Cheapness, Job Searches, Summer Associates

Firms Now Looking for Unpaid Summer Associates

It sounds like something firms would try to keep on the down low, through anonymous postings on Craigslist. But in the new economy, it’s apparently no big deal for law firms to ask career services offices to send over students who are so desperate they’re willing to work for free. The ABA Journal reports:

Law schools in Florida have gotten a flood of requests from small and midsize law firms seeking summer associates willing to work for free — but career officials are not pleased…

Robert Levine, assistant dean for career development at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, tells the Daily Business Review that the U.S. Department of Labor encourages unpaid internships to be coordinated through the school’s clinical program.

“It’s a big problem because the students want the experience and the firms need the help,” Levine told the publication. “All of the law schools throughout the state are dealing with this issue.”

Please tell me this is some kind of weird Florida problem, and this kind of behavior will be limited to the Sunshine State…

The problems in Florida aren’t just with Nova Southeastern. It’s bad at the University of Miami too:

The University of Miami School of Law, facing a shortage of summer associate positions this year, dramatically boosted its unpaid internship program. The school worked with nonprofit legal groups, government agencies and corporate counsel to set up unpaid summer programs allowing students to get valuable experience and credit, even if they did not get paid.

About 140 students out of about 450 incoming 3Ls participated, said Marcy Cox, UM Law’s assistant dean of career development. Students had to make their own travel and living arrangements to places as far away as Germany and Switzerland.

Miami, you might remember, had so many people trying to get into its 2012 class that it had to offer a deferral to members of that class. But as we’ve seen time and time again, getting a job is apparently not something people consider when they decide to apply to law school.

For what it’s worth, not all law firms in Florida are shamelessly trying to snap up desperate talent for free. The Daily Business Review reports:

“Yes, we’ve had people write and offer to work for free,” said John Sumberg, managing partner of Bilzin Sumberg Baena & Axelrod in Miami. “We would not consider doing that or cutting pay. It’s so tough out there. We were inundated with resumes. I’m hopeful that this will pass and we’ll get back to normal-sized summer programs, which would be good for the students and the law firms.”

How valuable is a law degree when upon graduation you are desperate to work for free? When is law school tuition a worthwhile investment when you have to fight for a $0 starting salary? I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade to ignore obvious facts and matriculate to law school anyway. I’m… just asking questions.

Is this happening in other states? Which firms are trying to set the price for summer associates at zero? Can people in Alabama find employment for $0/hour without needing three years of expensive post-graduate education?

Fla. Law Schools See Flood of Law Firm Requests for Unpaid Summer Associates [ABA Journal]
New 3Ls Had a Tough Summer Job Market [Daily Business Review]

Earlier: University of Miami Law School Defers 1Ls: This is Not A Joke

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