Pop Quiz, hotshot: You’re a law school dean with a graduating class of 3Ls who aren’t able to find jobs upon completion of the expensive education you’ve provided. U.S. News is breathing down your neck, asking for “employed upon graduation” statistics. You’re terrified of plummeting in the rankings and losing your job, and you know better than anybody how difficult it is to find a job with a J.D. on your resume right now.
What do you do? What do you do?
Well, if you’re an actor that now isn’t even as accomplished as Sandra freaking Bullock, you probably start popping caps at your unemployed 3Ls. Anything to reduce that denominator.
But if you’re Rebecca H. White, dean of the University of Georgia Law School, a smart move is to start openly begging your alumni to help you out.
That’s precisely what Dean White did …
Dean White sent out this letter to Georgia Law alums:
As all of us are aware, we continue to face a difficult economy that has affected employment opportunities for law students and graduates across the country. At Georgia Law, we too are feeling the impact acutely through reduced employment opportunities for law students and upcoming Georgia Law graduates.
Many of you have been able to continue your support of the law school through hiring, and I want to express my appreciation for your participation in our on- and off-campus interview programs and for posting job announcements with the Office of Legal Career Services.
The hiring slowdown has resulted in an unprecedented number of highly credentialed law students who still seek summer and post-graduate positions. Our students are available for project work, for summer and full-time positions, and in certain circumstances for unpaid work for academic credit or as volunteers. Our Legal Career Services staff is eager to help you connect with well qualified students to fill any hiring needs you may have.
If you would like assistance or information regarding Georgia Law’s hiring services, I urge you to contact our Director of Legal Career Services, [Redacted]
Thank you for your continued support.
Rebecca H. White
Dean and J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law
University of Georgia
School of Law
One Georgia law student quipped:
Glad to see the law school is trying to encourage alumni to hire our graduates, but project work and volunteer positions for people who thought they were going to be able to get full time jobs after graduation is a little depressing.
I believe Athens natives R.E.M. have some words of wisdom for Georgia law students. I just don’t know if the song is Everybody Hurts or It’s the End of the World.
Meanwhile, Northwestern has also tapped into their alumni network. But they’re looking at steps down the road. Northwestern got a couple of grads to give them money to help fund 1Ls and 2Ls who would otherwise be facing a summer of poverty and no legal training. Here is part of the letter from Northwestern Law Dean David E. Van Zandt:
I am pleased to inform you that Don Reuben JD ’52 and Kellogg ’49 has provided a $100,000 donation to the Law School that allows us to increase our funding for 1st- and 2nd-year students who pursue volunteer public service positions during the upcoming summer 2010.
Because the current economic circumstances have reduced the number of law firm opportunities for 1st- and 2nd-year students nationwide, we anticipate that more students will pursue unpaid positions within the public sector this summer. Don’s gift anticipates this possibility and provides significant financial assistance to our students during this difficult period.
As a one-time opportunity, the Law School also has decided to double our contribution to Student Funded Public Interest Fellowships (SFPIF) and to provide up to $100,000 to support 2nd-year students, through a mix of institutional funds as well as targeted fundraising efforts that we are undertaking. We anticipate the combination of SFPIF’s tremendous fundraising efforts this year and an increased contribution to them from the Law School will allow SFPIF to support most qualifying 1st-year SFPIF members. The gift from Don Reuben and the Law School’s development efforts will allow the Law School to provide up to $4,000 toward living expenses for as many as 50 2nd-year students.
Of course, if 2Ls want to get a cut of this found money, they better act fast:
Eligibility details for 2nd-year students: Funding for 2nd-year students will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply, students must provide proof of full-time employment at an external government agency, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, an international NGO, or the Bluhm Legal Clinic to Cindy Wilson by April 15, 2010. If a student is being paid an amount less than $4,000 for the summer by their employer, the student may apply for an award to bring their total summer income to $4,000. The application for these grants is located on the Career Strategy Center public interest funding web page.
Now, I can only think of one summer where I got by on anything close to $4,000. It was after my freshman year of college and I distinctly remember a homeless man telling me to “cheer up” as I sullenly ate an apple for lunch near the Capitol.
But law students should talk to some Ph.D candidates about how to go about “funding” a summer. You get a little bit of fellowship money here, tutor rich children trying to up their SAT score there, drive a cab, put on a some clear heels and attack the pole — pretty soon you’ve got a budget you can live on.
It’s not easy, but if law school deans can beg for money, so can you.
Earlier: Northwestern Law Gets ‘Proactive’