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Steve Langerud has a simple but crucial piece of advice for law firms: Hire those who really want to work for you. As a kind of one-man career-counseling road show from the University of Iowa College of Law, Langerud is traveling across the country meeting with the school’s alumni. Since his newly created job started six months ago, he has sat down with about 100 graduates. He said the main lesson he has learned is that an honest assessment of expectations on the front-end � from law firms and from recruits � can prevent regrets from both sides later. “They ask me if they can work somewhere where they don’t have to sell their souls,” said Langerud, assistant dean of career services at the school. The alumni career counseling service at University of Iowa’s law school is an unusual program that enables graduates to meet face-to-face with Langerud to discuss their career paths. He has met with associates who have just a few years on the job, with attorneys ready for retirement and with others in between. Out-of-state careers About 65% of the graduates from University of Iowa College of Law � ranked 24th by U.S. News & World Report � go out of state to start their careers. Langerud also offers phone appointments, e-mail correspondence, r�sum� reviews and mock interviews. The service enables the school to maintain contact with alumni, a powerful source for donations, but by giving instead of taking. Providing advice to alumni in the field is something new to career services offices, said Michelle Stevens, interim assistant dean of career services at Emory University School of Law. She has heard of a few schools hiring consultants to work with alumni, she said, but bringing aboard personnel is unusual. Langerud said he was not aware of another program like the one at his school. About 75% of the graduates he has advised practice with law firms, Langerud said. Recognizing the high attrition rates among associates industrywide, he suggests that law firms “spend more time in the recruitment process getting people to articulate their values.” Jennifer WendtGeisler, a 2002 graduate, met with Langerud after she became overwhelmed with trying to raise her children, ages 6 and 2, while maintaining a tax and estate practice at 24-attorney Moyer & Bergman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The first half of the meeting I sat there and cried into my napkin,” she said. WendtGeisler enjoyed the work that she did for the firm, but the challenges of meeting her children’s needs had become unmanageable. “I kept thinking, ‘I should be capable of this,’ ” she said. During the first meeting, Langerud gave her an assignment. She was to identify the kinds of people with whom she wanted to work, the types of people for whom she wanted to work and which of her skills she wanted to use. On the second meeting, she came back to Langerud with her answers. She didn’t want to completely abandon her legal career, but she also had a yearning to expand a quilting hobby that she had started in college. These days, WendtGeisler, 32, does a small amount of contract work for Moyer & Bergman and is launching a quilt pattern business. Once she approached the firm with her needs, they worked together to create a contract position, she said.

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