Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

The aversion of non-legal employers to hiring lawyers is real

And it's not necessarily unjustified. I've been working i bazinga03/01/18
I work for a cloud provider in a technical role. We have two phillydoucherocket03/01/18
When I worked as a secretary for a law firm, I was a bit of qdllc03/01/18
This is overstated. There are still plenty of JD preferred j pherc03/01/18
It’s the type of people law schools/law attracts. Liberal jorgedeclaro03/01/18
As in-house counsel, I hate dealing with the some of the sev onehell03/01/18
Attorneys tend to over complicate everything and believe tha mtbislife03/02/18
I'd moderate that a little bit. Most people don't JUST want onehell03/02/18
I agree with this. People using their legal knowledge to fr jeffm03/02/18
Right. And even if the employee does turn out to be correct, onehell03/02/18
This makes no sense. Ask a layman how they would feel if the cantimaginenocountry03/02/18
It's not really that non-legal employers have an aversion to tttpride2503/03/18
I worked in a JD Advantage job once. I was the only attorney shikes03/03/18
Yeah, in my JD Advantage workplace, some guy tried to sue ov bazinga03/03/18
bazinga (Mar 1, 2018 - 2:56 pm)

And it's not necessarily unjustified.

I've been working in a JD preferred job for years. I got in during a brief period where the employer was hiring lawyers for a non-lawyer job. They've stopped doing that. The lawyers were, by and large, difficult people who made more messes than not and who were a huge pain in the rump.

This was true of maybe 70-80 percent of my fellow JDs on the job. They either refused to do the job the way it was supposed to be done, trying to create their own framework/rules/structure, or they couldn't take criticism and washed out, or they became divas and stopped just short of throwing their coffee in someone's face because it didn't have enough creamers in it. Most of them added to the stress level of the work environment and made management's life more difficult. A few even tried to sue over unreasonable/ridiculous things.

A good portion of why no one wants to hire lawyers for non-legal jobs is that the lawyers themselves seem to be unable to behave like normal people on the job. I get not being happy with bad pay, poor working conditions, or a lack of promotion potential. Those are normal things to be concerned about at a job. But demanding that everyone do things your way, trying to take over the workplace like it's a low rent Game of Thrones, or being a toxic person is just one reason that a lot of us who are more chill and normal have to talk our way past the stain of the JD.

Reply Like (0)
phillydoucherocket (Mar 1, 2018 - 6:06 pm)

I work for a cloud provider in a technical role. We have two lawyers working in tech support. Of course, we have high school grads with good linux chops doing the same thing.

Reply Like (0)
qdllc (Mar 1, 2018 - 3:14 pm)

When I worked as a secretary for a law firm, I was a bit of a diva. However, my issue was that I was responsible for getting stuff out and had to deal with many people who had no clue of how to do my job.

Reply Like (0)
pherc (Mar 1, 2018 - 4:15 pm)

This is overstated. There are still plenty of JD preferred jobs out there. I feel that the problem is that many people misconstrue what a JD preferred job actually is (a JD does not make you a better candidate for a business manager position for example) and/or they place their failure to secure a true JD preferred position solely on the JD rather than other factors.

Reply Like (0)
jorgedeclaro (Mar 1, 2018 - 4:23 pm)

It’s the type of people law schools/law attracts. Liberal arts people with no skills and illusions of grandeur. They don’t make for good employees. Lord forbid if their talentless asses are unappreciated.

Reply Like (0)
onehell (Mar 1, 2018 - 6:28 pm)

As in-house counsel, I hate dealing with the some of the several non-practicing lawyers who are peppered throughout the business side of the company. When dealing with a nonlawyer, if it's a simple question I can usually just give them an answer and move on.

But when dealing with some JD in HR or whatever, it often doesn't matter that they haven't practiced in 20 years or never practiced at all. I have to cite my sources, argue my case, sometimes (if the nonpracticing JD is important enough) even waste money getting outside counsel to back me up on an obvious answer. Every little thing is a debate with them and it's infuriating, especially since the delays they create will be blamed on my department, not theirs.

I can't understand why they do that. The jobs these JDs tend to have are better than mine in a lot of ways. It would seem to be quite stress-reducing to just let someone else take responsibility and blame. ("legal says we have to do it this way, not my fault!")

There are exceptions and when you can find one, it's great. The good nonpracticing JDs can write better than pretty much anyone else, they know when to ask for advice and when they can just function independently without needing a script and policy for every conceivable situation, and they also tend to have a better work ethic than most people. But they are few and far between.

Reply Like (0)
mtbislife (Mar 2, 2018 - 3:54 pm)

Attorneys tend to over complicate everything and believe that nitpicking minor details is being thorough and doing a good job. Bringing the same gunner attitude that they fostered during 1L does not bode well in the regular work place where folks just want to do the job and get home.

