To: Northwestern Law Community
From: David E. Van Zandt
Re: Message to Students and Alumni about Additional Career-Related Services
As we enter a new year and a new decade, the world’s economy is struggling to recover from the financial crisis and the ensuing global recession which beset us. In response, we again are taking proactive steps to identify and establish ways the Law School can assist our students and alumni throughout this challenging period.
The current economic environment presents significant employment-related difficulties for all law schools, and I am mindful of the anxiety that many of you face in confronting the near-term career-related uncertainties. Fortunately, some positive trends are beginning to take hold and there are strong reasons to believe that 2010 will provide more sustained growth for the legal industry and our nation’s economy as a whole, and that we will begin to see some gradual improvement in the employment landscape for law school graduates. Recent news has included announcements of law firm bonuses, the acceleration of some previously deferred start dates, and generally more optimistic projections for future business and expansion. (Click here for more information). In the coming years, I expect demand for legal services to grow at a steady pace as more robust economic activity returns and governments impose more regulation.
Despite these projections, currently the overall unemployment rate for our nation remains high and, within the legal industry itself, hiring remains constricted as employers continue to grapple with plans to restructure recruitment and training methods, compensation levels, and promotion tracks for current and future employees and billing and fee arrangements with their clients.
In light of these realities, I hope the following information and services will assist many of you. They have been developed with input from many throughout our community on the premise that it is important to continue pursuing activities that build your network, your skill set, and your resume. If you are currently in the midst of an extended job search, have been notified of a deferred start date by your future employer, or are experiencing other related circumstances, I encourage you to consider these alternatives, which may serve as a short-term bridge to the next step in your career and the ensuing recovery in our economy which will eventually occur.
A. Graduating JD and JD-MBA Students and Alumni with Delayed Start Dates
Bluhm Legal Clinic Unpaid Internship Opportunities
As a means to assist graduating students and alumni who are experiencing delayed start dates, our Bluhm Legal Clinic has arranged to provide opportunities for students to work as unpaid interns in several of its centers and programs. If you have a deferred start date with or without a public service requirement and are interested in one of these opportunities, please contact Shericka Pringle-Jackson. If your prospective employer is offering a stipend that is contingent upon public interest work, please also contact them to ensure that this meets their requirements.
Opportunities with Other Public Interest Organizations
We also have identified several public interest employers who are interested in hiring students and alumni as interns (possibly unpaid). These opportunities are being tracked by our Career Strategy Center and will be listed and updated on our website. These options could be open to all students but also may be of particular interest to students who experience delayed start dates conditioned upon public service work.
B. All Graduating Students and Alumni
LLM Tax Program
We will extend the application deadline for our Graduate Tax program to June 1 for Northwestern Law students and alumni. Similar to last year and as another one-time option, we also will waive one semester of tuition for Northwestern Law graduating students and alumni who are accepted and enroll in this two semester program in Fall 2010, thereby matching the total tuition cost of Northwestern Law students who pursue our joint JD-LLM in Taxation program. Please contact Sarah Arimoto-Mercer in the admissions office if you are interested in applying.
LLM Human Rights Program
We also have decided to extend the application deadline for our LLM in International Human Rights program to June 1 for Northwestern Law students and alumni. Like last year and again as a one-time option, we also will waive one semester of tuition for Northwestern Law graduating students and alumni who enroll in this two semester program in Fall 2010. Please contact Dimple Patel if you are interested in applying.
Additional Career Counseling with Alumni Legal Recruiters and Consultants
Some of our alumni who work as professional legal recruiters and consultants and who manage executive search firms have agreed to provide free or discounted individual counseling to Northwestern Law students and graduates. Please contact Bill Chamberlain for further information.
Webinar Program for Northwestern Law Alumni and Current Students
The Center for Career Strategy and Advancement and the Office of Alumni Relations hosted a webinar on Wednesday, February 3 from noon to 1 p.m during which we presented a snapshot of the legal job market as well as job search and coping strategies. You can access an archive of this session online.
