If you’re already investing in a law degree meant to improve your career prospects, then why would you bypass the many job-hunting services offered by your law school’s career center?
“Yes, there are plenty of online [job search] resources, but they’re not a substitute for visiting your school’s career services office,” says Deborah Schneider, author of Should You Really Be a Lawyer?
“Too many students believe they can conduct their entire job search online, without ever interacting with a career counselor, but that’s a real mistake,” adds Schneider, who has worked as a career counselor at both the University of California Hastings College of Law and the University of San Francisco School of Law. “Working with a career counselor can help you identify which resources actually need to be a part of your job search game plan.”
The most common resource is on-campus recruiting. Many law school career centers bring employers on campus to interview students for various law-related jobs. It’s one of the rare times in life when employers will actually come to you.
“But unfortunately, not everyone can utilize this service,” warns Allan Cohen, an attorney placement specialist for Hudson Legal. “On-campus interviews often go to those [students] at the upper-tier law schools in the larger cities, as it is frequently those schools at which the law firms concentrate their on-campus recruiting. And even at those schools, the law firms generally concentrate primarily on those near the top of the class -- although there are also some law schools that distribute their on-campus interviews through a lottery-type system.”
If on-campus interviewing isn’t in the cards for you, here are several other job search services you can expect from your law school’s career center.
School-Specific Online Job Postings and Alumni Networking Programs
Next to on-campus interviewing, the best options are checking out your career center’s school-specific online job postings and its alumni networking initiatives, says Cohen.
“Sometimes these two options can be combined, as often many of the online postings in one’s own law school are posted by alums,” Cohen says. “Quite often, especially for those who may not be near the very top of their law school class, the best way to secure one’s initial position…is through an alum who is inclined to offer a position to a fellow graduate of his/her law school.”
Resume/Cover Letter Help and Mock Interviewing Services
It’s easy to overlook, or at least minimize, the significance of your resume and cover letter, stresses Lisa Dickinson, attorney recruiting and professional development manager for law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Don’t make that mistake. “It’s particularly important for students to be aware of the [career center’s] resume and cover letter development services,” says Dickinson, who is also the immediate past president of the National Association for Law Placement. “You don’t get a second chance at a first impression.”
That reality is also a good reason to take advantage of your career center’s mock interviewing services. By practicing your interviewing skills with a career counselor, you’ll “be prepared for any question that may arise,” says Dickinson.
Individual Career Counseling
No book, Web site or workshop will come close to addressing all your unique questions. So talk them over with a career counselor, one-on-one.
“The professionals in [career services] offices know the legal market and can provide invaluable assistance,” Dickinson says. But only if you ask.
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