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Northwestern Bridges the Gap for Unemployed Law Grads

In a down economy, law schools are having a tough time helping students find employment. Ever resourceful, Northwestern Law School (which last year proposed a two-year JD program) has found a way to assist students and alumni while they're on the hunt for a job. As the Chicago Tribune reports, Northwestern recently informed students that they can postpone monthly loan payments until they start working and apply for short-term medical insurance to bridge the gap between graduation and their start dates. Laid-off alumni can also seek deferred loan payments.

It's not clear how long Northwestern intends to keep this program in place. From the description in the article, it seems that the loan deferral and insurance benefits are geared to help those large-firm associates whose start dates have been deferred for six or eight months. But what about those graduates who don't find employment and eventually start their own law firms or take on contract work, which typically doesn't cover health benefits? They may need even more time to start earning enough to repay loans or afford decent medical benefits.

Northwestern's recent decision raises a larger question as well: Should law schools be pitching in at all? On the one hand, law schools didn't create the financial crisis and could not have foreseen this economic climate when this May's graduates matriculated back in 2006. But on the other, to the extent that law schools lead students to believe that earning a JD can help them find jobs, they bear some responsibility for helping out when those jobs don't materialize, for whatever reason.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 15, 2009 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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