This is part two of the hustling series… To read the first part, go here.
So now you know what hustling is… but what’s it really like for us hustlers? And how did we get here, by the way?
I graduated from law school a couple of years ago… seeing a bright future ahead of me! A strong resume, good research and writing skills, and awesome mentors who supported me… Alas, no adventure story ever has fate handing its heroine her dreams without throwing some obstacles her way.
Since I did not have a law-related job lined up straight out of law school, I had to take any work I could find. So I worked full time, all the while having a second full time job: applying to “real” legal jobs.
The jobs I started out with were pretty colorful – like when I got to work for a doctor on Miracle Mile, and met “old Hollywood” folks who told me what it was like in the good ole days between complaining about their dentures. I worked by the beach, and got asked out by Hulk Hogan-type process
servers (the guys who say, “You’ve been served!” after they trick you into identifying yourself). I’ve been a hostess at a fancy restaurant where my main duties were to wear stilettos and smile at people. I’ve worked in retail. I’ve worked with kids… I’ve really been around the block, job-wise.
But alas, the adventures were not meant to end that quickly!
The work I started doing is called document review. I fondly refer to it “where lawyers go to die.” Unfortunately, it isn’t the kind of work that really builds your skills since you sift through emails, PowerPoint presentations and random documents and deciding whether they are responsive to the litigation at hand.
Look, it pays better, but why do I still feel like this when I get my paychecks?
And sadly, the hustling has yet to stop. This new law-related work is temporary and offers no protection like benefits, sick or vacation days, etc… Also, lawyers aren’t protected by any employment laws. So even though my work is hourly (not salaried), I am typically not paid time and a half for working over 40 hours!! Outrageous, no? Especially when I sometimes work 60, 70, 80 hours.
Of course, the overtime debate is one we’ll have another time as there is much to be said about it.
So, for now, I continue to hustle. I work full time (when there is work: unemployment discussion to come), and my second full time job is searching out and applying for “real” jobs with benefits. And I’m not the only one. I certainly have friends who are fantastically hustling out there to earn their keep. And I know that there are countless other twenty-something, thirty-something, forty-somethings, etc. who are doing the same. And not just in the legal profession. This economy pulled a fast one on all of us!
I am two years out of law school, and nowhere near the goals I envisioned meeting after graduating from school and passing my bar exams. I didn’t get to work as a prosecutor putting terrorists in jail, I haven’t gotten hired by a sweet firm that makes me travel abroad, and I haven’t even been able to land a job with a nonprofit (I will accept a job paying less than school teachers earn, especially since might help me get my law school debt forgiven)
Instead, I’ve been sending out my resume to hundreds, thousands of employers. And in the meantime, I’ve had the chance to see how non-lawyers survive by working for a whole slew of jobs that have nothing to do with practicing law, or the skills I picked up in law school. I fought hard to get any kind of work to pay my snowballing bills, even though I felt judged by people who wondered why I couldn’t just land a fancy lawyer job.
Let’s just say that I know what it’s like to be rejected, lied to, misunderstood, and left out in the cold. And I have a mountain of debt on my shoulders (can you spell half a million?) from my law school loans with no serious job prospects to pay off this debt. And yet, people still consider me a legal expert when they have legal issues… J
However, while our degrees may not be worth the paper they’re written on, we as individuals have worth. We are people, not just numbers. And it’s time that the powers that be realize that we are not disposable. If working for them causes nothing, but stress and all-around insecurity, will they have their hold over us forever?
Of course, I am still wondering why I always end up on my feet. I realize that it is because the circumstances require it. Stay, and see no change. Or take a big gamble, fight on, and try at it again. When things don’t seem like they can get much worse, there’s usually an incentive to try another route, learn new skills and GET OUT before you boil to death! Better odds than never getting off the couch, right?
Please comment, share your thoughts and let me know what you think. Please help me keep this a positive forum. I am so excited for some debate, but let’s respect each other please. I reserve the right to monitor and delete any inappropriate posts. Thanks in advance!