- Faith & Family
Recent reports from the American Bar Association [ABA] are serving as proof that the grim effects of the current job market are seeping into the cracks of every career field — including the law profession. But despite the decreased number of jobs, lawyers are encouraging law students to stay positive and to develop a new approach.
“Honestly, no career is immune to the downward economic spiral,” said State Representative and attorney Cynthia Stafford. “I would encourage law students to begin the preliminary job application process while they are still in school.”
According to new data released from the ABA, 55 percent of the class of 2011 had found full-time permanent jobs working as lawyers within nine of graduating. In 2010, that number was 68.8 percent according to the National Association for Legal Career Professionals. Its been 1994 since these rates have been so low.
While there is no debating the arduous and competitive nature of law school, lawyers are advising that law students begin taking on projects in school that will set them apart from other applicants.
It’s never too early to prepare for job force
“Many firms offer jobs to those who intern with them — I interned with the State Attorney’s Office and was hired shortly thereafter,” said Olanike Adebayo, assistant state Attorney, M-DC.
“I thank God that I was able to translate my internship into a job,” Stafford continued.
Although the current state of the economy appears to be the number one culprit, there are still other negative elements afoot in the matter.
“Law students are paying a lot of money for school and cannot afford to accept a low paying law position in order to pay back their loans,” Adebayo said.
The cost of law school mixed with the allure of South Florida culture have made the scarcity of jobs a deepening thorn in recent law school graduates’ sides.
“A lot of people want to come to South Florida because there is an abundance of law firms, but on the other hand you have three times as many law schools.”
While it seems as if there are countless elements contributing to the today’s economy, practicing lawyers believe that there are still numerous mediums that students can use to one day land that dream job. Old-fashioned networking is as essential as ever, according to Stafford.
“I would encourage students to join professional organizations and to take advantage of clinics, as well,” she said. “It’s just important to understand that every profession has been influenced by this economy.”
What it all seems to boil down to, like most professions, is patience.
“It’s important to just be patient,” said Kymberlee Curry Smith, founder of Kymberlee Curry Smith P.A. “Everyone’s kind of struggling right now. [Still,] law school graduates are well-equipped to do other things. They have the skill set, the communication skills and the analytical skills that can help them find something else until a position at a firm opens up.”
By Ju’lia Samuels