Lawyers find little justice in recession

July 1, 2009 3:47:23 PM PDT
The slow economy is hitting some professions many might have thought were immune to a financial slowdown.Lawyers especially are finding that there is little justice in a recession.

"I like solving problems," student Jason Ruen said.

Ruen wants to be a lawyer, and he graduates in December. This summer he's interning at the firm Berg and Androphy.

"I pretty much do research, write memos, every now and then draft something else -- pretty much anything they need," Ruen said.

But the chance of him getting a full time job at the firm or anywhere else is not good.

"It's a tough market," he said. "There are a few opportunities out there that I'm looking for and pursuing, but for the most part it's a pretty grim view."

KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy agrees with Ruen.

"It's terrible," Androphy said. "It's the worst I've ever seen."

Androphy says he's never seen the market for lawyers quite so tough.

"Historically it was tough finding the best students," he said. "Now there's a flood of the best students because they can't find jobs."

And the recession isn't affecting lawyers who are just out of school. It's also affecting ones who are relatively established who can't make a go of it with their own law firms or just can't find a job.

"They're slim to none," Jodi Clausman, who runs Clausman Legal Staffing, a lawyer recruiting firm, said.

And she says between the economy and job outsourcing, it may be a while before the jobs come back, and when they do, they'll pay less.

"They're not going to go in with all of the hopes and dreams and wishes they thought they were going to be going into," Clausman said.

And it's not just Houston being affected. In one week during February, more than 1100 big firm lawyers nationwide lost their jobs. The bulk of them -- more than 700 -- came in one day. It was dubbed "Black Thursday."

The legal profession is always a competitive one, but it's gotten almost ridiculous. Ruen says some of his friends are taking longer in school. Some are even getting second law degrees.

"With the economy the way it is, it's a much different picture than I'd expected," he said.

But he's willing to take a chance, hoping the jury is still out on whether or not he can find work.

According to 2008 statistics, 80,000 men and women are licensed to practice law in Texas.

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