My name is Lindsey, and I’m a 2008 law school graduate. That’s right. I am a member of what is being termed the “Lost Generation”, those who graduated from law school between 2008 and 2010.
The term originally described the generation that came of age between World War I and the Great Depression. Wow that’s a lot to live up to. Why the heavy monkey on our backs? Many 2008 graduates expected to leave law school and enter firms after bar admission. And then the economy tanked. Firms lost business and could no longer afford the next wave of summer associates waiting in the wings for their dream jobs. What were those associates to do? Government and non-profit jobs were suddenly a hot commodity. With the influx of talent, salary no longer mattered despite often six figures in loan debt. Talented attorneys were looking for experience and a reason to get out of bed. The trend continued into 2009 and 2010. Those graduates faced not only a reduction in hiring, but also the attorneys from previous years still fighting their way through job applications too numerous to count.
Where are we today? The recession appears to be over and the jobs are slowly reappearing. However, with the backlog of talent in the Twin Cities, the Lost Generation will likely struggle for years to come.
When I started law school in 2005, all I knew was that I wanted to help people. Sounds like a line but its true! I come from what I term an “economically disadvantaged” background. We were often poor. Dirt poor. Food shelf poor. Were it not for the assistance of many people along the way and the support of loving parents, I would never have dreamed of trying to obtain a full scholarship to Wellesley College. After my graduation from Wellesley, I struggled with what I wanted to do. My parents both faced major health issues, so I knew I wanted to be closer to them. I felt this overwhelming need to try to give back to society because of my relative good fortune. I thought law school would best combine my desire as well as my interests and talents (writing, editing, research etc.) My English degree would not go to waste after all! Perhaps taking on six figures in debt when I knew that Big Law and its accompanying salary were not my bag was a poor decision. Hindsight is 20/20. But I loved law school and there’s no looking back now.
I was admitted to the bar in 2008 and shortly thereafter was lucky enough to obtain a judicial clerkship. In January 2010, my life changed forever. In the same week, I found out that my husband and I were expecting our first child and that my mother had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was terrified about becoming a parent, having little experience with children. But my mother, despite her own struggles, patiently guided me through and cherished the idea of finally becoming a grandmother. My world was again turned upside down in April 2010. In the same week, my clerkship ended and my mother passed away suddenly.
2010 was both the best and the worst year of my life. I spent most of my pregnancy at the depths of grief. No words can describe my misery. My husband and I welcomed our daughter in September 2010. For me, her birth was bittersweet. Darkened only by the absence of my mother. I knew that being a newly motherless mother, I needed to take time to focus on my child. As the months wore on, my fears regarding my career surfaced. Where would I even begin to start my job search after so long? Have I been out of practice for too long? When will the jobs begin to reappear? How will I prioritize my job quest when I am caring for a nursling who, at this point, is extremely attached to me?
I finally feel that I am at the point in my first year of motherhood that I am able to re-focus my energy on my career. I’ve loved my time with my daughter and wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, I am also wistful about being out there in the world–discussing topics which made me love law school in the first place. I know that when I do need to head off to work, my daughter will understand one day that it was because of her love that I was able to pick myself up, brush myself off, and try again. I cannot imagine a better lesson to teach, and one that perhaps can apply to all of the Lost Generation.