Newest Issue - January 2010

When the Detour Becomes the Destination

The year Laura Tharney entered law school, the legal market boomed with opportunity. But those good times ended before she could finish. The week she graduated from Rutgers School of Law-Newark, the New Jersey firm that had offered her a job eight months earlier rescinded that offer.

A snapshot from the class of ’09? Think again.

Tharney, now deputy director of the New Jersey Law Revision Commission, graduated 18 years ago into the early 1990s legal recession, which hit hardest on the East Coast. Then as now, firms cut associates, canceled summer programs and rescinded offers as part of their expense-cutting strategy.

She recalls feeling horrified when her offer evaporated in June 1991. “I didn’t know how I was going to survive,” she says. “It felt catastrophic. [But] I ended up having this unusual and varied career. I can’t say I regret it.”

Not everyone in the law school classes of 1990-93 coped equally well. There were those who abandoned the law entirely, dropping off the radar of schools that track where their grads land.

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