Reaching a milestone

May 24, 2010
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IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger wrote this post.

The final 2010 Indiana law school graduation took place Saturday at Valparaiso University School of Law in northwest Indiana.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

* Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis: 312 JD degrees given out May 8;

* Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington: 197 JD degrees given out May 8;

* Notre Dame Law School: 172 JD degrees given out May 16;

* Valparaiso University School of Law: 162 JD degrees given out May 22.

The above numbers include students who will likely be eligible to receive their degrees later this summer, and were therefore eligible to participate in graduation.

These numbers don’t include those who received an LL.M. or other legal degrees.

These numbers also don’t reflect how many of these students will actually take the bar, or plan to stay in Indiana to practice law. But if even half of the more than 800 law school graduates stay in Indiana to practice, are there enough jobs for them?

Informal conversations with career planning advisors at Indiana law schools in recent months tend to share the thread that it’s too early to tell who will or won’t have jobs, and that students have had to work harder to reach out to potential employers in the past few years than those who graduated even a few years ago.

Indiana law schools also have discussed with students the various job opportunities outside of the big-firm path that so many may have planned on as they entered law school three years ago – or four years ago for the part-time students at Indy Law.

Then again, informal conversations with legal employers who aren’t large law firms have all revealed an uptick in resumes and applications – and not only from those who just graduated.

In fact, one source I spoke with last summer for a story about alternative legal careers just recently told me in an unrelated conversation that after the article came out, he received a number of calls from attorneys who wanted to know more about how he got his job – and how they could get similar jobs.

But one has to wonder - how many of the newly minted Juris Doctors will decide to take on a non-legal job or move back home at least to keep up with student loans? Or will there be stories in 10 years or so of solo attorneys and entrepreneurs who, had they gotten that large firm job after 2010 graduation, wouldn’t have been as successful or enjoyed their work as much?

or the attorneys reading this – seasoned and those who’ve graduated in the somewhat recent past – is there any advice you want to share with the graduates of Indiana’s law schools as they officially enter the legal community? Or, if you are among those who just graduated, let us know your plans. If you don’t want to post them here, feel free to e-mail me: rberfanger@ibj.com.
 

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