Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Race for Biglaw Jobs: How to Make it a Sprint Instead of a Marathon

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Previously, I’ve discussed ways to improve your entry-level job employment.  These tips help you turn a summer associate position into a full-time position.  However, a point in the article was that firms felt they could only select from the same, small group of candidates and rarely dipped back into the 3L hiring pool to fill empty spots.  This article will further help your chances of entry-level employment with just one tip:  go to the right school.
If you’re hoping to be employed in the Biglaw sector, you can exponentially increase your odds by enrolling in the right law school.  Recently, The National Law Journal released a list of the top 50 schools with the highest percentage of students/new grads employed at a Biglaw firm.  The top 15 law schools range from Number 1 Columbia Law School to Number 15 University of Texas School of Law.
However, whether attending one of these schools is right for you is something you’ll have to decide.  Most of these top law schools have high tuition prices where many exceed $50,000 a year…A YEAR!  While only four of these listed schools have annual tuitions lower than $20,000.  Although paying these tuition prices may get you a Biglaw job, the Biglaw salaries are still averaging low compared to salaries in the past.  Most of the Biglaw firms that are paying the six-figure salaries are in locations where you need six-figure salaries to live – think NYC and LA.  Note that Columbia only had 65% working at a Biglaw firm, which means 35% may be working at jobs that cannot foot their tuition bill.
On the other hand, is attending a school with a lower tuition price worth the saving?  Sometimes the reputation you receive with your law school might be worth the higher price.  If the schools with more affordable price tags can’t establish the clout that these other schools have, it may make it more difficult for you to get a job at all – Biglaw or otherwise.  This means you could have years of job hunting to do, but still have tuition bills to pay.  Even if the debt burden is less, is it better?
Either decision is a risk in this job market.  Attempt to acquire as many scholarships as possible to give yourself the maximum opportunity.  Get a big name school with a nearly guaranteed Biglaw job offer at the price of the lower tuition schools to make it a win-win situation.  Of course this is easier said than done, and the effort you are willing to put in could make the decision for you.
On a side note, location can still play a big role toward your chances of employment.  Some firms favor their local schools.  Additionally, these Biglaw firms also have favorite law school selections.  The National Jurist also released this list of firms and where they prefer to recruit.

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