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									   CAREER COUNSELOR'S CORNER                                                                                               1. 800. 973. 1177

Who’s Hiring on Campus?
[by Rebecca Luczycki]
The poor economy means students will have to work harder for a chance at fewer jobs in this fall’s on-campus interviewing season.

The predictions are in on this fall’s on-campus   Boulder, said she saw fewer firms interview-        “We have not seen the dramatic drop in on-
interviewing (OCI) season, and it’s a mixed       ing and fewer offers being made to students         campus recruiting that we saw 10 years ago
bag. Some schools say that despite the still      last year, but she isn’t too worried about this     when we went through a similar economic
poor economy, they don’t expect much change       year.                                               situation,” he said. “I think employers are
at all from the last few years. Other law                                                             more savvy this time. Whereas 10 years ago
schools say they are expecting to see a small-    “I think we’ll see the same thing this year, I      many firms simply discontinued interview-
er number of firms lining up at their doors to    don’t think it will be any worse,” Zubler said.     ing on campus and hiring at the entry level,
interview their students for summer jobs this     “We actually have one or two firms who did          this time many have reduced the number of
time and fewer offers of summer associate         not come last year who are deciding to come         schools they visit but did not eliminate their
positions from the firms that do show up.         this year.”                                         OCI program entirely. Many learned a valuable
                                                                                                      lesson 10 years ago that when things picked
Overall, even for schools not expecting to see    Gihan Fernando, assistant dean for career           up again they found themselves without key
much change from last year, there won’t be        services at Georgetown University Law Center        junior personnel to handle the influx of new
as many legal employers out on law school         in Washington, D.C., echoed that sentiment,         work.”
campuses as there were just a few years ago.      saying his employer registrations for OCI are
The National Association for Law Placement        virtually identical to last year.                   But some employers have had no choice but
(NALP) is the official barometer for OCI activ-                                                       to cancel OCI recently. Bill Piatt, dean of St.
ity. The group’s most recent statistics show      “My hunch is that we have hit the bottom, and       Mary’s University School of Law in San An-
that in the face of a weak economy, many legal    I am hopeful that we are on the way back up,        tonio, Texas, said some of his school’s usual
employers have been cutting back on their law     but it’s very hard to know that,” he said.          recruiters are facing budget shortfalls or even
school recruiting efforts in recent years.                                                            hiring freezes.
                                                  Indeed, most career services experts agreed
The slump started with the 2001 season and        in mid to late summer that until the employers      “Some employers have pulled out of OCI
fall 2002 numbers reveal that more than half      actually showed up in person, they wouldn’t         state-wide because of money issues, including
of law schools saw at least a 5 percent drop      know exactly how the 2002 fall OCI season           the Texas Attorney General’s office,” Piatt
in the number of employers on campus last         would go.                                           said.
season. What’s even more revealing is that 36
percent of law firms reported they had visited    “We don’t anticipate that it’s going to be          Melissa Balaban, director of career services
fewer schools in 2002.                            dramatically different than the past fall one       at the University of Southern California Law
                                                  way or the other, but it’s very difficult to say    School in Los Angeles, agrees that more em-
Given that trend, it wouldn’t surprise most       exactly what this fall will be like,” said Jerry    ployers are taking the economic slump more
law school career services offices if their       Nash, deputy director of NALP. “We have             in stride this time, but she said given the way
numbers dropped even further this year. But       learned from our annual and even more               the OCI system works, it wouldn’t surprise her
by mid-summer, most were confident they           frequent looks into this market that it is a very   to see a little panic anyway.
were on track to book about the same number       difficult animal to predict.”
of employers and schedule the same number                                                             “The way the system works, firms are in-
of interviews as they did in 2002.                Nash said indications so far are that legal         terviewing students in the early fall of their
                                                  employers are being smart about the economy         second year for summer jobs which are a
Connie Zubler, director of career services at     and not panicking, which is good for OCI.           lead-up to jobs they are supposedly going to
the University of Colorado School of Law in                                                           take two years later,” she said. “I don’t think

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   CAREER COUNSELOR'S CORNER                                                                                               1. 800. 973. 1177

