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News Posted on May 28, 2013

King Hall Employment Program Supports Recent Graduates

Seeking new ways to help UC Davis School of Law graduates succeed in a challenging job market, the King Hall Career Services Office launched a contract hiring program in 2011 that has been a hit with both law firms seeking talented new associates and King Hall alumni. The program, now in its third year, is actively recruiting alumni and friends of the Law School to increase opportunities for the Class of 2013.

In recent years, many larger firms have downsized or eliminated their summer programs, which traditionally have provided a trial period to evaluate potential new associates, explained Craig Compton, King Hall's Assistant Dean of Career Services. Other smaller firms may not have the resources to manage a summer law clerk program. 

In response, Career Services initiated the contract hire program, where firms employ King Hall graduates on a contract basis during the period immediately following their taking of the Bar Exam, which provides employers the opportunity to assess whether the candidate is right for them, Compton said. The law clerk is often evaluated after Bar results come out or shortly thereafter and although firms are under no obligation, offers of ongoing employment often result.

"It's really a win-win program, and I would encourage other firms to become involved," said Don Davis '93, a partner of Burke, Williams & Sorenson, who hired Lisa Kurihara ' 11 shortly after she completed the Bar. "I don't see a downside for firms. It's a great way to assess whether a candidate is a good fit without making a significant upfront commitment."

Working with alums up and down the state, Career Services has placed a number of graduates in firms ranging in size from two to 500-plus attorneys.  Many of those who started with the program back in 2011 are still with the firms where they received their first opportunity. 

"We have great students graduating each year with a lot of skills gained through summer positions and school-year clinics and externships.  Once our alums start working with our recent graduates they regularly choose to hire them on as full-time associates," said Craig Compton.

Even in those cases where the recent graduate does not receive a permanent offer, perhaps because the firm did not have enough work to support a new, full-time position, the experience he or she gains is still invaluable in helping that graduate find their next job, Compton added.

Lisa Kurihara became involved in the program after being contacted by the Career Services office on behalf of Burke, Williams & Sorenson, which was interested in trying out a recent graduate.  Davis, a partner at the firm and a King Hall alum, interviewed Kurihara, was impressed with her municipal law background, and hired her on a contract basis. Kurihara's work was outstanding, and after Davis learned that she had passed the bar examination, she was hired as an associate.  Kurihara is now a second-year associate with the firm, and she is just one of many success stories.

"This has been a really great experience," Kurihara said. "I feel like Career Services did the heavy lifting and helped to place me in a great firm where I have a lot of opportunities for growth. I feel very fortunate to be here."

"It really worked out well for us," said Davis. "There are so many intangibles that go into hiring a lawyer. Someone might look great on paper, but they might not be the right match for your firm. You need to be able to sit down with them, find out how well they express themselves, and see their work over a period of time. With this program, we were able to do all of that, and to realize Lisa was an excellent fit for our firm. We're delighted to have her with us."

Career Services is actively seeking to contact alumni and friends of the Law School whose firms may wish to participate, as well as those who may know of others that may want to be part of the program. The program is open to firms of all sizes. Potential employers interested in participating or that have any questions regarding the program should contact Craig Compton at or by phone at 530-754-6165.