By Tania Karas
August 23, 2013 New York Law Journal - Responding to challenges for newly minted J.D.'s looking for work, Cardozo Law has announced a legal residency program that will allow recent graduates to work as full-time associates at small and mid-sized firms for one year after graduating while taking CLEs and training courses off-site at Cardozo.
The Resident Associate Mentor Program is modeled after medical residency programs where new physicians learn critical practical skills on the job.
"The established means of entering the profession are shifting," said dean Matthew Diller. "Bigger firms aren't hiring like they used to, which means smaller firms are a much more central part of the market. But they're reluctant to hire new graduates because of the higher cost of training them."
Under the program, 12 Cardozo Law graduates from the class of 2013 can apply to work for one of 11 law firms or corporate legal departments (one employer will hire two residents). The firms commit to employing graduates for one year at annual salaries between $38,000 and $43,000—similar to what they'd be making at a fellowship but less than the traditional market rate for associates.
Though the firms will make final hiring decisions, Cardozo's career services counselors will help match its graduates and participating firms based on the graduates' past experiences and interests. There is no guarantee that resident associates will be hired permanently.
Participating firms range in size from six to 24 lawyers and are spread throughout New York City, White Plains and Long Island. They cover practice areas including commercial litigation, personal injury, insurance defense, labor and employment, and trusts and estates.
Diller and Marcia Levy, associate dean of career services, have been working for the past year to recruit employers through the Cardozo Law alumni network.
"We sought out firms where it's practically unheard of for a new graduate to get a job right way, where usually, to get in they'd have to be hired laterally," Levy said. "But given the type of support we had to offer these small- to mid-sized firms, they were excited about this program."
Potential resident associates will interview throughout September and begin working Oct. 1.
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