The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Job experience increasingly necessary for law grads

Students considering attending law school after graduation should consider taking time off school to join the workforce, according to information gathered by AOL Jobs.

More than 30 interviews with law professors, admissions officers, law students, recent graduates and hiring partners at law firms conducted by AOL Jobs last month confirmed professional experience has grown more important in the weak economy.

Unemployment rates for lawyers are at record highs. According to AOL Jobs, only 68.4 percent of graduates from the national law school class of 2010 are employed in jobs that require a doctorate degree in law, a drop of 8 percent from the class of 2007.

Paul Bauer, an attorney and partner at Quarles and Brady in Milwaukee, said there are not many entry-level law positions available right now and agreed that students should gain real-world experience before going to law school.

Bauer said perspective lawyers should do anything they can in order to set themselves apart in the job market.

“There aren’t a lot of entry-level law positions available right now,” Bauer said. “A good strategy to set yourself apart is to gain practical hands-on experience.”

Bauer began law school at age 35 after working as an English professor at Marquette.

“I wouldn’t advise anyone to wait as long as I did,” Bauer said.

But he said his work experience helped him function at a higher level than his peers who went to law school right after graduation.

Marquette law school students come from a variety of backgrounds and have different reasons for attending law school.

Stephanie Nikolay, director of admissions and recruitment for Marquette’s law school, said students with and without prior work experience attend Marquette.

Nikolay said a little more than half of the students at Marquette law school came directly after graduating with their bachelor’s degree. Others decide to gain real-world experience and take a break from school before getting their law degree.

Maggie Murphy, a second-year law student, spent eight and a half years in the army before enrolling in law school.

Murphy said her time off allowed her to view law school with a different perspective than some of her peers.

“I needed a break after undergrad,” Murphy said.

Murphy said she thinks her work experience will help her in the job market because of the maturity that comes along with working. She said unlike some of her peers, she knows how to report to others, which helps in internships.

Justin Schuessler, a third-year law student, enrolled at Marquette directly after graduating from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with his bachelor’s degree.

Schuessler said he decided to go to law school right after undergrad because he thought waiting would make it hard to go back to school again.

“Some of my peers who waited to attend law school said the hardest part of law school was getting back into the mindset of learning,” Schuessler said.

Schuessler said he worked while attending school for his undergraduate degree, which he hopes will help him in the job market.

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