1L Thanksgiving Strategy

Roosters Not Invited to Dinner

Your friends and family are stressed about your summer employment prospects. Help them to help you by creating a practical plan and sharing it during the Thanksgiving weekend. Do this, and you will show that you are concerned and not slacking. Then, enlist them all as members of your Career Team, and give them something to do. 

THE DINNER AND THE WEEKEND Devoting an hour now to making a plan will allow you to control the flow of job-related conversations and then quickly switch the focus onto the relative merits of sage-and-onion or oyster stuffing.

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS   Sharing your fact-laden plan with help manage their expectations. Should your family expect you to be employed by January 15 (where did they get that idea?) they will spend the semester sending waves of angst and panic in hundreds of texts and tweets. If they know that you expect to find a small firm job in May, or that you are interested in studying abroad, they may calm down.. 

OPTIONS BY TYPE

PAID EMPLOYMENT
  • Large firms (not hiring many 1Ls)
  • Small firms (large numbers of 1Ls are hired in the spring)
  • Public agencies (some hire in the spring; many may take volunteers)
  • Corporations (few hires, some internships with spring applications)
  • Returning to pre-law school employment (excellent idea)
                a.  Consider applying to your former employer’s legal department.
                b.  Consider a part-time position combined with a volunteer law gig
  • Research assistant to faculty: Creates connections with faculty who can give you rigorous research tasks which can help them evaluate you so that they might serve as future references. Some of these jobs will be posted; others will be announced by faculty in class. You may approach any faculty member whose work interests you.
 VOLUNTEER OPTIONS
  •  Legal volunteer opportunities: sign up in the spring or continue your fall pro bono project
  •  Judicial externships (depending on your school)
               a.  May be a summer school class with spring registration.
               b.  May require direct application after fall grades are posted.
  • Summer school or study abroad
               a.  Summer school lightens your fall 2012 course load and can be combined with part-time work or volunteer gigs.
               b.  Caveat: An externship, summer school, and study abroad have a tuition cost.

OPPORTUNITIES CREATED THROUGH NETWORKING This is the Holy Grail of the highly-touted Hidden Job Market, and it is where your Team comes in. 
  • Enlist your Team (family, family friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and all random contacts, including your manicurist) to begin to create lists of lawyers and other professionals (Targets) with whom you will connect. Even if you do not come from a family of professionals, they may surprise themselves when challenged to connect you with their acquaintances who may have professional connections.
  • Ask that your Team alert the Targets that you would like to contact them during winter break to discuss careers, and career paths, and to seek their advice.
  •  Commit to making the connections. Your Team will be going out on a limb for you. Don’t even think of embarrassing them by not following through on their introductions.    
Create a resume, have it reviewed by Career Services, and load it to Google Docs. This is a doc that you will give to your Team so that they can have smart conversations about you with their own contacts.  You want them to be able to say:

My son is interested in X practice, and he has questions about law practice and lawyers’ careers in general. May I give him your contact information so that he can set up a meeting during his winter break?”
               
My daughter is a first year law student who is curious about lawyers and their career paths. May I give her your contact information so that she can set up a meeting during her winter break?”

Invariably, the contacts will ask “What does your daughter want to do?”  If you have a specific goal in mind, please share it with your Team. If you don’t have a specific goal, instruct them to say that you are exploring career paths.
               
Make a plan. Create a resume. Load it to Google Docs. Get back to studying. Exams are coming.

Marketing Advice :: Associates :: Law Practice Legal Marketing Blog: Younger Attorneys Need To Appreciate the Business Side of The Practice

In the spirit of Passing the Baton, I am delighted to be able to share this excellent advice. Props to Tom Kane's always exceptional Legal Marketing Blog.

1st year students' first career services meeting: a beginning


First year law students’ first meetings with career services professionals mark the beginning of an enormously valuable two-way relationship. What should each expect?  

STUDENTS

Why engage with career services? You don’t know what you don’t know. Unless you are a trained career counselor with years of experience working with law-trained people, you need the guidance and wisdom of someone who knows how this works. This service is included in your tuition, so avoiding contact with career services wastes valuable tuition dollar.

