Reminders

Still Undecided? What Bar Exam to Take If You Are

It’s a question that many students have, particularly when entering their 3L year: what state bar exam do you choose if you are still undecided? Choosing a state bar exam is a deeply personal decision and may involve input from family, friends, your law professors and/or law school career advisors. Start with this: Where do you see yourself in five years? (Don’t you hate that question!) Interviewers tend to ask it often during the interview process. The purpose is to gauge your commitment to the company or agency you are pursuing. For the bar exam, it is a similar commitment question. To help, here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

Location — When considering state bar exams, target (and research) where you’d like to live most. Are you willing to practice law in another jurisdiction or move to another jurisdiction? Some law graduates are not set on living in one place. If you don’t have anything tying you down, moving can open up new opportunities with the bar exam and with other work. But make sure you think carefully about this! Passing an individual bar exam does tie you down quite a bit.

However, now that the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is gaining in popularity, moving between jurisdictions is getting easier and easier wherever the UBE is accepted. Do your research and see if moving is the right decision for you. What if you are trying to get a job where your bar exam membership doesn’t matter? Sometimes attorneys want to be licensed somewhere but don’t intend to practice law. Or they get a job with the federal government where it doesn’t matter which jurisdiction you are licensed in. Most graduates and attorneys only want to take only one bar exam if they can help it, so choosing wisely when thinking about location and job requirements is best.

Bar Admission requirements — Examine the bar exam subjects tested, the bar’s format, test dates, CLE requirements and fees associated with maintaining good standing. You can visit www.ncbex.org and www.ncble.org to obtain these details. Some bar exams may be more difficult than others for some individuals. Perhaps it is the weight of the writing portion. Or perhaps it is the availability of getting testing accommodations. If an exam just seems impossible for you, then you may want to investigate taking a different state’s bar exam.

But taking a new bar exam will come with its own set of challenges: You will need to learn new state-specific law. If you switch jurisdictions, you are going to have to start all over again which can be a daunting task for some. Those moving forward with this choice will have to face more substantive review than if they studied for the same jurisdiction over again. Depending on how much time you have to study for the exam, this may make changing jurisdictions overwhelming.

Deciding which bar exam to take is a challenging decision to make. Weighing the pros and cons of each possible plan will help you make a decision you can be happy with. Be sure to also keep these other key points in mind as you narrow down which bar exam to take:

  • Legal industry — Is the market saturated with attorneys and is the legal industry of your choice in your area/region of the country?
  • Family obligations — Do you want to go back to your hometown? If so, why?
  • Professional Network — What professional contacts have you made? Does your school have an alumni network that would allow you to pursue your goals? Do you have access to mentors in that state?
  • Family and friends network — Do you have the support your need to pursue your goals?
  • Reciprocity — Most states allow admission on motion after practicing for a number of years.

The Law Student Holiday Count Down

At this moment, every successful law school student is hunkered down in preparation for final exams. Library caddies, study rooms, and hallway chairs are all full of studious individuals, hoping to pass their upcoming exams with flying colors. But during this time of year, don’t let those tests consume you. Beyond exams, focus on a series of other strategies that can help you build your professional network and launch your career. At a minimum, look to accomplishing the following five activities the next weeks following exams as a boost to your network and career path:

1. Shortly after exams, invest time sending holiday wishes to every professional and prospective employer you encountered during the previous 12 months. For more casual acquaintances, emailing those wishes can be perfectly appropriate. In the case of a prospective employer, past employer, or alumni of the school, consider sending a holiday card with a brief personal note. Just writing one or two lines will help you become memorable, and being remembered in a positive light is exactly what every student should want.

2. During the winter break, you may return to a city where you worked as a summer associate or intern just a few months ago. Use the upcoming holiday break to reconnect face to face with contacts you established in that city, especially contacts with potential employers. On more than one occasion, a quick coffee or lunch has revealed a previously unknown job opportunity.

3. In addition to meeting with prospective employers, use the winter break to build your professional networks. The holiday season can be the perfect time to reconnect with peers who have gone off in other directions. Search out college classmates who have headed to business school. Eventually and inevitably business people will need lawyers and vice versa. Use this holiday season to start creating those relationships.

4. In many cases, many organizations experience their quietest time of year between Christmas Day and New Years. That means key decision-makers, who have chosen not to take a vacation, have more time than usual to meet with students who have expressed an interest in a particular company or industry. Take a risk this holiday season. Reach out to every prospective employer with whom you have an interest and don’t stop until you’ve scheduled at least one meeting during the holiday break.

