Job Search Outside OCI: Spring Break Edition

The first week of March is a defining moment for thousands of law students because even the most optimistic know that they are not likely to get a job through large firm OCI. Their resumes were not hidden under a stray file and the doors are finally closed.

Small and medium sized firms

Which is not to say that there won’t be job postings and some interviews hosted on campus before the end of the school year. April is a busy month for hiring because lawyers who are no longer focused on the law school calendar realize that summer is coming and that they ought to start thinking about hiring law clerks.

Are they clueless? No. After graduation, the law school calendar becomes a distant memory that is supplanted by their kids' academic and activity calendars and professional activities. Summer camp registration often triggers the "need a law clerk" response, hence the wave of recruiting that happens in April and May.  
 

Public Interest/Public Service

If you are on a public interest job hunt, you probably have mathematical certainty about the financial situation of the agencies that you have targeted. If not, why not? There is no point in hanging on for a paid position when none can possibly emerge. If the agency has no funds, you have been unsuccessful in your application for funding, and you cannot work for free, it is time to make Plan B, which includes Building A Network in related fields.
 

Interviews during finals

Slightly off-putting for students are the interviews that employers want to schedule during finals. Yes, during finals. Busy lawyers managing their clients' needs do not care about school schedules.

What does this mean for you? You have three choices:

  1. Do absolutely nothing because you have a trust fund;
  2. Rely on law school job postings and compete with your classmates, students from area law schools, and students coming “home” for the summer for those jobs, or
  3. Cancel your spring break plans and get serious about building a network that might help you get to the head of the line for posted jobs or, better yet, make yourself the only candidate for a job that you care about.

Building a network

If you haven’t chosen a primary interest practice track, pick three topics and:
  1. Find three critical issues in the area and do enough research so that you will be able to ask four intelligent questions of an expert.
  2. Using your alumni or career offices, LinkedIn, bar associations, or other resources, find five lawyers practicing in each field and make either phone or in-person meetings with those professionals.  Follow the rules of networking and remember that you may not ask for a job during that meeting.
  3. Schedule as many of these meetings as you can during Spring Break. Don't waste a minute.
  4. Follow up with the people you meet, reporting on new things that you have learned and new topics that interested your contacts.

No excuses

Managing a difficult job search uses the same skills that you will employ when you manage a busy law practice. "I can't call people" and "I don't have time to research" are uniquely inneffective when managing your clients' business. They are equally ineffective in managing your own job search. 
 
Reading:
Six Tips for a Spring Break Job Search (PTBblog)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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