The Entreprenurial Cure-All

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  1. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I pretty much agree. Not all people are the ueber entrepreneurial type. It might be helpful to offer advice to those who wish to start their own business, and for law students, it might be helpful to teach them, for example, how to set up escrow accounts. And I imagine if someone has no better options, then they might want to think about trying their own business.

    But again, I agree with you. Entrepreneurialism is not the answer by itself or even for most people.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    America seems to love big businesses and this is good and fine but big businesses also require lots of employees. We also seem to romanticize the idea of each and every person working as an independent yeoman unshackled by employment and wage slavery.

    We’re a conflicted mess of contradictions, Saul. No doubt. So many of us loves em some big business while loving em some sole proprietorship. I feel bad that your employment concerns aren’t as clear to you as the problems in the Middle East are.

    the law school crisis

    Heh. That made me laugh.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      I don’t think it is necessarily a contradiction to support big business and also sole proprietorship but they serve different needs and can be co-dependent.

      I like to support local businesses because they reflect the needs, wants, and character quirks of the local community and tend to go for more interesting and daring items from weird fruits and veggies if they are a grocery store to small publishers at book stores or smaller designers at clothing stores. But they all need to get stock from companies that are going to be larger businesses. No one can run a clothing company on their own. You might not be the size of Levy’s or GAP but you are going to have designers, textile workers, garment creators, business people, etc.

      “I feel bad that your employment concerns aren’t as clear to you as the problems in the Middle East are.”

      This feels like a somewhat unnecessary swipe.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        An unnecessary swipe? Maybe. I won’t apologize for it, but I will concede that it was intended to spur your thinking in a different direction than it’s currently tracking and could therefore be viewed as unrelated to the post.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      I feel bad that your employment concerns aren’t as clear to you as the problems in the Middle East are.

      I don’t think that’s fair (and to be clear). Lord/lady knows, I disagree with Saul on at least 51% of his position on the ME, but the stakes are different and lines drawn differently. If we changed the issue from, say, ME to, say, evangelicals or religion vs. “new atheism” or whether college is for everybody, then I’d be the one seeing things in more simplistic terms, perhaps with a chip on my shoulder.

      And at the end of the day and all that aside, the labor market issue for new lawyers and how law schools are responding to it is a different subject.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        “I don’t think that’s fair (and to be clear)”

        In the parentheses, I was going to say “(and to be clear, I’m often unfair to Saul, too).”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        And at the end of the day and all that aside, the labor market issue for new lawyers and how law schools are responding to it is a different subject.

        Presented with the same skewed perspective. Or so it seems to me. There are lots of issues to discuss wrt the oversupply of lawyers in this country, and wrt law schools continuing to crank out more lawyers. But criticizing folks for advocating that unemployed lawyers start their own practices seems like a really really bad one.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @stillwater

        I dissent for the reasons Lee mentioned. Most new businesses fail and most new graduates of law and everything else have significant student debt. Asking them to start a new businesses is more likely than not going to be an invitation for them to take on even more debt. How is that a working plan?

        What if the advice to start a new business was given to undergrads during a really bad recession or depression? How are 22 year olds with student debt supposed to get the upfront capital that is needed to start a new business?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        What if the advice to start a new business was given to undergrads during a really bad recession or depression? How are 22 year olds with student debt supposed to get the upfront capital that is needed to start a new business?

        I’ll let you answer that question all on your own, especially if you remember to include in your answer the issues comprising the “law school crisis”. I mean, I could answer it, but I don’t think you’d like what I had to say.

        Well, on second thought, I’ll go ahead and answer it: you’re not entitled to a f***king job as a lawyer just because you went to law school. So I’d take it as a breath of fresh air for someone to mention this to undergrads or to 22 year olds with lots of student loan debt.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @stillwater

        Would you advise most CS grads to found their own start-ups or apps?

        Most start-ups fail and don’t even get venture capital.

        http://valleywag.gawker.com/there-are-officially-too-many-apps-and-nobody-is-makin-1611128750Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Would you advise most CS grads to found their own start-ups or apps?

        Pardon my French, but what the fish should the schools be telling them?

        “Your chances at a job in an extant firm are small. Your chances of succeeding with your own start-up firm are even smaller. So…….?”

        – Get a job at Wal Mart?
        – Don’t worry, you’re one of the smart ones who will certainly succeed?
        – Marry into old money?
        – Lobby the government to create a WPA for lawyers?
        – You’re screwed! (Bwa ha ha ha haaaaaa)?

        What? If you want to damn this approach, what have got to offer that’s better?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Would you advise most CS grads to found their own start-ups or apps?

        Wait a minute Saul. The OP refers to the mere offering of classes about starting up their own businesses, not that the institution is “advising” “most” “students” to “found their own” “startups”.

        I think providing students with more tools to use their degree is a really good thing, actually. I don’t understand your resistance to it, except to say that “most businesses fail”. Well, them’s the breaks, no? YOu can be an unemployed lawyer with loads of student debt who complains all the time, or you can be a private practice, entrepreneurial lawyer with oads of student debt who’s trying to pay that debt down doing what he or she was trained to do.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        I’m gonna guess your response Saul: “But I didn’t go to law school to have to actually work for a living!!”

        OK, that might be a comment policy violation, but I somehow don’t think it’s too far from the truth.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Speaking for myself and not Saul, I don’t damn the entrepreneurial approach, but I don’t think by itself it works. Maybe it does, or maybe it’s the best that can be done in a bad situation. And maybe law-school grads are better positioned to do so than differently situated people. I don’t know how much on-the-ground stuff people need to learn and how well the entrepreneurial classes will help them learn it.

