We’ve been writing about career alternatives for lawyers. With all the layoff news coming out of law firms these days, it’s good to remember that there are things you can do with a law degree other than working for a large law firm. Today, we’re touching on fellowship options for attorneys.
Of course, there are judicial clerkships, the ultimate “de-facto” fellowships for attorneys, and legal academia fellowships (aspiring law professors should check out TaxProf Blog’s compilation). But we are focusing on opportunities for mid-career attorneys, who may want to get away from Biglaw for a year or two, but ultimately want to keep on practicing.
We’re listing a few and encourage you to mention others in the comments. If you’re looking for interesting experiences, and don’t mind a dip in your salary, here are a few fellowships to consider:
Instead of adding to the drumbeat of bad news, the University of Buffalo Law School has taken a novel approach to navigating the current economic climate. A UB student tipster reports:
Job prospects at the University of Buffalo School of Law are so BAD that the CSO has given up hope! Instead of looking for firms’ with availability, the CSO is now offering a course on knitting. Although students will soon be jobless and homeless post-graduation, at least we won’t be cold!
The Buffalo career services office confirmed that they were indeed offering their students an opportunity to learn a real trade:
To all you knitters, crocheters and other crafty ones out there:
As the weather cools and the snow starts to fly, doesn’t it feel good to have a nice warm, woolly UFO (un-finished object) on your needles?? If you understood that last sentence, and would like to spend an hour with like-minded knit-wits, please [Redacted].
We’ll be knitting, crocheting, or engaging any other textile-related, portable projects together. We hope that it will become a regular standing group, where we can sit, knit, chat, get help, find new patterns, share techniques and ideas, talk about our favorite LYS, and generally “commune with the yarn.” …
We had a great group of around seven people last year, representing the faculty, library, staff, and students. Some were expert knitters, and others were just starting out, so feel free to join us regardless of skill level, or if you’d like to learn…
As always, crocheters, needlepointers, quilters, macrame-ers, etc. are welcome
We’ve reported that firms with “oversubscribed” summer classes are calling up 2Ls and encouraging them to not accept their 2009 summer associate offers. Unlike Akin Gump’s move, the tactic is a clever dodge around the NALP guidelines. As we understand it, firms are not committing these “cold offers” to email, instead using the telephone and avoiding a paper trail.
Career services departments are trying to cope with this new law firm tactic. Some Michigan students received this email from their career services dean:
Hi. It is my understanding that you have an offer from White and Case in New York. After talking to contacts in the New York legal market, it appears that White and Case may have over-hired for next summer and has a particularly large class. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to take another offer if you have one.
According to the WSJ Law Blog, White & Case claims ignorance over why Michigan would send out this email:
A spokesman for White & Case told the Law Blog: “We don’t know, honestly, why a law school career services office would send out these letters. No on has talked to us about the situation, and we’ve certainly not encouraged anyone to send out letters to students.”
Notice how White & Case did not say “we intend to honor every summer associate offer we’ve made.”
We have been consistently encouraging 2Ls to accept their offers sooner rather than later. Many career services departments have echoed that advice. White & Case joins Proskauer as one of the firm that has been “outed” as telling people that they should look elsewhere for offers, but we suspect that many firms are doing this.
Over the weekend I suggested that Harvard Law students were not taking the fall recruiting “crisis” seriously enough. The school’s comments suggested to me that HLS saw itself as above the fray.
But whatever public face HLS is putting on the recruiting season, behind the scenes HLS OCS seems to be working harder than ever. A tipster forwarded this email from Assistant Dean Mark Weber:
Thank you for participating in our Fall OCI Program. I hope you had a productive visit to campus this fall.
I am writing to let you know that we still have talented students who are seeking summer and permanent positions in Northern California. We understand the concerns facing all employers right now, but want to remind you that this can be a great opportunity to enhance your presence at Harvard Law School by hiring one of our students. I have taken the liberty to attach resumes of our students who are seeking employment in Northern California (link below). Also, if you would like to return to campus and interview additional students, we can easily accommodate your schedule to meet with students on campus or through our newly launched video conferencing facilities. Finally, remember that you can also post any employment opportunities in the HLS job bank which is exclusively available to our students and alumni. Click here to post a job.
