17 February 2011

Worst "fellowship" opportunity ever: Philadephia courts edition

So the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (trial-level court in Pennsylvania) is offering a "fellowship" program to 2009 and 2010 law grads from Drexel, Penn, and Temple. The deal is that you do law clerking work for 20 hours a week, and in return you get . . . nothing. No pay, and no real assurance of a job anywhere in the court system afterward. The application materials don't even say how long the fellowship is supposed to last.

What if the judges threw a party but no one came? The original deadline for applications was this past Monday the 14th. It's been extended to 20 March, which indicates to me that I'm not the only person calling bullshit on this (1) no pay thing, and the (2) risk that this would be worse than an actual employment gap on a resume. Meaning, in a profession where you need to keep your doc review gigs off your resume or else BigLaw won't hire you, do you think this kind of unpaid fellowship will look much better? To the contrary, I bet it'll raise the same kind of "why couldn't you get a real job?" red flag that temp work raises -- even though that flag is ridiculous, and we all know it, because even very, very high performing students who graduated with me are stuck doing personal-injury grunt work (or doc review) now, since their 2L summer associateships didn't turn into offers.

Thirty-odd Philadelphia judges are looking for 40-odd "fellows." For some reason, they aren't looking for grads from Rutgers-Camden, Villanova, or Widener. I don't know why not. This "fellowship" looks like a 1L summer clerkship to me -- are they saying that these schools' grads aren't up to the work of a mid-performing law student who didn't score a summer post at Philly BigLaw? Or did their career offices call bullshit on the "opportunity," too?

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