        Now, conceding my near total ignorance about what it takes to be a lawyer, here’s some advice I’d give in addition to the entrepreneurial advice:

        1. Get training on becoming a paralegal and then become one.
        2. Work a non-law job to pay the bills. It might suck, but it’s work.
        3. Is it possible to do legal research on a contingency basis? If so, then try it. (That seems to me like an “entrepreneurial style” approach. And if these classes teach people to do it effectively, then good for them.)
        4. Other things I haven’t heard of.

        Again, I’m not damning the entrepreneurial advice. Maybe it’s a step in the right direction, too. Maybe it’s the best that can be done. Maybe it’s all that can be done because law schools can’t wave a magic wand and make jobs appear. (And for the record, I don’t think law grads need to be guaranteed a job any more than history phd’s deserve such a guarantee.)Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Presented with the same skewed perspective. Or so it seems to me. There are lots of issues to discuss wrt the oversupply of lawyers in this country, and wrt law schools continuing to crank out more lawyers. But criticizing folks for advocating that unemployed lawyers start their own practices seems like a really really bad one.

        Maybe. Even probably. But that case can be made without the irrelevant swipe about his ME politics.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Fair enough.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @james-hanley
        Lots of philosophy professors tell prospective grad students that the job market is tight and that it is highly unlikely that they would get a job after completing their PhDs.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    What non-elite law school should do is direct more people towards real people law rather than big law. The problem is getting those jobs are difficult as well, are less lucrative, and require going to court.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      I think part of the program is trying to encourage people to do this but also with the hang your own shingle angle. Campos would argue that the need for “real-people law” is also stagnant or declining as income is declining and other options (like legal zoom) become more prevalent.

      Plaintiff’s work is always an option because of the contingency fee but that has high upfront costs that most people don’t have.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Most people are not mentally equipped to run their own businesses. You need vision or at least a product or service to sell, skills, capital, and tolerance for a high chance of complete failure again and again. Most people would rather have stable but low to medium income than unstable but potentially high income.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    white-shoe lawyers

    Are there actually lawyers who wear white shoes? Is that sort of a signaling device? Does it signal quality lawyering or a type of Veblenian conspicuous consumption? (I ride in limos and get carried into offices in a sedan chair, so I don’t have to worry about getting my shoesurry.) The first seems like an easily mimicked signal, so evolutionarily unstable, but the latter could be a truly valuable signal.

    Ok, on a more serious note. I don’t think telling law school students that being entrepreneurial, and giving them some dope on how to do so, means anyone’s–much less everyone’s–thinking everyone should start a sole proprietorship. It’s providing students with information about another option. Sure it won’t be the option for most of them, but it will be for some of them, and we can’t always tell ahead if time which is which.

    By the same token, law school’s not a great option for everyone, so should I stop giving my students information about law school as an option?

    And what–from the law school’s persective–are these “things we could do to make your life better”? They can’t make more jobs available in existing firms, I suspect. And I don’t see that there’s either prospects or justification for particular public assistance for jobless bar-passers. Not that I’m saying you mean to imply that, but otherwise you’re unintentionally conflating the problem of jobless bar-passers with the problems of the uneducated jobless.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      @james-hanley

      White-Shoe Lawfirm/Lawyer is another way of referring to the big Wall Street firms.

      According to William Safire (via wiki), the term comes from when WASPs were dominant and white buck shoes were essential summer attire.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_shoe_firmReport

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Also I think everyone is ignoring this but I meant this post to be against the cult of entreprenuriship in general and the law school example proved to be a diving board but apparently law students are and recent law grads are just good punching bags.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        To the extent that the OP was about the culture of entrepreneurship, and especially about the flip advice some people give, I’m on board with you. I do think, however, that others, and to some extent I, got caught up with the fact that, as you say, it’s a horrible market for law grads and the school is trying to do something to give law grads options.

        The devil is in the details. And as you point out in the OP, it’s very hard for someone fresh out of law school just to hang out a shingle. And I imagine it’s hard even after taking a few of these classes.

        My point is, I don’t see law grads being the punching bags here. Perhaps they focus on you because with your resources, you have been able to avoid the scourge of debt (at least from what you have written in other threads here) that make the issue so pressing for law grads. I personally don’t think that’s appropriate: you’re an outlier while most law grads do have the debt and fewer options, and you seem to admit that fact.

        Some people are accusing you of saying that you think law grads want a job guarantee. That’s not what you’re saying, but try to consider if it’s a logical implication of some of what you’re saying. To some extent, it might be, just like countless articles in “Chronicle of Higher Education” that interview PHD-holders on the adjunct circuit who explain how talented they are but that no university has offered them a tenure-track job yet: there’s a tinge of, “we’ve been falsely promised something and therefore deserve that something.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        I find your post singularly narrowminded, and rather ignorant of the research and the global situation.

        Heifer International ring a bell?

        Entrepreneurism as Social Savior is a global fad, just like “science education” was before it (one sees it in Germany’s “we’ll give you money to start your small business” just the same as one sees it in NJ).Report

  6. Avatar Little Eichman
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    says:

    One of the things you find out when you announce your desired career path, somewhere in high school, is that there are ready made dreams, off the rack aspirations that are handed to you.
    Want to be a lawyer? Then it is assumed you want to be a corporate attorney making scads of money, or a brilliant courtroom litigator giving spellbinding summations.

    Of course, only a tiny percentage of attorneys every do either of these things. It may be a blessing that the new crop of law grads are being forced to consider alternatives to simply gliding out the doors of college into a cushy position in a law firm.

