Job Searches, Law School Deans, Law Schools

SMU Law Dean Knew About Terrible Job Market in 2008: But Did He Tell Anybody?

SMU Law Dean John Attanasio

Students at the SMU Dedman School of Law are having a tough time securing jobs. Not shocking, I know. (But please send us your thoughts on how recruiting is going, or text us at 646-820-TIPS.)

The legal job market has been so bad for so long that it hardly even feels like news when we get more information that stinks.

But the terrible legal economy apparently counted as “emergency” news to the students at SMU. At least, that’s how the dean sees it. Students report that Dean John B. Attanasio called an emergency meeting last week to update students about the job market.

UPDATE: SMU sources now report that it wasn’t an “emergency” meeting, but a mandatory graduation meeting.

During the meeting, the dean revealed that he saw the terrible legal economy coming as far back as 2008. Which makes you wonder why he didn’t call such a meeting back in 2008…

A tipster gives us some bullet points from the dean’s message to the students. Here’s what he said:

* I have known about the horrible job market since 2008.

* I have been lecturing all over the world about this problem.

* I have written scholarly articles about how bad things are.

* I’ve seen this all before when I was at Duke.

Duke had job problems? I don’t believe it!

Speaking of Duke Law School, we know that it has been using its Bridge to Practice initiative to, er, burnish its employment statistics.

SMU had its own program to artificially inflate employment statistics. This spring SMU started its Test Drive program, where the school would pay employers to hire SMU students for a month. Evidently that little gambit isn’t working.

Given that the dean saw this coming way back in 2008, it’s kind of sad that the best idea SMU has come up with has been Test Drive. But it’s kind of offensive that the dean is now crowing about how he’s been on top of the legal job recession. I bet none of his scholarly articles or worldwide lectures showed up in SMU’s recruiting materials when he was busy convincing students to go to law school in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Wouldn’t you like to hear one of these lectures from Dean Attanasio? What does he say? “Before I start, I want to emphasize that this talk is ‘off the record.’ If my students back in Texas knew how we misled them into making a ruinous gamble on higher education, they’d be in open revolt.”

At the schoolwide meeting, our tipster reports that Dean Attanasio had some suggestions for struggling students:

1. Lower your expectations about a job.

2. Upon graduation, take any job you can find. This strategy may lead to a better job in two or more moves.

3. Pass the bar the first time by quitting whatever job you have no later than March.

Brilliant advice. Let me translate:

1. You guys are way more screwed than you think you are.

2. One word: “Plastics.”

3. To those of you who have no business being lawyers but got admitted here anyway, I don’t know what to tell you. But please do try to pass the bar, it will help us fleece the next incoming class.

Oh wait, that’s not advice on how to get a job. That’s Dean Attanasio imploring students to do whatever they can to help SMU keep its statistics up so the school doesn’t get slammed by U.S. News next year.

Of course my advice isn’t much better. If you are considering matriculating to SMU in 2011, don’t. If you are a 1L who has been there for a month, consider dropping out and learning an actual trade skill. If you are a 2L or a 3L, you are screwed. Some of you will find a way to fight and end up with a stable legal career. Others will take up residency in the Lost Generation.

I know that’s not terribly helpful. But unlike your dean, I’ve been telling you the truth since 2008.

Earlier: SMU Will Pay You To Hire Their Graduates

(hidden for your protection)

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