There’s a career panel going on in downtown S.F. tonight at 6, and a couple of big-firm people are supposed to be taking part: Perkins Coie’s Michael Gotham (director of attorney recruiting and retention) and Nixon Peabody’s Ann Miller (a San Francisco partner who’s served as hiring partner before). Lobbyist Meg Catzen-Brown is also supposed to be there, giving her point of view on legislative trends in D.C. and Sacramento that may hint at what areas of legal work might actually be growing.
The event, sponsored by one of the USF School of Law’s alumni groups, is open to the public. You don’t have to be USF-affiliated, but it carries a price: $15 for current USF law students, $25 for new-ish attorneys (2003-2008 law grads from anywhere) and $35 for more experienced attorneys. It’s taking place at the Academy of Art University building at 79 New Montgomery St. Registration starts at 5:30 and discussion at 6, with a reception to follow at 7.
We chatted up Jeff Brand, the dean at USF’s law school, who will be moderating, for a preview. He expects the audience to be a real mix of students, recent grads and more seasoned attorneys. “I can tell you we’re going to focus on what the outlook is, changes in the work environment in light of the crisis, and practical advice they [the panelists] would give, sitting where they sit.”
He said it’s tough to document how many students on his own campus are losing offers, or fearing that they won’t get one, whether for summer or full-time work. “I hear snatches of conversations … and anxiety about offers being made and offers being terminated. So I can tell you it’s in the air. … They watched Heller collapse. They watched Thelen collapse. They watched cutbacks at MoFo. That’s like Toyota shutting down: These are venerable, good firms. So it’s a very tricky time. But they’ll get through it.”
His big-picture advice is to keep the big-picture in mind, though he says over and over that he knows students’ anxiety is valid. “They need to take the long view. … They have to be willing to experiment. Students, they have to keep in mind that volunteering can lead to good things, even though they’re cash-strapped. … And then, just to be flexible and keep pushing and look for those opportunities. There are opportunities out there.” Alums can play a part: He says that was the source of two “opportunities” recently posted to USF law students on LinkedIn.
No plans at the moment to post any video of tonight’s panel online, but we’ll update you if we hear differently.