Category Archives: Blog

Helping Students Succeed During the Summer

Summer is an important time for law students. As 1Ls go into the summer, those in student development know that they need to be networking and preparing for their 2L summer job search. As 2Ls go into the summer, they need to impress their firms in order to receive post-graduate offers. Students who are working in public interest or government need to continue to build contacts and do good work so they can acquire solid references.

How can Career Development offices get ALL these messages across to their students?
It is difficult to get students to prioritize networking when their energy is directed towards their work day.  Hosting an alumni networking event this summer is an easy way to encourage students to get out and meet practicing attorneys. If your school sets up the event, students will have an array of contacts, without having to set up individual networking meetings.

Scheduling a networking event doesn’t even have to put a dent in your career office’s budget! Bars in any given city will often reserve space for a large group — for free –without imposing a drink minimum.

Networking events do not even have to tax your office’s resources, if you can find a dedicated alumni in the city in which you want to schedule the event — and a few dedicated students who can encourage them to coordinate the event. You can even design a new position that students can use on their resume: “Summer Networking Leader” and equip them with the resources to plan an event on their own.

If you are coaching students on how to succeed in the workplace, Millennials respond best to short form digital videos. Talk to the tech team at your school to create a plan for a few short videos that equip students with important professionalism tips, such as 1) asking what the deadline for a project is, 2) not being shy about asking questions if they get stuck on a research question, and 3) being proactive about meeting lawyers at their organization or firm.

As students meet with counselors in your office before heading off for the summer, bring up professionalism in the workplace and tips they can follow to ensure their own success.

A Goldmine for Law Jobs: The Compliance Industry

It is not an infrequent occurrence to encounter a law student who has completed years of law school and realized that a traditional lawyer job is not for them. What steps can career counselors take to guide those students toward JD Advantage jobs that will both fulfill them and reflect positively on their law school?

A great option is to get students thinking about jobs in the compliance field. A JD is not required for a compliance job but it is preferred so law students have the leg up when applying for entry-level positions. Not only are JDs more likely to get compliance jobs in the first place; when it comes to getting promoted, compliance professionals with JDs have the advantage as well.

What is compliance? In a nutshell, compliance professionals recognize and address issues before they become problems. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners describes the compliance function as “verif[ing] that departments in a company are in compliance with organizational policies and procedures, and that the company is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. If a company is in violation, compliance officers must address the violations and implement and monitor corrective actions.” It’s not difficult to see why a JD is so applicable to a career in compliance.

Having trouble convincing students to look into less traditional job paths?

According to 2015 data from consulting firm Robert Half, a compliance analyst at a mid-sized company can make $62,500 to $84,000 and a chief compliance officer can earn between $141,750 and $197,000.

For students focused more on work-life balance and less on salary, compliance careers are worth a look as well. Compliance professionals’ work day general ends at 5:00 and because they do not bill hours, they are typically not caught working excessive hours on the weekends.

Compliance professionals are needed in virtually every industry so jobs are not lacking. From health care to insurance to financial services, compliance jobs are readily available.

The next time you see a student interested in launching a great career using their JD but not as excited about pursuing a traditional law job, think about directing them toward compliance careers.

Summer Funding Resources

The most comprehensive, usable resource summarizing summer funding resources can be found in PSJD’s resource center here. PSJD’s resource contains a long list of paid public interest positions like the Google Policy Fellowship, stipends awarded annually by outside sources such as the Minority Fellowship in Environmental Law (which isawarded by the New York State Bar Association), and fellowships that students can use to work at a wide variety of organizations such as Equal Justice America’s Summer Fellowships. Students, when seeing this list, are often surprised that there are multiple sources of funding they had never thought of.

In addition to those excellent options listed in the PSJD list, many state and local bar associations also have summer funding options available. Further, many law schools receive federal work study funding that students can use over the summer. If your school does not have any federal work study funding for summer positions, it is worth having a conversation with your office of Financial Aid to see if they may consider that option going forward.

How do career services professionals convince students that an unpaid summer position might be their best choice?

“I want a paid job.” “I need to make money this summer.” “I would love to work there but it is unpaid.” These are all common sentiments for career services professionals to hear this time of year.

As 1L students start receiving offers and 2L students start receiving offers for public interest and government positions, the next discussion career services professionals find themselves having is how to fund an unpaid summer position. A student can come into law school 100% certain they want to pursue a career in election policy, have a summer offer in hand for the top election policy organization in the country, and still wonder whether or not they should turn the offer down for a paid position in an area they have no interest in. Thus, being ready to address students concerns over summer funding becomes very important.

