Earning a law degree does not entitle students to $160,000 a year jobs, in fact most law students will come out of school with additional debt and starting jobs that are equal to or even lower than other bachelor degree based positions. In one case law firm hopefuls in Boston are fighting over a $10,000 pear year position with law firm Gilbert & O’Bryan LLP.
The firm recently realized that the poor economy could earn cheap labor and so they posted the position with the promise that young attorney’s who are literally starving for work could jump in with their own case load to gather important experience inside and outside of the court room.
According to firm partner Larry O’Bryan they have already received 32 applications for the $10K per year job and it has only been posted for a week.
O’Bryan tells the Boston’s CBS Local affiliate:
“What we emphasize is that we do provide the opportunity for new associates to have their own case load right from the start.”
Putting the law firms pay into perspective, a minimum wage worker in the state nears $8 per hour with a regular 40 hour work week, that is $15,000 with four weeks vacation time. To earn minimum wage in the United States a work must make $7.25 per hour or $14,000 per year.
The firm is careful to not offer a per hour wage below state minimums, instead working on a “compensation” basis in which its job posting reads:
“Compensation is mainly based on percentage of work billed and collected … We expect an associate to earn $10,000 in compensation in the first year.”
If a worker puts in a minimum of 40 hours (unlikely given the workload for most lawyers) they can expect to earn approximately $4.81 per hour.
While there are exemptions to the minimum wage rule for doctors, lawyers and some other professions, it is clearly stated that those workers are expected to be paid at least $450 per week.
Sure there are jobs offering $160,000 per year but as you can imagine if 32 applicants applied for a job paying $10,000 per year the competition for those high paying jobs is astronomical in comparison.
It might be better than an unpaid internship, but perhaps the low value placed on the new worker is even more demoralizing than the valuable insight earned through an unpaid position.