Layoffs, Layoffs Everywhere
Though news of law firm layoffs, not to mention offer rescission and complete dissolution, has been brewing for some time now, government and non-profit jobs, though harder to come by, have seemed relatively more secure. Not so, as I learned from a former colleague at the ACLU last month, where Madoff-related investments forced layoffs of ten percent of the workforce, including several staff attorneys. As a former staff attorney at the ACLU, those positions appeared to be some of the most secure in the legal profession — yours to keep for as many years as you wanted, until poof! they disappeared. And just last week, a former student of mine reported that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office rescinded the thirteen offers it made this year (in contrast to the 25 it extends in a normal year) to third-year law students. As another student on the public interest job hunt noted today, “I thought that was why I became a professional!” Indeed — that was the deal we all signed up for; we’d put our noses to the books for three long years, incurring piles of debt, but we’d still have jobs in an economic downturn. Wouldn’t we? While job losses may be more severe outside the legal profession, a law degree is certainly no panacea, and some may begin to wonder exactly what is the value added from three years of expensive education. At the moment, I’m not sure I have an answer for my talented and hardworking students struggling to find permanent employment after graduation.