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New Year’s Resolutions for Your Career Services Office

Three New Year’s Resolutions for Your Career Services Office

1. Touch base with students about Winter Break networking events.

Firms, bar associations, and alumni perennially hold events to meet students who are home for the holidays. Attending these networking events is one of the best ways that your students can stay active in their job search during the break.

Publicizing these events to your students is a smart way to get in touch with them before or during break to give them a concrete action that they can take.

When you announce these events, offer to schedule calls to prepare students on how to successfully navigate the events and make the best use of their time there.

2. Engage 1Ls about grades and next steps they should take to move forward.

As their first set of law school grades come out, 1Ls can experience extreme emotions and concerns.

For those who did not get the grades they were expecting, this is often the first time they will have experienced anything short of total academic success. It will come as a shock.

With that in mind, reaching out to your 1Ls during this vulnerable time can go a long way in instilling confidence in your office — and toward helping those who did not perform well academically pick themselves up and move forward, rather than burying their heads in the sand and avoiding your office.

3. Get students to schedule calls over break. 

Winter break is a long period of time! As career counselors know, it is not ideal for students to disappear for a month without touching base with your office.

Reach out to remind students that your office is open during Winter Break to offer concrete topics they can talk/meet with you about.  This can help get them in the door for winter break phone appointments. Many 1Ls will interview for summer jobs over the break, so make sure your students know that you can conduct mock interviews with them for all types of job opportunities. Offering a “1L grades are out! Where do I go from here?” meeting can also be very effective.

Finally, offering ALL students the opportunity to take the LawFit Career Assessment over Winter Break is a great way to get them to engage with your office.This assessment provides law students with the opportunity to re-frame and focus on their strengths, interests and potential career matches rather than their grades.

We are happy to share with you how other schools are using LawFit!

Take advantage of OCI Madness to connect with your 2Ls!

Student engagement with career services offices is at an all-time high during on-campus interviewing season. For the first time in their law school careers, instead of focusing primarily on classes and grades, most students have the job search in the front of their minds! So, OCI is‘prime time’ for your career development team to build and strengthen relationships with 2Ls before they get immersed in classes again.

Take advantage of it! As 2Ls drop in to discuss OCI, steer the conversation toward career fit by exploring what they really want out of their legal career. Even if a student comes in asking how to draft a thank you note to a law firm, you can use this opportunity to ask what their dream job might be, after law school. Student visits that start with small questions about OCI details can result in getting them thinking about their careers in the longer term and encouraging them to create job search plans outside of OCI.

Often times, the anxiety that law students feel during OCI does not arise from a concern that they won’t get a law firm job, but instead stems from the feeling that they do not truly know what they want to do with their law degree. As a result, in many ways, OCI can be the best time to engage students about career fit. The LawFit Career Assessment can help you and your team maximize this engagement and make these conversations more effective.

Students who take LawFit complete a 20-minute online survey that explores their interests and strengths and gives them a sense of which practice areas are likely to be the best fit. Students receive an instantaneous 30-page custom report by return email. This report provides details about their strengths and what each practice area entails. It also graphs/ranks practice areas based on how well each one fits an individual student.

LawFit can help you provide the perfect antidote to Big Law Tunnel Vision: a broader and clearer view of what each student’s career success paths is likely to be!

Expanding the Job Search Beyond OCI: Three Ways to Motivate Rising 2Ls to Diversify Their Job Searches

It’s usually easy to get students excited about On Campus Interviewing! OCI is accessible, visible, relatively easy to participate in, and it generates a high buzz among students compared to other job search efforts every year. But, at many law schools, a large number of students do NOT find jobs through OCI – so, motivating students to expand their job searches beyond OCI and motivating them to do it early in their 2L summer is crucial!

How can career services offices motivate students to focus on other job search strategies, beyond OCI? Here are three proven methods:

1. Profile/Highlight alumni working in exciting practice areas in non-Big Law settings

Landing a job outside of big law usually takes more work, planning, and patience than landing a job through OCI. The process for landing a non-OCI job can seem nebulous – 2Ls may have no idea how to get started. Providing tangible examples of alumni who have successfully navigated this career path can demystify this option and have a huge impact.

