A student at the University of Buffalo Law School, Brian T. Sadonis, was approaching graduation without a job offer, according to The Buffalo News. He took some time off from the rigors of job searching prior to diving back into the fray. He spent six months searching for a job and the day before he took the bar exam in July, he was offered a job at Gibson, McAskill and Crosby. The firm is located in Buffalo.
“It really is a function of the effort and how much you put into it,” said Sadonis. “I think people maybe lose sight of how difficult a market it is.”
Law firms in Buffalo, and across the country, are now being flexible with their fee schedules, are cutting down travel and other expenses, and are also waiting to hire additional lawyers. When firms do this they can afford to be choosy since they are seeing a stronger group of applicants to their open jobs.
“I would say that it is a buyer’s market for legal talent,” said Joseph P. Kubarek, managing partner with Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel.
The UB Law School is the only State University of New York law school. The school graduates a large crop of students each year who wish to stay in the region to practice law. The class of 2012 had 225 graduates and the class of 2011 had 245 graduates.
“One of the benefits and burdens of Buffalo is that it has a law school here,” Kubarek said. “I think that causes us to have a more robust supply of lawyers than other communities of similar size.”
According to Kathleen M. Sweet, the president of the Erie County Bar Association, law firms in the region are placing ads for lawyers who have two or three years experience. “It’s never, ‘Looking for a new law grad,’ ” she said. “It seemed that it was a trend that started even before the recession.”
Kubarek also noted, “I’m somebody who provides legal services to medium to large businesses. They are sophisticated consumers who are demanding efficiencies.”
Kubarek also talked about firms bringing in new hires as associates on the partnership track in the past. “That will not be the case going forward, and it is not the case today.”
In the class of 2011 at UB, which had 245 graduates, 157 of them were employed as lawyers nine months following graduation. That number is good for 64 percent. Another 19 percent were either enrolled in graduate school or working in another field. The remaining members of the class were unemployed or unaccounted for, according to the school.
In the fall of 2007, Sadonis began applying to law schools.
“I would encourage somebody who’s thinking about it to think more about it,” he said. “People just need to make an informed decision and know what they’re getting themselves into.”