Monday, November 20, 2006

How To Get A 1L Firm Job In 3 Easy Steps

Well not really... I was asked to speak today at the Office of Career Services 1L lunch series - this week's topic was on firm jobs. I think I was asked to help because I had no contacts with Chicago prior to law school and got a job here last summer. Even with that "success" its hard to give advice to someone else. So much of the 1L job process is based on luck - you send out 100 cover letters and resumes and get 4 calls, maybe one of which turns into an offer. I was able to give a little bit of potentially worthwhile advice, which I'll share here:
  • Pursue any contacts you may have. Don't discount someone just because you haven't talked to them in a while.
  • Go to the firm holiday receptions in your hometown (if you're looking there) and any firm receptions during the winter (if you want to work in the city of your law school). Even if it doesn't lead to a job, and most don't, you can get invaluable information about a particular firm or practice area. I ended up with a job offer and lots of very helpful lunches by attending these free receptions where I mooched off the delicious food and top shelf liquor.
  • Get yours resumes/cover letters out early (if you are doing a mass mailing)
  • When writing your resume try to emphasize any previous work experience, even if you don't have any law experience or came straight to law school from undergrad
  • Have a good story for why you want to work in your chosen market, why you went to law school, what you think of law school, and what you want to do with law. A good story means believable (which usually means mostly truthful), articulate, succinct, and enthusiastic.
  • Don't give up hope - a lot of firms hire an additional 1L or two later in the winter or early spring if a 2L offer ends up changing his/her plans or the firm decides they have room for one more person - just because "all" of your classmates have jobs doesn't mean that you're out of luck.

I hope that helps someone or at least reaffirms what you already know! I'm really glad I worked at a firm 1L summer - not only because the pay made me feel like I was not an enormous drain on my husband and my resources - but because it gave me a better idea of what I want in a firm. I had better questions to ask during 2L OCI, firm research had more context, and I learned more about the different areas of law. That's not to knock public interest - my friends who did it had amazing experiences they'll value forever, but for me, the firm route was the best choice.

Best of luck to all the 1Ls getting ready to mail merge on December 1st!

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