Category Archives: Blog

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.

 

 

Encouraging True Partnership in Law

Being a law partner is more that participating in ownership and profits of a law practice. In fact, whether you work for a law firm, are employed as part of an in-house legal department, are a freelance legal adviser, or any other of the multiple opportunities available to attorneys, you need to understand true partnership.

Partnership – the act of joining forces with another individual or group of person’s to attain a common goal – is part of every attorney’s job. It begins with your clients as much as it also pertains to your position with your employer. Learning to work with your client, rather than for your client creates a mutually beneficial relationship – a partnership, which:

  • Connects with your client’s goals – Why did they hire your services? What do they want to accomplish?
  • Understands their business objectives – What are products/services do they offer?
  • Develops a full understanding of their specific industry –What risks do they face and how can they avoid them? Are there potential litigation situations? Do they require multiple contracts? Etc. etc. etc.
  • Communicates with your client about your actions on their behalf and the reasons behind those actions – Ensures that your clients understand every step you take, the purpose behind it, and how those steps are beneficial to their company.
  • Seeks their feedback and makes adjustments when appropriate – Yes, they are hiring your expertise, but listening to your client is the first step to quality service.
  • Protects the client from unnecessary legal work that costs too much in relation to the benefit. Make it your responsibility to determine, and then explain to your client, the value of every part of your service. Be transparent and honest – if you can’t show them real value for a service, then encourage them in another direction.
  • Provides innovative solutions – actions that not only meet the needs of cost-conscious corporate clients, but also helps them gain an advantage in today’s competitive business environment.

Ultimately, your career success depends on your ability to be an ethical, transparent, partner, whose integrity can be trusted. Choosing the field of legal expertise that best suits you, will enhance your ability to partner with your clients and provide them with expert advice, and service.  Take the LawFit assessment and discover your legal niche – that place where creating partnerships is the natural turn of events. Contact us today – it will make a difference in your career.

Building Your Legal Career

Whether you just passed the bar, are closing in on your 30-year anniversary, or somewhere in the middle, building up your legal muscles is always a wise investment of time. Options can include continued education, participating in online legal groups, attending conferences, etc., but choosing the right answers for you can often be a challenge. Perhaps the best way to discover the answers, is to start with questions.
What are my strengths . . .

  • Within the realm of my legal work?
  • As a communicator, a leader, speaker, organizer, etc.?
  • Concerning pro-bono or other charitable activities?
  • As a mentor (or mentee)

How can I build on these strengths to grow . . .

  • As an attorney?
  • As a person?

Conversely, what are my weaknesses in these same areas?

How can I turn my strengths into . . .

  • Tools for overcoming the weaknesses?
  • Opportunities for growth?

What is my emotional intelligence level and how can I improve my score?

Do I have sufficient understanding of and skills with the world’s ever-changing technologies?

How does my legal finesse measure up with the legal marketplace? Should I . . .

  • Participate in continuing legal education?
  • Focus on specific skills or choose general studies?
  • Set aside significant time and /or money to invest in my professional repertoire by learning new skills?

Asking the right questions will often channel our minds in the right direction, helping us to choose which areas of our life/career need the greatest investment in order to grow.  That’s the principle behind LawFit. Our assessment is a designed specifically to help guide present and potential law students in making choices concerning what area of law best suits their skills and personality. It is also effective for those who are already in the legal field, but considering a different area of practice. Contact us today and discover how questions provide answers.

 

Law Students and Decision-Making Skills

Sound judgment and decision making, the ability to consider the relative costs and benefits of potential actions and then choosing the best option, is a crucial skill for attorneys. After all, attorneys make hundreds of decisions in the process of advising a client, executing a transaction, or litigating a case.

Law students who struggle with decision-making would do well to evaluate their motivation for becoming a lawyer – this is not to say that they are following the wrong path; rather, they need to consider their path. If is where “it’s at” for them, then it’s time to develop and mature their ability to consistently and confidently make sound decisions.

Consider these “pillars” of decision making.

Define the decision to be made>

  • What are the parameters you are working within?
  • Who will be affected by – has a stake in – the final decision?
  • What are the goals you are working toward?

Gather all the pertinent information

  • Collect numbers, data, and feedback
  • Get everything that is necessary, but only what is necessary, on the table

List the various potential solutions

  • What actions does each option require?
  • How well does each option align with your values, priorities, and end goals?
  • What are the risks, costs, timing, and benefits for each option?

Map your various solutions

  • Where will be the immediate response/result of each solution?
  • What will be the response/results six months, one year, five years from now?
  • Rate each option and narrow the choice.

At this point, begin to pay closer attention to your instinct or gut feeling. It’s important, of course, to gather, evaluate, and decipher all of the above information in an organized and logical fashion, but once you accomplished that, it’s important to pay attention to your feelings and emotions.

Finally – make your decision with confidence.

  • Communicate your decision to appropriate parties.
  • Implement the decision.

Be willing to go back and review your decision and evaluate the results. If you need to update or restructure and have the option to do so, go for it, but skip the second-guessing and negative self-denouncing. Part of great decision – making skills is being able to acknowledge a less that fruitful decision, learn from it, and move forward.

There are many career options available for law students. Regardless of which one they chose, building strong decision-making skills is essential to career fulfillment and success.

LawFit understands the importance of one of the most crucial decisions a law student makes – which direction to take their career. That is the purpose of our assessment package – helping law students to evaluate their interests, bents, personalities, etc. and then make a sound decision on which path to run. Contact us today – it’s never too late.