How can career services professionals encourage students to take unpaid positions that will better set them up for their careers when the siren’s call of a paid position is the competition? The first line of defense is to have good resources outlining alternative summer funding options.

Create a strong webpage outlining various summer funding resources that you have readily available to easily show students so they can see just how many summer funding options there are. Do you wonder what some of those resources are? Scroll down below for the section on Summer Funding Resources.

Once you have your summer funding resources document, engage students in a long-term discussion about their career goals and how 1L and 2L summer are really important for paving the way toward those goals. Explain that while it would be nice to get paid this summer, summer lasts just a few months while the position that appears on their resume will tell a story over the long-term. Over the long course of their career, one unpaid summer really will not mean much.

Go to conferences and network with employers to bolster your argument. Students respond to advice from employers. When an employer says they want candidates who have worked in unpaid positions, students listen but career services professionals need to be regularly meeting with employers to get access to that advice in the first place.

At a recent public interest career fair, a panel of public defenders explained that the best candidates for jobs in their offices had interned at a public defender’s office during both their 1L and 2L summer, externed with a local public defender office during the school year, and loaded up on criminal law classes. It is difficult for candidates with less experience to compete with that. Stories like these are very meaningful to law students; far more meaningful than generalized advice to take a summer job that is consistent with their career plans.

You know from employers that unpaid summer positions are often your students’ best option so make sure that your students know that too.

Welcome Back

Welcome back from the holidays! We at LawFit hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. Now that you’re back, we are sure you are greeted with anxious 1Ls who have one semester under their belts and are getting offers for summer jobs. 1Ls are especially engaged with career services this time of year because by the time they return from winter break, most of them are deep into their summer job searches and this is the first time in the school year when the job search, rather than navigating law school and grades, is their primary focus.

For law students who came to law school straight through from undergrad, 1L summer job offers are most likely the first professional job offers they are receiving so career counselors are used to January being the season of talking about juggling, accepting, and declining job offers.

So how do you have conversations with 1Ls about navigating job offers? Join in as LawFit addresses three common issues that arise.

1. Wanting to take the path of least resistance

Some 1L jobs take very little effort to get. Professors hire Research Assistants exclusively out of their own law school’s student body, some judges hire students who attended their law school without even reading their resume, and family connections are eager to help. But sometimes the easy-to-get job will not put the 1L on track to accomplish their career goals.

This is a time to remind the student why they went to law school, encourage them to reconnect with their initial passion, and take a second look at their LawFit assessment results.

2. Having a job offer in hand but still waiting on their “dream job”

It is impossible to go through January without hearing a 1L explain that they have one offer but their dream job is interviewing them next week. What should they do!? In times like these, it is helpful to remind 1Ls that it is not terribly difficult to get a 1L summer job because the vast majority of them are unpaid. If the student is waiting on a job offer from an employer that will set them up to reach their goals, they owe it to themselves to pursue it.

3.  Having no idea where they want to go

Inevitably, some 1Ls are wide open about geography and willing to go “anywhere” over the summer. In the end, however, they will have to make a decision and choose one or maybe two places.

One way to help them narrow their field of geographic interests is to talk about the practice areas that interest them and to consult the LawFit assessment. LawFit’s practice area guide comes with every assessment and provides helpful information such as where a certain practice area is predominately active. For instance, if a student is committed to antitrust law, they will definitely have to be in a city.

Navigating Multiple Job Offers

Why It Is So Hard for 1Ls

Navigating the legal job market and often the professional career world itself is new territory to many first-year students. Often, when a 1L receives their very first legal job offer, they feel like they have to accept it. The prospect of continuing to interview seems rude to them and the prospect of turning down a job offer can seem absolutely terrifying. When career counselors put themselves in 1Ls’ shoes and remember how new this process is for many of them, it makes it easier to communicate in a manner that will get through to them.

Talking About Tone

Assuring your students that turning down an offer is perfectly acceptable as long as they have a professional, gracious tone, can help the students relax. Doing so meets them halfway and acknowledges that turning down an offer is an uncomfortable thing to do and then helps them see that there is a right way to do it. Help the student work on their email turning down the job offer. Ask them if they would be offended by such an email and when they realize that of course they would not, the process gets easier.

Remind the 1L that any employer who is extending them an offer has been where they are. The employer knows that they will be interviewing at multiple different organizations because applying to only one place would be way too risky and because 1L students explore their options. It’s just what they do, and every lawyer knows it. Employers also know that most 1Ls haven’t settled on the type of law they want to practice.

Additionally, remind 1Ls that employers hire summer interns every year. They have had multiple candidates turn down offers in the past, and they expect candidates to turn down offers in the future. It is not a new or offensive phenomenon to them.

