Last week we discussed results from a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey which suggests that bleak employment statistics haven’t deterred prospective law students from pursuing law degrees.
The same survey found that 38 percent of entering law students hope to work in “Big Law” while only 10 percent of graduates actually enter those jobs upon graduation. These results echo the NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2011, which found the overall employment rate for the class of 2011 to be 85.6 percent. For students who do ultimately work at large firms, we know that pro bono offers the opportunity to use their unique professional skills to benefit the greater good throughout law school and once practicing.
In light of the abysmal employment statistics for recent law school graduates and recognizing the opportunity to address larger access to justice issues, our friend Connecticut Chief Justice Chase Rogers put forth a bold, innovative idea during her recent address at the Connecticut Bar Association Annual Meeting. Chief Justice Rogers remarked:
[w]hat do we do with our talented unemployed law school graduates? Here’s just one idea that I have been thinking about – what about a model that looks like Teach for America but instead would be Law for America where graduating students would commit to a year or two of legal services for those who can’t afford it thereby gaining experience which would be useful to you as potential employers.
The sort of program Chief Justice Rogers discussed would serve two purposes—it would boost legal services capacity and offer young lawyers meaningful professional development opportunities. Audacious ideas like this one require careful planning, but they may be just what we need to help address a constricting legal market for recent law school graduates and the access to justice crisis.
What do you think about Chief Justice Roger’s idea? Drop us a line below!