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Connecticut law schools have yet to experience a drop in the number of legal employers conducting on-campus interviews this fall. But, as the economy continues to tumble, third-year law students may find it tougher to line up jobs than their predecessors did a year ago. Career counselors at both Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden and Western New England College School of Law in Springfield, Mass., report a conscious effort, on the part of a growing number of legal employers, to limit on-campus interviews to mostly — if not exclusively — second-year law students. In large part, said Diane C. Ballou, Quinnipiac’s director of career services, that is because second-years are jumping more quickly on offers they receive through firms’ summer associate programs, thus minimizing the need for those firms to hire third-year students to fill out their 2002 associate classes. Making this year’s hiring market even more unpredictable, said Charlene M. Allen, Western New England’s assistant dean and director of career services, is the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist assault on the U.S., not only on future J.D.s interviewing at legal outfits once located in and around the World Trade Center, but on students and employers alike who are now reluctant to fly to far-away interviews. LEFT IN THE LURCH While the number of legal employers flocking this year to some law schools around the country has dropped slightly, career counselors at local schools say they are hosting at least the same number of legal employers as they did in 2000. Indeed, the University of Connecticut School of Law expects roughly 75 employers to be on hand over the next few weeks — nearly a 15 percent increase from last year, according to Robin C. Cerere, UConn’s director of career services. That figure, Cerere said, includes a 40 percent rise in the number of New York employers interviewing on campus this fall, as well as a 62 percent increase in the number of Boston-based employers. Cerere largely credited those gains to the school’s recent outreach efforts to legal employers outside of Connecticut. Quinnipiac, meanwhile, expects to draw the same number of employers to campus as last year, but is collecting students’ resumes per employers’ requests for a few more legal outfits than in 2000, Ballou said. With summer associates generally quicker than in recent years to accept firms’ offers to join them next fall, several employers, however, are focusing primarily on filling their 2002 summer programs. Thus, they are limiting their on-campus interviews to mostly second-year law students, Ballou conceded. “It’s slimmer pickings for third-year students,” she conceded. Night school students unable to take a leave of absence from their current jobs to accept summer internships are particularly in the lurch, Ballou said. TRAVEL-WEARY APPLICANTS At Western New England, roughly half of the firms scheduled to be on campus this fall are cutting back, to varying degrees, on the number of interviews granted to third-year students, Allen said. At the same time, law students are broadening their job searches, Allen said, “because they, too, are feeling uncertain about the economy.” UConn Law’s Cerere, however, said several firms that initially wished to limit interviews to second-year students have recently decided to open them up to third-years as well. “Students are doing the same number of interviews as they’ve always done,” she insisted. Still, Cerere said she’s talked with firms — both in and outside of Connecticut — that are giving serious thought to reducing their 2002 summer programs. For the moment, however, “we’re proceeding business-as-usual and keeping our fingers crossed,” she said. That may be easier said than done in light of the recent terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. In addition to bringing further instability to the stock market, the fallout of the Sept. 11 tragedies has law firms wondering how to handle the widespread reluctance — both internally and among law students — to return to air travel. Employers, Allen said, are scrambling to reschedule interviews cancelled as a result of the attacks. Despite the difficulties, the National Association for Law Placement is not waiving its guidelines over the length of time employers have to extend offers and law students have to accept them, said Paula Patton, NALP’s executive director. (Students, under the guidelines, have until Dec. 1 to respond to offers made after Sept. 15.) The organization, however, is strongly encouraging that “reasonable, fair accommodations” be made on both sides as the result of the recent events, Patton said.

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