Do you believe in irony? Well, I have been working as an attorney for a few months now and I really like my work. I am lucky to have such a great job. The sad part is, though, I am lucky to have any job at all.
The legal market is much tougher out there than law students expect. My conclusion is that career services aren't just useless, they're largely pointless because there simply aren't enough jobs out there for all law school graduates.
Here are your options as an upcoming law grad:
1) Big firm: You already know how these work. Either go to a great school or graduate at the top of your class. Otherwise, they're not an option.
2) Government: The public defender or the prosecutors office will hire anyone, right? True but they hire much more rarely than you think. In my county, they instituted a hiring freeze and all PDs and Prosecutors and clerks with less than 3 years experience have been let go. Do not plan to fall back on this because there are people with much more experience who also have the same plan (I interned for the State's Attorney where I worked under two big firm burnouts)
3) Small firms: These mysterious small firms are supposed to soak up the remaining law graduates. This is a myth. Small firms have neither the time nor the resources to train law graduates. You really don't know anything upon graduating and some attorney is not going to take an hour or two to train you each day because he simply can't afford to. Why would they, when they can just hire one of the thousands of people big firm and government shed each year.
4) Contracting: contracting firms do hire new attorneys to do document review. You spend all day, deciding relevant or irrelevant and privileged or unprivileged, while your career stagnates. Believe it or not, these jobs are competitive as big firm burnouts frequently gravitate to them for a well deserved rest.
Don't believe me? Look at your local law bulletin for "help wanted" ads. You'll find they all want at least 2 years of experience. The reason the employers ask for experience is because they can always get it as big firms shed employees each year.
I went to a good school, University of Illinois, and I know lots of people with good grades who are still looking for legal work. And, sadly, the February bar test takers will be flooding the streets of my state with 600 more attorneys and in May another few thousand grads will hit the market and the vicious cycle will continue.
If you are a law student and you have no way to distinguish yourself: good grades, good experience, good network, then you will most likely not be able to find legal employment. Not immediately after graduation. Not after you pass the bar. Not after a younger fresher class does the same a year later while you have to explain your year of unemployment on your resume. Save yourself a lot of grief and a lot of money. Drop out.
Got this from Barely Legal: The Blog