Job Searches, Law Professors, Law Schools

Emory Law Students Rush to Apply for Babysitting ‘Opportunity’

The last time we wrote about somebody on the Emory Law faculty trying to “help out” struggling, jobless Emory Law students, we were covering the train wreck of a commencement speech by professor Sara Stadler. She told graduating law students, many of whom didn’t have a job, to “get over” their sense of entitlement.

You’d think that the Emory faculty wouldn’t risk condescending to their students again, even in the name of trying to help them. But sitting in my inbox is a series of emails from Sarah Shalf, the director of the Emory field placement program, offering students the opportunity to babysit kids and “network” at her Super Bowl party.

Condescending? For a certain point of view, absolutely. But Shalf is honestly trying to help, and she’s using her party to do more for students than Emory Law career services is really doing right now. It’s not her fault that Emory Law students are so desperate for job opportunities that babysitting at a Super Bowl party where judges and lawyers will be represents a good deal.

Such a good deal that Shalf had to devise an application process for the babysitting gig….

The Field Placement Program at Emory hooks students up with externship opportunities. Professor Shalf sent out an email casually mentioning that her Super Bowl party could be a networking opportunity, and she was apparently flooded with people willing to do it. That led to this follow-up email:

Hi all–

Thanks for your interest!

First of all, this is completely separate from your field placement class — even though the opportunity is one that I am hosting — and it’s perhaps a bit different from what you might have been expecting based on my solicitation. So, don’t feel like you need to say yes because you’re in the class and you responded to this email — do this because you think you would have fun and get to network with some Atlanta lawyers.

That said — here’s the deal. My husband and I are hosting a Superbowl Party at our house (in Lake Claire, about 2 miles from the law school) this Sunday. This is an annual event to which we invite attorneys and judges who are friends of my husband’s firm (a solo plaintiff’s practice), or friends of ours, or both, and their kids are invited too. (So, we’re talking primarily about a few Bondurant Mixson attorneys, several members of Ga Trial Lawyers Assn, a few insurance defense lawyers, and the occasional state court judge or criminal lawyer — plus a sprinkling of law school faculty/administration from both Emory and GSU.) We have a 120 inch HD projection screen for the game (if you’re into the game), and catering, beer/wine, etc. We are expecting 50-75 in attendance over the course of the evening, about 12-15 of whom will be kids of varying ages (including my 10 year old stepson).

So, we’d like 2 responsible adults — I hope, some of you — to entertain the kids. (We expect to divide the group up into older kids in the game room — Xbox Kinect and Wii, plus Pool/Air Hockey — and younger ones upstairs watching movies, coloring, playing with legos, etc.) Since there are so many of you potentially interested, we can break it into 3 shifts, so that you are hanging with kids 1/3 of the time, and networking 2/3 of the time, thus making sure you actually get the networking as part of the experience.

The party starts at 5:30 (kickoff is 6:30, and the party typically ends around 10), so to cover the time when kids will likely be there, we’re looking at 5:15-9:45-ish (divided into 3, 1.5 hour shifts), understanding that the end of the night usually involves far fewer kids but we’ll have to play it by ear in terms of when there are few enough not to destroy the house without supervision. We’ll pay $20/hr, so $30 per supervisor per shift. As I mentioned, during the time when you’re not entertaining kids, we’ll make sure you get introduced around.

First of all, I want her TV.

Also, you’ll note that there is a long history of law professors getting students to babysit for them during this recession. It happened in Texas. It happened last spring at Columbia Law for the same $20/hour fee. Apparently, law students aren’t really qualified to provide legal advice to a paying client, but they’ll keep your kids from playing in traffic.

Kidding aside, it sounds like Shalf is honestly trying to help. I’m sure she could find some high school students to do it for the same price, but she understands that the job market is tough and just meeting people can give students a leg up.

Which is, of course, why so many Emory students want the babysitting job that Shalf has to make them apply:

Again, because so many of you responded, I’ll need to narrow the field down somehow. So, if you’re still interested in being considered, now that you know what this is about, please respond by tomorrow morning telling me briefly:

1. What year/degree you are
2. Whether you have a paying legal job lined up for post-graduation (if you’re a 3L) or summer (if you’re a 2L)
3. Why you’d like to network with this group of Atlanta lawyers — i.e. how it fits into your career plan (or your efforts to develop a career plan)
4. What your experience and interest is in supervising kids (even if it’s not formal employment)

All things being equal on the last two points, I will give preference to students graduating in 2012 who are still trying to network for potential Atlanta employment. And, if I have to narrow it down further, I will take the first 6 qualified responses.

Emory Law should be ashamed. Not of Sarah Shalf, she’s doing whatever she can think of to help out the kids in her program. Emory Law should be ashamed of itself that students are virtually lining up around the block to get in on the Super Bowl babysitting gig. Emory Law should be ashamed that it’s going to have third-year law students due to graduate in a couple of months who will be trying to catch an employer’s eye with their ability to prevent a child from stuffing Legos up its nose.

One tipster thinks there is more than enough blame to go around:

To me it seems like she’s just trying to get some babysitters for cheap during the Super Bowl. Guess it could go both ways. A genuine approach would be inviting ten students to watch the game at her house, without the catch of having to put in time babysitting. Our Spring OCI has 5 employers (I think all government), so in the face of zero jobs, this seems a little disingenuous.

This could be fueled by the school’s overall failure with a ton of initiatives (a picture book they had us go out during the summer to get passport photos and send them in, a new Professional Development Center (noone knows what it means), and bad experiences with career services…

I’m not inclined to criticize Shalf here. She’s getting inundated by students who want to network at her party. That wouldn’t be happening if Emory Law was putting its students in a position to succeed in this challenging job market.

What I really can’t wait for is the Emory recruitment brochure that boasts, “Emory Law students can’t help bumping into leading judges and attorneys in the community, even during the Super Bowl.”

Earlier: Possibly The Most Hypocritical Commencement Speech Ever
UT Law Has the Most Depressing Job Posting Ever
Going To A Top-Flight Law School Can Land You A Sweet Babysitting Gig

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