Do your 1Ls have multiple job offers and not know which one to accept? Are some of them stagnant and not excited about any particular job opportunity? The LawFit Career Assessment can help them narrow down their practice areas of interest and get them motivated.

 

 

How to Effectively Guide 1Ls to a Specific Practice Area

1Ls entering law school are overwhelmed to say the least. On day one, they are handed big, heavy law books, called on to speak about a subject they just started studying in front of 100 of their peers, and recruited by multiple student organizations, all the while, many of them are getting used to living in a new place.

By the time 1Ls come see their career services office in October, it is no wonder they feel overwhelmed with options. How can 1Ls keep up with classes and the flurry of craziness that is law school while also educating themselves on various practice areas and career paths in the law?

First and foremost, law students need a comprehensive but brief guide that succinctly summarizes multiple practice areas. Fortunately, LawFit has them covered on that front!

When you receive the results of our assessment, you will get a guide that summarizes pretty much any practice area you can think of including appellate practice, bankruptcy, civil litigation plaintiff, labor and employment, criminal, and trusts and estates law, in one short and user friendly document. The results give the reader a concise description of what lawyers in each practice area do, a brief list of skills needed to succeed in each practice area, and a short explanation of where each type of law is practiced, both geographically and the setting (law firm, government, etc.)

On top of that, our assessment shows how the law student’s skills and interests compare to the various practice areas and provides a number indicating how strong the fit is. For 1Ls who just do not where to start when investigating practice areas, our assessment is a life saver.

After using LawFit results to get a feel for different practice areas, 1Ls can start narrowing down which practice areas they want to learn more about and speak more in depth with career counselors, faculty, alumni, and networking contacts to get a sense of how they want to specialize.

Once 1Ls pick a practice area they want to pursue, they can take maximum advantage of their law school’s resources. Career counselors can give more targeted advice and connect students with contacts practicing in a particular field and law school staff can direct students toward externship opportunities, classes, and student organizations in their practice area of choice.

The sooner that students pick a particular practice area, the better their law school experience will be for them so it is best to get educated about career paths sooner rather than later. LawFit is here to help.

Contact us to learn more about the LawFit Career Assessment and see for yourself how effectively our assessment results summarize various practice areas.

 

Public Interest Month

October is public interest month at America’s law schools!  In October,

As a result, law schools across the country have created programming highlighting jobs available in the public interest and government fields.

Public Interest month is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with students after OCIs.

After OCI, career services offices often lose touch with students who:

  • Can feel dejected about their job searches after receiving callback rejections;
  • Are public-interest minded, but may believe that their Career Development office is not knowledgeable about or interested in these career paths.

This is an ideal opportunity for CDOs to address both of these concerns — and re-engage students who need new career options. Planning panel discussions and designing a professional- looking poster can help you launch an ‘official initiative’ that will let public-interest minded students know they are supported, by putting a spotlight on new opportunities they can pursue.

Public Interest Month Can Jump-Start a Conversation on Job Fit

After completing a service project as part of ABA pro bono week, attending the Equal Justice Works Conference, and/or going to your school’s public interest programming, magic often happens! For the first time after OCI, students start to open up to the possibility of looking outside private practice. Despite a bit more openness, students NEED guidance since many do not know what areas of practice they are interested in – or where they have the best match.

October is the time to open up these conversations! Following your public interest programming, invite students to your office to talk about public interest job paths and discuss which ones might be a good fit for them. Show them how to search for public interest organizations on PSJD, and talk to them about networking with your alumni and local public interest attorneys. Of course, have them take the LawFit Career Assessment, so they can learn in detail (and be confident about) the unique qualities they can contribute to a public interest or government position.

Public Interest Month Generates Positivity

Public Interest Month initiatives are a great opportunity to get students AND your law school community reinvigorated about exploring public sector job paths. Once OCIs are over, and the sun is setting on offers from private law firms, many students will be considering different directions for their job searches. And a Public Interest Month initiative is the perfect antidote to student lamentations that Career Development professionals only focus on private law firm careers.

Dedicating a week or a month to showcasing public interest allows you to introduce positivity to job search conversations. Instead of thinking only about job opportunities that are lost after OCIs, students receive the message that great opportunities are still available since public interest, and government employers have later hiring timelines. And students who have always been dedicated to careers in public service from the get-go will feel supported and accepted, as their law school creates a forum designed for them.

Start by hosting employer panels full of happy public interest and government attorneys who are thrilled with their jobs and did not land them until 3L year or even after graduation. This will turn the conversation away from any negative fall-out from the OCI process, by encouraging students who are still looking to THINK, early-on, about a career that will lead them to career satisfaction.