Would-Be Summer Associates Work Harder for Jobs; Ex-Salesman Taps His Skills

Former insurance salesman James Parker used his jobs skills when applying for a summer associate position.

Parker was told his first-year grades at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law weren’t good enough to land a job with a large firm, so he began networking with alumni, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. When he obtained interviews in San Francisco and Portland, Ore., he paid for the trips. His persistence paid off; Parker was hired as a 2011 summer associate at Davis Wright Tremaine, where he is now a first-year associate.

“I was doing what you would do in insurance,” Parker told the Wall Street Journal. “You have to get in front of the client to get the gig.”

Parker’s proactive job hunt isn’t that unusual in today’s market, the Wall Street Journal says. “These days fewer law students are making the cut, forcing some to take a more entrepreneurial approach to the job hunt,” the newspaper reports. “They are piling up legal internships, working alumni connections and networking with lawyers months before recruitment season begins—anything to get an edge.”

The story includes some statistics on the difficulties of finding jobs in firms of 100 or more lawyers. Among those working in private practice one year after graduation, only 27 percent of the class of 2011 had big firm jobs, compared to 41 percent of the class of 2008.

As BigLaw jobs contract, law firms are visiting fewer campuses. One employer, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, abandoned the process altogether, the story says. Instead, it invited first year students to mingle at parties this spring. The firm took applications after first-year grades were issued.

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