    I agree with Saul, though, that “entreprenuership” has taken on a fairly fantastical aura, like alchemists spinning gold out of straw.

    I’m not sure that we should be turning professions into markets- I doubt that it has any real benefits to our society in the end.Report

  7. Avatar Will Truman
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    says:

    The better advice would be to encourage them to move out to the rural areas that need lawyers. 🙂Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      There is actually a need of lawyers in what I call real people law including in rural areas. The problem is that many ordinary people can’t afford lawyers fees unless they have significant motivation to make a financial sacrifice to pay for a lawyer. You usually see this more often in criminal defense, immigration, or to a lesser extent matrimonial work.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    I’m not seeing the problem. There may be some people who enter law school because they want to become Constitutional scholars or help people using civil rights or labor law, but the vast majority are in it for the money. After all, the “law school crisis” isn’t a lack of good causes that could be advanced using the law, it’s that there aren’t enough well-paying jobs to justify taking out those huge student loans.

    So, if you were a law school, what would you tell your students? Practical career advice like “here’s something that might work if you’re not offered a job in a firm” sounds like it should go at the top of the list. “All sorts of things that are necessary for the day to day practice of law” should go right below it. The pretense that since law is a profession, not a trade, practical matters are beneath its schools’ notice serves no one.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      See above. I think this is probably a failed essay because I was mainly going against the cult on entreprenurship in general and think start your own business is horrible advice for almost any student in any field and at any level.Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Saul’s point is more universally applicable than to law school graduates. In times of economic crisis and unemployment, people are often encouraged to open up their own business rather than look for a job working for somebody else. This advise is dumb considering that even in boom times, nearly 100% of businesses fail in their first five years and half of those in the first year. Opening up a business of your own requires a special skill sit and personality that most people don’t have. You can’t really tell people to deal with unemployment by saying go at it alone.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      You might want to verify those numbers.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        While It’s clear that the 90% statistic is off-base, it’s worth noting that the graph shown in that article seems to suggest that small business are closing their doors at a rate 5-10% higher than they were a few decades ago.

        Of course, the data represented only goes through 2010. That might be a fluke of the 2008 crash. But I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if the new wave of entrepreneurship, particularly the survival-entrepreneurship that includes the results of the lawyer glut, is adding more losers than winners into the mix.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Alan,

        There’s also this:

        The share of firms aged 16 years or more was 23 percent in 1992, but leaped to 34 percent by 2011—an increase of 50 percent in two decades. The share of private-sector workers employed in these mature firms increased from 60 percent to 72 percent during the same period. Perhaps most startling, we find that employment and firm shares declined for every other firm age group during this period.

        We explore three potential contributing factors driving the increasing share of economic activity occurring in older firms, and find that a secular decline in entrepreneurship is playing a major role. We also believe that increasing early-stage firm failure rates might be a growing factor.

        Key to their point is that this dates from 1992, it’s not just a financial crisis blip.Report

  10. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    says:

    Most businesses fail. The statistic I hear is that 90 percent of businesses fail and this would include law firms.

    Do you know for a fact that 90% of law firms fail, or are you just assuming that? I would expect law firms to have a lower rate of failure due to barriers to entry.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      Define “failure.” If “success” is”making enough money to survive,” then the percentage of failure is likely quite small. Change “survive” to “thrive,” well, that’s a different story.

      There’s lots of clients available. Clients who can pay $300+/hr? Not as many but still out there. It takes a lot of smarts, energy, and creativity to make out a living representing people of limited means.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @burt-likko

        What do you think is the bare amount a new law grad with an average debt load can charge clients and survive while keeping very low overhead?

        A few weeks ago I ran into an associate at a mid-sized firm in SF. They have a wonderful office and a wonderful view and a good history and clients. She said that her very well respected firm had trouble collecting bills and would often have clients say “We are paying half” and her firm generally took it on the chin in order to get continued business and new referrals.

        How is a new law grad supposed to get clients to pay?

        She said she envied plaintiff firms because even though they have high up front costs, the money goes to them and they end the damages unto the client minus attorney fees.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        The answer is to charge full freight, and accept something reasonable the client can pay. I don’t know anyone who gets paid 100% of what they charge and in 20 years, I never have. But if you charge less, you’ll get paid even less than that. Never act like you aren’t worth full freight — you ARE worth full freight.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      I don’t even know what “90 percent of businesses fail” means. In the first year? Eventually? Cease operations? Are dissolved? Are purchased for less than the total investment?Report

  11. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    @gabriel-conroy

    “1. Get training on becoming a paralegal and then become one.
    2. Work a non-law job to pay the bills. It might suck, but it’s work.
    3. Is it possible to do legal research on a contingency basis? If so, then try it. (That seems to me like an “entrepreneurial style” approach. And if these classes teach people to do it effectively, then good for them.)
    4. Other things I haven’t heard of.

    Again, I’m not damning the entrepreneurial advice. Maybe it’s a step in the right direction, too. Maybe it’s the best that can be done. Maybe it’s all that can be done because law schools can’t wave a magic wand and make jobs appear. (And for the record, I don’t think law grads need to be guaranteed a job any more than history phd’s deserve such a guarantee.)”

    1. Many law school grads are doing this. Not all of them passed the bar, some did though. Also you can be a paralegal without going to law school. You don’t even always need a BA (though this is largely changing or changed). Many people become paralegals for a year or two before going to law school to see if they like the profession. I think people would have a right to be angry if they advanced their education to advanced their career and ended up in the same spot. I can tell you that a J.D. probably can’t become a paralegal temporarily either, it probably looks like a black mark to law firms and recruiters and I’ve had senior lawyers tell me this as well.

