Reorganized Career Center with New Positions. To meet the evolving demands of the legal job market, we have created two new positions in the Career Center. An employer outreach and alumni opportunity specialist will work from our Portland campus, while in Eugene we will add a team member who is knowledgeable about the wide array of professional paths beyond the traditional practice of law that are available to our graduates. These staffing enhancements will allow us to further develop our subject matter expertise, expand our outreach efforts, and increase our availability to students and graduates.New 1L Course. I am pleased to announce that, starting this fall, the first-year curriculum will include a course on career exploration and professional planning and preparation. This class offers every student early exposure to professional opportunities, expectations, and responsibilities;connections with experienced professionals; and one-on-one attention from a career counselor focused on helping each student identify individualized goals and strategies. The course will serve as a foundation for the Career Center’s ongoing work with each student and will help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a highly competitive job market. The components of this course – including programs, workshops, and counseling – will be available to all law school students. (emphasis in original)Your Role in this Effort. The Career Center reorganization and professional planning course are among the many steps we will be taking to help students succeed in the job market. We have also asked our alumni and friends to keep supporting you in your career pursuits. Students, your responsibility is to work hard, be open-minded, and call, write, or stop by anytime you have a question. Our mission is to facilitate your transition from the classroom to the workplace; our passion is to help you secure exciting opportunities by partnering with you on your professional development.
Although it's nice that lots of respectable law schools are finally beginning to understand that their graduates really aren't getting jobs, this sort of response deflects attention from why that's the case (because there aren't enough jobs) by engaging in a combination of expensive and largely useless gestures and implicit victim-blaming.
If there's one proposition on which almost all law students and law graduates seem to agree it's that career development offices are a huge waste of money. Students and grads complain bitterly that their particular law school's CDO is unusually incompetent, but this is in most cases probably a misperception. The baseline level of competence for the typical law school CDO seems to be very low, because law schools, as is their wont in regard to almost everything, tend to hire people who have no particular expertise or training in what they're expected to do, but rather are washed out lawyers. (This hiring pattern, ironically enough, is apparently based on the assumption that a law degree is Versatile, and mysteriously prepares you for all sorts of careers besides being a lawyer.)
Besides even competent career development people can't create legal jobs that don't exist, nor can they make a JD any more attractive to non-legal employers than it is, which is not very. Still, legal administrators prefer to indulge in the theory that a combination of better (meaning more, and more expensive) CDO personnel, along with students who really know how to look for jobs, will solve the problem that law schools are cranking out far too many graduates at far too high a cost, since the alternatives to that theory are too horrible to contemplate.
The logical end point of this train wreck of thought is to actually spend first-year class time on [not] learning how to get a job, rather than on [not] learning how to be a lawyer.
A crucial aspect of all this is the assumption that students and grads need to learn how to find and get jobs, which is nonsense on pretty much every level (I guarantee you that current law students and recent grads are vastly more knowledgeable about these things than their professors, who were simply issued large firm jobs, along with a copy of Rumours, back in the day). But it's much more fun to indulge in images of "unprofessional" immature entitled Facebook-addled kids, failing to get that job with Davis Polk because they didn't properly understand "professional opportunities, expectations, and responsibilities."
Speaking of which:
Representatives from all corners of the legal world are coming together in New York to try to solve the riddle of the worst legal job market in 20 years.
The New York City Bar Association has conscripted law-school deans, legal aid directors, in-house counsel and law-firm partners into a search for a solution to a job market in which only 55% of the class of 2011 had found full-time positions requiring a law degree nine months after graduating.
The task force includes representatives from the New York County District Attorney's Office, Harvard Law School, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Pfizer Inc. PFE +0.62% and the Legal Aid Society, to name a few.
Carey R. Dunne, the new president of the bar association, said the group will convene for the first time in September. He has charged the group with isolating the causes of the job shortage and making recommendations, which he expects in about a year.
"This isn't just a hand-wringing exercise," said Mr. Dunne, chairman of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP's litigation practice.
The economic downturn accelerated what many experts believe are irreversible shifts in the legal profession. Corporate clients that are cutting back are more likely to seek alternative billing models. Legal staffing companies, which supply temporary lawyers who are paid as little as $25 to $30 an hour to review documents, have eaten into the work that had been done by law-firm associates for several hundred dollars an hour.
Law-school tuition, meanwhile, has continued to rise. In the past year, disgruntled graduates have filed more than a dozen lawsuits accusing law schools of dressing up their employment figures to attract protective students. (The American Bar Association has since demanded more detailed data from schools.)
Mr. Dunne said finger-pointing was short-sighted. One purpose of the task force, he said, is to expose the participants to one another's perspectives. Too often, he said, the focus has been on large firms and top-flight law schools. "A different story needs to be told at the other levels of the market," he said.
Again, it's nice to see some panic in New York, but contrary to what you may have seen on TV or heard in a commencement day speech, very few people go to law school on the assumption that they'll get jobs with Davis Polk, or Skadden, or DANY, or in-house at Pfizer, or for that matter the Harvard Law School. They're going to law school on the assumption, mistaken though it increasingly is, that they will get jobs as lawyers. And unless these august personages can magically conjure up a whole lot more of those kinds of jobs, this kind of task force is indeed going to be another hand-wringing exercise.