VLS prepares for belt tightening - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

VLS prepares for belt tightening

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For future lawyers like Will Sullivan, finding a job after graduation is not an easy task.

"The one thing that has changed, I think, is that employers now have the luxury of waiting until a student passes the bar.  So the graduating class from last year is just finding out now, so you are seeing fewer students employed while they are still students," Sullivan said.

As law firms across the country tighten their belts, the demand for lawyers has gone down.  That means fewer students are applying to the Vermont Law School.  Two years ago enrollment dropped 25 percent and the numbers for the next incoming class are expected to fall as well, mirroring a national trend.

"One of the changes that we need to make is that we need to get a little bit smaller," said Vermont Law School President Marc Mihaly.

Mihaly has announced what he calls generous voluntary buyout packages for staff, along with other general cost cutting steps on campus.  The school also plans to increase focus specialty areas in the field designed to bring more revenue. "We will focus on what we do well and we will develop new areas.  One of the areas that we are developing is sports law," Mihaly said.

He said the day of huge law firms with large staffs, making good money, are probably a thing of the past.  And as the profession changes the Law school needs to change with it.  Vermont Law is also highlighting its distance learning masters program, which allows students to enroll without stepping foot on campus.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it is harder to find a job than it used to be," Mihaly said. "When and if we are fully recovered from the recession, I think that well-trained lawyers with good specialties will do well."

People like Will Sullivan, who will soon find himself in a field where the competition is as fierce as a battle in the courtroom. "It is concerning a little bit.  I wish the job market was better.  I think everybody wishes the job market was better.  There is a surplus of lawyers, but I have heard people say that there is no a surplus of good lawyers, so hopefully that holds true and I can make my way," he said.

The law school should know in one to two months if the cost cutting measures are enough to fill the hole.  Otherwise, according to the Dean, layoffs are a possibility.  A touch of reality that the affects of the recession are still being felt.  

Attending Vermont Law School is not cheap.  The price of tuition these days runs about $45,000 thousand a year.

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