    2. Plenty of people are going this but it is also a lie that “you can do anything with a law degree” as many new lawyers are discovering

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2014/05/you_can_do_anything_with_a_law_degree_no_no_you_cannot.html

    3. It is possible to do contract/freelance work for other lawyers. I’ve been doing this for the past few years and this makes me one of the lucky ones. I am especially lucky for not being a doc reviewer in a warehouse but being direct hire. What I wonder is whether too many jobs labeled freelance and contract work mark one as permanently a freelancer or contractor? Recruiters certainly don’t know what to do with me and it is very annoying to deal with 25 year olds who don’t understand being a freelancer can mean having more than one income source at time.

    I don’t think of entreprenurship as being the best advice that people can give. I think of it as a way of people washing their hands of any responsibility and shifting the burden and blame.
    “You don’t want to be an entreprnur Mr or Ms New Degree with 5 to 6 figure debt, well you are just a lazy and entitled brat then.” It is a tool of social control from people who largely had it much easier on the job market despite a few cherry picked anecdotes.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      I guess I see the situation much more differently from you than I had originally thought, then.

      While I’m genuinely irked by the entrepreneurial advice, I don’t think that it’s really a form of social control, or at least not an invidious form. It can be that, as when it’s a generalized “advice to unemployed people.” But when it comes to law schools trying to help their students by giving them training they can use, teaching them some of the skills necessary for running their business isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (I do question whether one can learn that much in a classroom about running one’s own business, though.)

      And, this is going to sound insensitive, but maybe if being a doc reviewer in a warehouse is the only option (and from the way you describe it, it’s a drudge-laden option), then that’s what one should do.

      Finally, and this may sound insensitive, too, it may be a “lie” that you can do anything with a law degree, but that’s also true of pretty much any degree or any training anyone undertakes. Sometimes, one has to chalk up something as a loss or a bad decision, and try to do something else. That’s very much what I might have to do if, as is very possible, I can’t get on at my current library job permanently. And true, my situation is not the same as a typical law-school grad, so I should wax on about how what I do should apply to everyone.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        Maybe social control was over stating the case.

        I would still call it useless advice though and sort of like sweeping dust under the rug instead of really cleaning. It is advice from people who know the situation is really bad to dire to completely fucked up, don’t know when it will resolve in the future, but also wish to make no sacrifice or admit to no wrong-doing.

        And i think there was a bit of wrong-doing. Partially active and partially inactive/negligent.

        For academia, the active wrong-doing is the increase in administrative staff presence and salary and the vast increase in using adjunct professors instead of professors who are part of the staff with benefits like health insurance and pension. There have always been adjuncts and lecturers but no one can argue that more universities except maybe the very elite ones are using more and more adjunct staff instead of openings for assistant, associate, and eventually full professors. I don’t even really care about tenure.

        A libertarian minded person might say that universities are making rational decisions based on labor oversupply but I have always been more into social goods than economic ones. I think this is partially a purposeful but unnecessary decision to increase pay for admin staff at the top while reducing benefits for faculty except a few lucky ones and super stars.

        The negligence comes from professors. Universities need students at all levels including grad students. There is probably more of a need for people to be grad students than there is opportunity for people with graduate degrees in many fields including the sciences. Hence the rise of long-term postdocs at very little money. This requires professors to press their best and brightest students to grad school and maybe underplaying or ignoring the realities of the academic job market. Many people would probably choose not to attend grad school if someone told them about being an adjunct and postdoc of years but then universities would lose the grad students that they need for both research, their mission, and labor. There was a good example of this in “Paying for the Party: How College Increases Inequality”

        I think our Professor Hanley is honest with his students about job stuff but many other professors are not.

        And I know it is not popular here but I do think that many people in their 20s and 30s were sold a bill of goods that if they studied hard and succeeded in school they would be given good jobs and are now being called spoiled and entitled because the economy went south and all the economy was in bad shape for many years and might still be anemic with steady but slow growth.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        Another interesting argument I saw (once) is that the big problem is the consumerist/cultural nature of the economy and society that values living in certain areas over working in a field of study and this is why 23 year old bio grads would rather be bartenders in New York or LA over working in biology if that meant relocating to middle of nowhere Wisconsin or even the rural sections of California.

        This raises the question about why in a free country should people be wrong to value living in New York or LA or any other city.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        @saul-degraw

        Going a little afield from the question at hand, but answering your assertion about academia:

        I’m very suspicious that the increase in administration is really to blame. Administrators have increased in absolute numbers, and perhaps in terms of per-faculty or per-student, and the salaries given administrators have, apparently, also increased as a proportion of the budget. I suspect that increase does indeed reflect a lot of waste and redundancy, but I suspect it also reflects real need for direction and management of ever growing universities.

        As for professors also being at fault, maybe, but my own anecdotal experience contra-indicates the allegation, and I’m a sourpuss when it comes to saying good things about the professoriat. In my experience, they, with some exceptions, were honest with me about my prospects. And if they hadn’t, by the time I entered the PHD program, I had already gotten an MA three years earlier and had seen for myself what the system was like.

        Whether my experience is generalizable is a different issue. I certainly know other grad students who, in my opinion, were misadvised to go to grad school without a full accounting of the costs to them and also without, in a few cases, letting them know the type of learning curve they’d have to negotiate. I’ve known people who had grave difficulties in writing–to the point of not having a full grasp of how to write a sentence–or who had difficulties in the basics of the historical narrative, but they were given, in some cases, four-year fellowships. So in those cases, the professors were, in my opinion, to blame.

