Monday, August 27, 2012

What No One Tells You Before You Go to Law School: It Helps to Know What Job You Want on Day One

by alisonmonahan

When I went to law school, I thought I’d have a good couple of years to decide what type of job I wanted. That’s the way school works, right? You go, work hard, and figure out what you want by the time it’s all over.

Well, law school’s not like that! To my surprise, I quickly realized the schedule’s a lot more compressed. Ideally, you should know what type of job you want, before classes start.

Your Summer Jobs Matter
The reason it’s helpful to know what you want to do very early on is that your summer jobs matter in law school, a lot. You can start applying for 1L summer jobs (under the NALP rules that govern law firms and many other legal employers) on December 1st. Summer funding fellowships might have even earlier deadlines.

So, if you want to have the best shot at a paid 1L summer job, it’s critical to get organized early!

What can you do now?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's Your Elevator Pitch?

With classes starting soon and interviewing looming for summer associate positions and clerkships, I figured this would be a good time to bring up a sensitive topic: the elevator pitch.

Somehow, law students (and lawyers) have gotten the idea that it’s unseemly to have a straightforward answer to a simple question: What kind of work are you interested in doing?

This attitude is crazy! If you don’t know what you want (or you’re reluctant to discuss it), how can anyone help you? People need to know what you’re looking for, and you need to be prepared to tell them.

“I Don’t Know” is NOT a Good Answer

Look, I understand you might not know exactly what kind of job you want on the first day of law school. But, by the time you’re interviewing for jobs, you need some reasonable answer, even if it’s not your “forever” answer.

Surely you have some preferences, right? Are you really totally indifferent between litigation and corporate practice, for example? Would you be equally happy working in a small law firm and a government agency? I find that hard to believe. Law jobs aren't fungible! And neither are you. You have preferences — so start paying attention to them!
Read full article here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thank You Notes

Several of you have had questions about thank you notes and interviews.

  • Yes, you should write them for each interviewer. 
  • You are not their contemporary, so use Mr. or Ms. when addressing them in the note. (This goes for cover letters too--too many people are using people's first names. Never say, "Dear Jim, or "Dear Sue," it should always be, "Dear Mr. Smith," or "Dear Ms. Jones.")
  • Mention something specific you discussed during your interview--something you enjoyed, something you learned, etc.
  • Handwritten is always best, BUT a warm, sincere, personal email will suffice, especially if time/money or your handwriting is an issue. 
  • Notes should be sent the same day or the next day following your interview.  
  • If you are invited for callback interviews, you should send a hand-written thank you to the person serving as your main point of contact and key people you've met (recruiting manager, hiring partner, etc.)  
  • Double check your note for any misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. You don't want to have a great interview and then blow it in your thank you note. Thank you notes are considered mini-writing samples, so make sure  you are representing yourself well.

For specific questions or concerns, you can email, call, or drop by the CSO. We're open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Am Law 100 Lawyers Discuss the Dos and Don'ts of the Interview Process

Vivia Chen

Today's guest blogger, Meghin Delaney, gives an inside look at the Big Law interview process from the perspective of lawyers at Paul Hastings, Wilson Sonsini, McDermott, Cooley, and Ballard Spahr.

While the interview process can take its toll on prospective law firm candidates, it's no walk in the park for the lawyers tasked with conducting the interviews. Partners can see up to 25 students per day, including during their lunch break. They spend their travel time reviewing resumes and coming up with questions tailored to a candidate’s specific experience. Immediately after an interview, partners take notes to help them distinguish one candidate from another. In 20 minutes, the lawyers are responsible for choosing between eight and 10 students who “fit” with their firm.
The students have shared their experiences, so now it’s time to hear from the interviewers.

Let’s start with the resume.

Defend your resume. If you’re going to put something on there, you'd better be able to talk about it, lawyers say. Most lawyers’ questions derive from an applicant’s resume, so applicants need to be well versed about what they put on their resumes.

Proofread your resume and cover letter. It sounds simple, one lawyer says, but they are often surprised by how many simple mistakes they see on resumes and cover letters. “The problem isn’t the error. We make mistakes every day,” one lawyer says. “But we do look at past performance and behavior to predict future performance and behavior.”

See the full article here.

Law Firm Pronunciation Guide

Stumped on how to pronounce a law firm's name?  Here is a pronunciation guide that can help:

Law Firm Pronunciation Guide

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Make the Cut (OCI interview tips)

By Grover E. Cleveland

Not unlike speed dating, the on-campus screening interview process is a game of elimination. Your primary goal is the same: Make it to the next round. That means you need to avoid obvious errors that will trip up some (lose the nose piercing) and stand out from others who won’t make much of an impression. Here are important tips for succeeding in your lightning round of interviews:

Own the room. Greet the interviewer confidently. It may sound corny, but don’t slouch. Look the interviewer directly in the eye and give a firm handshake (but not a bone-crunching one). And smile. If you exude enthusiasm, you are likely to get it back from the interviewer, which will help put you at ease.

