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Business of Law

A Funny Thing Happened to Alex Barnett’s Legal Career: In a Dismal Job Market, He’s Now a Comedian

Posted Jul 20, 2010 7:38 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Unemployment has had a humorous aspect for attorney Alex Barnett.

Laid off by two law firms during 2008, the former class action plaintiffs lawyer now earns a paycheck by doing contract legal work for the city of New York. But his main gig is a new career launch as a stand-up comedian, reports the Wall Street Journal.

With the National Association for Law Placement reporting that only 71 percent of 2009 law school graduates are holding jobs that require both a juris doctor degree and a license to practice (down from 75 percent a year earlier) and a quarter of the 2009 class doing temp work, a law diploma isn't the ticket to career success that it used to be.

"Quite frankly a significant number of lawyers are simply moving out of the profession, just looking to do completely different things," consultant Jerry Kowalski tells the newspaper. "The overall picture is the huge oversupply of lawyers."

This is true even at major BigLaw firms: Despite a bankruptcy practice that reportedly is booming, the New York office of Weil Gotshal & Manges, for instance, hired only 20 summer associates this year, down from 96 last year, reports the New York Law Journal in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req).

Working six nights a week at comedy clubs and other venues, in addition to his day job, some of the gigs for free, Barnett says he makes about half as much as he used to in private practice. He declines to specify how much that was.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Have JD, Now What? Many Law Grads Get Jobs, But Not Dream Careers"

ABAJournal.com: "Bad Legal Job Market for 2010 Grads Could Get Worse in 2011, NALP Exec Says"

ABAJournal.com: "Unemployed Lawyer Applies for 1,000 Jobs, Scores Zero Interviews"

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