As Laid-Off Lawyers Look for Work, How to Find It Isn't Clear

Only a year or two ago, when the economy was relatively strong, Aviva Tiegerman had no interest in hearing from the multiple legal recruiters who called her daily at the Manhattan office of Kaye Scholer.

But now the 29-year-old Tiegerman, who was laid off in May from her job there as a second-year real estate associate, would love to hear the phone ring. Although she has found some temporary work, she is still struggling to find another career position, the 2006 cum laude graduate of Hofstra University School of Law tells the National Law Journal.

“I feel really lost right now,” she says.

About twice as many managers and professionals, including lawyers, are unemployed, compared to a year ago, according to the Associated Press. And many are feeling similarly adrift. Having seemingly lost their jobs out of the blue, they’re not sure, now, how best to try to put themselves once again on a solid financial and career footing.

“Did I think there would be layoffs? Yes,” says Hugh Kinast, a 31-year-old Cleveland commercial real estate lawyer. “Did I think I would be included? No.”

In December, Kinast was named an “Ohio Rising Star” by Cincinnati Magazine, the AP reports. By February, he had lost his job.

“Even the most highly qualified are having a very very hard time finding a job,” attorney Rick Gottlieb, who runs a small Boston bankruptcy practice, tells WBUR. When he posted a job opening for a new associate recently, he had 20 applications within an hour. At least two of the applicants graduated from law school with honors.

Judy St. John, an attorney who now works at Hoffman Recruiters in Boston, agrees. There just aren’t enough legal jobs right now for all the lawyers who are looking, she tells WBUR.

Some laid-off lawyers are thinking about changing to another career, St. John says.

And others who are having trouble finding work should also consider doing so, two Texas-based legal recruiters suggest in a recent Texas Lawyer article. “Do not assume that practicing law is the only option,” they write. “A tough job market is the perfect time to truly reflect upon one’s interests, skills and talents in a broader way.”

Related coverage: “March Mayhem: Law Firm Layoffs in 1 Week Total Nearly 1,500” “21,000 Legal Jobs Lost in Last Year” “For Affirmation Generation, Layoffs Hurt All the More” (Jan. 2008): “Law Grad, 32: Don’t Do What I Did”

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