Reciprocity with Other Law School Career Offices
Northwestern Law students and alumni may request reciprocity in order to gain access to the career offices at most law schools in other cities throughout the country for a prescribed period of time by submitting this form. Note that many law schools have black out dates (usually in the fall) during which reciprocity requests will not be granted. We will notify you of the outcome of your reciprocity request by e-mail. Please contact Shahab Tabatabainejad for more information.
Student Loan Repayment Options
Students and alumni may apply for forbearance on their Northwestern and Federal Loans in order to reduce or postpone scheduled loan payments until the end of a forbearance period.
NORTHWESTERN LOANS: Students and alumni may apply for forbearance on their NU Loans. Interest does accrue and is capitalized at the end of the forbearance period but Northwestern does not require that a balloon payment be made at the end of the forbearance period to make up for the missing payments. The repayment schedules are recalculated over the remaining term of the loan. Northwestern also does not require payments during the forbearance period (though you may make payments if you choose to do so). You are allowed a total of 36 months of forbearance time during the 10 year repayment term. Forbearances are usually approved in 6 month increments. Please contact the Student Loan Office, to discuss your options. Note that this should not have a negative impact on your credit score. Please consult this website for more information.
FEDERAL LOANS: For federal student loans, borrowers enter a grace period after graduation (6 months for Stafford, 9 months for Perkins, and 90 days for Graduate PLUS) which means you are not required to begin to make payments while you are in your grace period. Many lenders will offer you a forbearance on your Graduate PLUS loans that will suspend payments until your Stafford loan goes into repayment. After your grace period has ended, you have the ability to request forbearance with your lender, which will allow for scheduled payments to be reduced or postponed until the end of the forbearance period. Interest can be paid as it accrues and it can be capitalized at the end of the forbearance period. Forbearance periods range from 3 months to 1 year. To initiate the process, you must contact your federal student loan lender. Your Stafford loan lender will be different than your Perkins loan lender. Please make sure you contact all lenders regarding repayment options. We strongly recommend using the National Student Loan Database Service at http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/ for the most up to date information on the holder of your federal student loans and who to contact regarding repayment and forbearance information.
The Admissions & Financial Aid Office will host a session on various federal student loan repayment options on February 18, 2010 from noon – 1:20 p.m. in RB 140. At that presentation, we also will discuss the terms and conditions for repayment options as well as answer questions.
C. All Graduating Students
Opportunity to Pursue Additional Coursework at No Charge
As another means to allow you to stay sharp, engaged and productive during any start date deferments or ongoing searches, class of 2010 graduating students may complete additional coursework at the law school during the Fall 2010 term free of charge.
In August, you will receive an email from Jason Moy advising you of classes with potential open enrollments. If you would like to take one of the courses, you will be asked to reply to Jason via email and, if there is a seat available after the close of the drop/add period, we will enroll you as a student in that class. You will be expected to participate fully in the class, and grading for you will be on a credit/no credit basis.
Health Insurance Extension
Graduating students with University Health Insurance may apply for privately provided Short Term Medical Insurance to bridge the gap between the termination of University coverage with Aetna-Chickering (August 31, 2010) and their employment start date. All other students should check with their current health insurance provider for coverage dates.
The Northwestern Alumni Association offers a short-term medical plan with Marsh Affinity Group.
Other short Term Health Insurance options include:
Meyer and Associates
United Health Care (United Health also offers coverage for members of the ABA. More info...)
Students interested in speaking with an agent experienced in short term, post-graduation insurance options can contact Randy Sable (847) 905-1915 or visit the Total Benefit Services website.
You may finance the cost for this short-term health insurance coverage through Bar Examination Loans (see next).
Bar Examination Loans
Graduating students may apply for a bar examination loan to assist with expenses (including the health insurance costs described above) while studying for the bar exam. You may apply for a bar examination loan up to a few months after graduation and turnaround time for the funds to disburse is typically less than two weeks. There are severa lenders that offer bar examination loans. Lenders typically describe the terms and conditions on their website and in their application. Note that lenders will require international students to provide a US citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer. Please contact Jill Rubin Decremer in the Admissions and Financial Aid Office for more information about bar examination loans.