Telling stories of alumni with interesting legal jobs in exciting practice areas will illustrate for students how they can launch successful careers outside of the OCI/big law process. It will also show them that there is plenty of ‘career action’ outside of big law and that many grads are doing really interesting work in a wide variety of contexts. The more you can drill down into the specifics of how these alumni got started on their career paths, the better.

2. Announce career fairs and official summer programs available to your students

As much as career offices understand the importance of networking and building a strong personal brand, students like to participate in official career fairs and they like to apply for positions in official summer programs. At law schools where OCI typically only leads to success for higher-GPA candidates, many students can start and/or end up feeling left out. A key way to overcome this is to highly publicize other career fairs and official summer programs that all students can participate in and apply for. If you announce these fairs and programs along with OCI Iinformation, students will see that there are an array of options open to them.

3. Emphasize non-OCI deadlines

If you have been working in Career Development for a while, the odds are that you have had a few students come into your office in October, having just realized they have struck out of the OCI process.  They may be confused – or panicked – about what to do next. As eager as you may be to help these students, you all would be MUCH better off if only they had talked to you in July!

Get your students to engage earlier by making non-OCI deadlines a major point of emphasis for your office. Announce early and often that popular programs such as DOJ honors have a September deadline and that if students wait to see how OCI works out for them before taking action, it will be too late.

It can be a daunting task to capture the attention of 1Ls and rising 2Ls and to get them to FOCUS EARLY on (and EXECUTE) the job search steps that will help them land a suitable position for the summer. If you are looking for a new, low-touch tool for  your 1L/2L toolbox, please ask how the LawFit Career Assessment has been helping our law school subscribers since 2014.

Are bad grades the secret to a successful 1L career search?

It can seem like fun and games for 1Ls – until get their first set of grades! Spring semester at any law school in the country is palpably more tense than the fall semester. At least half of your 1L class will be shocked and disappointed that they did not perform as well as they had hoped. To make matters worse, their disappointment is often heightened by the fact that these students are used to performing well academically, otherwise, they never would have gotten into law school.

Your Career Development team can make a big difference by focusing the conversation away from grades — and toward career exploration. This is a VIP time for 1Ls to focus on their career search, see it in a new light, and start to build interest in career paths they may not have considered before.

Telling stories about alumni who were disappointed in their 1L grades, yet built successful legal careers, is a great way to ease 1Ls concerns and guide them in the right direction. At this time, 1Ls want assurance that their careers aren’t doomed — just because their first semester grades were not what they had hoped for.

As career services professionals know, the antidote to bad grades is FOCUS. A student with a clear sense of the type of law they want to practice is in a great position to succeed, even without top grades. If a student is dedicated to building her career in tax law, for instance, she can attend tax law conferences where she will meet professionals in the field who can help her advance her career, she can write her journal note about a tax law issue, extern in local offices that practice tax law, intern in tax law offices over the summer, talk with a few alums — and build a resume that screams tax law.

The problem is — few law students have this focus!  Many of them don’t know what they want to do.

Offering students the Law Fit Career Assessment is an easy, fast, and effective first step! During 20 minutes of answering questions online, students will delve into their strengths, interests, and learn to think critically about different practice areas. The Millennial generation wants personalized attention and advice: Law Fit provides it, via an instantaneous 30-page custom report!

If you want to get 1Ls engaged with your Career Services office in the spring semester, reach out to them with this concrete tool, add your personalized guidance — and spread the good news that focus and self-knowledge about one’s talents and aptitudes can overcome concern about grades – and help build confidence!

Communicating with students over winter break

Career Services Offices all want students to remain engaged, communicative, and to reliably seek advice throughout their time in law school.

While fall semester excitement and initial 1L meetings may start you off on the right foot, winter break can create an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mindset that stalls what was beginning to be a strong relationship! After all, winter break lasts a full month – most students want to collapse, get some sleep, celebrate the holidays and — NOT think about law school for a while.

