niederbomb wrote:Sorry if this has been asked before, but has Michigan suffered disproportionately during the recession relative to other T10 law schools? Michigan is not proximate to a large legal market like U of Chicago and NYU are, for example. So how does this affect Michigan grads when things get tight?
So here's my take on the issue, but I'm going to choose my words carefully because it is a rather delicate issue for all students (not only those without jobs). Last year
Oh boy, where to begin? Michigan admittedly seems to have underperformed its ranking compared to a couple schools for one very large reason - nobody had any idea how bad the hiring and economy was going to be. From all reports, our OCS (and in their defense, it's hard to say this was their fault when faced with complete uncertainty) strongly encouraged students to underbid. Significantly. And when I say significantly, I mean significantly
. This is one of the largest and most frequent complaints I heard from students all last year. As a result, you had a very substantial number of students in the top 10-15%/LR range bidding primarily on firms that would have been more "median-ish" firms under the belief that they had to completely lower their expectations. The trickle down effect that resulted was quite damaging because it displaced the bids/competitiveness of the remainder of the class. As a result of all of this, our class's employment took a larger blow than I think it needed to last year.
In addition, many students were reportedly encouraged to avoid NYC like the plague - the reason being that Michigan, because of the geographic spread of its graduates, had several other venues for people to turn to. Because of these other options, and concerns over the state of NYC due to the financial crisis, far too many people avoided markets that they would have normally bid on. What ended up happening, in hindsight, was that most other markets were incredibly brutal and NYC ended up being one of the better places to bid, relative to Chicago/SF/DC. In fact, Michigan almost put as many people into DC firms (which are notorious for being more selective) as we did in NYC firms, and we placed significantly more into DC firms + DC federal agencies (DOJ, FTC, Treasury Dept, Homeland Security, etc) than we did in NYC. These programs and firms are all typically extraordinarily selective, and Michigan still did relatively quite well in the city. In fact, the number of firm jobs we placed students into in DC exceeded the average annual number of DC firm jobs students received for the classes of 2007-2009 (OCIs in 2005-2007). Although I admit I have a pro-Michigan bias, I really don't think it's too much of a stretch on Michigan's behalf to suggest that our poor placement in NYC (and as a result, in raw statistics) was the result of well-intentioned, but slightly overcautious, bidding advice (both in terms of GPA and city-choice), and certainly not due to any deficiency in employers' perspectives of our students. Unfortunately hindsight is 20/20, and Michigan probably underperformed slightly compared to what it could have.This Year
Like I said, hindsight helps. While I'm speaking from a relatively limited sample of students compared to the whole class, I am cautiously optimistic as to how this year will turn out. Don't get me wrong, it's not 2006 anymore - there are still a number of students looking for jobs. Yet I have the feeling that C/O 2012 approached OCI with a much better idea of what to expect, on the whole. I was speaking with a friend about this yesterday, and both of us were under the impression that many of the strategic problems that really harmed last year's OCI seemed much less significant this year. While I know those who are still looking for summer plans are naturally going to be more quiet about where they are job-wise, I'm still cautiously optimistic about where members of this year's OCI class will end up, relative to last year. Anecdotally, I've heard of a rather healthy number of people with V10 and DC offers, and I wouldn't be surprised if our placement this year improves substantially. I know this answer is somewhat vague, but as a result of not wanting to ask people their summer plans and not having any official data, it unfortunately will have to remain that way until that a summer list is released.
All of that said, I will close up this post by suggesting that Michigan's arguable "underperformance" last year had little to do with proximity to markets (as evidenced by our DC placement). Instead, I think it had much more to do with what cities people bid on, as well as where along the spectrum of firms people bid. That said, I think those issues have been alleviated significantly. While I don't think any school is really facing 2006 again, I think you have very little to worry about at Michigan as compared to any other T10 school.