Ask strategic questions. You don’t have much time, so the more time the interviewer spends telling you about the firm, the less time you have to highlight your attributes. Ask questions that show that you researched the firm and that you are enthusiastic about working there. You should be ready to answer the “Why do you want to work here?” question with an answer that is specific to each firm. On the other hand, if you ask how many offices the firm has, you will look lazy.

See full article here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ten Ways Law Students Can Be More Persuasive in Interviews

by Lisa Abrams

1. Thoroughly and thoughtfully research the organization. It’s not enough to simply review an employer’s website the night before an interview. Review news articles about the employer. Nexus and Bloomberg can be helpful, as can The Wall Street Journal and legal news sites. Take your research one step further by talking to students and alumni who have worked for the organization.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a summer associate position, talk to 3Ls about what they enjoyed about their summer at the firm. If you are interviewing for a judicial externship, talk to students or young alumni who have worked for the judge with whom you are interviewing.

During your interview, you’ll be able to mention the fact that you’ve taken time to talk with these persons, sharing the positive reports you’ve heard and talking about how this makes you even more interested in the organization. This networking based research will demonstrate your resourcefulness, your interpersonal communication skills, and your credible interest in the organization.

2. You MUST be able to answer the question “Why did you go to law school?” In coached interview sessions, we often find that this is the hardest of all questions for students to answer, perhaps because they feel prepared to answer it because they went through the law school application process and wrote essays about the topic. Don’t fall into this trap. Know exactly how you’re going to answer this question, and make sure that you develop a thesis sentence that answers the question (“I came to law school because …”) rather than a long, roundabout story of how you came to your decision.

Then go one step further, implementing a persuasive strategy by talking about how your reasons for coming to law school link up with your interest in this organization, or talking about why you are glad you did come to law school — and give examples of what you’re enjoying about the law school experience.

3. To show you’re a valuable candidate, be able to identify your strongest skills (at least three) and give up to three examples of each from your educational experience or work history. Interviewers generally don’t ask you to name your top three skills and to give three examples of each, but by knowing this information cold and having it available in a mental outline, you’ll be able to build specific examples of value to interviewers.

For example, “Writing is one of my strongest skills. As a history major, I loved the extensive research and writing involved in developing my senior thesis, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of my legal research and writing class. Now I’m looking forward to gaining more practical legal research and writing  experience by working with your lawyers.”

4. Be able to tell the firm, government agency, or public interest organization what you think is special about them. One of the most common complaints of interviewers is that they find most candidates are unable to articulate why they are interested in their particular organization. Law is a service profession, and legal employers want to hire people who are truly engaged in what they do. What about the employer do you value? Its mission? The type of work done at their office?

5. Show your ability to advocate by communicating why you want this job. Employer feedback indicates that students lose out on opportunities because they seem ambivalent or unsure or just not “hungry.” When we relay this to students, they tell us, “But I wouldn’t go on the interview if I didn’t want the job.” Yet in this market, just applying for a job or showing up for an interview isn’t enough to persuade an employer to give you serious consideration. Students must be able to explain why they want to be an extern or a summer associate with a particular employer. And students who are 3Ls must prove that they are a wise investment by showing that they are eager to pursue this opportunity and look forward to contributing from day one.

6. Demonstrate the high quality of your work product by giving examples of on-the-job accomplishments and relating anecdotes about work habits or characteristics employers have praised. Draw examples from both paid and volunteer experiences, offering specific examples of situations in which you’ve demonstrated work traits such as efficiency, follow through, initiative, and ownership.

7. Carefully plan the questions that you want to ask during the interview. One thing you can count on is that an interviewer will ask you (often at the end of an interview but sometimes at the beginning), “What questions do you have for me?” Have at least three questions in mind in advance of the interview. Carefully planned questions communicate your intellectual curiosity and show your sincere interest in the organization and the work you would do for them. The questions should be engaging for the interviewer to answer and should not be questions that can readily be answered by the employer’s website or through cursory research.

8. Anticipate the questions you are most likely to be asked and plan in advance how you plan to answer them. It’s a given that you’ll be asked questions such as “tell me about yourself” or, if you’re interviewing in a city that doesn’t appear on your résumé, “What makes you interested in working in this city?” If there is an area of questioning you’re dreading (a gap in your résumé, grades weaker than you would like), know what your persuasive strategy is going to be to address questions about this area. The confidence you gain from knowing exactly how you’re going to answer the toughest questions will increase your confidence throughout the entire interview, even if the dreaded question is never asked. And, if it is asked, your thoughtful answer will show your advocacy skills

9. Practice your answers out loud. The goal is not to memorize your answers but rather to readily access a mind map of your persuasive points when you’re under stress. Practicing out loud makes you much more likely to remember your examples, stories, and anecdotes. Repeatedly hearing yourself relate the persuasive points will lodge them in your long-term memory, and you’ll be able to insert bits and pieces of the points at appropriate times throughout the interview.

