had to say that for the Fight Club fans (great movie). Anyway, I’ve been job hunting for about four months now (procrastinators don’t get the jobs folks), and the above quote came to mind after I spent this past weekend brooding over the terrible job economy once again. I may not share the same views as Brad Pitt’s character (or was it technically Edward Norton’s character), but I’m definitely on edge about the bleak job market for attorneys.
Ok. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun, being overly dramatic, or simply being pessimistic, but my job hunt doesn’t seem to be producing a whole lot at the current time. It can quickly turn into a depressing subject when you see other law students around you already getting jobs. Tack on the great job expectation that Law Review puts on your shoulders (that’s right, yours truly is the Managing Editor of the school law review), and the lack of a job becomes even more of a burden. Sometimes you can’t help but feel like you’re failing when you’ve worked so hard and have nothing to show for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up hope or thrown in the towel. I’m still looking, and I know that more opportunities will become available the closer it gets to graduation. Still, there will constantly be this nagging voice in my head telling me that I should have a job by now, that I should be doing more to find a job, and that I need to work harder.
I’ll continue the job search, and I won’t give up. But, it would be nice to see some sign of potential job security in the near future. Or I may need to find law office space and think about going solo.
*Fight Club (1999), available at http://www.imdb.com/title/ tt0137523/ quotes (last visited November 10, 2010).
Contributed by Jody Sellers, a current 3L law student, who between his limited free time, writes reflective blogs offering insight into the law school experience.

Race, Racism, & The Law Memorandum

Impact of Ricci regarding reverse discrimination in the workplace
INTRODUCTION
The Ricci case had earned much notoriety as a result of Justice Sotomayor’s senate confirmation hearings during the summer of 2009. Members of our legislature opposing her nomination, for whatever reasons they, continually focused on her role in this decision prior to its appeal to our nation’s highest court. I remember intently watching the confirmation hearings, hearing Justice Sotomayor being grilled from members of the senate committee solely on the topic.
It was not until I began researching this case for the purposes of this memorandum that I learned that Justice Sotomayor did not write an opinion to this case at all, but merely signed an order affirming summary judgment. Ricci v. DeStefano, 264 Fed.Appx. 106 (2d Cir. 2008). There was a very brief opinion attached to the order. The short text that was given explained that the firefighters did not have a viable Title VII claim; and the Board acted lawfully in refusing to validate the exams to satisfy Title VII requirements when faced with results with a showing of disproportionate racial impact. Id.
Subsequent to the order, an active judge of the Court requested a poll on whether to rehear the case in banc. Ricci v. DeStefano, 530 F.3d 88 (2d Cir. 2008). The Second Circuit of Appeals in a 7-6 vote, withdrew their order affirming, and instead issued a per curiam order. Id. Then Judge Sotomayor concurred with Judge Katzmann and Judge Parker in their opinions to decline an en banc rehearing of Ricci.
But because of the continuous opposition against Justice Sotomayor during the confirmation hearings on this decision, in addition to the press’ nonstop reporting on this attack, my interest in the developments of Ricci was certainly incited.
Racism in American society stemming from the time of slavery still exists to a varying degree. Though slavery is of course no longer an issue; prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry continues to inject itself into culture whether those who are realize it or not. To combat this, Congress enacted The Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed discrimination and ended racial segregation in America.
Contributed by: Andrew Thomas Smith

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