Emory Law logo.jpgWhen times are tough, the tough get… whiny? A law student at Emory is frustrated by the lack of jobs being offered up by Career Services and circulated an email airing his or her discontent. Addressed to “My Fellow Emory Law Students,” it lambasts the employees charged with helping Emory grads land jobs.

It’s available in full after the jump, but here’s an excerpt:

This has gotten absolutely ridiculous. When we first entered Emory Law School, jobs were plentiful and career services could sit around and do nothing. Things are much different now. In 2008, the market collapse stunned the legal job market. Those $160,000+ jobs went from plentiful to a rare commodity, yet our tuition continues to rise and our loans accrue.

What has career services done? Nothing. Remember this item on Abovethelaw from exactly a year ago? Apparently, they’ve been a little too calm in this storm. Nevertheless, they still operate under their prior m.o. (sit in the office, do nothing but play solitaire, and expect jobs to walk into their office). Whenever students complain about the lack of OCI jobs (that will be discussed in another paragraph below), their response always references the down economy. When we ask for advice, we are told “Network.” Upon further inquiry about networking tips, we are told, “Talk to people.” They haven’t even attempted the extremes at Duke or SMU Law; options exist, but they don’t want to do the work.

Have Duke’s Bridge to Practice and SMU’s Test Drive set a new bar? Is it a fair expectation that part of your law school tuition go towards paying someone to hire you?

We reached out to Emory’s career services office for their response to the criticism. Assistant Dean of Career Services Janet Hutchinson took a break from solitaire to get back to us…

We asked Assistant Dean Hutchinson whether Emory has considered a “pay employers to hire Emory grads” Duke/SMU type program. She told us the school has looked at programs offered by other schools, including that one, but is trying out “Emory Law Connecting” first. It “pairs recent graduates who are still seeking employment with alumni, faculty and others for one-on-one assistance.”

Hopefully, there are some alumni out there who are hiring. Assistant Dean Hutchinson told us, “We’ll try that route first. We haven’t closed the door on other opportunities [such as the SMU or Duke programs].”

In the student’s email (below), he or she laments the paltry employer turn-out at OCI (1 employer in the fall, and 4 in the spring) — based on those numbers, the student was likely in the unfortunate position of being a jobless 3L. From the email:

Career services has no contact with mid or small firms in Atlanta (hell, they barely have contacts at BigLaw). Even our public interest jobs are lacking, and if it weren’t for EPIC, we would probably have no presence in this field…

They hide in their offices and appear once a semester with donuts. We don’t need donuts, we need jobs.

In 2009, of the top 50 law schools, Emory was #26 on the NLJ list of law schools with the highest percentage of graduates hired by top firms, for placing 23.5% of its grads in NLJ 250 firm jobs. That’s less than 1 in 4 people. Those set on Biglaw might have been better off going to school in New York or Chicago.

The hopeless 3L suggests laying off some of those in the career services office, and instead employing students to help other students find jobs.

Assistant Dean Hutchinson wrote in an email to us, “We certainly appreciate the frustration among some of our students and those across the country. I can assure you the career services team spends countless hours focused on helping our students and alumni in every possible way and on providing advice, guidance and support during these difficult times.”

She also said that the public interest opportunities were not as bleak as suggested by the student. In the spring, Emory participated in a public interest job fair along with other Georgia law schools which had 66 public interest employers offering work opportunities (though they included unpaid positions).

Below is the student’s email and Assistant Dean Hutchinson’s response. The question at the heart of this is what exactly law schools owe their students at graduation. Is it fair for law students to expect offer-of-employment letters to be handed over along with their diplomas?

EMORY LAW STUDENT EMAIL

To My Fellow Emory Law Students,

This has gotten absolutely ridiculous. When we first entered Emory Law School, jobs were plentiful and career services could sit around and do nothing. Things are much different now. In 2008, the market collapse stunned the legal job market. Those $160,000+ jobs went from plentiful to a rare commodity, yet our tuition continues to rise and our loans accrue.