5. Spend some focused time during the winter break setting SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-limited) goals for the upcoming year. Begin by asking a series of questions, including: Who do you need to know? Who can help you make a connection with a potential key employer? How should you best reach out to that person or persons? When? And what specifically should you say to that individual or ask of them? Remember, you never accomplish a goal that you don’t set.

What Does Spring Break Mean for Law Students?

If you’re a newly minted law student or even a seasoned veteran 3L, you have no doubt been looking eagerly ahead to Spring Break as a time to catch a much-needed breather. You deserve it! However, while you won’t be burdened with the necessity of visiting a classroom on a daily basis, law school will still follow you around — even during Spring Break.

The sought-after week of being away from the classroom is a great time to catch up on any classwork in that may have accidentally fallen behind or needs a little more attention. Perhaps there are a few papers calling out to be outlined in some of your classes, or a project could use a little more attention than what you gave it earlier this year. Maybe you have some previously skimmed over reading that you want to make sure you fully understand this time. There may even be some supplemental readings in some of your classes that would really give you an edge come test time. Spring Break can be the ideal time to catch up on any odd jobs on that scholastic to do list. It may not be the spring break of your college years, but you’ll undoubtedly be less stressed come finals time.

For those still in the hunt for a summer or post-graduate position, Spring Break provides the perfect time to search for job opportunities. You can arrange a meeting over coffee with an alumni or personal mentor and get their advice or even call around to setup a couple of informational interviews or job shadowing opportunities. You would be surprised at how much networking you can accomplish in just 7 short days, so keep an eye out for events to attend. You never know who you might run into at that family beach gathering, in the airport, or even over lunch.

With all of that said, you absolutely have to make sure that you find time to take your mind away from school. There are only so many mental breaks one gets during the academic year, and it is imperative that you use them to your greatest advantage. Spring Break provides such an opportunity – get out and enjoy the sun (if it’s out!), see the latest blockbuster movie, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Are you going to cease studying altogether? Probably not. Can you take a break to hit the driving range? Yes. Will you wholly ignore your outlines? Doubtful. Can you work on them at an outdoor cafe while enjoying a sandwich and your espresso drink of choice? Of course you can. If you do, you’ll find that you return refreshed and prepared for the rest of the semester!

Equal Justice Works Fellowship Applications – Deadline is Sept. 18!

The Equal Justice Works Fellowships Program provides financial and other forms of support to lawyers working on innovative legal projects in nonprofit organizations across the country.  The two-year Fellowships offer salary (up to $41,000 annually) and generous loan repayment assistance; a national training and leadership development program; and other forms of support during the term of the Fellowship.

As you may know, Equal Justice Works recruits law firms, corporations, bar associations, foundations, and individuals to fund the majority of our Fellowships.  We refer to these funding partners as “sponsors.”

We receive applications proposing projects in a wide range of subject matter and geographic areas.  This year, we have particular sponsor interest without geographic constraint in several unique issue areas: Corporate Accountability Veterans Issues Economic Justice/ Economic Opportunity (poverty alleviation, community benefit agreements, tax reform, sustainable development, microfinance) Business Incubators Access to Education Issues STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education

We therefore strongly encourage candidates that are interested in working on these issues beginning next fall to consider submitting an application.

The application deadline is September 18, 2012, 5 p.m. EDT.

If you have any questions, please email Sarah Snik, Program Manager for Fellowships, at  ssnik@equaljusticeworks.org or call (202)466-3686 ext. 107.

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General Information about 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellowship Application Process

The 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellowships application is available at www.equaljusticeworks.org.  To review the application form, you must create a profile and an application name.  All applications will be assessed according to the quality of the proposed project, the host organization and the individual candidate, in addition to consideration of other factors such as issue area and geographic diversity.  Interviews will be conducted nationwide throughout the fall and winter, and offers will be extended on a rolling basis.

Equal Justice Works encourages sponsors to establish relationships with their Fellows from the beginning of the selection process and continue and grow these relationships throughout the Fellowship tenure.  To facilitate this process, sponsors participate in the selection of the Fellows.  Some sponsors will consider strong proposals located anywhere in the country and/or focused on any issue.  However, many sponsors provide us with geographic or issue area preferences for their Fellowships (typically projects based in cities in which they have offices or on issues of interest) and then participate in the interviews.  As previously mentioned, we have recruited sponsors who have expressed an interest in funding 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellows working on the particular issue areas included above.