Hearing in your own voice your carefully planned answers will make you feel more sincere and comfortable — and thus make you even more persuasive.

10. Seek the advice of your career services office. You can never get enough feedback; interview skills can always be developed further. Try out your persuasive strategies in a session with a career services professional.

Take advantage of the interview coaching or mock interview programs offered by your career services office, student and alumni groups, and local bar associations.

Lisa Abrams is Director of Career Services at the University of Chicago Law School and is the author of The Official Guide to Legal Specialties.

How to Conduct Great Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are a massively underused tool.
They’re useful in a variety of situations including, but not limited to:
  • deciding if law school is the right choice for you
  • trying to figure out what area of law to focus on
  • getting a job for the summer or post-graduation
In reality, “informational interview” is just a fancy way of saying “take someone out for coffee and get to know them.”

It seems complicated and intimidating, but it’s actually pretty easy to conduct great informational interviews!

Let’s get to it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How to Follow Up Your Job Search - Tips

by Hannah Morgan

5 Situations Where You Can Take Control

Here are instances for you to take ownership of your part of the process. You can have control, power and influence in these situations, that is, as long as you don't miss the opportunities.

How to follow up when:

1. Some One Gives You a Name
2. Some One Gives You a Job Lead
3. You See or Hear of a Job
4. You Apply for a Job
5. You Interview for a Job

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kicking It Into High Gear: Job Searching After the Bar

By: Maria Hibbard and Steve Grumm

Congratulations! You’re done with the bar! Your three years of hard work, countless hours in the library, and thousands of pages of reading have paid off. Now that you can officially set aside BarBri books and study plans, it’s time take a deep breath and focus on your job search in order to find your next step. We have some leads to highlight:
  • Job Search Fundamentals: Even though you may think you know how to write an awesome cover letter and focus your resume, it never hurts to review the basics. Besides actually earning your J.D., what has changed on your resume since your last internship? How does your previous work reflect your skills and areas of interest? Visit our Job Search Fundamentals page for advice on cover letters, interviewing, and resume development. Also, check out this two-part public interest job search webinar, with Part I focusing on cover letter and resume drafting, and Part II focusing on interviewing and networking. (The webinar was geared toward the summer job search, but the main principles still apply to the postgrad search.) Oh, and speaking of networking…
  • Using your network:Remember to “water the plants!” Reconnecting with previous employers – even from 1L summer or before law school – could potentially lead to conversations about available positions. If an employer has seen your work before, you immediately have a step ahead in the hunt for permanent employment.

Rock Your On Campus Interviews


Congratulations, you’ve got an on campus interview! Let’s get you prepared.
Common Summer Associate Interview Questions
The Easy Questions 
How to Organize Your Thoughts on a Bunch of Indistinguishable Firms
What About the Tough Questions?
The Most Important Question of All

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Federal Government Pathways Program Info

In December 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13562 to modernize the internship, recent graduate and Presidential Management Fellowships (PMF) programs (collectively known as Pathways Programs).  Regulations went into effect on July 10, 2012.

·         Internship opportunities will start to be posted on  In order to qualify, students must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis and meet other requirements for the two types of internships: (1) temporary (not to exceed one year; no conversion potential); and (2) Non-temporary (more than a year with conversion potential). For more information, visit the OPM website at

·         Opportunities for recent graduates will also start to be posted on  In order to qualify, you must be a graduate with an associates (AA) degree or higher, within the previous two years, except (1) veterans precluded from applying due to military service receive up to six years; and (2) for individuals who graduated on or after December 27, 2010 and before July 10, 2012, the two-year eligibility period begins on July 10, 2010.  The positions are one-year duration with conversion potential and require an agreement, career development, and individual development plan (IDP), among other requirements. 

·         Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) requires a graduate or professional degree within the previous two years. Starting this year, there is a self-nomination process; applicants are no longer required to have a school sponsor.  The positions are two-year duration with conversion potential and require an agreement, rotational assignments, and individual development plan (IDP), among other requirements.  Application period opens and closes quickly, usually in early September. For more information, visit

Job interviews: 5 ways to leave a good impression

By Amy Levin-Epstein

There are few things that feel better than walking out of a job interview you think you've nailed. But just because you've answered the last question doesn't mean the evaluation process is over. From the time you stand up, to the time you get into the elevator, leave the building or walk to your car, you're still under review. Previously, we discussed things to do at a job interview before you even sit down.

Here are five things to do after you stand up. They just might be as important as the Q&A itself.