GOAL: MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT
A law student’s top 2 goals within 6 months of graduation are to pass the bar exam and get a job. Create your plan for meaningful employment now.
- Start meeting lawyers, even before law school, to learn about the various type of jobs lawyers do.
During 1L Year:
- Have 1st 1 on 1 meeting with OCM within first month of school.
- Attend Career Kickstart Series first 3 weeks of school.
- Attend First Year Fridays
- Learn what lawyers do by attending panels, networking and tabling events, and conducting informational interviews.
- Determine which types of law careers interest you and what skills those careers utilize most daily. Know your top skills to determine which legal careers are a good fit for you.
- Know hiring timelines for the types of employers/careers that interest you. Some are early, like end of Fall semester, and others hire right up until summer.
- Get all your application materials (resumes & cover letters) reviewed by OCM.
- Practice interviewing with OCM prior to interviews.
- TIP: Try to do 1 career-related task per week during the school year. It will make your search for your summer job much less overwhelming.
Summer After 1L Year:
- Your goal for summer is to get some legal experience. It doesn’t matter what specific type (because you’ll be honing the most common legal skills no matter what type of legal job you do) or if the work is part time or full time; paid or unpaid; or for credit or voluntary. Try something legal and evaluate the experience to know what you want to try next.
- Know hiring timelines for the employers you are interested in for 2L summer. Some hire during end of 1L summer for your 2L summer job.
- Update your resume with your 1L summer experience.
- TIP: Really evaluate what you liked and didn’t like about your summer experience. Don’t just focus on what you did on a daily basis; evaluate what you saw 3rd and 4th year attorneys doing at your summer employment to really know if you’re interested in this field. You’ll be a junior attorney sooner than you think.
- Consider getting some experience during the school year – eg: a clinic, externship, pro bono work, work for a firm or corporation part time during the year, and/or volunteer at a non-profit. This is a good way to get more experience, build your skills and your relationships.
- Continue to hone what you are interested in and know the hiring timelines. Keep meeting attorneys, learning more about various career options lawyers have, and trying out what you can.
Summer After 2L Year:
- If you are at a large firm, certain government agencies, or anywhere with an expectation that this 2L summer experience could lead to full time post graduate employment, your entire summer is an interview. Treat it as such if you are hoping for an offer of post-graduate employment.
- If you are working at an employer you like with no guarantee of post graduate employment, still treat it like your entire summer is an interview, and if you like it there, consider trying to stay on during your 3L year. Every year, a small number of graduates indicate that they started working for an employer during law school, and even though there was no expectation (from employer or law student) of getting a post-graduation offer, they did.
- Update your resume with your 2L summer experience.
- The goal in 3L year is less about graduating with a job in hand (because most employers can’t predict their hiring needs that far in advance) and more about utilizing 3L year to build relationships in the legal field that you wish to enter post grad.
- Working during the school year (if feasible for you) is a great way to build those relationships.
- Keep meeting and speaking with attorneys doing the type of work you are interested in.
- Update OCM with any offer of post-graduate employment.
Part Time Students (have an additional summer and 4L year):
- Many part time students work full time while in law school. While some of them are in law school to advance within their current field, many are in law school to switch fields and advance.
- TIP: It is essential for part time law students to get some legal experience during law school. Employers expect it. Get creative in how you get this experience. Can you take vacation days once a week from your current job to do a clinic? Can you shadow an attorney during winter break? Can you find a position that is 3-4 weeks in summer and take leave from your current position. It is not easy, but if you can get some legal experience during law school, it will majorly help in the post-graduation job search when switching fields.
Post Grad Employment:
- It is common for law students to graduate without a job lined up post- graduation. Usually after graduating, students study for the bar exam (for several months) and pick up the job search again afterward. In a strong legal market, grads can find jobs while awaiting bar results. In any event, hiring picks up after bar results come out.
- TIP: Work with OCM in your last year of law school to create a career action plan to maximize building connections while still a student and to be prepared for your post-bar job search.