Money Can’t Buy Me Law

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Courtesy of Maxine Wally

After its first ever on-campus interviews were held during the second week of August last year, most of the students from the inaugural class found out that they have been hired as summer associates at local and national law and boutique firms.

Set up and used for decades, on-campus interviewing is popular among various law schools across the country and follows a very specific model.

The schools send out invitations to law firms to interview on campus. While many firms send recruiters to come to the universities, some elect to first collect resumes from students, then conduct follow-up interviews either by phone or in person.

This year, UCI’s School of Law attracted 30 firms to campus, while 11 more asked for resumes. Many of them hail from Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego, but some have also offered spots in New York and Washington, D.C.

“42 of our 60 students participated in on-campus interviews,” said Laura Fry, director of career development for the school. “Of those, 32 were given summer jobs, which is really fantastic.”

“Some of the other students that didn’t participate elected to directly apply to firms,” said Elizabeth Schroeder, the school’s Assistant Dean of Student Services. “One student did that and got accepted to a firm in Hawaii.”

For law students, the process of on-campus interviews couldn’t be simpler. They get a list of employers that are coming several weeks before interviews take place, giving them the chance to research each firm using resources the career office supplies for them. They rank the firms they wish to interview with according to their preference and submit their resumes to the employer through the career office.

“Then basically all we had to do was show up at school and go to our scheduled interviews,” said Jillian Cook, a second-year student. “Our career development office did a wonderful job of organizing on campus interviews. It was very convenient to just have to come to school instead of trying to locate the firm office and drive there, especially if they are located in Los Angeles or San Diego.”

Everyone who wanted to participate had the chance to interview and some even interviewed with over ten employers.

“The whole on-campus interviewing process made summer job hunting much less stressful, and it was very encouraging to see so many employers showing an interest in UCI,” Cook said.

According to Schroeder, the majority of the job offers came from law firms, which are for-profit organizations. They are required, by law, to pay the students a salary, and it is very common for these summer associate jobs to lead up to permanent, post-graduate positions within the firm.

There were also some internships for non-profit groups that provide students a fantastic opportunity, although they are unpaid positions.

Students were even offered government spots that featured both paid and non-paid positions. Furthermore, Federal Courts gave out externships, which allow students to actively participate and engage in experiential learning.

Even though the interviews yielded a remarkable rate of job offers, it’s still too early to finalize the number of total placements.

“Some students have applied for public-interest and other government work, which typically don’t fill up until spring,” Schroeder said.

But the fact that this was just the first year the young school hosted on-campus interviews gives much hope for the future, and Schroeder believes that more employers will be coming on campus.

“I have a lot of confidence that our students will do well,” she said. “The community surrounding us has been very supportive and we have received wonderful comments on the quality of our students. I am very happy with their work product and this will help build our reputation and attract more firms.”

The career development center for the School of Law is also fortunate, for they have not had to combat many budgetary issues, as of yet.

Financial woes haven’t hit the inaugural class either, which received scholarships that covered their entire tuition costs.

“Although we pay for books, housing and other expenses, we aren’t suffering from the tuition increases that other students are,” Cook said. “The legal market in general isn’t doing as well as in the past, but our school is really doing a great job of making sure its students have employment.”

Tuition for current first-year students isn’t as luxurious, but they still get half of it paid. Incoming freshmen will only get a third of their tuition covered.

“The scholarships were planned this way,” said Schroeder. “We raised a lot of money for this, mainly from the legal community, but from other supporters around the country, as well.”

For the future, the career development office will continue to work on engaging more firms during on-campus interviews in the fall.

The school is also contemplating implementing a spring session of on-campus interviews, which some law schools already have and which is generally smaller than its summer counterpart.

“I am definitely very pleased with this extra high percentage of our students getting summer job positions,” Schroeder said.

“It feels great to have a summer job!” Cook said. “The law school does a fantastic job of career counseling Đ we each have meetings with the career development staff to point us in the right direction, and they are always sending out job openings and tips.  I feel extremely grateful to go to a law school that cares so much about the future careers of its students and matching us up with the jobs that fit us best.”

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