Don’t miss these deadlines!

The OCPD has compiled a list of job postings on Symplicity with late December and early January deadlines.  As you leave town for winter break, don’t miss out on these job opportunities!

You can find a list of employers in our Winter Break newsletter below.  Check Symplicity for detailed job postings.

Winter Break Deadline Reminders

Making the Most of Your Winter Break

As the semester is winding down, it is important to think about ways to make the most out of your time off over winter break. These few weeks off provide a great opportunity for you to work on your career plans without the time demands that you face throughout the semester.

Here are several things to do over winter break to make effective use of your time.

Finalize your resume and cover letter. You’ve probably already met with your career coach (and if you haven’t yet, try to fit it in before break!). Use your down time to make sure your resume and cover letter are polished, incorporate suggestions from your career coach, and be ready to hit the ground running in January.

Set up informational interviews. Winter break is a great time to meet with professionals in the field(s) that interest you.  Start researching employers as soon as possible, then contact them to set up a time to meet during your break.  Keep in mind that many people take time off over the holidays, so the sooner you contact them to schedule a meeting, the better.  Also, try to be as flexible as possible as to the day and time of your meeting to make it convenient for the professional.  Don’t forget to follow up by sending a personal note to the person who took the time to meet with you.

Set up a job shadowing opportunity. Ever wonder what asset securitization lawyers do all day? Following one around might be the perfect opportunity to determine what type of practice you’re drawn to.

Join professional associations. Affiliating with professional associations provides access to networking contacts, educational opportunities, and information about local job markets.  Consider a student membership to the American Bar Association, your local bar association, and other specialty bars such as the American Intellectual Property Association or an association of women attorneys.  Most groups have a minimal cost for student membership.

Create a master job search “to do” list and develop a job search tracking method. This can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or Word chart, including the name of the employer, contact information, date of application, and notes on follow-up.  See page 41 of your Career Planning Guide for an example.

Visit prospective employers – If you are applying for jobs at home, your winter break is a good time to follow up in person with potential employers.  An in-person visit to the employer’s office can leave a lasting impression and can make you stand out from other candidates.  Of course, you want to make sure that you are leaving a positive lasting impression, so be sure to dress professionally and be considerate of the employer’s time.

Check e-mail and Symplicity over break. The OCPD staff will continue to update job postings over break and may send out emails with important announcements.

This article and more detailed advice can be found in the OCPD weekly newsletters:

1L Newsletter4

2L Newsletter11

3L Newsletter11

REMINDER: Application Deadline for PAID NC State Government Internships

Applications for the North Carolina Summer 2012 Internship Program must be postmarked by December 5, 2011.

North Carolina residents attending a college, university, technical institute or community college can apply for one of up to 55 paid state government internships available for summer 2012. The 2012 State Government Internship Guide describing all available opportunities and rules is now online at http://www.doa.state.nc.us/yaio/interns.aspx.

The State Government Internship Program offers students real-world experience in a wide range of state government workplaces. Internships provide opportunities for students to work in their chosen field and to consider careers in public service. More than 3,500 students have participated since the program was established in 1969.

Paid summer internships are available in locations across the state. They provide North Carolina students with a compensated professional work experience that integrates education, career development and public service. Opportunities exist in numerous recognized fields of study, from architecture to zoology.  Interns earn a stipend of $8.25 per hour and work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks in the summer.

All internships will begin on May 29, 2012, and conclude on Aug. 3, 2012. Interns also participate in seminars, tours or other activities designed to broaden their perspective of public service and state government.

To be eligible for the program, a student must be a permanent North Carolina resident with an overall grade-point average of 2.5 or better on a 4.0 scale.  Applicants must be continuing their education in the fall following their participation in the program.  To qualify for a position designated for law interns, a student must have completed at least one year of law school before the beginning of the internship.  Students having previously held paid internships at the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office are not eligible to apply.

Interns are selected through a competitive process overseen by the N.C. Internship Council. Selection is based on a review of applications by the Council, student interviews with prospective supervisors, academic records, participation in extracurricular activities and interest in state government.

Note that applications for summer 2012 internships are due earlier than in previous years. Applications must be postmarked by Monday, Dec. 5 to be considered. For details, visit http://www.doa.state.nc.us/yaio/interns.aspx or call the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office in the N.C. Department of Administration at 919-807-4400.