My school is coming out with a small stipend for people who want to take non-paying public interests jobs after they graduate. Such is the state of the job market we are in. They are emphasizing the word “small.”
I called the woman who runs the internship program at one of the local DAs office. She had previously mentioned the possibility of an internship post-grad. She said it off-handedly, but at the time, she mentioned an internship until I got my bar results.
But today, she said it was still a possibility, but I would have to commit for a year. She didn’t recall our conversation when she had said I could work until the bar results.
The conversation stopped me short. She was honestly, in all sincerity, suggesting that I find my own funding, work for the office for a year without pay and without the promise of a job at the end. Welcome to the upside down world of the Boston legal job market.
The reason why she is able to suggest this with a straight face is that she has people doing this. I have heard from a couple of the DAs offices about how they have people working for them for free. What happened was that many of the big firms didn’t want to lay off all of their new associates. They gave them a stipend to go away for a year, do public interest work and then come back. These people have now flooded the public interest space.
The state of the economy is so bad that I can’t fault local governments taking these people up on their offers. But I will suggest that there is a short sightedness to this. The DA offices are passing up on a whole class of intelligent, hard working law students who were dedicated to the idea of being career prosecutors. Sooner or later, most of the firm people who are now working for them are going to want their six figure salaries back. In the meantime, the would-be prosecutors will have moved on. We will either find jobs in the public sector, start our own firms or leave the profession.
Personally, I am putting the public interest idea to rest. The CDO sent me a list of small firms in the Eastern part of the state. Good luck to me. But if this doesn’t work, I will either start my own practice, or we will leave the area. Sorry Commonwealth. I love you but I am drawing the line at working for a year without pay.