He said he attended law school with plans of becoming a public servant, not strictly to become a practicing lawyer.
Even students in the top 10 percent of their class are not immune from the stagnant job market.
For starters, law firms have changed the way they hire, said Brad Kaufman, a shareholder at the Palm Beach County office of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm.
The sour economic climate has given clients “the opportunity to be more astute in terms of their buying power,” Kaufman, 52, said.
“Clients’ tolerance for young inexperienced attorneys has really changed dramatically,” he said. “Clients are really sensitive about having or not having really young inexperienced attorneys working on their matters.”
Law firms, meanwhile, can reach out to judicial clerks and law school alumni associations to recruit new talent, said Mald Bunt.
As a result, recent college graduates have had to be flexible with their plans. While some of still are taking the Bar exam, others have taken different routes.
Alon Alexander turned to entrepreneurship. He said he never interned at a law firm. Instead, he was hard at work with his own business, a New York City-based security company that identifies risks for landlords and developers.
The 25-year old was a student at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School before attending University of Maryland. After graduating, he enrolled at New York Law School in 2009.
During that time he also established his company, Kent Security of New York, which now has $5 million in yearly revenue and employs 200 people. Alexander is contemplating expansion plans for Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia within the next six months.
Alexander is also studying for the Bar exam to leave options open, such as being able to represent his company in legal matters.
Discontent is common at his alma mater, he explained. Last year three graduates sued New York Law School claiming it misrepresented job statistics by including part-time jobs under its percentage of students fully employed post-graduation.
Before enrolling in law school, Pardo expected obtaining job would be an easy feat done quickly.
“I didn’t think I would have to worry about it or put in as much work as I did,” he said. “I was a bit naïve but it worked out in the end.”
Going to law school is a choice Pardo does not regret. It gave him skills that are applicable for many different fields and industries.
“That was the biggest appeal for me,” he said.
Other new lawyers are staying in school, pursuing a master of laws (LLM) degree, Mald Bunt explained.
For graduates able to secure a job at a firm, salary varies according to the firm’s size. Large and national law firms, for example, pay new lawyers anywhere between $100,000 and $140,000, Ankus said.
With smaller to medium-sized firms, on the other hand, “It’s like playing Wheel of Fortune,” Ankus noted. Salaries there can range from $40,000 to $90,000.
His advice for anyone thinking about law school: don’t make the decision based on potential earnings.
“If you’re contemplating law school because you sincerely in your heart and soul want to better our society, I encourage you to go,” he said. “If you’re going because you think it’s a road paved with riches, I would advice you to not go.”
It’s tough to predict when the job market will improve. For young lawyers able to brave the storm, the rewards will be great, Kaufman said.
“If you can find what will turn you on about being a lawyer so you’re willing to gain the skill level that marketplace expects and demands, your future is extremely bright,” he said. “You’re going to be in tremendous demand.”
This article includes comments from members of HeraldSource, part of the Public Insight Network. To learn more about the network or to join, visit MiamiHerald.com/insight.