        Not surprisingly, perhaps, I take objection to the following:

        this is why 23 year old bio grads would rather be bartenders in New York or LA over working in biology if that meant relocating to middle of nowhere Wisconsin or even the rural sections of California.

        This raises the question about why in a free country should people be wrong to value living in New York or LA or any other city.

        There’s a certain, shall I say, contradiction in those statements. Those statements give the impression that people are wrong to value living, or to make the choice to live, in the “middle of nowhere Wisconsin” or “even the rural sections of California.” You’ve made the point before that people live where they want to live, and that’s fair enough as far as points go, although you never know when a locale that people generally look down on now might in, say, 20 years time, be considered desirable (that’s what’s happened to Denver). But to your point, I’ll add that “sometimes, the jobs are where not a lot of people like to live.”

        For the record, I dislike the glibness of some who advocate moving without acknowledging the costs of moving. But if one wants to stay in a profession and there are jobs available elsewhere, sometimes one has to move where they’re at.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul,

        If somebody wants to be a bartender in NY rather than move to the middle of Wisconsin (a lovely place, by the way), that’s fine; it’s their choice. They just need to accept that they made that choice, they need to own it, and they need to not imply that something’s wrong with the system just because nobody’s offering them their preferred job in their preferred locale.

        On the flip side, New Yorkers and such should be a little less provincial and give the middle of Wisconsin a try. It might just be temporary until they can spin their experience there into a job in a more preferred locale, or they might find the country’s interior is the hellhole of a wasteland they thought it was.

        Either way, the reiterated snobbery about how bad it would be to live anywhere but maybe 5 cities in the country doesn’t really go over well with many of your correspondents here. (Unless you limit it to Texas, then I’m on board. Oh, wait…)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        “You can’t have it both ways but both ways is the only way I want it” is the human condition. There are very few people alive who don’t have contradictory wants and desires. The problem is that it is much easier to point out and be mean about the contradictory wants and desires than to examine our own usually.

        I try not to get on people for their contradictory wants and desires and they probably are not really contradictory. People that say move to the country are largely folks with country backgrounds and there is a good deal of culture war between the country and the city in the US.

        @james-hanley

        I’ve been contemplating a post on miscommunications when it comes to locations and where people want to live.

        Recently there was a thread on LGM about an urban housing issue in New York. There was a comment about a 908 dollar one bedroom apartment in NYC and some one thought that highly subsidized price was way too high and wondered why anyone would want to live in New York.

        I gave my standard reasons of being allowed to take Jewishness for granted (non-minorities even liberal ones don’t understand the value of not feeling exotic) but also the cultural options of The Met, MOMA, Lincoln Center, BAM, Film Forum, New York Theatre Workshop, The Joyce, The Public, Art House cinemas galore, The Frick, etc, etc.

        Whenever I mention the cultural stuff, people often try to prove their area has culture as well but it is apples and oranges. I talk about original theatre and people try to sell me on how their area has the sixth oldest continuous Rocky Horror Show. I talk about indie, foreign, and arthouse cinema and I am told about Disney movie sing-a-longs or the roller derby team. I talk about Art and Galleries and am told about their 3rd cousin who produces horror movie models or girls and guns calendars.

        Not everyone has to like NY. I know plenty of people who think NY is Hell on Earth but not everyone has to be a down home country guy or gal either and I am a city boy through and through. I don’t need much space and would rather live in a charming and cozy one or two bedroom apartment than a huge sprawling McMansion. The Chronicle ran a story recently about what a 1 million dollars gets you in SF vs. the rest of the country. Of course the SF house was smaller but the cultural locations much greater. I don’t need a 5000 Square Foot house. The only other option which was really attractive to me was a row home in a good neighborhood in Philadelphia. If people want 5000 Square Foot homes cool for them.

        Not everyone has to like what I do and obviously many to most people do not. But I find it strange that when I talk about BAM or the Lincoln Center Summer Festival or Berkley Rep, people try to sell me on something about their area which is really not compatible or comparable.

        There seems to be a lot of talking past each other when people talk about where they want to live and why.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        For the record: I could see living around NYC, the Bay Area, LA (last option), Philadelphia, Boston, DC, Seattle, Vermont, Portland (Oregon and maybe Maine), Chicago, Minneapolis (the cold winters would be an issue here).

        And I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to be around a good number of fellow Jews. There is nothing wrong in wanting to avoid situations as described in this article:

        http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=122431

        “In Seattle, people tell me over and over that I’m the only Jew they know, which constantly amazes me. But, again, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. The other night I was talking with a friend who said that before he temporarily left this city, at the age of 18, to attend college on the East Coast, he didn’t know what a Jew was. Even more astounding: The number of Seattleites who know I’m Jewish and yet ask me, year after year, what I’m doing for Christmas.”

        “In the 2000 census by the Jewish Federation, 28 percent of Seattle-area respondents said they had personally experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years, and the most commonly reported experience was being singled out unfavorably in a social relationship. This doesn’t surprise me. In Seattle, I haven’t experienced anti-Semitism in the classic sense of being called a “kike” or checked for horns beneath my hair, or in any of its more violent manifestations, such as the shooting earlier this year at the Jewish Federation, in which Naveed Afzal Haq, a loner upset with Jews, killed Pamela Waechter, a 58-year-old Jewish fund-raiser, and injured five other women. But I do frequently find myself in social situations where people say amazingly stupid things about me, or Jews in general. Often, I chalk it up to them never having known a Jew. But at times it can seem an almost willful ignorance, one that makes me wonder whether, at the root of this ignorance, there is some anti-Semitic disinterest, or perhaps disdain.”