I hope you will consider hiring additional Harvard students for employment with your firm. If you are interested in returning to campus or utilizing our video conferencing capabilities, please contact [redacted] And of course, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you or your firm’s recruitment efforts at Harvard. Many thanks for considering our students.
I spoke with Weber and he confirmed that this was a new tactic his office was taking:
In light of the current economic climate, I did send out the letter to employers a few weeks ago. I haven’t sent out a letter like that before, but given the favorable response we have received from employers, I think it is something we will do in the future.
So far we have received letters from the following law schools urging students to accept their offers prior to the NALP deadline: Northwestern, NYU, Columbia, UPenn, UT, Michigan, and even Hofstra. The message from career services departments all across the nation is that firms are oversubscribed, and that some firms are rescinding offers. Sit on multiple offers at your own risk.
Late Friday evening, Harvard Law School — which just completed their extremely late fly-out week process — decided to enter the fray. From an email sent out to all interviewing students:
Important Information about Responding to Offers
You may have heard reports that some firms have rescinded offers to students because their summer programs were full. While some firms have rescinded offers, the vast majority of firms have not engaged in that practice and have no intention to do so. Use good judgment and take the time you need to make an informed decision. Keep in mind that some firms’ summer programs are filling up more quickly than others. If you have any concerns about whether an offer will be held open or any other issues, we suggest that you call the hiring partner or recruiting director so that you are making decisions based on fact.
If you are able to make your decision before the expiration of the 45-day period, we encourage you to do so. Law firms will appreciate your prompt response and so will your classmates who may be in a position to receive an offer from an employer that you have turned down.
Today’s installment of our ongoing series about law students who are determined to screw around comes with information about Proskauer Rose’s summer program. According to multiple tipsters, Proskauer is not directly rescinding offers (like Akin Gump did), but they are encouraging students who have received offers to consider other options for the summer.
We’re pretty sure that Proskauer is not alone with these “stealth rescinding offer” phone calls.
For the latest in career services people freaking out, we have a T-5 School, and a top tier school.
After speaking with recruiting professionals at various law firms and participating on a recent NALP conference call to discuss the state of the economy, we would like to address the fall recruiting season. As you are aware, this recruiting season has been seriously affected by the economy. We have been notified by one New York firm that they are rescinding their outstanding offers for Summer 2009. In addition, we have been informed by numerous firms that their summer programs are oversubscribed due to the unprecedented rate of early acceptances.
The obvious impact of oversubscription is that these firms may not be able to extend offers to their entire summer class.
We strongly recommend that you review your options and accept an offer as quickly as possible. Do not wait until the expiration of the offer to make a decision. If you need any assistance in making a decision, please make an appointment to speak with a career counselor.
And from UT:
We received reports yesterday directly from a few law firms and from some of our students that some 2L summer clerkship offers have been rescinded before the offer deadline. Current market conditions suggest that less deliberation of opportunities and quicker response time to offers is prudent. With unusually high acceptance rates and concern of over-subscribing summer clerkship classes, some firms have decided to rescind outstanding offers once their target class size has been met. While we are directly aware of only a few such instances, we recommend that you make your acceptance offers and communicate those results to employers as soon as possible.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that sitting on offers is a terrible strategy, some law students continue to wear Bad Idea Jeans.
We warned you that you should accept your offers. We then demanded that you should accept your offers. But based on the comments, there are still some of you out there sitting on multiple offers.
Career services people have taken note, and are literally begging their students to make a decision. The latest evidence comes from Michigan:
We write because we have heard from several of you that you are worried that your offers may be rescinded if an employer’s summer class is full, whether or not you have reached the 45 day period in which to respond to an offer. We have also heard that many firms are taking longer than usual to give a decision to students after callbacks.
First, there have been very few actual reports of rescinded offers at this Law School or our peer institutions. We have heard from many employers that while they are treading carefully in this economic climate, they have no intention of rescinding offers. Nonetheless, we think it prudent for you to accept an offer as soon as possible. To put it more bluntly, this is not the time to shop your offers or wait to see if a better one comes along. In addition to being in your own best interest to accept quickly, it may also assist other students who may then receive an offer that you turn down.
Obviously, some of you will not accept your offers simply to help out other students. Maybe you need actual proof that firms are rescinding offers.
