CU Law and job prospects?

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Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:21 pm

CU Law and job prospects?

Postby ypark87 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:23 pm

Hi all!

I won't be applying to law school until this fall, but I just had a question about job prospects should I apply to CU and get in (which would be great!). What are the job prospects like in and around Denver and Boulder?

Let me know! Thanks!


Posts: 2010
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:57 am

Re: CU Law and job prospects?

Postby Aqualibrium » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:39 pm

Here's what CU 3L's had to say in the CU thread:

This portion is by the user Rekopter:

What's your GPA/rank? How did OCI go? What did you for 1L and 2L summer employment? Do you have anything set for after graduation? Anecdotally, how about your classmates?

I'm not going to get into any personal details here, but I'll speak generally about OCI.

Denver biglaw is very difficult to get from CU. Most of the cutoffs are top 10 or top 20 percent and nearly every big firm prefers law review. It's very competitive.

A large majority of 3Ls don't have anything lined up for next year. Several have biglaw offers and several have clerkships, but I think about 75%+ don't have a clue.

Would you comment a little more on this? If 75% of the class doesn't have something lined up, what will the majority of them end up doing? If only the top 10-20% are looking at big law what are the other sorts of opportunities out there for CU grads? Do most stay in CO upon graduation? Is the cutoff for BigLaw where it is because of the small market or because Denver has many other T-14 grads coming in?

The universe of legal employers which hire a year in advance is relatively small: biglaw firms, big government agencies (DOJ Honors, for example), and the prestigious clerkships. At CU, I would guess that about 10, maybe 15 of us have clerkships and about the same with biglaw offers.

The bulk of the legal profession is made up by smaller and mid-size law firms and smaller govt positions (DA's, for example) and these employers generally hire as the need arises. DA's offices generally don't make any offers until bar admission. CU graduates generally mirror the attorney profession as a whole--the bulk of our graduates will end up in jobs from this paragraph; fewer in the previous paragraph. And CU does place many graduates in the less-competitive trial and podunk-area clerkships which won't hire until 2011.

The grade cutoffs are what they are because the big firms can afford to be choosy. The vast majority of law students at CU and elsewhere desperately want these high-paying jobs and there are few vacancies in the best of times and very few in times like this. Several of these vacancies are inevitably filled with t14 grads.

I'm not very familiar with the value Colorado companies/firms place on a UC-Boulder JD, but is it similar to that placed on UT JD's in Texas (good enough to compete with pretty much everybody save HYS)? Does its regional appeal extend to nearby states, like New Mexico, or is it primarily limited to Colorado?

(While we are the University of Colorado, the Boulder campus is known as "CU").

We are clearly the best school in CO but we don't have the reputation that Texas does. Several of the big firms here hire out of the t14 in about equal numbers while some tend to have a strong preference for CU, and to a lesser extent DU grads.

Which school(s) place well in Denver then??

CU >> Denver-- but the gap isn't as wide as you'd think by looking at the rankings. CU is also cheaper because you can get easily get in-state tuition after your first year, however if you can get into CU you can probably get $$ from DU.

This portion is by the user Puffer:

If 75% of the class doesn't have something lined up, what will the majority of them end up doing?

Last year's grads are working as trial court clerks, lawyers in small to midsize firms, small government lawyers, solo practitioners, public defenders, businesspeople, restaurant servers, and are going back to school to get a degree in an area people are hiring in (or at least to keep their loans from coming due). "Restaurant server" should probably be higher on that list if it were ranked in order of prevalence.

If you're going to law school at CU (or at any other law school ranked, oh, 20-80), you should be picturing your ideal career path as being a trial court clerk for a year, then networking your way into becoming a lawyer who writes up documents relating to small insurance settlement trust accounts, in a small-ish firm in a Denver suburb, making no more than $60k/yr (and probably closer to $50k) at the outset and working your way up the ladder with 50-60 hour weeks. You will be moderately dissatisfied with your life, living in a rented condo far from downtown, driving a used Corolla, Civic, or Focus (seriously, like 60% of the lawyers in CO drive one of those three vehicles), and drinking too much with other lawyers surprisingly frequently.

I will reiterate, that should not be your fallback option, it's more of a reasonable thing to strive for. Talking biglaw is a bit of a joke amongst the vast majority of law students in this country.

If only the top 10-20% are looking at big law what are the other sorts of opportunities out there for CU grads?

You don't get biglaw from CU, and the foregoing statement requires some explanation.

Maybe 8% of each class at CU has the credentials to get a legitimate biglaw interview (note that URM status is a credential). Maybe 4% have the credentials to get a summer clerkship with a biglaw firm in Denver. Maybe 2% have the lawyering and interpersonal skills necessary to get a permanent offer. In this economy, 0-1% will get such offers.

The 10-20% figure refers to the folks who have a chance to be hired by the larger firms in the Denver market. These firms will give you a biglaw-like paycheck, and require biglaw-like hours to be billed by you, but they won't be ranked on any biglaw list. In this economy, I'd guess that only 5-8% of the class has any particular chance at any such positions.

Do most stay in CO upon graduation?

Yes. If they don't stay in CO upon graduation, it's only to go to Montana, or New Mexico, or something like that. CU places well throughout the mountain west region, and only throughout the mountain west region. Of course, the only real legal market in the mountain west region is Denver.

Is the cutoff for BigLaw where it is because of the small market or because Denver has many other T-14 grads coming in?

Does it matter? The cutoff for biglaw is where it is because there aren't that many biglaw (or biglaw-lite) jobs out there that are attainable by CU grads upon graduation. The competition or the size of the market aren't going to change anytime soon, so they're largely irrelevant.

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