        I get that there are only around 14 million Jews in the world and this means that many people including many people in the United States are going to go through life without meeting Jews. This does not mean that I am required to place myself in a situation where I am the only exotic Jewish person or one of a handful of exotic Jewish people.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        “The problem is that it is much easier to point out and be mean about the contradictory wants and desires than to examine our own usually.”

        “Mean,” like using the phrase “middle of nowhere Wisconsin”? I don’t think I’m being mean about the contradictory wants and desires although your mileage varies, I’m sure.

        Now, the call for self-examination is like the “motes and beams” admonition from the gospels: once you’ve invoked it, you’ve contradicted it. Well, here’s one case in my own story of “scarcity”: There’s a lot I like about Chicago, but in general, I don’t like the city as a whole and wish I could move back to Denver, where my family is and where I understand the local culture a lot better and feel like I belong in a way I don’t here. However, I have, so far, a pretty good job here that I likely couldn’t find in Denver, and my spouse has an even better job here that it would be hard for her to find in Denver. And we’re a lot closer to her family, who probably needs us to be close-by much more than my family needs me to be close by. Now, sometimes, I whine–mostly to myself and my wife and to no other–about what I don’t like about Chicago. However, I realize 1) I’ve made the choice to be here; 2) there are some really good things about the city that I truly enjoy; and 3) there are good things about my situation generally that make me among the more fortunate people in the country and world.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being bartender in NYC. From what I understand, it’s a really hard job and skill to learn, and if one can make it work in a place one likes, then the more power to them. I do dislike the attitude that there’s something wrong with being a bartender. I also would dislike any suggestion, for example, that we need to somehow rearrange the market to enable that bartender to continue to live in NYC and work as the history professor he was trained to be. I’m not sure how we’d do that. Maybe require the top ten cities deemed most desirable to match a “super-parity” in history jobs, so that if “nowhere” Wisconsin offers one job, NYC has to offer 10?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        See my comments to James re Judaism and Jewishness.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul,

        Exactly. I agree. But nobody’s actually arguing that point–nobody’s criticizing you or anyone else for preferring to live in Metropolis.

        The real difference, from my perspective, is that I don’t think we non-metropolitans ever come off as saying, “nobody who prefers Ruralia should ever have to go to Metropolis to find a job, it’s totes unfair and unacceptable.” But, imo you really do come off as saying “nobody who prefers Metropolis should ever have to go to Ruralia to find a job, it’s totes unfair and unacceptable.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        would rather live in a charming and cozy one or two bedroom apartment than a huge sprawling McMansion.

        A purely objective description of both, of course 🙂Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        This does not mean that I am required to place myself in a situation where I am the only exotic Jewish person or one of a handful of exotic Jewish people.

        “Required”? ??? WTF? In response to, of all people, James H?

        Saul, you sure seem to have a high bar for what constitutes appropriate living conditions. It’s just a mystery to me why you think The World ought to provide that for you.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        I gave my standard reasons of being allowed to take Jewishness for granted (non-minorities even liberal ones don’t understand the value of not feeling exotic)

        That’s a good point and it certain adds an element to the choice, and needs to be acknowledged.

        not everyone has to be a down home country guy or gal either and I am a city boy through and through.

        The choice is not as stark as all that. It’s possible to live in a city–maybe not “THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD”–but a decent-sized city, and not have to be a “down home country guy or gal.”

        Whenever I mention the cultural stuff, people often try to prove their area has culture as well but it is apples and oranges. I talk about original theatre and people try to sell me on how their area has the sixth oldest continuous Rocky Horror Show. I talk about indie, foreign, and arthouse cinema and I am told about Disney movie sing-a-longs or the roller derby team. I talk about Art and Galleries and am told about their 3rd cousin who produces horror movie models or girls and guns calendars.

        That might be your experience, but it also seems like a caricature of what’s out there. I imagine “cultural scenes” such as you’d find in NYC or ‘Frisco cannot be reduplicated anywhere, so maybe it is apples and oranges. But many, many localities have vibrant theater and music scenes. (And for what it’s worth, being in a good cultural scene is one of those things that arguably needs to be paid for, and if the price is being “only” a bartender, and the bartender in question sees that price as a good one, I wouldn’t want to fault him or her for the decision.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        Whenever I mention the cultural stuff, people often try to prove their area has culture as well but it is apples and oranges. I talk about original theatre and people try to sell me on how their area has the sixth oldest continuous Rocky Horror Show. I talk about indie, foreign, and arthouse cinema and I am told about Disney movie sing-a-longs or the roller derby team. I talk about Art and Galleries and am told about their 3rd cousin who produces horror movie models or girls and guns calendars.

        Dude, even in your explanation of why you’re not a snob, your snobbery can’t be avoided. People say this stuff to you not because culture is a game they’re trying to win, but because you dismiss everything they do as being inferior. They’re trying to communicate with you, not win a stupid game about whether a museum is better than the wilderness.

        Here’s a tip: view folks as expressing their beliefs rather than justifying them. When it comes right down to it, they don’t give a rats ass what you think anyway. And they shouldn’t. But you, for some reason, apparently do.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        I partially concede your second point. I decided not to go into academia because I already saw adjunct hell was a high potential and there were some rural locations that were acceptable to me but many were not and you don’t really have that option in academics.

        Though I question how often there are going to be times when urbanites are really going to have job options in rural areas. I disagree with my brother and Will about the ability to open up a legal shop in a rural community. Even my brother concedes that the big issue is that there might be a need but people choose to ignore the need because they can’t pay the fees.

