Miami Law's Career Development Office hosted its 13th annual Informational Career Fair on The Bricks. More than two dozen alumni and other legal professionals spoke with students about job opportunities, as well as ways to maximize their time in graduate school in order to maximize their options after graduation.
Employers came prepared with a consistent theme for students: Follow your passion.
"The key to get any job is a balanced resume," said alumnus Justin Angelo, JD '04, now a seventh year associate at Greenberg Traurig, P.A. Angelo says some students are seeking formulaic answers – a sort of chart that promises that if a student takes course a then course b, the result will be a job at a big law firm. But that's not the case, at least not anymore, said Angelo.
"Take the classes you're interested in," he said. "Don't take classes just for the Bar Exam."
Employers are now looking for a different breed of hardworking students. On the upside, he said employers are now beginning to hire young attorneys again. "We're starting to see the sun peak through the clouds a little bit," he said. "There are certain tasks better suited for young attorneys."
Government attorneys echoed a similar message. Since the economic downturn, the Public Defender offices have been dealing with severe cutbacks. Nevertheless, students eager to learn what really goes on, and how to get internships were still lined up at those tables, too.
Assistant Pubic Defender Teresa Enriquez said many of the students she spoke with were passionate about litigating, or wanted exposure to the litigation process while still in school.
Students understand that doing well in school doesn't translate to a job, and practical training was just as important.
"There appears to be a bit more apprehension now these days than in the past," said Chief Assistant Public Defender Guy David Robinson who felt that students had questions unique to today's hiring climate.
Students circled the Bricks and asked if employers had budgets to support hiring new lawyers.
However, the best advice provided to students during the Informational Career Fair may have come from Robert Coppel, Director of Training and Professionalism for the Public Defender's office. Coppel, who hires and interviews interns, said the difference between those he hires and those he won't hire comes down to passion.
"If it's just a job to you, then I'm not going to hire you," he said. "I'm looking for that passion."