Reply Like (0)
onehell (Mar 2, 2018 - 5:16 pm)

I'd moderate that a little bit. Most people don't JUST want something done. If that were the case, then we'd be a society that basically half-asses everything. Good businesses want attention paid to details, but only when they are details that matter, to them, to the customer, etc.

The disconnect happens because lawyers and regular humans often have differing views about which details matter and which don't. Having good attention to detail is listed on lots of job descriptions. Being pedantic is not. The difference is basically a question of whether the detail you are paying attention to is perceived as important to those above you. So if the people above you aren't lawyers, and if you haven't been hired to BE a lawyer, you need to pay attention to the details your boss would care about, not the ones your JD training would make you want to care about. You have to resist your instincts for awhile if anyone is going to see qualities in a JD that are good for anything other than practicing law.

If you're hired to be a lawyer, then the client WANTS you to notice details that regular people wouldn't care about. They might not like the delay it can cause, but they'll generally recognize it as at least a necessary evil. A lawyer in a non-legal job, OTOH, wasn't hired for that purpose. Such a person needs to use that good quality skill they have in paying attention to detail, but before they apply that skill they must first learn a new paradigm for determining whether a certain detail matters or not, and just as importantly, whether it is a detail that is within the scope of their job.

Reply Like (0)
jeffm (Mar 2, 2018 - 6:56 pm)

I agree with this. People using their legal knowledge to frighten their employers (whether inadvertently or not) is not a good thing when their legal advice was never wanted. Now, employer has to worry and in some cases, spend extra money paying licensed attorneys to confirm the employee is either correct or a pain in the butt. Better be correct in ways that count and add value. If not, I can see the axe coming.

Reply Like (0)
onehell (Mar 2, 2018 - 7:08 pm)

Right. And even if the employee does turn out to be correct, now the employer has actual notice of whatever the issue is and even worse, the person who gave them that notice is either not a lawyer or wasn't hired as one, which means there's no privilege.

Giving unsolicited legal advice to an employer who has not hired you as a lawyer is not only dangerous because it could be wrong. It's also dangerous because it could be right.

Reply Like (0)
cantimaginenocountry (Mar 2, 2018 - 11:32 pm)

This makes no sense. Ask a layman how they would feel if their best friend was another a layman? Ask them if their best friend was a lawyer? Which would they prefer?

Reply Like (0)
tttpride25 (Mar 3, 2018 - 6:28 pm)

It's not really that non-legal employers have an aversion to hiring JD/Lawyers. It more that employers have a cookie-cutter profile of the kind of person they want to higher. That profile is almost never a JD that has never done the kind of work they do.

Another point I should make here is that a JD preferred job is really just any job that would be a good fit for a reasonably intelligent person that doesn't require a specific skill set.


The final point I'll make is hiring managers don't hire in a smart way. They'll hire someone that barely finished high school because they have used a specific tool the company uses over a much better candidate.

Reply Like (0)
shikes (Mar 3, 2018 - 8:30 pm)

I worked in a JD Advantage job once. I was the only attorney in the office, had no clue what I was doing, and everyone including my boss basically walked on eggshells around me because of the JD. In the year I was there before I got too bored of the work and left, I'm not even 100% sure I DID much of anything. It seemed like they would explain some business stuff to me, I'd throw some spreadsheet together and analyze some docs and write a memo on topics I had zero clue about, I was sure I was going to be fired cause I had no guidance and zero idea about the topic or what I was doing, but everyone always just nodded at my work product and told me it was great, then basically just fixed it and sent their version. I never heard anything but praise, but then I don't think my work product was ever used, and I HAD to be screwing it up left and right on sheer lack of any experience in the subject matter.

When I made the decision to leave and come back to the law cause I was bored of sitting in a chair looking at weird real estate documents and making spreadsheets, I basically started taking random days off under the guise of "working from home" and refused to ever work past 5 pm. My boss would literally say "We need to get this project finalized before tomorrow morning's meeting and I know you could use a bit more work". My response would be "Yeah, I'm busy tonight so not going to be able to get to it. Maybe (insert another employee's name) can help you out."

Strange ride, but I didn't think I adjusted well, though mostly because no one ever explained the business to me rather than me being unwilling to learn. I can see how some attorneys walk into the job thinking they are a big deal because of the JD.

Reply Like (0)
bazinga (Mar 3, 2018 - 10:40 pm)

Yeah, in my JD Advantage workplace, some guy tried to sue over BS stuff and ever since then, there's been a suspicion of the remaining JDs. Almost like we're all tainted because one guy tried to sue. Like somehow we are all laborers in the 1920s who tried to form a union and thus must be blacklisted.

Basically an employer shouldn't actually hire JDs unless the employer understands what it's getting into. Of course JDs are going to more easily understand how to sue and what can be sued over relative to someone without a JD. The employer has to be ready to assume that risk.

Reply Like (0)
Post a message in this thread