D. Graduating JD and JD-MBA Students
Additional Networking Opportunities with a Member of our Law Board
We are contacting members of our Law Board to serve as additional networking contacts for Northwestern Law graduating students. Second-year students may also participate. The Law Board is the Law School’s main advisory board and its membership can be found on our website. Please contact Bill Chamberlain to obtain further information about this service.
If you are not planning to take the July bar examination, you may be able to practice in a qualifying public interest organization under a 711 license for up to 18 months. According to the Illinois Supreme Court website, “Unless otherwise provided by the Administrative Director for good cause shown, or unless sooner withdrawn or terminated, the certificate shall remain in effect until the expiration of 18 months after it is filed, or until the announcement of the results of the first bar examination following the student's graduation, whichever is earlier. The certificate of a student who passes that examination shall continue in effect until he/she is admitted to the bar.” For more information and a list of qualifying employment, click here.
E. Graduating LLM Tax Students
Research Assistantship with a Tax Program Faculty Member
To assist graduating LLM in Taxation students who are seeking employment, members of our Tax Program faculty have created a limited number of openings for short-term research assistantships. A modest stipend may be associated with these research projects. Please contact Jacqueline Reise for more information about these opportunities.
F. All First- and Second-Year Students
Summer Research Internships
This summer you will have the opportunity to participate in a program we established last year, called Summer Research Internships. Summer Research Internships offer you a chance to do substantive work with a professor during the summer months, learn about the process of legal scholarship, and earn two credits toward graduation.
If interested, you will need to contact the professor with whom you would like to work and mutually agree on the nature of the project and the form of the work product. Once you have secured this agreement, please provide Jason Moy a completed Counter Registration Form (available online or in person) countersigned by your supervising professor no later than June 15, 2010.
Summer Research Interns must meet with their professor at least one hour/week and, occasionally with the agreement of the professor, conferences may be held on a distance basis. Please note that work as a Summer Research Intern does not count toward the graduation writing requirement, nor can it be used to begin a law journal note or comment. Grading for the Summer Research Internship is Credit/No Credit.
Summer Business Intern Program
The Summer Business Intern Program provides opportunities for first- and second-year students to work in the general counsel’s office of a corporation. While most corporations do not hire right out of law school, students gain experience in working for a client and exposure to various areas of law including contracts, labor and employment, intellectual property and environmental law. These positions are paid. They are treated as resume requests in Symplicity. When we receive a position, the Career Strategy Center will notify all first- and second-year students by email.
Summer Global Intern Program
The Summer Global Intern Program provides first and second-year students with the opportunity to work in the office of a local law firm in a foreign country. We contact our LLM and JD alumni who are working in countries outside the U.S. and request that they take on a student as a summer intern. In the past, our students have had successful internships in Costa Rica, Argentina, Germany, India and Japan. Knowledge of the local language is often not a prerequisite. These positions are also treated as resume requests in Symplicity and you will be notified about them via email.
If you have any questions about the Summer Business Intern or Summer Global Intern programs, please contact Bill Chamberlain in the Career Center.
Finally, if you are in the midst of a job search, please remain in close communication with your career advisor and take advantage of the many services that our Career Strategy Center provides. Meet regularly and heed their advice to cast a wide net in terms of practice area, geography, and size. For some, times like this also may provide an opportunity to test work experiences that you otherwise would not have pursued. Above all, it is important to maintain a long-range view and to take heart in the strong preparation that you are receiving. Finally, please feel free to contact me or other members of our faculty and staff if we can be of additional help.
We are deeply interested in the success of all of our students and alumni and, despite the present obstacles, I remain optimistic. The future is bright if we “stay the course” and continue to produce graduates, like you, who have the competencies required for success in today’s market place.
This current phase will be temporary and more prosperous times await. The Northwestern Law reputation is strong, and our distinctive strategy -- from the way we selected you to the design of our programs – continues to gain momentum and support by leaders within the legal industry. Those plans have been developed with a focus on your careers and your employers, and I am confident that much success lies ahead as you continue to plan your multi-job career.