Recent law school graduates face an uncertain future beyond the bar exam: many law firms have pushed back start dates for new associates. Depending upon the firm, recent hires might be waiting as long as January of 2011 to start their full-time legal employment. (See the Start Date Round-Up at Above the Law.)
Many firms have offered a stipend which allows deferred associates to pursue full-time public interest work before beginning their employment at the law firm. The catch? Many nonprofit organizations rely on law student employees’ extended access to their LexisNexis and Westlaw educational accounts—not an option for recent grads, whose access expires by August. (See earlier blog post on extending access for the class of 2009.) Fortunately, both services are aware of this problem, and have created programs to allow deferred or unemployed graduates to use their resources for pro bono work and job searching.
LexisNexis’s ASPIRE program (LexisNexis Associates Serving Public Interest Research) offers free access to federal/state cases, codes, regulations, and law reviews for deferred associates or unemployed graduates who are pursuing public interest work.
Westlaw has created Between Cases, which provides job search tools, legal education materials, and research access to selected Westlaw databases for unemployed graduates or deferred associates working in the field of public interest.
Note that these services are intended for recent graduates. If you are a continuing student who would like to extend your Lexis and Westlaw access for the summer, see our previous post on the qualifying non-commercial exemptions.