The View From Your Recession: Checking Back In

We thought it might be a useful way to check in anecdotally with the impact of the recession if we went back and emailed various readers who sent in their personal "views from the recession" this past year. Here's an update from the ten-year veteran of TV scriptwriting who was considering a jump to law school because of the industry's bleak environment. His friend was laid off in the writers' strike and hadn't been able to find work for over a year, so he was close to offering his friend temporary quarters with him and his girlfriend. The original post is here. The reader writes:

I began searching for work in the legal field in earnest to get away from my demanding job and my abusive boss. After things deteriorated with my boss and he started to insult me on a nearly daily basis I decided to dedicate myself to studying for the LSAT full time. Luckily I was able to arrange being laid off so I was able to collect unemployment. On my last day my boss called me a "fucking moron" for an obviously innocent (and small) mistake. Unable to say anything back and put my unemployment at risk I bit my tongue and pressed on to bigger and hopefully better things. Scared as heck that I was now unemployed in a worsening job market, I pressed on and spent 6 hours a day studying for the LSAT for the next three months, got my results and have now applied to a lot of law schools.

I also proposed to my girlfriend and have begun a lot of big picture planning for our lives together. It's disorienting, even as a 30-something to be making choices that will affect your life for literally decades.

Maybe i'm just a kid at heart but I feel these decisions are so big they can't possibly be mine to make. In the next 8 months we will plan, pay for and execute a wedding, sell our condo, buy two new cars, move, I'll start law school and my fiancee will start a new job. Stress isn't so much an occurrence as it is our environment.

Further complicating matters is the fact that I will be taking on six figures of debt and graduating into an unknowable job market as an older first year lawyer.
It's no small stress that I may be in a worse position in 4 years than I am currently (and as many a law advisor has told me, the legal job market is "in flux"). My only counter-move to this has been to strongly consider doing a dual degree JD/MBA program in the hopes that the extra year of schooling will help my marketability (at the cost of another year out of the job market as well as adding to the pile of debt). After the holidays if I can scrape enough money together I plan on trying to learn a foreign language (something that's been very difficult with my dyslexia) in the hopes that that too will help my marketability when i enter the job market. We'll see if there is a happy ending here. I plan on being a dedicated husband and a good provider. I just hope that my current all-in bet isn't something that we'll regret for a long long time. Knowing that money is the number one stress for relationships it's hard not to feel that the bet on law school isn't more than just a bet on a career path.

As for my friend, the job market never seemed to turn around for him. He attempted to transition into a career with solar energy companies but the work just wasn't there yet (and he had no experience). Things got progressively worse and he ended up not moving in with me. Instead he sold a lot of his possessions, elected to return to the mid-west and move in with his parents. I know this isn't the end of his story and I hope that he'll be able to get everything together for himself and attack life and the job market again after some time to reflect and collect himself. As someone who's had to move in with his parents after he'd long since considered himself established I know how difficult living with your parents can be on your sense of pride and purpose. I hope that in his private moments he sees the hope and possibility that still exists for him and he doesn't allow his current situation to erode his pride and fervor that he attacks life with.

Sadly he is not the only close friend who is going through a difficult time right now. The best news I've heard any of my friends getting in the past 6 months was a friend of mine with two children under the age of 3, a hefty mortgage and a stay at home wife who was laid off unexpectedly from his law firm 4 months ago who just found work this past week. The news made me so happy I teared up. I haven't been that happy (aside from my engagement) in a long time.