How can you ensure that the career search and your Career Office stay on students’ radar during the holiday break? How can you pave the way for a strong relationship in spring?

Sending short, personalized email communications will show you are there to advise and help — but are not calling students to action during break. The last thing you want is for your students to get the perception that your office thinks that they should leap full-time into their job searches without taking time off to rest and rejuvenate. Instead, you can send an email asking how the student is doing, wishing them an enjoyable holiday break, and reminding them that your team is available to help, as needed.

Personalized emails get read more frequently and get more responses! Try to incorporate something you talked about in the initial 1L meeting, i.e. “Are you back in Cincinnati? The last time we talked, you said that you were going to meet with your parents’ friend, who is a family law lawyer. Did you connect? Do you have questions as you prepare?”

These thoughtful, short emails accomplish three important things:

1. Show the student that your office is thinking about them and is helpful, approachable, and a reliable resource

2. Remind the student that their job search is something they need to begin thinking about — without being pushy or demanding

3. Create more familiarity, paving the way for the student to feel comfortable meeting with you when they come back in the spring

During winter break, some of your students, regardless of whether they are 1Ls, 2Ls, or 3Ls, may find themselves not knowing where to begin in their job searches. Often times, this is because they don’t know what kind of law they want to practice and do not even know how to start figuring it out.

Your office can send a clear signal that is it ‘OK not to know!’ You can send your students an offer to complete the LawFit Career Assessment when they have time, over break!  Students who would otherwise be intimidated or embarrassed that they don’t know what they want to do often come out of their shell and start communicating with you, once they get the chance to complete this personalized assessment. 

We at LawFit hope that you and your students have a happy and restful holiday break – with some long-overdue time to recharge.

Please ask us to share success stories about students and the schools who have successfully been using LawFit!

A Great Way To Connect With Incoming 1Ls Over The Summer

It’s no secret that law students are most open to the advice of their law school career services offices when they first start law school. Early in the fall, most 1Ls eagerly attend programming, schedule their first appointment with a career counselor, and actively seek advice about their career direction and search.

As they walk farther down the law school path, spend time studying in the library with stressed-out classmates, receive their first set of grades and start to listen to 2Ls and 3Ls, they become less and less receptive to Career Services — and other shields start to go up.

With that in mind, to keep law students engaged with career services for as long as possible during their law school careers, building relationships with 1Ls and getting them invested in their career services office early is essential. There is no better way to do this than to connect with incoming students RIGHT NOW, in July/August when they have few obligations, are excited to start law school and are eagerly seeking resources to help them succeed once they arrive.

If your career services office wants to send out an engaging email to incoming 1Ls in July — what should that look like? How can you make your outreach effective and compelling? And how can you ensure that your communications are compliant with NALP’s Principles and Standards?

Experts say that if you want to successfully market to millennials, your content must be personal and customized.

So, a reliable way to connect with incoming 1Ls is to send something specific that they can engage with and that can spur them to think about the type of legal career they are likely to succeed in. But be careful about getting too engaged! It’s important to be in compliance with NALP’s Principles and Standards.

The NALP Principles and Standards specify that:

“Law schools nevertheless should not begin providing one-on-one career counseling or application document reviews to first-year students before October 15.” NALP Principles and Standards, Part V. D (1).

“Educational and professional development contact with 1Ls is permitted at any time at the discretion of the school.” NALP Principles and Standards, Part V. D (2).

Sending out the LawFit career assessment in the summer is an ideal way to connect with incoming 1Ls personally, in a way that caters to their individual needs while staying in compliance with NALP’s Principles and Standards. You can get a head start by sending 1Ls the LawFit assessment as part of your professional development efforts –and wait until October 15 to go over the results, one-on-one.

Sending the LawFit Career Assessment to 1Ls in July/August also signals that you are attuned to their needs, recognize that they each have unique goals, strengths, and career paths — and that your team is eagerly planning for their arrival on campus. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to set the tone for a productive, three-year relationship between new students and your Career Services team.


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.