As law schools across the country feel the economic pinch, the UA's James E. Rogers College of Law is working hard to insulate its graduates from the economic downturn.
Law firms nationwide are hiring fewer new graduates than in the past, said Nancy Stanley, assistant director of development and external relations at the UA College of Law.
But while many firms are instating hiring freezes or even releasing employees, officials at the UA College of Law say their students are weathering the global economic downturn fairly well.
Part of the reason for this is that UA law students search for jobs in a more diverse pool of employers, Stanley said.
Graduates from top law schools such as Harvard often only apply within the top echelon of law firms, she said.
Nonetheless, the economic slump has the UA College of Law examining how to best prepare its students. Career services staff at the College of Law attended a series of workshops on how to help students stay competitive, and held a special series of workshop meetings to talk with students about marketplace issues, staying focused, and taking a broad view of employment prospects, she said.
Stanley said she has been working with other staff, especially in professional development and career placement, to prepare law students for the current job market.
""One of the things they did over the summer is that they worked out a system of internships and volunteer activities for anyone at the law school who wanted it,"" she said.
The UA is playing a more proactive role in job placement for its students, said Paula Nailon, assistant dean for professional development at the College of Law.
The UA has had to step up its involvement so students can ""hit the ground running,"" because law firms aren't recruiting as aggressively as they have in years past, she said.
There are fewer law firms recruiting on campus this year than there were several years ago, Nailon said.
""Larger law firms (are) uncertain as to their needs next summer,"" she said. ""Employers always hire on an annual basis, but they are being much more cautious now.""
But despite the economy's impact on larger firms, the government and firms of other sizes are still a good source of jobs, and areas such as intellectual property and the environment remain strong, Nailon said.
Nailon also recommended law students be more flexible when looking for a job: prepare for a longer job search, be open geographically and investigate firms of varying sizes.
Lisa Pope, a first-year law student at the UA, said she was not terribly worried about job prospects when she graduates in 2012.
""I feel like being a lawyer is a marketable skill, and there's work for people who can solve problems,"" she said.
Pope is a member of several clubs, and is trying to find extracurricular and co-curricular activities to help prepare her for a competitive job market, she said.
Jonathan Confer, a second-year law student, said he has been following the economy and how it is affecting the legal field. He said the people at the UA advised him to ""cast a wide net and investigate all the leads you can.""
Although Confer would like to stay in Arizona, he has also investigated job prospects in California and Nevada.
Nailon said that she and others at the College of Law were in ""watching mode.""
""Some firms that had postponed have started hiring again,"" she said. ""It's business as usual, but we have to work a little harder. Steady as she goes.""