What can you expect from the first meeting?  Assuming that you attended the 1L Introduction and that you are not asking your counselor to repeat an hour-long program in this 30 minute session, you can expect to be asked some or all of these questions:  
  • Why did you decide to come to law school?
  • How did you make the decision?
  • When – if at all – did you decide to become a lawyer?
  • Do you have specific career goals?
  • Do you have specific plans for the summer of 2012?

Note that each of these questions could take an hour to answer, so it will be helpful if you have given them some thought.

What about a resume review?  Resume review is managed in many different ways. Follow your career services office guidelines. Do not attempt to free-lance your resume without review. An error that might be small in your eyes might be disqualifying to an employer.  All too often, 1Ls forget to put “Law School” on their first resumes.

BIG QUESTIONS Why won’t all of your questions be answered? Why won’t you believe that you have been set off in a correct direction? Why might you feel let down by this meeting?

If you consider your first meeting with career services as a first blind date, you will understand why the relationship feels incomplete. You would not say to a blind date “Damn glad to meet you! Can I have your children?” or begin to plan to combine your finances and apply for a mortgage the next day.

Finding and navigating a career path is as complicated and time-consuming as any other life-long activity. 
  • “Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’” is not a career planning guide.
  • You cannot outsource career planning.
  • There is no app for this on Harry Potter’s Wand.

CAREER SERVICES PROFESSIONALS

What are they supposed to do? And what do they do?

The 2011-2012 Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (Standard 511: Student Support Services) says just this about Career Services:  
A law school shall provide all its students, regardless of enrollment or scheduling option, with basic student services, including maintenance of accurate student records, academic advising and counseling, financial aid counseling, and an active career counseling service to assist students in making sound career choices and obtaining employment.
Career services professionals are keenly aware of the words “to assist,” which means “to give support or aid.” It does not mean “do it all for you.” With student-to-professional ratios of 300-or-more-to-one, the notion that jobs could be handed to individual students might be aspirational, but it is unattainable.

With this tiny and insufficient guidance, during the past few years, career services professionals around the country have:

  • Invited and answered millions of emails, texts, and tweets from students and graduates;
  • Scheduled hundreds of thousands of one-on-one meetings;
  • Conducted hundreds of thousands of mock interviews;
  • Substituted websites for manuals and handouts [Note to Minnesota grads: I have one last paper copy of the 300+ page GreenBook];
  • Collaborated with alumni offices and bar associations to create mentor opportunities for students;
  • Shouted-until-hoarse about the benefits of clinics and pro bono activity;
  • Invited thousands of alumni and other professionals to speak to their students;
  • Partnered with student groups and bar associations to connect speakers and students;
  • Begged students to maintain contact and to keep them up-to-date as the reconsider their plans and goals;
  • Beseeched students who came to law school without plans or connections with lawyers to have regular conversations that might lead to forming concrete plans;
  • Met with any person or agency at any time or place that might lead to employment for a student or a grad;
  • Created interview programs and opportunities, both on and off campus;
  • Partnered with deans, urging them to ask for money AND ask for employment opportunities in the same breath;
  • Kept current with developing and declining practice areas so that the advice that they give is timely and current;
  • And more. 

Working with individual students

GETTING A JOB  The assumption, of course, is that everyone wants a job. That said, without making some connection with each student, connecting a student with a job that might be interesting, acceptable, or useful is difficult.  Without telepathic abilities, career services professionals rely on students to ask for what they want.

NETWORKING   Career services professionals rely on students to do their part of networking activities which cannot be outsourced.  Students have to make the first call. It is something that they will all have to do on behalf of their clients soon enough.

REACHING OUT  When you have the right information (“I am interested in Agricultural Law in Ohio), and you find a connection, make it. Introduce the student to the connection by email.  This is different from the previous networking task, as it is a target of opportunity, not something that you can do all day every day, unless you have just a handful of students under your wing.

A TWO-WAY STREET  Early November is busy for students and for career services professionals. Taking the first career path steps together and promising to create a partnership will benefit everyone.