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�Shouldn’t a student who spends tens of thousands of dollars to attend law school expect to get a legal job when he or she graduates? This question cuts to the heart of the law school career center’s mission. Unless the student’s potential employer hires after the bar exam, every law school career counselor deeply wants each student to have a job at graduation (and not just for the numbers). Career counselors will work hard to make sure that all who want jobs get them. We feel a personal sense of failure when a student graduates without a job � especially when the student does everything right. I firmly believe that everyone in law school can find a legal job � but it may take time to find the right fit and, of course, not all of those jobs will pay $160,000. The simple response to the flurry of articles about law school graduates who find themselves deeply in debt and without jobs or with low-paying positions is caveat emptor. The issue and the responsibilities involved, however, are more complex. Most law schools stress to students that a job, especially one that pays $160,000 upon graduation, is not guaranteed. Still, the high tuition and high salaries at large firms and the current demand for attorneys create an expectation of lucrative jobs. Many students assume that prior success in school means they will be in that illusive top 10 percent in law school. The fact that schools are tuition-driven and that US News & World Reports considers even those new lawyers serving up lattes as “employed” combine to create an environment that influences students to apply and attend. What can be done, if anything? We law school professionals cannot merely rely on caveat emptor and go back to our offices and draw the blinds. Is it that students need to be more aware of the realities of the legal job market? (Yes.) Is it that schools need to list salary ranges of recent graduates rather than, or in addition to, average salary? (Yes.) And should they disclose the percentage of students who reported the information? (Yes.) Are there simply too many attorneys? (Maybe.) Should the proliferation of law schools in recent years stop and the number of law schools decrease? (Perhaps.) With the decrease in law school applications over the past two years, are some law schools dipping too deep into the applicant pool in order to generate revenue? (Yes.) Should anyone who wants to go to law school and has access to $150,000 in loans be encouraged to attend? (Maybe not.) First, of course, the providers of information � the law schools, the Law School Admission Council, and, like it or not, US News � need to be above board with all statistics and other information such as the amount of debt a student will incur over three years and the limitations of any information they provide. Second, prospective students need to research the law schools’ placement records and talk to the career center counselors to get a better idea of what their law degree will be worth in the marketplace. Most law schools hold an Admitted Students’ Day, which is the perfect opportunity to ask the hard questions. Third, debt counseling needs to be a part of orientation for first-year students, and programs need to be offered at various times thoughout the year on managing debt � both in law school and afterwards. An increase in the number of students applying to law school with work experience will help the situation in the future. These students tend to be more focused. More of them say, “I treat law school like a job.” They come to law school with valuable skills already tested in the marketplace, such as leadership, and technical and financial expertise. These skills place them ahead of students who come to law school directly from undergraduate programs both in interviewing skills and overall desirability as candidates. These students are more skeptical of what they hear about law school and also less afraid to take initiative and ask hard questions. I am fortunate to work at a school where we can almost guarantee that every student will have a job when they graduate. As in most law schools, this does not equate to handing out jobs from the fabled “job drawer.” Rather the career center works hard to provide opportunities for the students to be proactive in their job searches. When I worked at a much less highly ranked law school, I had a student with a 2.1 GPA who received three offers. He was a tireless networker and followed up on my suggestions. Students at most law schools could be taking more advantage of the opportunities provided whether it’s mock interviews or other skills-based programs or sitting down with their counselors to plan their futures. I wonder how many students who are now unemployed or under-employed ever used the resources provided by their schools’ career centers. Often graduates will say, “My career center never did anything for me,” but what they really mean is “I didn’t get my job through on-campus interviews.” Your career center, whether you’re a student or an alum, is an invaluable resource for information and support. Law is a wonderful and challenging profession � and there is both a wealth and a variety of opportunities. It certainly makes sense to spend $150,000 on something that you know you want. Commitment to practicing law itself can be a huge motivator in your job search. If you are unemployed or under-employed your first stop should be your law school’s career office. Remember, the services are part of the tuition you’ve already paid. Even if you feel that your career office could have done more for you while you were a student � give them a chance. They can help guide you, whether by referrals to other alums, resume and cover letter review, or by providing networking opportunities. If you are feeling stuck, we can help you get unstuck. If you want to practice law � do not give up, we are there to support you. And if you are feeling that getting the degree was a mistake because a legal career does not interest you, we can help you discover your path. � William A. Chamberlain is assistant dean, Law Career Strategy and Advancement, Northwestern University School of Law.

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