Monday, September 10, 2012

Good grades no longer enough for top 2L's intent on landing a job next summer

In light of the market, even the best job candidates must also be entrepreneurial during this season's OCI so says the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Although the blog is speaking about those students seeking positions next summer with BigLaw, the advice is especially relevant to any student hoping to land a paying gig. It means that in addition to the conventional wisdom to network, network and then network some more you should now include the need to tell employers you are willing to pay your own way for the privilege of interviewing with them.

[T]hese days even good grades aren’t enough to guarantee a slot in the Biglaw pipeline, which is narrower than ever amid tepid demand for legal services. As WSJ reported today, law firms have gotten even pickier, forcing students to take a more entrepreneurial approach to landing these coveted summer gigs. That means networking, loading up on 1L summer internships and, in one case, paying your own way to interviews.

It’s simple math: law schools are pumping out record numbers of graduates at a time when the number of available jobs has shrunk.

. . . .

“Firms have just dramatically shrunk these summer class sizes and they’re not going back,” said James Leipold, executive director of the non-profit National Association for Law Placement, or NALP.

On top to that, many firms have scaled back their on-campus interviews (OCI), the traditional route for students to catch the eye of Biglaw recruiters. Nationwide, just under 13% of 2011 law graduates got jobs after graduation through OCI, compared with more than 23% of 2009 law graduates, according to NALP.

So law schools are prodding their students to do whatever it takes to stand out.

“You can’t rely on on-campus interviews, you can’t rely on job postings,” said Sari Zimmerman, assistant dean for the office of career and professional development at University of California’s San Francisco-based Hastings College of the Law. “Given the reality, they have to pull out all the stops. They cannot afford to be passive, or to engage in failure fatigue.”


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