Two Initiatives Match Law Students, Needy Agencies Offering On-The- Job Training

By Lyons, Kim | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), March 5, 2014 | Go to article overview

Two Initiatives Match Law Students, Needy Agencies Offering On-The- Job Training


Lyons, Kim, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Two new initiatives in Allegheny County are aimed at matching social service agencies that offer legal assistance with law students in need of on-the-job experience.

The Gismondi Fund was created to place six second-year students from the University of Pittsburgh Law School in law clerk positions at Neighborhood Legal Services Association. And the Allegheny County Bar Foundation's Lawyers Fund will for the first time finance 11 summer clerkships for Pitt and Duquesne law school students at local social service organizations.

Until recently, a summer job at a law firm was the first step for students trying to secure a permanent position. But around the time of the Great Recession, firms started scaling back their summer associate programs, said David Blaner, executive director of the Allegheny County Bar Association and Allegheny County Bar Foundation. "Hiring six, eight, 10 summer associates just wasn't economically viable anymore," he said.

According to the National Association for Law Placement, while law firms have kept the sizes of summer associate classes small, the percentage of summer associates who receive job offers increased slightly from 2012 to 2013. Ninety-two percent of students who worked as summer associates received job offers, demonstrating how important that experience is for job seekers.

"We have all these law students facing rough times ahead if they don't have basic skills and training," Mr. Blaner said. "We developed this program to give these students the on-the-job experience that will help them find opportunities once they graduate."

The Lawyers Fund, established in 1918 to help its members pay the $3.50 membership bar association dues, will provide 11 fellowships at $4,000 each for summer positions. Among the places that participants will be sent are the Allegheny County Public Defender's office, the Allegheny County District Attorney's office, the Women's Center & Shelter and the Education Law Center. …

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