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Law Firms Cuts Mean Law-School Angst

Monday, March 2, 2009

Northeast Ohio's tightening job market has ravaged the regional workforce in the manufacturing, banking, and business fields - but a quieter trend of job cuts is impacting the state's Law Schools. ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports.

Include Ohio among states where 3rd year law students are suddenly being rebuffed - as they graduate into the toughest job market in years.

They’re finding established law firms routinely canceling previous job offers, cutting initial salaries, or pushing back start dates of new attorneys they `do’ choose to hire.

Ohio Northern University’s Cynthia Kitchen says her law school regularly sees the results of those corporate decisions.

CYNTHIA KITCHEN:"I have one third year that just heard from her firm in Cleveland that she will not be starting until January of 2010.”

The University of Akron and CASE Law Schools report some similar situations for their third years, but not in `overwhelming’ numbers. Not yet.

But revoked offers and broken deals are becoming so frequent that state law school placement coordinators, including Kitchen, met to discuss it last week. The consensus was quick - and brutal.

KITCHEN: “Unfortunately 2009 is going to be worse than 2008.”

The National Association for Law Placement reported last week that job offers are at a five year low, while the number of law school grads accepting ‘whatever offer comes’, is at a record 80%.

Additionally, recent layoffs at three Cleveland-based law firms mean experienced lawyers now compete with the region’s NEW graduates; for what few attorney jobs are being offered.

The shift has some first year law students now reconsidering - or at least hoping 2011 will bring a stronger, and more litigious economy.

Rick Jackson, 90.3.