there is any other business on the planet that      get even worse before they get better, there      them,” said Lois Casaleggi, assistant dean for
asks people to plan their employee needs two        is some good news on the horizon. Nash says       career services at Illinois.
or three years ahead.”                              he doesn’t expect to see any further serious
                                                    decreases in on-campus recruiting. OCI may        Size and financial resources of the firms
Zubler agreed that employers are being              remain at its current reduced size for a while    themselves play a role in the characteristics
smarter this time. Her school sees mainly           longer but he predicts it won’t likely shrink     of the employers participating in many pro-
local and mid-sized firms recruiting, and she       any further.                                      grams as well. OCI is an expensive undertak-
says they are still recruiting, but are making                                                        ing, especially if firms send representatives
fewer offers.                                       “I would even predict a further stabilization     across the country. They have to pay airfares,
                                                    next year,” Nash said.                            hotels and meals for the recruiters, and obvi-
“It’s the out-of-state firms that are making                                                          ously the recruiting attorneys are not getting
the choice whether to come here or not, and         My program is bigger than yours…                  any case work completed during the weeks
the local ones are being choosier so instead of                                                       - or even months - they are on the road. “The
six or seven clerks for a summer, many firms        When it comes to OCI, not all schools are         larger firms can more afford to recruit in this
will have four or five,” she said.                  equal. Georgetown University Law Center, for      way,” Fernando said.
                                                    example, usually expects to see 300 to 400
Lois Casaleggi, assistant dean for career           firms recruiting at its late August program,      Southern California’s Balaban said the nature
services at the University of Illinois College      sometimes with as many as 10 interview-           of OCI, and the fact that firms are recruiting
of Law in Champaign, said she has warned            ers from different offices of the same firm       for summer associates they hope to be able to
her students they can expect fewer offers this      all looking for summer associates. Another        hire permanently in two years, also makes it
year than in past years.                            100 to 200 employers will recruit on campus       easier for large firms to participate.
                                                    during the early school year and about 30
“The place where we have seen the changes           government employers will come to campus          “Very large employers have a larger cushion
impact the most is in the number of offers any      to interview throughout the fall and into next    because they can as easily take 30 employees
particular student gets,” she said. “I wasn’t       spring. When it’s all over, 60 to 70 percent of   as they can take 20,” Balaban said. “But a
here at the time, but I understand that in the      Georgetown’s law students will have found         smaller business that needs only two em-
late 1990s, students were getting five to 10 or     jobs through OCI.                                 ployees can’t anticipate and plan that far in
more offers each out of OCI. Now probably on                                                          advance.”
average they will get from two to six. They are     The University of Illinois College of Law in
just being more conservative with that.”            Champaign, meanwhile, consistently hosts          Fernando said while the larger firms tend
                                                    about 100 employers each season, and 33           to gravitate to the larger or more nationally
David Booher, a third-year law student at USC,      to 35 percent of the class secures summer         known schools, some do visit other OCI pro-
said he’s seen the impact of the poor economy       employment through on campus recruiting           grams as well.
on recruiting first-hand.                           efforts.
                                                                                                      “Those large firms may go to some of the
“The type of people [employers] are look-           And the University of Colorado School of          smaller schools as well, but they are going
ing for and making offers to either after           Law in Boulder usually sees between 60 and        to be looking at a much smaller group of
interviews or after their summer associate          70 employers for its OCI program in a year.       students while they are there, only the top few
positions are more serious about working,” he       All told, about 75 percent of students get at     percent of the class,” he said.
said. “The jobs are less about socializing now      least one interview. Less than half of class
and the interviews are less of a personality fit.   members nail down their summer clerkship          Geographic location can make a difference in
The firms are more focused on getting people        through the OCI program.                          which schools an employer chooses to visit
that are going to be doing the work and who                                                           for OCI.
present themselves in the interviews as suc-        There are a number of factors that affect the
cessful attorneys.”                                 size and scope of a law school’s OCI program.     “In the smaller metropolitan areas with fewer
                                                    School reputation and national reach is one.      schools, it’s more expensive to do outreach
While it’s generally accepted that the legal                                                          because there are fewer students to see,” said
marketplace lags behind the main economy by         “Obviously when you are looking at a top-10       St. Mary’s University’s Piatt.
9 to 18 months, so things theoretically could       ranked school, employers are just flocking to

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   CAREER COUNSELOR'S CORNER                                                                             1. 800. 973. 1177

 And, as is the case with many aspects of law
 school, tradition is important.                     Despite cutbacks by some firms in recruiting
                                                     efforts and job offers being made, he thinks
 “For some employers it’s tradition - we have        many employers will avoid cutting schools
 always gone to that school to interview - type      off their OCI schedules altogether if they can
 of thing,” said NALP’s Nash. “And if they have      help it. They did that 10 years ago, during the
 a large contingent of alumni from that school       last recession and suffered greatly for it when
 or have had good success recruiting from            the job market picked up again.
 there, it’s always on their list.” Casaleggi said
 she has a lot of those employers who would          “I think also many employers learned that
 never consider taking her school off their list.    when things picked back up that trying to
                                                     re-establish their presence on campuses
 “They have just been coming here forever,”          was harder than anyone expected, and that’s
 she said.                                           natural with any market,” he said. “So this
                                                     time employers are taking the chance to keep
 A school’s focus may also dictate its fall          going to campuses and even add some new
 OCI schedule. For example, a school with a          ones to their rosters, so when things turn
 significant public interest focus is not going      around they have their established presence
 to see as many fall recruiters, Casaleggi said,     at schools that will pay dividends in the long
 because public interest jobs tend to come           run. This time they have adjusted better to the
 open in the spring when their budgets are           new market reality and are recruiting more
 finalized, and their recruiters don’t tend to       effectively and efficiently.”
 travel to campuses as often.
                                                     More efficient recruiting means some schools
 Schools like that, such as Loyola University        are forgoing marketing their OCI programs
 School of Law in New Orleans, may spend             in favor of other methods of finding their stu-
 more time helping their students find employ-       dents jobs, such as electronic job and resume
 ment through job postings, alumni network-          banks and resume bundling - sending student
 ing or legal career fairs, rather than OCI,         resumes directly to law firms en masse.
 Casaleggi said.                                     Casagleggi said her school is one that has
                                                     been focusing on that idea, and she saw a 340
 However, she said the extent to which a             percent increase in the number of employers
 school markets and promotes itself to law           asking for bundled resumes between the fall
 firms can overcome many of the other factors        of 2001 and the fall of 2002.
 that tend to influence OCI programs.
                                                     “Part of it is that we have made a lot of effort,
 “It really varies depending on how the school       but part is also a response to the economy
 markets themselves,” she said. “You have to         because employers are saying they can’t af-
 tell the firms ‘Yes, it’s worth your time and       ford the attorney time or the money to send
 money to come here.’”                               someone to your campus,” she said. “But
                                                     at the same time they are still interested in
 And today, that marketing is more important         your students, so they are treating the paper
 than ever before.                                   resume as an initial screening interview like
                                                     they might do on campus.”
 “The firms are getting choosier and the
 schools that are not perceived as top tier may      This story appeared in the September, 2003
 get fewer employers or may have to work             edition of The National Jurist, www.nation-
 harder to get employers to come to their            aljurist.com
 campuses,” Nash said.


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