Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Even more advice on whether an unemployed attorney should do "temp" work

Interestingly, this topic has been generating a lot of discussion lately - whether an unemployed law grad should do temp legal work while she looks for a full time position or whether having such a thing on her resume hurts her chances later on.  First we reported on a career services advisor who suggested that having temp work on your resume can be the the kiss of death.  Then Professor Mitch Rubinstein, employment law expert and editor of our sister publication the Adjunct Law Prof Blog, responded that in a bad economy, a grad would be foolish to forgo temp legal work if he needs to pay the bills.  Now comes yet another commentator advising that although working as a paralegal can provide income and valuable experience until something better comes along, working as a legal temp doing document review may impede your efforts to trade-up because your "legal" skills will atrophy doing this mindless job.

From the online ABA Journal Blog:

Looking to get a foot in the door for an entry-level attorney job in a rough economy?

It can make sense, from a career-advancement standpoint, to seek work as a paralegal. But a contract attorney gig focused on document review likely won't do more than pay the bills, experts say.

'It's a con. It's not really lawyering,' writes Mirriam Seddiq on her blog Not Guilty, pointing out that she knows the ropes, because she's worked as a contract lawyer herself.

While it's easy to tell yourself you'll look for more meaningful work or volunteer, you don't, she writes. 'You sit your ass in that cubicle and hit shift F5 and before you know it a year has passed and while you have amassed no late fees on your credit cards and no overdraft fees on your bank account, you have also amassed no new skills.'

I'm inclined to go along with Professor Rubinstein - a "bad" job is better than no job in this economy (and who says you can't also lose your legal chops working as a paralegal?)   


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I didn't say that it's better to have no job than to do doc review. It probably would have been better if you'd read the entire post that I wrote instead of just the quote from the ABA journal. You might lose your legal chops working as a paralegal, but you will certainly suffer from brain death as a contract lawyer on a doc review project.

Posted by: mirriam | Jan 6, 2011 6:53:16 PM

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