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New lawyers find bloom still not on hiring rose

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With headlines still screaming about the glut of lawyers and recent law school graduates struggling to find jobs that will enable them to repay their student loans, Andrea Kochert admits she is probably not the typical law school student.

Before completing her legal studies in May 2013, the Lafayette native had landed one job offer and been selected for a clerkship with the Indiana Supreme Court.

“I’ve been very lucky,” Kochert said, “but it isn’t a luck that happens by itself.”

kochert Koechert

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Kochert headed to the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. She purposefully chose I.U. McKinney School of Law because it was located in Indianapolis where making professional connections would be easier.

When she arrived at law school, Kochert joined the Indianapolis Bar Association and talked to attorneys about the practice of law. She took on extra projects, worked as a summer associate, and spent time working in the law school’s wrongful convictions clinic.

Kochert even tucked away a Valentine’s issue of a legal magazine that included an article detailing the reasons why lawyers love the law.

The legal job market, while improved compared to the depths of the recession, is still stumbling. According to data from NALP, formerly the National Association for Legal Career Professionals, only 65.4 percent of the Class of 2011 (the most recent data available) found positions that required bar passage. This compares to pre-recession levels of 76.9 percent and 74.7 percent in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

A look at NALP data concerning the recruitment by law firms at law schools in the late summer and early fall of 2012 indicates the prospects for legal employment are not recovering steadily. Since 2008 and 2009, law firms increased entry-level hiring but, in 2012, the brakes were applied and both the median and average number of offers to second-year law students for summer associate positions in 2013 fell.

From his desk at Lewis Wagner LLP in Indianapolis, attorney John Trimble does see a pickup in employment, but hiring is nowhere near the pre-recession heydays.

“My initial feeling is the job market for 2013 graduates is a little better than it has been in the last five years, but it’s not a lot better,” he said. “(The) 2013 graduates are still having to compete against lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed as a result of the events of the last few years. Law firms have lots of choices.”

In this sea of competition, freshly minted law school graduates have to distinguish themselves more so than in the past. Displaying a positive attitude and having a strong work ethic are required along with compiling a record of work and clinical experience before graduation.

“This is probably not a time to go to law school unless you’re prepared to go there and achieve,” Trimble said.

Editor's note: This section has been updated to correct the number of summer associates Barnes & Thornburg LLP had last year.

Finding talent

Training new hires is a costly endeavor, so law firms remain methodical in their hiring process. Many law offices want to give jobs to candidates who are likely to stay and rise through the ranks to partner.

For Barnes and Thornburg LLP, the recruitment starts with law students who are in their first semester of study. The firm has mixers and receptions to meet the soon-to-be-lawyers. From there, Barnes relies on its summer associate program to find the students to bring on as full-time employees.

“We want to find the very best candidates out there so we kind of scour the landscape,” said Bill Padgett, hiring partner at the firm’s Indianapolis office.

 

trimble Trimble

To identify the top candidates, Padgett pays particular attention to past work experience. Even a job making sandwiches can indicate the individual has a strong work ethic and knows how to function in a workplace.

This year, Barnes’ Indianapolis office has hired eight summer associates who are between their second and third years of law school. The firm only takes the number of summer associates that it intends to eventually hire full time, Padgett explained. Last year, Barnes had five summer associates who were between their second and third years of law school.

At Indiana University Maurer School of Law, the Class of 2013 is not surprised by a tight job market but, nevertheless, is frustrated and anxious, said interim Dean Hannah Buxbaum. The class members are working hard to identify possible jobs, even considering positions that do not require a J.D. and paying attention to presenting themselves well in interviews.

Buxbaum hesitated to say the job outlook is brightening but she did note business activity, in general, is picking up a little bit.

Kochert is optimistic based on what she sees happening with her classmates. One year ago, about half her friends in the Class of 2012 left school without jobs, but this year, a majority of her companions graduating in 2013 have found positions.

However, the recession-induced changes to the legal profession are likely to stay despite any boost in the overall economy. In large part, businesses have become better consumers of legal services, Trimble said, which is resulting in a decline in legal work.

Corporations and insurance companies are more careful about pursuing legal action, instead choosing arbitration and mediation. They are relying on in-house attorneys more and are scrutinizing their legal bills.

Finding the right fit

Sometimes, Bob Schuckit meets an individual who is just looking to take any job offered. At his boutique firm, Schuckit & Associates in Zionsville, he has seen his business increase during the recession, but he is not willing to take on any lawyer who needs a paycheck.

“We look for stars who want to stay here for the rest of their lives,” Schuckit said. “We expect everyone we hire to do that, and we rapidly increase their compensation as they increase their star power.”

His requirements for new employees include being hard working, paying attention to detail, having previous work experience and being a perfectionist. In this employers’ market, Schuckit is looking for “sharp motivated people.”

As head of recruiting at Lewis Wagner, Rob Baker often passes along a piece of advice that almost seems an antithesis to the current economy. He tells the students he meets to interview the firms just as the firms are interviewing them.

Baker counsels the job candidates to find a job where they will be happy and comfortable. They need to find a place where they will enjoy coming to work every day because, as a lawyer, they will be spending a lot of time at the office.

Buxbaum echoed this idea, noting that finding the right fit has always been important. Yet during the boom years, jobs in firms were so plentiful, students did not always consider if practicing in a big office was what they really wanted.

Now, the discussions in Bloomington focus on what the students want to do and where the opportunities are. When students first come to the law school, they are advised to think about where they want to go and to choose the courses that will position them for the career they will truly enjoy.

Kochert admitted she came to law school with a fail safe. If she did not like it, she could fall back on her bachelor’s degree and become an accountant. But she found she loves the law.

So she stayed and will soon be starting a judicial clerkship. Long term, Kochert’s career goal is simple: she wants to be a good, well-respected lawyer.•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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