After our post on the importance of accepting your offers, we figured that most students sitting on offers would do the right thing — for themselves and their colleagues — and make a decision.
But maybe some students are just a little more indecisive than others. Last night, Northwestern students received this email:
Dear Second-Year Students Holding Offers,
As you know, we are in very tough economy. In tough economies, firms, not unexpectedly, tend to take a much closer look at the bottom line.
Please accept your offers as soon as possible. We have heard, both by communication with our colleagues at UPenn and from one of our own students, that offers may be withdrawn once a firm considers that its summer class is full, whether or not the 45-day period has expired.
In addition to assisting other students who may then receive an offer that you turn down, it is also in your own best interest to accept quickly.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your Career Advisor.
Good luck with your decisions,
Your Career Advisors
We expect that quite a few Northwestern law students have offers in the Chicago market. Have you guys been paying attention to what is happening in the Chicago market?
I’m a 2L at a T25 school and I have one callback interview. My grades are average. Do you have any tips on how to nail the interview?
Dear Nervous Nelly -
Firm interviews are congeniality contests; you wouldn’t be called back unless the firm already saw your grades and decided they could live with them. Since the job is yours to lose, here are a few tips on how to turn on the charm:
1. Appearance. Don’t even think about wearing that ArmaniAlfani suit with those Kenneth Crap patent leather squared toed monstrosities. Ladies, save that yellow “statement” brocade suit for when you apply to be a Versailles courtier. If your roots are showing, dye them; if you’re too fat for your suit, wrap yourself in cellophane and hit the gym. Interviewers want colleagues that they can potentially date or set up with friends, not co-workers who rummage for treasure at Filene’s Basement. At least have the decency to stick some red tape to the back of your shoes.
2. Tackling Corny Questions. Most interviews involve ridiculous questions like, “Why did you decide to go to law school?” and my personal favorite, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Frankly, nobody wants to hear some garbage about how law is your “passion” or how your mother read Emanuel outlines aloud to you as a baby. Winning responses are ones that the interviewer can actually relate to, like “I actually was forced into going to law school by my parents, but it turned out to be a good fit.” During OCI, a partner asked me what my favorite TV show was, and my answer – Cribs – cracked her up and scored me a callback. Working at a firm is objectively depressing, so bring some laughter to their weary world.
3. Reverse Psychology. Studies have shown that interviews where the interviewer hogs the time are rated very positively by the interviewer, so put on your complimenting hat and sally forth. A good launching point is any framed pictures of hideous children or fat spouses. If the interviewer drops the word “fiancé” in conversation, you’ve struck gold because engaged people are always eager to brag about their impending wedding. The more time the interviewer spends talking about him or herself, the less time there is for corny questions (see #2).
As unhelpful as this sounds, you might also want to, er, RELAX and attempt to be yourself on the interview. Sweating profusely and providing canned answers to questions only makes you look desperate. Not having a firm job may seem like Armageddon, but trust me, it’s not. It just might be the beginning of something great.
Unfortunately, this Monday brings more statistics and indications that the job market for lawyers is in very bad shape.
The National Law Journal is reporting that while law students are expected to graduate with an average of $73,000 of debt, job prospects are looking especially weak:
[W]hile most would-be lawyers already have accepted that only a small fraction will start their careers with a big-firm salary of $160,000, the past few weeks of economic chaos have caused many to wonder if any kind of attorney work is in their near future. …
[T]here is genuine cause for concern. The number of legal jobs nationwide is steadily declining, according to employment figures released this month by the U.S. Department of Labor. Jobs in the law sector shrank by 2,000 in September — the fifth consecutive month of losses. The legal work force of 1,165,100 was down by 1.15% from a year ago, when the industry employed 1,178,600 people.
NALP is reporting the anecdotal evidence that we’ve been seeing: law firms are scaling back on their summer associate programs.
Not surprisingly, law students are worried:
One of the biggest challenges for career services professionals is dealing with the rumor mill among law students, who are a “worrisome lot” by nature, said Tom Ksobiech, assistant dean for career services at the University of Alabama School of Law.
“Everyone has heard something from ‘a friend,’ ” he said. “According to the ‘friend,’ there are no jobs anywhere.”
After the jump, practicing attorneys are also feeling the pinch.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.