outlook for California lawyers showing slight sign of turnaround
Two years ago, recruiter Avis Caravello scoured the
country for corporate attorneys to fill hundreds of high-paying Bay Area jobs.
The salary offers climbed, law firm incentives poured in, and job-seeking
attorneys called the shots. And no matter how many qualified associates
Caravello reeled in, she recalls, it was not enough to fully fuel the many law
firms that were scrambling to keep up with an exploding economy.
Then the high-tech industry went into a tailspin - and
the race suddenly stopped. Corporate jobs dried up, Caravello recalls. Hundreds
of top-notch attorneys were shown the door.
"The bottom just fell out here almost overnight," says
Caravello, of San Francisco-based Avis Caravello Attorney Search Consultants.
"I don't think we'll ever again see what we saw in Silicon Valley. I
think that that was just an aberration. It was really extraordinary."
But even in an economy now rife with layoffs and hard luck
stories, the current job news is not all bad for California attorneys. Some
attorneys have found pockets of opportunity amid the high-tech collapse, the
recession and the added uncertainty triggered by the Sept. 11 attacks. Others
are migrating to practice areas still in demand. And while the job pickings
remain slim, consultants and recruiters say they are beginning to see small
signs of a turnaround in some areas.
seem to be going into a period of change again," says Beverly Hills-based
recruiter John Jameson. "We're seeing a small uptick, but it's the first
true uptick I've seen since this recession started."
grad's hopes dashed by dozens of rejection notices
When Lael Beloate graduated from McGeorge School of Law
last May, he had high hopes for a career in patient law. He had a background in
science. He had carefully chosen his specialty. And he went on to pass the
federal patent bar and the California bar examination on his first attempts.
But then, months went by without a single job interview.
And after sending out 377 resumes to targeted employers
- and receiving 60 rejections back the very next day - Beloate began to
"That was probably my lowest point," he recalls.
"Then I got 30 or so the next day, and 20 the next. Now I get two or three a
days, the 29-year-old San Mateo attorney applies for any law job remotely
related to his study areas. He also has applied for one of 950 recently
authorized patent examiner jobs. He's even applied for paralegal
of qualified interpreters raises the courtroom language barrier
Some must use their children as interpreters
when facing an eviction or other pressing civil matter. Some
show up in court unable to communicate with the judge or court
staff. And some - fearing a language barrier - simply do not
show up for court at all.
Those who speak little or no English in California - and
those in the legal system who seek to understand them - face numerous,
complex challenges. Generally, for example, only those involved in criminal and
juvenile cases are entitled to a court-appointed interpreter. Those in most
civil cases are not. And while more than 200 different languages are spoken in
California, there are still far too few qualified court interpreters to meet
the need even in mandated cases, court officials say.
In light of widespread concern, the California Commission
on Access to Justice has launched a "Language Access Project" aimed at
working with the Judicial Council, local courts, legal services providers and
community-based organizations to find ways to overcome a variety of language
barriers in the legal system.
demand, in terms of the need for interpreters, exceeds the supply by
extraordinary orders of magnitude," said Walnut Creek attorney Geoffrey
Robinson, who chairs the commission's language access committee.
"Recognizing that a plethora of certified court interpreters are not going to
magically appear overnight, we're looking at
You Become 18 coming in May
When You Become 18, a popular booklet formerly
produced by California Law Advocates, will be published by the State Bar as a
second section to the May issue of California Bar Journal in conjunction with
Law Day activities.
Supported by $50,000 from the Foundation of the State Bar,
When You Become 18 is considered a survival guide for teen-agers. It
includes chapters on voting, jury duty, marriage, divorce, child support, date
rape, establishing credit and other topics 18-year-olds should know about. The
booklet also will be distributed to schools throughout the state by the