        All this being said, I do find that many non-Jewish people have a hard time understanding the need for people in minorities to be near fellow group members. Even non-religious and largely secular Jews like to be around fellow Jews often enough. Then this gets into debates about Judaism as a religious/ethnicity/culture/etc. Stillwater seemed upset by my comments on wanting to be around fellow Jewish people for some reason and a good number of them.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater

        I admit to being a bit of a snob.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        The real difference, from my perspective, is that I don’t think we non-metropolitans ever come off as saying, “nobody who prefers Ruralia should ever have to go to Metropolis to find a job, it’s totes unfair and unacceptable.”

        Metropolitan areas wouldn’t exist (in anything close to their current form) without people having to move out of economic necessity. So it does seem kind of weird to talk about how people that live in them shouldn’t have to move somewhere else out of economic necessity. Cities didn’t spring up because people wanted to be able to go to nicer museums.

        And in a more ideal world, nobody should be forced to. How much I favor public subsidy so that they can live precisely where they want is another matter (and yes, I feel the same way about people who live in the middle of nowhere). Also another matter is how I respond when they complain about their lack of economic opportunities, if there are economic opportunities in places they’d prefer not go.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul, I’m glad you can admit it. And there’s no problem with being a snob (except for how you justify it to yourself and all that). The problem is that you admit that you’re a snob while continuing to criticize folks who choose to live in plebeian ways. THat’s incoherent to me, given that word means “a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class.”

        Just the mere admission that you recognize that you’re a snob ought to (at least by my reasoning) make you realize that snobbery rests on a big huge steaming pile of [redacted].Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s nothing wrong with being a snob. I roll my eyes every time we have a thread about yet another superhero movie (honestly, are all of you twelve years old?), I just manage to keep it to myself. Mostly.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul,

        Sure, being Jewish (at least one to whom the identification matters) is a big thing. It’s a legitimate reason to prefer certain places over the other, and it’s just an unfortunate thing, perhaps, that that means a limited number of places to prefer.

        And liking original theater (assuming one actually attends frequently, and not just the once or twice a year they could get by taking a weekend trip to the big city) is a good reason.

        And adding in all the various cultural things summed together, even if no one by itself was of sufficient weight, is a good reason.

        That doesn’t mean those reasons are there in that much real strength for everyone. So the suggestion to give Fargo a try isn’t, as a general rule, a terrible suggestion. How many New Yorkers, Los Angelenos, or Philadelphians actually know jack shit about life in Fargo? And how many of those folks like the idea of all that big city cultural stuff more than they actually engage with the reality of it? There are a lot of big city folk who engage with their city’s cultural offerings rarely enough that they could easily do it on occasional weekend trips.

        The advice is really just a suggestion of, “if you’re not finding what you need in your city, don’t knock what you don’t really know because you may find it’s not so bad.” It’s not a claim that “if you don’t like Ames, Iowa, there’s something wrong with you” or “it’s wrong to choose being a bartender in NY over studying particle physics in Ames.”

        Also, if you could handle the lonely Jew and too little original theater aspects, you could easily find a real niche with good people and good friends in a smaller town’s amateur theater scene. I’m not saying you should be satisfied with that, as obviously for you it may not be enough to overcome the other factors. I’m just pointing it out as one of the benefits of a smaller place that it is really easy to not notice. [Side note: At the moment all three of my daughters are at the theater working on the current production as sound, lights, and prop people, and #1 daughter has become the regular light board operator. I’m kind of proud.]Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        When I lived in Japan, I was the first Jewish person for many Japanese people and a good number of non-Japanese co-workers. One time I New Zealander co-worker and a Midwestern co-worker were talking and for some reason they were talking about Jewish people and how neither of them thought they ever knew a Jewish person. This was a few months into the job and I said “guess again”. My mid-western co-worker said “Where is your little hat?”

        I know she did not mean that as a malicious question but it does come off as putting me in an “Ummm” situation like the author of the essay I linked to. I have friends who grew up in noticeably un-Jewish areas and they have more horrible stories. They have stories of the “Do you have horns? Where are your hourns?” variety. Even very liberal Seattle can’t seem to escape some kind of inadvertent anti-Semitism because of the smaller Jewish population.

        Now to be fair, this kind of thing can happen in NYC as well. During my second year of grad school, I got a call about directing a Holiday show at a school with children with disabilities. The woman had a very deep Southern accent. To this day, I have no idea how she got my number. I told her that I was busy with grad school finals and work and did not know much about working with children, and was also Jewish. She also asked if I wore a “little hat”. Now how can someone live in NYC and not learn that such is an unacceptable comment in two to six months.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        To add on and perhaps clarify, I have my own very strong preferences for where I want to live, and my antipathy to the idea of living in the South is no secret. I even turned down a job interview in the south, with the full support of my wife at a time when we had three small children and no jobs lined up.

        So I’m not saying you’re wrong to refuse to live where you can’t be happy. I’m just saying that refusing to move to place X while bitching that there are no jobs in place Y is pretty intolerable, a real first world problem, and the advice to give place X a try isn’t an offense.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        May she was asking if you were a Yankees fan. I wouldn’t want one near my kids either.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        James, I’d say the distinction is that your preferences don’t derive from antipathy based on geography or income distribution, or idiosyncratic religious preferences. They result from having actually experienced those places and deciding that, while SF has some real merits, life in Michigan serves your and your families interests better. No . judgment of others is involved. Just the exercise of an individual preference.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater seemed upset by my comments on wanting to be around fellow Jewish people for some reason and a good number of them.

