Career Services

This is Elie Mystal, coming to you live from Austin, Texas, and the 2012 conference of the National Association of Law Placement. It’s my favorite annual conference, because every year, NALP just gets all the law school career services officers and all the law firm recruiters in a room, and tells them all the trends in legal hiring. We’re not talking about anecdotal evidence or law firm spin. It’s the one time each year we get to look at some hard numbers.

And in case you live under a rock, let me tell that every year since the recession, the numbers get more and more terrible. Looking at some of these statistics is as close as you can come to physically witnessing a dream die a horrible, mangled death.

This year, the numbers are worse than ever! And that’s the good news. NALP’s Executive Director, Jim Leipold, thinks that we’ve probably “hit the bottom” in terms of new associate hiring, with the class of 2011 suffering the absolute nadir of this process. While he doesn’t know if things will get significantly better any time soon, he figures they pretty much can’t get any worse.

Yay!

Does anybody want to hear the bad news?

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Above the Law readers are a surprising bunch. After three weeks of voting, the University of Michigan Law School has emerged as the most honest law school in all the land.

Michigan. Can you believe it? I guess all the “Wolverine Scholars” shadiness didn’t stick.

Let’s check out the bracket and the final vote total for Michigan’s victory…

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We are at the final showdown for our March Madness bracket, and all the private school sissy-boys have been kicked to the curb. Apparently, you can’t buy your way into a moral or ethical principle. Only the state can inculcate you into virtue.

For the first time, I think ever or at least as long as I’ve been here, in an ATL contest of law schools, the final battle is between two state schools. And it happens in our contest about honesty and ethics. I guess there’s a lot of truth that comes out after a long round of flip-cup….

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We’re at the final four.

In real life, I am in a pitched battle for second place in my NCAA tournament poll with these guys. I can’t win because the guy in first has the exact same bracket as I do from here on out. But I can still finish second, so long as one of my “friends” who is actually a floppy-headed Kansas fan doesn’t get his JayHicks into the finals.

In more law related news, our Most Honest Law School bracket is chugging along.

But there were some upsets in round 2….

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The real March Madness has been batsh*t crazy. Lehigh? Norfolk State? As sometimes ATL contributor Marc Edelman pointed out, schools that have top law schools took a beating with their basketball teams. Harvard, Michigan, UVA, Duke, Georgetown, and Texas were all in the tournament, and now they’re all sitting at home.

But in the Above the Law bracket, top schools survive and thrive. We’re asking readers to pick the most honest law school. We’re asking readers to tell us which law school graduates are the most honorable and ethical in their private practice.

So far, the readers are telling us they’re unable to understand anything beyond what U.S. News tells us….

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Get your brackets ready, March Madness is here! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least for those who enjoy illegally gambling with co-workers.

Every year, we here at Above the Law like to put together a little bracket of our own. In the past, we’ve asked you to vote for such things as the coolest law firm or the douchiest law school.

This year, we’ve come up with a question that you don’t hear a lot of people asking when they’re talking about pursing a career in law: Which law school is the most honest?

Don’t start checking you LST transparency index just yet. Sure, being honest to prospective or incoming students can be a factor in a law school’s reputation for honesty. But we want to look at this question in the broadest possible sense….

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Johnny Appleseed was carefree -- and unsaddled with law school debt.

Over the past few weeks, it seems Above the Law has unleashed a torrent of populist rage against law school career services’ departments posting crummy job opportunities.

Yesterday, we heard about another unfortunate career services posting, this time from the Vermont Law School. What was almost more depressing than the job, though, is our tipster’s testimony of postgraduate life.

Let’s just say it’s more Grapes of Wrath than A Few Good Men.

Here’s what our melancholy tipster has to say about the recent job posting from his illustrious alma mater….

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Yesterday, we brought you news of a job opportunity that is currently available on the University of Maryland School of Law’s Symplicity job bank. When we first wrote about the listing, we called it a “career services nightmare.” After all, the job had more to do with orange parking cones than the law.

As it turns out, the powers that be at Maryland Law weren’t very happy that Above the Law called them out. Instead of hanging their heads in shame for trying to sell a job as a parking garage manager to its students, the career development office issued a vigorous defense of this exciting opportunity in vehicular supervision and coordination.

The email was written by the assistant dean for career development herself. What did she have to say?

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Back in December 2010, we reported that tuition at the University of Maryland School of Law (now known as the Francis King Carey School of Law) would not be subject to the four percent hike for the 2011-2012 academic year that was thrust upon the rest of the programs doing business at the university’s Baltimore campus.

It was rumored that the law school’s dean, Phoebe Haddon, fought valiantly to keep tuition from rising due to students’ hefty debt loads and the “impact of the economic downturn on the legal employment market.” At the time, we gave Maryland Law major kudos for protecting its students from tuition increases. Now, we wonder if a just little more tuition money would have prevented this career services nightmare.

As it turns out, even students who attend a top 50 law school are in danger of landing awful jobs, especially when the career development office is offering up gems like this one….

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...to take a survey

Last Thursday, we opened our ATL Firm & School Insiders Survey and so far, so good. We’ve heard from students at nearly 100 law schools and lawyers at about 200 firms. As previously noted, this survey is one of the first data-gathering tools we’ll be using to create a new, expanded ATL Career Center. While we’re pleased with this initial response, of course we encourage all of you who haven’t yet to take 3-5 minutes and head over here to take our absolutely confidential survey. Thanks in advance.

To all non-law firm attorneys: thanks for your insight regarding your law school alma maters. Please know that we are looking forward to asking about your professional experiences soon, whether they be in government, non-profit, in-house, academia or elsewhere.

As our data accumulates, we look forward to slicing and dicing it in myriad ways, in order to find patterns of interest to our readership, but more importantly, for useful insights for anyone researching legal education and careers.

After the jump, we share a handful of early trends in the survey data:

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