Category Archives: Blog

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.

On-Campus Interview Season

It is difficult to imagine a more stressful time on law school campuses than the on-campus interviewing season. Wearing one’s freshly pressed suit day after day, interviewing with multiple employers and being “on” all day is exhausting. Once OCIs conclude, students hear about classmates’ callbacks and offers while anxiously waiting to hear news themselves. It is no wonder that Career Development offices across the country get the same question at this time of year: “When should I panic?”

Students who go through the OCI have easy access to job applications: the application process is streamlined, they can apply to many jobs at the same time — and getting interviews is fairly easy. To engage with 2Ls after OCIs, (especially with those students who have the least success in the OCI process), career counselors need to engage individual students and help them focus on self-assessments and other types of job applications.

The post-OCI period offers a great opportunity to reenergize students who, if they come up empty from OCI, need help planning their next steps. It is an ideal time to focus on what the student looking for in her/his career and to delve into a deeper assessment of career fit.

Counseling 2Ls Post-OCI

Whether successful or not in securing a job through OCI, 2Ls are bound to wonder about next steps in their career searches. Students who have accepted a job with an employer for the following summer may wonder which practice areas to explore at their summer employer, whereas students who were unsuccessful after OCI will wonder what other options they should consider as they continue their job searches.

Both types of students should evaluate their personalities and interests to analyze their fit with employment options. Ideally, career counselors will have focused conversations with 2Ls, pinpointing what exactly they are trying to get out of their summer work experience and career. Does the student like researching and writing, contact with other people, exposure to criminal issues? Now is the time to ask these focused questions.
Reminding 2Ls There is Life Outside of Big Law

Reminding 2Ls There is Life Outside of Big Law

The OCI process tends to make students think that Big Law is the be all and end all of legal jobs. Reminding students who will not work for larger law firms of the many great job opportunities that exist in smaller employment settings or government or public interest save them stress and worry. As you acquaint students with a wider variety of appealing job opportunities, it helps to get the student thinking about what they want their daily lives in the law to look like. Through these discussions, students may come to see that Big Law may not even be consistent with their life vision, so they can start exploring options that are.

HOW TO WRITE A STELLAR RESUME

The typical corporate employer receives 250 resumes for each job posting, the average recruiter spends six seconds reviewing a resume, and hiring managers report that at least 50% of applicants lack the basic qualifications listed in the job posting. What can you do?

When adding your resume to a sea of others, knowing that yours will get a quick glance at best, how can you build a series of job-related experiences — and write a resume that stands out?

Specialize.

The most crucial component of a stellar resume is specialization. If you want your resume to really sing, it needs to tell a story: it needs to illustrate that you have specialized in a particular area or have built a unique combination of related work talents. If your resume contains a hodgepodge of disconnected experiences, you will not appear to be the best candidate for any particular job. But if the experiences on your resume are connected, you have a chance to stand out.

Suppose a personal injury law firm is looking to hire a 3L as an entry-level associate. They are looking for trial experience, experience interviewing clients, and familiarity with the subject matter.

Candidate A worked as a research assistant for a professor during her 1L summer, interned with a judge during her 2L summer and did not participate in externships or clinics during law school. Candidate B worked for a legal aid office during her 1L summer, where she spent most of her time interviewing clients; she externed with the State’s Attorney’s office in the spring of her 2L year, serving as second chair on multiple trials and interviewing dozens of police officers, witnesses, and victims; finally, she worked for a personal injury firm during her 2L summer.

Which candidate do you think this firm is going to invite in for an interview?

The answer is clear! Candidate B’s experiences are connected and tell a story. Candidate B had a career plan and was able to expend the time and effort to make it happen. She sought opportunities that would give her hands-on skills and enable her to become an effective trial attorney. Candidate A had summer jobs, but did not add any value to her skill set during the school year, perhaps without considering the story (or non-story) her resume would reveal to an employer.

It is no secret that most law students do not have a clear idea of what their specialty practice areas should be, when they enter law school.  Many take the easy road when it comes to jobs, taking positions that past students have easily obtained without really thinking about how those positions will look on their resumes. Even second-career students who have been in the workforce can be unclear about their suitability for particular law practices.

The most important thing that law schools can do to advance their students’ career prospects is to get students to CLARIFY what practice areas are suited to their talents, as soon as possible in their law school careers. Given that many students walk into law school not knowing what their interests and aptitudes are AND not knowing what the demands of different areas of legal practice are, law schools have to take it upon themselves to educate students on various legal practice areas and then work with students to identify practice areas that fit with their interests and strengths.

LawFit offers individualized assessments for your students, so each one can measure their law- and non-law related aptitudes and matches with a wide variety of career options, serving as the launching point for their career discussions. Our assessment is an invaluable tool to help you work with students to help them predict the practice areas that are likely to be a good fit.  As an added benefit, and at no extra charge, we are able to aggregate data, so you can analyze a wider variety of information about your students and their career aptitudes.

Contact us to learn more about the LawFit Career Assessment and ask us how our law school subscribers are using it as a tool to help their students find their calling, choose work-related activities that support their career interests and – build the work experiences that will help them write a stellar resume.

