Wednesday, April 05, 2006

You're on your own

Let me preface this by saying two things: first, I rarely blame other people for my problems. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility: you reap what you sow and if you’re an adult, you are, for the most part, in control of your life. Second, when it comes to looking for a job, all bets are off. You can do everything – and I mean every single thing – right, and still fail to get a job. Or fail to get a decent job. Oh, and third, I am not saying that it’s the job of the administration at this school to actually find a job for me. I realize it’s not that simple.

I learned a lot yesterday and unfortunately, I didn’t like what I learned. I went to a panel at lunchtime at which two federal circuit and one state appellate court judge spoke about clerkships. Basically, they explained a little bit about what they look for in clerks. Also, a woman was there who had graduated from this school in 2005 and is currently clerking in the Third District Court of Appeals.

Everything started out great. Then, to all our benefit, the woman from the career placement center spoke up. She asked the judges what she could do to get more clerks from this school hired. She pointed out that 45 people applied for clerkships last year and only five got offers. That was the first piece of bad news, but it got progressively worse.

First, one of the federal judges answered her question by suggesting, and I am quoting verbatim, “Dean Lynch needs to get out there a little bit more.” This judge said, “That guy from FIA [I assume he means the Dean of the FIU law school], we can’t get rid of him.” It was a little joke – as in, that dean of FIU is always around our chambers advocating for FIU law students. We see him so often that we’re kind of sick of him. But the fact is that we see him around. We never see Dean Lynch.

I shouldn’t really be surprised, should I? It wasn’t until late in my first year that I knew who the dean was because he never – and I mean never, ever, ever – associates with the students. Unlike some of the lower ranked deans who are spotted at the gym or occasionally on the bricks or talking to students in the hallway, this dean is never spotted in public where students are around. But that’s just his personal style, right? No big deal. Well, actually, now it turns out that we have confirmation from a federal judge that the dean of this law school does nothing to help his students get jobs. If this isn’t damning, I don’t know what is.

But wait. It got better. The judge from the DCA said that a while ago, he was at a reception and as it turned out, he’d recently hired a UF grad to be his clerk. At this reception, the dean of the UF law school went up to him and not only thanked him for hiring a recent grad as clerk, but mentioned the student by name. Now, I’ll admit that the federal judge didn’t elaborate as to how many people were at this reception but the way he made this statement, the way he expressed surprise, you got the impression that there were lots of people there and it wasn’t just the UF dean and this judge and the UF dean probably didn’t have his staff research a list of things to say to the judge. The dean of the UF law school knew the name of one of the graduates of his law school and knew where he was working.

Left unsaid, of course, was the obvious implication: the dean of this law school has never done that.

But wait. There’s more. The law clerk spoke up and apparently it’s part of her job to screen clerkship applications. She said as if this was a rare occurrence and an incredible thing, that once she got an application packet for a clerkship and the director of that student’s school’s career placement office had attached a brief letter of recommendation, giving the clerk the message that “wow, I was impressed that the director of the career center would go out of his way to do this.” Also, of course, was the obvious implication that no one from this school has ever done such a thing.

No, that’s not all. Then one of the judges talked about how aggressive the career development person from the University of Michigan is. He apparently writes letters talking up his school’s graduates. Not a couple of letters here and there, but many letters. And another judge, I forget which one, said in a half-dismissive (but not entirely dismissive) way, that Case Western Reserve Law School sends him nice and glossy brochures all the damn time and he has no idea why, but if a Case law student ever applied for a clerkship, he’d read the application. But he wasn’t entirely dismissive – his point was that Case is advocating for its graduates.

As I said, I don’t blame other people for my inability to find a job, but for the love of God, could the dean of this law school lift a finger to help this school’s graduates? I know it’s not the dean’s job to actually get his students a job, but wouldn’t you think he’d be out there advocating for students at this school? Yes, I am aware that plenty of people will get jobs without the administration's help, but wouldn't it be nice if the administration did a little something to help out? And as for the career center, again, it’s not their job to get me a job. It’s not that simple. But could the career center possibly work with us, instead of just standing by and pushing paper on us? Hello? Hello? Anyone?


At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. It's a shame too - getting federal clerkships can really increase a school's reputation (and rank).

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Bricklayer said...

I am listening. I am somewhat shocked. You may have just uncovered the most relevant issue to UM law students...ever.

I admit to complete ignorance about the role other administrations play in pimping their graduates. If:

1) this approach really has been common practice and
2) is effective, and
3) our deans and placement office is clueless or lazy about it

then heads should roll. The entire CPC should be fired and replaced with people who "get it". One or more deans too.

But, in their defense, our deans face the problem of rediculously high tuition so they do spend a lot of time wining and dining alumni and local firms to raise scholarship money. Their efforts do raise a lot of money and make school more affordable for quite a few top law students. I don't know if that defense is valid to you, but I'll throw it out there.

But the fact that judges are the ones bringing this up...thats bad. Very bad. Very, very bad.

Please stay on this issue and research it. Maybe you can find a prof who will let you research it and get credit for your writing requirement (or LR requirement)?

Great insight...nice break from your fascination with bathrooms.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This can't be true. Talk to Froomkin. He'll set you straight. You have just as much chance as any student.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger some guy said...

Prof. Froomkin doesn't talk to me in public. Only via the blog.


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