        Just saw this. Saul, I’m not upset about that. I’m not upset about any of the desires you seem to hold. Christ, I have lots of desires about where I’d like to live as well. SO that’s not the issue. To put a fine point on it, it’s that you think that somehow because you have the desires that you do, you expect the world to accommodate them. That’s just plain old childish. And I don’t care whether it’s the desire to be surrounded by High Art or fellow religious travelers. Nothing wrong with em. It’s when you say, or imply, that your inability to realize those desires is attributed to some defect in The World that I lose all sympathy, understanding, or agreement. IT’s the view of a child, to be honest.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
        Ignored
        says:

        @saul-degraw
        would rather live in a charming and cozy one or two bedroom apartment than a huge sprawling McMansion.

        My true real-life comparison is a tiny 1 bedroom build into someone’s garage (although to be sure, we had offstreet parking and sole use of the backyard) vs. an 1870 Queen Anne with an even bigger backyard that I bought for <$100k. And my kids go to the same school as the kids living in the McMansion development just outside of town.Report

  12. Avatar Wardsmith
    Ignored
    says:

    Have I been banned?Report

  13. Avatar Road Scholar
    Ignored
    says:

    Whenever I visit one of our larger terminals there is always a lineup of used trucks for lease. Like most large trucking companies, ours offers the option of leasing a truck through an internal subsidiary and being an “owner-operator” rather than just a company driver. In fact they seem to push it sort of hard. But those used trucks are there because someone tried that and ended up bailing.

    That always made me suspicious of the concept. I mean… the trip revenue is going to be the same either way as are the expenses, right? So if it’s a better deal for the driver then how can it also be advantageous to the company as evidenced by how hard they push that option? The answer is the same reason McDonald’s has both company-owned stores and franchisees. A franchise operator is going to approach the task with a different degree of commitment than a salaried manager. So the revenue and expenses really aren’t going to be the same in the two scenarios.

    The problem that leads to many of those used trucks sitting there is that the company pushes the owner-operator thing on drivers with as little as six months behind the wheel. That’s way too soon to have made the standard suite of mistakes almost every driver has to make to really learn this craft (pro-tip: knowing how to drive a car is only minimally relevant) and it’s certainly too soon to know if you’re really cut out for the lifestyle.

    tl, dr: Entrepreneurship is a wonderful thing that can pay off handsomely but it isn’t for everyone and learning it isn’t for you can be a painful experience. It seems ill-advised for someone just starting out.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Road Scholar
      Ignored
      says:

      @road-scholar

      I think that’s a good point. And to riff off it, it’s a point very consistent, in my opinion, with Saul’s critique of “entrepreneurial culture.”

      In my view, it’s not that it’s bad to promote entrepreneurialism. It’s that what often counts as promoting entrepreneurialism can have two adverse consequences. The first, relatively minor in my opinion, is that it can downplay the availability of other options.

      The second, is that it can be a substitute for just a different way of passing costs onto people who in most other respects are actually employees. An employer has fewer legal and other obligations to a “contractor” than to an “employee.” I don’t want to go whole hog against contractor’ism–it can open opportunities for people who might otherwise might not have them–but it is another way to get people to work for less. I would prefer to live in a world where people are free to become contractors, but I wouldn’t want to pretend that the movement comes without costs or is uniformly advantageous to workers.

      That said, I’m not sure if the point can be extended to law grads. Maybe it can, but I’m too ignorant on the world they face and the skills they have to say for sure.Report

  14. Avatar James Pearce
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m with the “harmless advice” crowd, and will even scoot a bit over and say it’s good advice.

    I have a lawyer friend who was stuck working at a shady firm mostly due to her immigration status. (She’s from Canada.) As soon as she got her green card, she left that firm and started her own, a small storefront Abrogada service. Obama’s America has provided her a steady stream of paying work defending people in deportation proceedings.

    Just because it worked for her, of course, doesn’t mean that it will work for everybody. But I do think her experience proves that it will work for somebody, and those somebodies could use the encouragement.Report

  15. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    From what I understand, there are more journalism degrees given out every year than there are jobs in the industry.

    Not “available jobs”, mind… jobs *PERIOD*.

    And this happens every year.

    Is the problem the institutions giving these degrees out? Is the problem with the unrealistic expectations of the people who go out and get a journalism degree in 2014, of all times? Is the problem with all of the journalists who probably should retire but haven’t yet?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      GRRM was a journalist major.
      I think Journalism does a better job of signaling “I am a serious person who can write serious things” than “Communications Major” anyhow…Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I could be wrong here, I haven’t gone to look it up, but seems to me that most people who get a journalism degree end up doing corporate PR. I know I was offered corporate PR jobs based on my journalism.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I am going to agree with Kim here but point out that Martin probably got his journalism degree long before 2014. But she is right about signalling. I know people with MFAs in creative writing who turned it into corporate writing and advertising jobs. I know other MFAs who did not so mileage my vary. I’ve been trying to encourage a playwright friend into corporate writing without much success.

      That being said, I think there is a big problem in trying to pick a major based on usefulness unless it is pre-med or a very general business degree or accounting. I know someone who switched from majoring in English to majoring in Forensics because Forensics is useful and practical and she is having a rough time getting a forensics job because agencies just sort of put those jobs up to collect resumes even if they have no intent to hire.

      The problem with job market supply and demand is that it can change on a dime. I think people generally do look at what the market needs and pick majors based on that but then there is always on over-production problem. As far as I can tell, lots of people are trying to learn coding and programming and IT stuff now including some people I know from law school. I can see this leading to oversupply in maybe 5-10 years. Maybe even less.Report

  16. I think that a good having a degree from a top law school can provide an advantage but still is not a guarantee for success. It still needs a lot of dedication, hard work and talent to become a good lawyer.Report

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