tamlyric wrote:Thanks so much for your perspective!
I have some more questions if you don't mind.
First, any tips on networking effectively in the legal world, specifically in the Twin Cities, or more specifically coming from Mitchell. I assume some of this may become obvious if/when one gets into a position to do any such networking, but I think that I (and others) could gain from any practical wisdom you might have about things to do (or not do) in terms of networking.
Second, do you have any thoughts on how the bad economy will impact students starting law this fall or next? I will be applying this cycle for next fall, so I am curious about the extent to which there will be a glut of desperate lawyers on the market from previous years and how this will impact those of us coming out in (say) 2013.
Mitchell has a fair number of influential/highly-placed graduates in the Twin Cities' public and private sectors. Contacting an alumnus/a and expressing interest in discussing their practice area will often be enough to merit a half-hour meeting and a cup of coffee. It's no guarantee of anything, however. If you're looking for something more, I'd recommend identifying profs who teach in your favored area of the law and asking after those alumni who they know and have relationships with. Those alumni will most often be the people willing to invest in you. I can't emphasize enough the value of the professorial connection and point of reference.
Other general networking rules always apply. Be friendly and engaging. If your new acquaintance wants to talk about something other than the law, follow his or her lead. Do your homework about their company beforehand.
My thoughts on the economy reflect what I read in the papers. Since I'm not an economist, I tend to put credence in what the economists say is happening. (On the other hand, their accuracy can sometimes be compared to that of meteorologists, so it's not foolproof.)
The economy may turn around by 2013 or so, but whether or not the legal employment landscape will ever be like it was remains a point of debate. I think things have really changed. I think the days of easy summer associate gigs are over. I think the days of big money for associates may be on their way out. I think schools in the third and fourth tiers of US News need to take a good hard look at themselves and ask whether it's right to charge $120K for a legal education when statistics predict that their worst graduate might not ever see that kind of money. If they don't think it's right, they need to find ways to build a niche for themselves in their area and vault over competitors, giving all their graduates the best possible chance of success. I hope Mitchell does that and continues to do that.
I'm not trying to scare with this little speech. I just want students to have their eyes open on the way in. If you want to be a lawyer, do it. You just need to know that the landscape has changed radically, and perhaps permanently. Time will tell. In the meantime, challenge Mitchell professors and administrators to always innovate and improve. Complacency is the enemy.