In This Tough Job Market, Law School Still Makes Sense: Expert Advice for Law School Applicants and Students About Current Economic Conditions

It’s not exactly news that the recession has significantly impacted the legal job market. Big Law firm hiring is down and there’s fewer opportunities and increased competition for public sector jobs as well. But, rather than just dish about “the number of layoffs” and “which Big Law firms are deferring start dates,” we talked to the experts for you to learn specifically where the changes in the marketplace are, strategies that applicants and students can use to maximize their job seeking opportunities and what our experts see as the emerging trends in legal recruiting. We’ve got it all covered in our new show, The Current Economic Environment: What It Means to Law School Applicants and Students.

Law School Podcaster Host, Diana Jordan gets right into things by getting a snapshot from our guests of the current recruitment landscape and the latest on what’s happening on law school campuses around the nation during the great rite of passage for students – the Fall Recruiting Season. She begins with insightful analysis from Jim Leipold, the Executive Director at NALP, National Association for Law Placement, a nearly 30-year-old non-profit, serving the needs of all those involved in the legal employment process. He says that while the downturn has significantly affected certain sectors, there are some silver linings. “The current recession has certainly had a dramatic impact and it’s had an impact across all sectors but it’s hit hardest probably the largest law firms whose practices were the most closely tied to the financial sector and, in particular, firms in New York City. And also public practice settings that require public funding or grant funding. Those are the two areas that have had the most dramatic slowdown. In fact, there’s a lot of firms positioned in the middle that have thrived during the recession, in part because they have lower cost for offering legal services to corporations. And, at a time, when “Corporate America” has been trying to save money on their legal spend, some of the middle-tier law firms have actually been using this economic recession to grow and hire more lawyers.”

While the number of employers coming to campus is generally smaller and employers that are coming to campus, typically are hosting fewer schedules and seeing fewer students than they have in the past, Leipold says that law firms are not withdrawing entirely from the recruiting process, but they may be delaying it. “ I think law firms have just seen that they need to almost put recruiting on hold for a little while until they see where this settles, when the economy is going to pick up, what sort of work they have. They’re not so much withdrawing from the recruiting process but delaying it, hoping to get a better sense of what their own situation will be financially.”

Leipold also shared NALP’s observations about the growing diversity in recruiting practices that the recession has helped to accelerate and may support in the future. Listen to the show to hear what NALP considers the future might look like for law firm recruitment.

During this show, we also get strategic advice directly from those on the front lines with the students and grads going through the job search in this uncertain market by talking with Carole Montgomery, Director of the Career Development Office at The George Washington University Law School and Kevin Donovan, Senior Assistant Dean for Career Services at the University of Virginia Law School.

We also hear how the recession has affected applications and financial aid from Jason Wu Trujillo, Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at The University of Virginia Law School and from Johann Lee, the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Northwestern University Law School.

We are also joined by Ashby Jones, who writes the Law Blog at the Wall Street Journal and covers notable trends in the legal marketplace for the business community. He gives us his unique perspective on the job market during this tough economy and some valuable advice on practice areas that are in demand now and those that may continue to see growth in the future.

Listen to the full show on our website or from iTunes.