What should a mother or father do who is looking to return to work? I would recommend reading Meg Graham’s article in today’s Grid from The Chicago Sun-Times. This article talks about resources and strategies available for professionals who have taken time off to raise children or care for sick relatives. I recommend it as a great resource.
What I would add to Graham’s article is that parents and others who have to leave their jobs need to be proactive in planning how they will stay professionally viable while they are out of work. They need to plan to volunteer or work part time in a way that will involve the skills and knowledge they will need when they return to work. Like all good career management, knowing how to enter, exit, and re-enter the job market takes planning and foresight.
A few weeks ago at a social event, I met a woman whose granddaughter is married to a recent law school graduate. She told me: “He can’t get a job. There are no jobs for lawyers.” As I’ve noted in the previous blog posts, such hyperbolic language only breeds more fear and does nothing to help anyone find a job or navigate a career.
According to a blurb published in the Chicago Sun-Times’ Grid feature, law schools in Illinois graduated 2.5 lawyers for every new job. Is this statistic true? It could be as a short term trend. However, if any profession were to create 2.5 applicants for every new job, there would be obvious consequences of the trend. People who go to law school are intelligent. If they knew three years of law school would result in no job with a big student loan debt, few people would go to law school. To my knowledge, no law schools in Illinois have closed lately. They may be admitting fewer students and the ABA might be tightening requirements for passing the bar. These measures will bring down the 2.5/1 ratio – if that statistic is true.
What could newly minted lawyers do if they can’t find a job with a law firm in Illinois? I see two obvious options. First, pursue employment in another state. Second, look for a position outside of a law firm. Lawyers have skills that will translate to other careers, especially in financial services where the ability to read a contract is highly valued.
Is there currently a glut of lawyers in Illinois? Probably. However that doesn’t mean that unemployed lawyers will never work for a law firm or that their degree is “worthless.” Like all other unemployed workers in this tight job market, the key for new law graduates is to explore all options and stay flexible. Another key: Ignore hyperbolic claims and statistics that make no sense.