What has career services done? Nothing. Remember this item on Abovethelaw from exactly a year ago? Apparently, they’ve been a little too calm in this storm. Nevertheless, they still operate under their prior m.o. (sit in the office, do nothing but play solitaire, and expect jobs to walk into their office). Whenever students complain about the lack of OCI jobs (that will be discussed in another paragraph below), their response always references the down economy. When we ask for advice, we are told “Network.” Upon further inquiry about networking tips, we are told, “Talk to people.” They haven’t even attempted the extremes at Duke or SMU Law; options exist, but they don’t want to do the work.

Our tuition finances this ridiculous office? We have a decent sized staff that I estimate to be 7-8 employees. What do they do to help? Nothing. Then becomes even clearer when you look to our past two OCI cycles:

Spring 2010:
* 4 Total Jobs
– 1 Military
– 1 Public Interest
– 1 Job in Georgia (yes, the entire state)
– 1 Job in Alabama

Fall 2010:
* 1 Total Job (not a misprint)

So let’s assume we have 8 full-time employees in career services. For Spring 2010, each employee brought ½ job to OCI. This Fall, they brought 1/8 a job a piece. In any other business setting, this department would be disbanded or purged from the payroll. Apparently at Emory Law School, this is business as usual. Nothing to see here folks, move along. If Professor Pratt (one person, not eight), can operate the entire field placement program (with at least 30 students a semester), I would expect a full-time staff to be able to replicate her output (at a minimum).

I think a student-run career service office could do better than this full-time staff. Maybe SBA should operate career services? Rather than pay a full-time staff, offer incentives for students to find jobs for fellow students? It would at a minimum be a much more efficient use of our money. Most people here got jobs from friends or friends of friends (maybe all the “networking” paid off; Thanks Career Services J).

Career services has no contact with mid or small firms in Atlanta (hell, they barely have contacts at BigLaw). Even our public interest jobs are lacking, and if it weren’t for EPIC, we would probably have no presence in this field.

It’s time for a change, we need to let our voices be heard. The pathetic thing is that they don’t even know our names. I’ve run into my career advisor in the hall, and when I say hi, she looks puzzled and asks me how I’m doing (while her brain tries to figure out who the hell I am). Who knows, it might be due to the rampant turnover they have each month. I don’t know how many career advisors we’ve had, but I know I get a ton of emails each time a new one is hired. Hmmm, could that be poor management from the top (*cough* “Dean” Hutchinson *cough*)?

They hide in their offices and appear once a semester with donuts. We don’t need donuts, we need jobs.

Sincerely,
The Unemployed Legal Eagle

EMAIL FROM ASSISTANT DEAN JANET HUTCHINSON TO ABOVE THE LAW

Thank you for your email. As I am sure you know, the extraordinary challenges facing the legal industry in the current recession have been difficult for all law schools. It is true that we have seen a decrease in participation in our on-campus interview and job fair programs, as have our peers. Despite these challenges, Emory Law remains committed to identifying new programming options and expanding our reach into new areas.

Over the past year and a half, we have instituted a number of new programs strategically designed in response to the changes in the legal market. We encourage all of our students to take advantage of our offerings focused on helping them strengthen their interviewing and networking skills and research and identify career options with small and mid-size firms, the public sector, and other employers and markets they might not have considered in different economic times. Obviously, we want every student to not only find a job, but also to find a fulfilling career. Given the current economic climate, that is more challenging each year.

The Office of Career Services has partnered closely with Emory Law’s Office of Alumni Relations to seek the assistance of our alumni as mentors and career advisors for our students. We have made significant changes to our mentor program and launched a new database of alumni advisors who stand ready to provide advice on all aspects of the legal profession to students and recent graduates. Also, we have launched a new program for 2010 graduates called Emory Law Connecting, which pairs recent graduates who are still seeking employment with alumni, faculty and others for one-on-one assistance.

We continue to collaborate with our Student Bar Association Career Services Committee, whose input has been invaluable, as we develop effective programs and events. Also, we continue to focus on the basics, such as one-on-one advising and assisting students in building strong application materials and job search skills. Regular communications from OCS include information about local bar events throughout the year and regional alumni events across the country during times when school is not in session.

We certainly appreciate the frustration among some of our students and those across the country. I can assure you the career services team spends countless hours focused on helping our students and alumni in every possible way and on providing advice, guidance and support during these difficult times.

Best,
Janet Hutchinson


Earlier: Emory Law School Suggests Calm Amidst Economic Storm


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