Biglaw, Job Searches, Law Schools

Law School Throws ‘Job Idol’ Competition, Grand Prize: Not a Job

Voted ‘Mr. Congeniality’ by a panel of Biglaw partners.

The best competitions reward the winner with something related to their skill. If you win American Idol, you get a recording contract. On Project Runway, you get a clothing line. In the Hunger Games, you get to be alive.

Tying the tested skills to the ultimate reward is a concept so strikingly obvious that even we at Above the Law grasped the concept. In 2008, we held a competition among writers, which we called ATL Idol, and we hired the guy who won.

At Case Western Reserve University School of Law, the Career Development Office has announced a “Job Idol” competition, to determine which lucky Case Western Spartan has the chops to earn a law firm job.

We had a similar competition when I went to school. It was called “Early Interview Week,” and the top 98 percent of competitors won a job.

So what do the winners get at Case Western? We have the official advertisement for the competition.

Spoiler alert: They don’t get jobs….

Well, here’s the flyer:

So right off the bat, let’s consider the public relations SNAFU that befell Squire Sanders, Baker Hostetler, and Benesch. Each firm sponsors one of the prizes. And given that none of these prizes is a job, each firm placed a spotlight on the facts that: (a) they know Case Western students are trying to get jobs, and (b) they are not handing out those jobs and would rather toss out a small prize instead.

First place is a round-trip airline ticket from Squire Sanders, presumably with a message explaining: “We aren’t hiring you, but perhaps you can fly to a better legal market.” It’s also worth noting that it’s awarding “one round-trip airline ticket.” Unless you’re looking to go on vacation by yourself, you’re going to have to con someone into paying full-price to join you. Second place gets tickets to see the Cleveland Indians play the Phillies in April, which is awesome because nothing says “high stakes sporting event” like April baseball. And rounding out the prizes, Benesch is giving out a Kindle Fire HD — a product that retails for $199. It must have been a coup for Case Western to get a law firm to part with an hour of paralegal billing to sponsor this thing.

There’s something very meta about law firms laying down money for students to interview for jobs they won’t get. Chuck Klosterman once wrote, “The Sims is an escapist vehicle for people who want to escape to where they already are.” Law firms could hold interviews and reject all the applicants for free, but, like someone experiencing real life through The Sims, they’ve decided to lay down a little bit of cash to not give jobs to pretend interviewees.

The competitors are asked to film a 60-second answer “to the most common interview and networking question: ‘Tell me about yourself.'”

Yeah, that’s not actually a question, Ace (which the author should have noticed after banging out the sentence and not hitting a question mark). And I’m not sure they realize how long 60 seconds is, because if someone responds to “tell me about yourself” with 60 seconds of uninterrupted talking, the story had better involve fending off a gorilla attack while delivering smallpox vaccine to an isolated village in Alaska.

It’s only fitting that this debacle is taking place at Case Western, whose dean, Lawrence E. Mitchell, has blamed the media for creating the myth that blindly going to law school might be a poor decision for many students because a dearth of jobs will await incoming classes.

No, Dean Mitchell, the media isn’t the one suggesting there really aren’t jobs to be had, it’s your Career Development Office and the three sponsoring firms. In the words of one Case Western tipster, “I’m sure this is just the product of someone in the career office trying to find something positive to do. But it is wild that they wouldn’t see that they’re essentially giving out consolation prizes from firms who haven’t been hiring very many of their grads. Sort of funny, sad, and gross.”

In the meantime, Case Western students, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Job Idol Information [Facebook]

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