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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ASU Alumni Law Group hardly helps dismal job market for grads

    Have law degree, will work for food.

    That pretty much sums up the current job market for law school graduates.

    In response, Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law is launching the ASU Alumni Law Group, a nonprofit teaching law firm for post-law school graduates that will be modeled after medical residency programs.

    It looks like ASU is making an effort, but you’d think it could do a better job redesigning its law school system to work with the 21st century.

    After all, law school application numbers are dropping, classes are shrinking and more and more law graduates are wondering what they’re going to do with their debt.

    “There’s definitely a real fear [among students],” said Dana Dobbins, a UA philosophy, politics, economics and law junior, about the prospect of unemployment after graduating law school.

    The ASU Alumni Law Group, like similar start-ups around the nation, will only employ 30 law graduates. In spite of an average debt of $101,560 for graduating law students in 2012, the firm is offering services for only $125 per hour, half the going rate charged by private sector counterparts.

    The wages are nothing to brag about, but it’s better than working as a contract writer to the tune of $25 per hour or for free in a volunteer federal law position.

    However, with today’s oversaturated job market, the move is more likely an attempt to attract students to the law school.

    “The statistical advantage might convince more undergraduates to apply to ASU,” said Robert W. Berry, UA Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law Club president.

    As students struggle to find employment after graduation, law schools are reporting increasingly lower graduate employment numbers.

    “All law schools inflate admissions statistics by recruiting students with high LSAT scores and GPAs to get better rankings,” added Berry, “but never has a school provided its own graduates temporary jobs to climb the rankings.”

    That’s precisely what these clinics will do: give desperate graduates a temporary job while boosting law school statistics.

    “It seems disingenuous to cover up the reality of the situation … [that] no one is hiring new lawyers,” Berry said.

    So yes, the ASU Alumni Law Group is an innovation in the law school system, but it’s hardly for the benefit of law students.

    If you still plan to attend law school, stock up on microwave noodles before you go.

    —Stephanie Zawada is a chemistry and pre-business sophomore. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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