TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Site to Match Law Students With Law Firms (Like Medical Students, Hospitals)

JD Match Lawyer-consultant Bruce MacEwen will soon launch JDMatch, an online service that will arrange job interviews for law students with law firms.  The website aims to eliminate law schools as middlemen in legal recruitment and is modeled after the "match day" system that places medical students with medical schools seeking residents. Students will be charged a $99 fee, and JD Match's proprietary algorithm will match them with law firms based on rankings criteria submitted by each.

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Hi Paul - Thanks for the piece on JD Match. We're pretty amped about it. Couple of things I'd like to clarify. First, rather than eliminating schools, they, too, can join and benefit from reports we provide them on how their member students fare during OCI. And, yes, the medical algorithm was one inspiration. That said, we realized in about a nanosecond that it wouldn't fly in law land. One huge difference is that neither students nor firms have to act on matches or other information they receive via JD Match.
Again, thanks for the piece.
Janet Stanton
JD Match

Posted by: Janet Stanton | Apr 21, 2011 6:53:35 AM

Why pay $99 for when OCI is free? So is email to to firm recruiters. I know $99 is a pittance in comparison to tuition and student loans, but do law students need to be fleeced any more than they already are?

Posted by: tax guy | Apr 21, 2011 12:22:13 PM

I'm an academic physician and formerly ran a fellowship program that used the National Residency Match Program in our recruitment of fellows (advanced physician trainees).

I strongly believe the match system for physicians is superb and endorse it highly. I find their bureaucracy to be much less cumbersome, more responsive, and more transparent than most organizations. If JD Match can organize a similar system for law students it will be a major benefit.

However (the infamous however!), a few things that must be built into the system --

1) It MUST favor the student over the law firm. With the NRMP, the medical student is always guaranteed the highest match to a program that has an opening. Ties are resolved in favor of the student. It is an iterative series of matches: applicants match into the programs listed highest on their lists that also ranked the applicant and had not filled all of available positions with applicants the program preferred as determined by the program's rank order list. You can see from this that if the law firms are favored the students will end up with a position that is lower on their rank-list. That won't fly.

So the JD Match 'proprietary algorithm' must be, in the end, very similar to what NRMP does.

2) Almost all, if not all, of the law firms have to buy in. In the U.S. virtually every graduate medical residency program arranges their first-year residency positions via the NRMP match. That in turn causes virtually every medical student to go through the NRMP. If an important segment of the law firm community refuses to sign onto the new match than students will feel pressured to go outside the Match, which defeats the purpose.

3) That in turn means that one has uniform dates for submitting a match list, which means that interviews, etc. are arranged at about the same time every year. It also means that law students and law firms have sufficient time to develop their lists without the pressure of needing to sign a contract for fear of 'losing out'. That is a major bonus to both sides and needs to be stressed. When I went through the NRMP match as a student I had about two months between the last interview and list submission; I used that time to refine my own thoughts.

4) Chicanery has to be punished severely. Law firms can't go around the match to make private arrangements with students. The NRMP is pretty good about that; JD Match has to be the same. The Match must be transparent. Neither law firms nor students can solicit commitments as to rank-order, etc.

5) One important part of the NRMP is the 'couples match', in which two medical students who are married to each other participate in a coordinated fashion. This is important from a social standpoint, Dr. A doesn't want to end up with a residency program in San Francisco while the spouse Dr. B is matched to Boston.

6) Finally, the NRMP works because the major organizations in graduate medical education, including the professional societies, have bought into it and agree to abide by the results. One need only look at their organizational sponsors and Board of Directors to see that. Who sponsors JD Match? If it not backed by the ABA, the AALS, etc., there likely won't be sufficient buy-in.

Just some thoughts. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Posted by: Steve White | Apr 21, 2011 12:50:12 PM

Isn't this all a sideshow?

The real issue is the vast supply-demand imbalance in law grads, resulting from law schools' studied, decades-long deception regarding published job placement statistics.

Independent, third-party, and government sources indicate that there are approximately 600,000 persons employed as lawyers.

Yet, there are approximately 40,000+ law grads per year - a rate that has been sustained over the last 30 to 40 years, soon to result in a steady-state population of law school grads numbering approximately 1.6 *million* (40k grads per year * a 40 year working life).

Demand = 600,000 jobs
Supply = 1,600,000 law grads

Result = Personal financial ruin and vast student loan defaults for *hundreds of thousands* of the most academically educable individuals in our society, resulting in a grotesque misallocation of human capital.

Cause = The systemic corruption of the law school industry and the professoriat that profits from it, both of which have engaged in the moral (and possibly legal) equivalent of fraud (regarding job placement statistics) for many years.

Posted by: sc721 | Apr 21, 2011 3:51:22 PM

Lawyers are almost always the last to adopt any technology--especially internet technology. In the internet start-up world, the saying is "lawyer+technology=failure."

Posted by: Jake | Apr 21, 2011 6:34:54 PM