Pamela Höh, whose job is to find jobs for College of Law graduates, has found the perfect marriage of her legal education and her career in recruiting.
“I was able to combine my two loves,” Höh said. “The law, and finding the right place for other lawyers to reach their goals.”
Höh’s position, working from inside the law school to find matches for new graduates and young alumni with interested law firms, is unique in the country, she said.
“I don’t know of any law school applying legal recruiting practices like those in a law firm setting,” she said. “Some are doing similar things, but not to the extent we are.”
Dean Douglas Sylvester said Höh’s is a key position.
“Adding Pamela to our team was an essential step in helping our amazing graduates get their careers off on the right foot,” Sylvester said. “During these difficult times we know that we need to do everything in our power to aid our graduates, all of whom we know will be amazing attorneys, in getting that first job that will launch their careers. Although unusual for a law school to pour resources into helping graduates as much as current students, it is one more example of the commitment we have to all of our graduates.”
Höh attended Arizona State University for her undergraduate degree, then went to the University of Southern California for law school. She practiced for four years before deciding it wasn’t what she wanted to do.
Thinking of other ways to use her legal background, she hit on recruiting. She was hired by Robert Half Legal, a legal recruiting firm, as its representative in San Diego. She also worked for Legal Authority in Los Angeles.
When she saw the ad for the College of Law job, she jumped at the chance to return to the Valley and to ASU.
“Of all the different types of recruiting, working for a university, particularly a law school, was No. 1 on my list,” Höh said. “I’m a proud ASU alum, and I’ve always wanted to move back. I actually like the heat and still have a lot of friends here.”
Höh said the bad economy of the past few years and dearth of law firm hiring created a need for law schools to look at the idea of recruiting differently.
“I see small improvements in the job market every single day,” she said. “The 2008-2009 period was the darkest, 2012 was getting back to normal, and 2013 is looking better.
“We all want it to happen faster. But I have a lot of hope, based on the tangible number of job postings for entry-level positions and those requiring one to three years of experience.”
Höh said her job is similar to when she was working for private recruiting firms, with a couple of differences.
“I don’t have to look for qualified candidates, because we have them already in our students and alumni,” she said. “I get to talk with law firms about their hiring needs and wishes and figure out the personality and skill set they’re looking for.
“I’m like a matchmaker finding the most qualified candidate, but I don’t have to charge them a fee.”
Höh said that whether a student graduates in the top part of the class or the bottom, they always have something unique to offer an employer.
“At some schools, it’s based on numbers, which seems very impersonal and inflexible,” she said. “I get to know the unique background of each student, meeting one-on-one with them and learning if they excel in writing, litigating, mediating, and find a place for them to use their strengths.”
Some third-year students don’t have jobs yet, but Höh said she wants them to know she will be here, working for them.
In working with law firms, Höh said she lets the firm dictate the pace of the relationship, and starts to figure out their immediate and future plans for hiring.
Höh said she has started working with the most obvious group that needs her help, the entry-level, recent graduates.
“But I have also worked with alumni a year or two into their careers who are still looking for a better professional fit,” she said. “We want them to know they are always welcome to come back to work with me, that they’ll be taken care of, even in the bad times.”
Höh said she’d like to see every person who wants a job find one.
“We’re going to work toward perfection.”