Friday, February 20, 2009

"Into The Labryinth": Virginia Law Weekly Discusses Hiring, PILA Grants

The Virginia Law Weekly has an excellent feature today on the job market problems:
The stare conveyed a sense of despair and frustration with more volume than the simple words that accompanied it. “I just want a job,” the second-year student said.

Sadly, this student is not alone. While On-Grounds Interviews (OGIs) yet again proved productive for many, the tenor of this academic year has resonated with concern regarding prospects for employment. As they attempt to surmount market-wide obstacles, students have turned to the Law School’s primary resources for assistance: the Office of Career Services and the Public Service Center. In both of these offices, however, the staff is being asked to respond to a demand for help that mounts with each passing day in a worsening economy, while those same economic constraints limit the resources available to provide such services. This prompts the question: Is enough being done? More importantly: What is enough?

Read more. The article reports that 89% of the class of 2009 have secured full-time employment, but what about summer employment for the class of 2010? The article also notes that career services was somewhat blindsided by the crash in the economy - that Career Services went into the process without knowing the "extent to which things would be changing." The article goes on to explain how - ITE - the typical post OGI strategies of mail-merging weren't going to work:
Following advice to send mass mail, one student “sent 135 e-mails and received no callbacks or interviews.” . . . [T]he typical strategies that worked in years past, such as mass mailings, did not work this year, although [according to Career Services] “we didn’t know until after the fact.”
It then discusses how leanly staffed UVA Law's Career Services is compared to other top-14 Law Schools, and suggest that this could be part of the problem:
. . . This is the highest student-to-counselor ratio among the top 15 law schools (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Only Georgetown, which is probably the largest school on the list, has a ratio near that of the Law School; even then, counselors see on average 30 fewer students at the Washington, D.C. school. At most schools on the list, the ratio approaches 200-to-1, with some like Stanford below 150-to-1. [Career Services] conceded, “We are leanly staffed compared to a lot of schools.”
Personally, we disagree. To my knowledge, there aren't scores of students complaining that they have a lack of access to Career Services, and besides one or two OGI scheduling mix-ups (the fault of the outdated CASE software which they have now gotten rid of in favor of Simplicity), we have never had any serious problem with them - and certainly don't argue that further CS staff (likely funded by the ever-pernicious tuition increase!) is the answer. We do agree, on the other hand, that innovative methods would be helpful:
Some have noted that Career Services should focus outside of the large firms in the mega-markets of New York and Washington, D.C. One student noted that Career Services focuses heavily on general skills, such as how to write a resume or cover letter, and suggested that the office’s efforts might be better expended if they were concentrated on job hunting techniques and interview skills.
To be fair, CS does already offer some good information on targeting smaller firms and/or secondary markets - the problem was more timing, advising students to take advantage of that information before it was too late. And of course, we feel that the article would have been more complete with some discussion of prescreening. But otherwise, outstanding work.

PILA: The same issue also reports that - not unrelatedly - competition for PILA grants is up:

Last year, scores of first-year students were disappointed when they did not receive grants from the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) to fund their summer public interest work. Many students thought—based on the success that the organization had in disbursing grants to all students who had applied the previous year—that such grants would be guaranteed.

This year, PILA is facing a higher number of applicants than ever. Although . . . PILA does not disclose the number of applicants for fellowships, [its President] said that this year, “PILA has received a far higher number of applications than in any prior year. While we wish we could fund every applicant who secures a qualifying public sector job, unfortunately the number of students we can fund is limited by the amount of money that we are able to fundraise over the course of the year.”

Alas, these are the times that try men's souls.


Anonymous said...

The best parts of the online version of this article are the editorial recommendations that haven't been cleaned out yet.
[More here when available]
[A little too yay Yared]

Anonymous said...

re stupid article on venues: the last event held at the omni was not barrister's 2006. PILA 2006 was there.

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