How to Be More Satisfied and Successful at Work

Did you know that the majority of Americans, 52.3%, are unhappy at work?  Considering that many of us spend 40+ hours a week at work (90,000+ of our waking hours), that figure should shock and scare us! Employers beware: those who are happy at work are also 31% more productive than those who are unhappy at work.

How do so many Americans end up making the wrong decision regarding one of the most important aspects of their life? And how do employers end up hiring people that are not a good match — and thus prone to unhappiness or low productivity? As it turns out, we focus too much on salary, job title, and prestige and too little on other factors such as the mission and culture of our workplaces. These factors can strongly impact job satisfaction and productivity.  In other words, both parties often fail to ask – in advance — if they are making the best match.

A recent New York Times article offered the advice to “resist the soul-crushing job’s promise of extra money and savor the more satisfying conditions you’ll find in one that pays a little less.

How do you find a job with more satisfying work conditions?  You have to think!  Ask yourself what you’re looking for in your career, and consider what work settings have been rewarding for you in the past.

The New York Times discussed a scenario that was posed to Cornell University seniors, asking them to decide how they would choose between two job offers:

1 – Writing advertising copy for the American Cancer Society campaign to discourage teenage smoking or

2 – Writing advertising copy for a tobacco company to encourage teen smoking.

Fully 90% of seniors said they would take the American Cancer Society job. When asked how much more they would need to get paid to take the tobacco company job, they said 80% more.

If you’re mostly thinking of salary — or taking the first job that you stumble upon — chances are that you are not engaging in a deep analysis of your personality, interests, and what motivates and satisfies you in the workplace. How can you expect to be happy at work if you do not engage in this basic analysis? As an employer, how can you expect your employees to be productive if you do not engage in that same analysis?

If you are passionate about decreasing teenage smoking, that passion can help compensate for earning a lower salary.  But unless you stop and think about what your passions are, this insight will not occur to you.

To find out what will make you satisfied and productive at work, you cannot rely on luck to find the right job. Instead, engage in a deeper analysis of past factors that contributed to your school and work success. What types of people do you like interacting with? What types of work tasks do you enjoy? Do you prefer a job where you can talk to people frequently or a job where you can sit at your desk and think through difficult issues? Employers should ask job candidates these same types of behavioral questions.

Do you want help analyzing the factors that contribute to your satisfaction and success at work? Could you benefit from understanding your motivators, strengths, and personal values? The LawFit Career Assessment is specifically designed to guide law students in that analysis. For legal employers who want to analyze those factors in prospective lawyer candidates, LawFit can be a guide, as well. Please call if we can help arm you with the knowledge to make a better and more lasting career match!

 

 

Why a Career Path You Never Envisioned Might Be The Perfect Fit For You

People, it turns out, are not great at making the two most important life decisions: (1) choosing a partner and (2) choosing a career. We are often somehow simultaneously confused by the wide array of options available to us and convinced that only a few narrow options are possible. So we tend to just jump in to a career path that presents itself without too much analysis or thought.

This can be especially true in the legal field where an ex-lawyer recently wrote in an Atlantic article “Law School is very often the default choice of people who don’t know what else to do.”

While this may be true, law students and lawyers are not doomed to unhappiness. In fact, there are so many options for those with law degrees that quite the opposite is true. Some excellent legal career paths that often go overlooked include:

  • Labor and employment law
  • Public defense work
  • State and local government law
  • Starting a solo practice

You do not need to be a lawyer to use your JD. Non-lawyer jobs where a JD is very helpful include:

  • Mediation and conflict resolution
  • Compliance
  • Human resources
  • Project management

As a law student, you will only be positioned to make the best career choice for yourself if you are aware of the many different areas of law and engage in a rigorous analysis to determine which one is the best fit for you. LawFit recently spoke with a law school career counselor who told a story about a 3L student who had not yet found an area of law she was interested in pursuing. That student decided to try an externship at the public defender’s office and she came alive. Finally in her final semester of law school, she found her true calling. Had she not serendipitously stumbled upon public defense work, she might never have found a good career fit.

Do not leave it up to serendipity. Make sure that you are researching the vast landscape of legal jobs and considering how your personality fits in with different practice areas. LawFit can help by assessing your interests and strengths and sending you in the right direction.

If you are an attorney looking to transition into a new area of law or even outside of the law, your best bet for finding a good fit is to get out and do the work in a volunteer capacity or to talk to people in fields you are interested in exploring.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with options and unsure where to begin, LawFit can help guide you to areas of law you never considered and even pinpoint strengths you might have in fields outside of the legal sphere.

Engaging in a true analysis of yourself and talking to people in different fields about their career paths is essential to finding your true fit. If you do not where to start, LawFit can set you on your first steps. Our assessment is designed specifically to guide both current and potential law students to areas of interest as well as strengths. Our assessment is also effective for those who are already working in the legal field but considering a different practice area or a transition outside of the law. Contact us today and learn about new areas of practice you never considered.