Tuesday, December 3, 2013
From The American Lawyer:
In 2011 consultant Bruce MacEwen thought he had a solution to an intractable problem: finding the best law school graduates for firms without relying on the traditional rigid on-campus recruiting system. Inspired by the matching process used to place medical students in residencies, he and his business partner, Janet Stanton, created JD Match, a website that allows firms and students to rank their interest in each other and pairs students with the firm most likely to hire them. The site launched with great fanfare, earning praise from The Wall Street Journal and legal media outlets, who saw its potential to cut out the inefficiency in the current process.
But two years later, JD Match has failed to make much of an impact. The 6,000 job-seekers who have created profiles on the site outnumber the seven participating firms—Allen & Overy; K&L Gates; Morrison & Foerster; Pepper Hamilton; Proskauer Rose; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati—and represent only a fraction of the nation's 140,000 law students. Of those firms, only Allen & Overy would speak on the record about how it has used the site, and it's unclear how many students have actually been matched and hired.
The reluctance of law firms to embrace change, coupled with a postrecession slowdown in junior attorney hiring, appears to have thwarted MacEwen's plans to disrupt an industry in need of disruption. And while the on-campus interview process is still universally disliked, conversations with recruiting partners, law school career deans and law firm associates suggest that JD Match may never become the panacea its founders had hoped it would be.
MacEwen and Stanton acknowledge that the site hasn't taken off as quickly as they thought it would. "We are not remotely satisfied with the size of our membership," says MacEwen. (In addition to the seven firms, two other firms and one in-house department use JD Match in a customized capacity and have requested anonymity, he says.) "It's a network-effects marketplace," says MacEwen, who calls himself an armchair economist. "We really think that once we reach a certain critical mass, firms will begin to say, 'I can't afford not to be on there.'"
Stanton says the past two years have been a learning process. "Even though we know law firms don't like change, we underestimated that, frankly," she says.