Law Week reports that things are bleak in Colorado:
In 2009, more people passed the July Colorado bar exam than in any other year this decade. But the boom in the number of new lawyers is happening during a bust in the job market.The school’s Career Office is probably embarrassed; good thing that it does not view itself as a placement office:
About 35 percent of the University of Colorado School of Law’s class of 2009 had jobs at graduation, down from 55 percent the year before.
“I think that we have out of necessity had to rethink our role in career development,” said SuSaNi Harris, assistant dean for CU law school’s Office of Career Development.Details are in development.
Most law schools no longer have traditional “placement offices” that line students up with jobs, she said.
“We got away from that because no office is staffed to place, one by one, each of their students. But what we’re exploring here is sort of a pseudo-placement effort.”
There is an expectation gap at many law schools: law students expect job placement, law school career offices expect only to provide job hunting skills.
Students tune out when they hear that the Career Office doesn’t offer anything more than resume critiques and a mock interview. I think that the majority of law students had some form of interviewing experience during undergrad (or during their previous careers) so the services offered by the Career Offices are pretty useless.
A student at my coworker’s law school was told by her career office that her grades were so bad that she should not bother with OCI. She was told that she shouldn't even go for practice because she was unemployable.
The student was so offended that she contacted the OCI employers, arranged her own interviews, and scored a job. She then returned to the career office and told them exactly what she thought about them.
But most students don’t approach the career office and say, “Hey, you are useless!” – they simply ignore the office.
Read Dennis's tale of woe and ineptitude regarding an interaction with his career services department, after the jump.
The lack of communication only exacerbates the problem. My employer recently held a recruiting event at my law school. There are a ton of students looking for jobs, but only three students showed up to the recruiting event.
I spoke at the event. Afterward a career office counselor (who I had never seen before) approached me and asked if I wanted write for the career office’s blog.
I was horrified.
I assumed that the career office simply did not advertise the event, but it turns out that they DID advertise the event, and just had no idea how to communicate with students.
I wanted to ask her, "If the career office can’t communicate with students, how the hell can you help us communicate with employers?"
The situation was ripe with fail.
Most people are not in law school to become legal scholars. We are presumably not pursing Masters degrees in literature because we want some sort of employment. When a school is only able to employ a third of its students, then the school has failed to meet the expectations of the people who shelled out the cost of a house (and a car) for an unemployment check.
I think that law school career offices should supplement students' independent job searches by working the alumni base on the students' behalf. This goes beyond arranging awkward mixers where students can barely hide their desperation.
Personally, I would like to see schools arrange more unpaid internships with employers.
What are your ideas on how career offices can become more effective?