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Graduates are looking in the wrong places: UNSW

Graduates are looking in the wrong places: UNSW

Job prospects wouldn't be as dire as they seem if only graduates started looking in the right places, according to one law school dean.

Professor David Dixon, dean of UNSW Law, believes there isn't a lack of jobs, but with the recent upheaval and restructuring of firms, jobs are now in different places.

“There's a lot of doom and gloom, but I think that there are still lots of jobs out there. What's happening is that the jobs are moving around,” Mr Dixon said.

The ways in which big law firms are restructuring themselves are having a big impact on the job market, he added.

He said that in the past, mid-tier law firms have waited to pick up lawyers who have worked at big commercial firms for several years and then left, but now mid-tiers are realising that they have to do their own graduate recruitment as the flow through isn't what it used to be.

“It’s not as if the world is completely changed and there’s no need for lawyers, they're just going to be working in different places doing different things,” he said.

“We see it as being an issue about connecting up the students with the job opportunities that are around – it’s about redirecting the students and informing them about changes in the job market.”

Mr Dixon also emphasised the importance for lawyers to demonstrate more flexibility in their work abilities than they used to.

“A very consistent thing that I hear from employers is that the people who suffered are the ones who've been too specialised, and the people who do really well are the ones who are adaptable.”

Mr Dixon believes that during times of change, it is the responsibility of the law schools to react and help direct their graduates to the jobs.

“Clearly it’s a worrying time for some of our students, but we take responsibility in giving them help in linking up with where the jobs are.”

There is only so much they can do, however, and degree prestige and grades are still big players in graduates’ chances of securing a job, according to Mr Dixon.

“I think it’s undeniable that further down the pecking order of law schools it’s likely that there's going to be different issues. For a student who's coming out of a new law school or one of the very small ones, I think the job prospects may well be trickier,” he said.

“The students who get high distinctions are going anywhere to get jobs, but the average or lower ranking student certainly will find it tough if they want a job in law.”

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