Thursday, May 15, 2008

Legal Education from the Demand Side

We law professors spend a great deal of time thinking about how to help our students graduate and pass the Bar—how to supply the market with lawyers, in other words. We spend far less time thinking about the demand side of the equation—whether our students will find jobs. That sort of specialization makes sense. Law profs focus on teaching whereas students, driven by self-interest and helped by their law schools' placement offices, focus on building their careers. Still, though, law profs might benefit from taking on occassional walk on the demand side of legal education.

I recently got that sort of opportunity thanks to Chapman Law School's "Employment Blitz," a special event where faculty and alums try to help graduating students find jobs. We brought our rolodexes, laptops, and cellphones to a large room filled with desks and phones, met one-on-one with resumé-toting students, and started making calls. The experience gave me a newfound—or perhaps I should say, "long forgotten"—appreciation of the perils and promises of trying to land an entry-level law job.

To their credit, the graduating students showed calm resolve, and all of the acquaintances and former students that I phoned seemed eager to help. I usually got little more then tentative leads and earnest well-wishing, granted, but even that helped to lift the students' spirits. And hearing somebody reply, "Send him down to my office! I've got some work for him!" definitely made the effort worthwhile.

[Crossposted at Agoraphilia, MoneyLaw, and College Life O.C..]


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