Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Difficult Job Market for the Class of 2011

A New York Times story on the legal market here, and, in particular, the difficulties facing current 2Ls.  What I hear from talking to career services professionals is that, among the elite law schools, things will be hardest for the biggest law schools (like Harvard and NYU, both mentioned in the article), for a simple reason:  even if firms are cutting their hiring (Skadden, the example in the article, is cutting its hiring of new attorneys by half), they still like to have a representation of graduates of elite law schools in the new class of summer associates and ultimately associates, since that is usually good for future recruitment efforts.  But since they're slashing overall hiring, that means having just 1 or 2 from each elite law school rather than 3 or 4 or 5.  If the Skaddens of the world are looking for 1 or 2 from Chicago or Yale, with classes of about 200, but also 1 or 2 from NYU and Virginia, with classes of 400 and up, it's clear where the burden will fall heaviest--at least insofar as hiring by elite law firms goes.  But, as the article notes, 2Ls will also need to cast the net wider than in the past--which will create pressure, in turn, on the graduates of other very good law schools that may, in the past, have had a corner on legal employers in their regions.   Indeed, though the New York Times with its characteristic Ivy League obsession, focuses on students at top law schools, the greatest difficulties, I fear, will be faced by the majority of law students at law schools outside the top 15-20.

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