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Symposium Examines Changing Job Market for Lawyers

September 25, 2009

Nearly 300 people gathered at the University of San Francisco Sept. 17 for a day-long symposium examining the changing legal employment landscape.

The event included panel discussions on the changing job market for lawyers, alternative careers, solo practices, and future legal careers.

"If the symposium is any guide, dramatic changes, unimaginable a few years ago, are now taking place in the job market," Dean Jeffrey S. Brand said in response to panelists who discussed shifting business models for law firms, including a move away from billable hours.

Despite the turmoil in the legal sector that has resulted in the closing of venerable local and national law firms, scaling back of on-campus interviews, and job offer deferral, panelists agreed that the sector will emerge stronger and better in the end.

Read Dean Jeffrey Brand's blog on the symposium.

Read the San Francisco Business Times coverage of the symposium.

"The future is extremely bright for legal professionals and the time will return when the demand for lawyers will exceed the supply and salaries will go up," said Peter Zeughauser, who participated in a panel focusing on the business of law practice. "For now, my advice to current law students and new graduates is to go out and get some practical experience."

Panelists also encouraged students and recent graduates to take this opportunity to think creatively about their career paths.

"When I started, the job path was very rigid. Now, that's all changed," said panelist Jennifer Keunster, a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP. "A legal career spans a long time and there's plenty of time to do different types of jobs and it is easier now to go from a small firm to a big firm."

A common piece of advice many speakers offered the students and recent graduates in the audience was to find your passion and find a way to build a career around it.

"A law degree is a useful degree and never a detriment," said Stacy Miller Azcarate '96, founder of Miller, Sabino & Lee, Inc. Legal Placement Services. "The possibilities are endless, so find your passion outside the law and integrate that with your work. Every company and organization in the world needs legal assistance."

The symposium was hosted by Miller, Sabino & Lee, Inc. Legal Placement Services, the USF School of Law Board of Governors, the USF School of Law Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and the USF School of Law Office of Career Planning.