2L

Image of Martindale attorney search field with State/Province & Law School: Wake Forest highlighted

Martindale – A Great Alumni Search Tool

As many law students already know, contacting alumni is a great means to further your career, especially when it comes to networking; however, it is still a piece to the larger job search puzzle as a whole. A student should still feel obligated to make a genuine connection before leveraging an alumni connection for any possible job opportunities or informational interviews. Don’t assume that simply knowing or contacting Wake Forest Law School alumni at a business or firm will give you a definite advantage. It is important to keep in mind that a job search is still a delicate process and alumni contacts are not built overnight.

There is no harm in reaching out to somebody to say hello or even ask to grab a cup of coffee together if you are in town. But if you want to approach an alumnus, you’re better off seeking advice as opposed to assuming the ‘we’re from the same school; hire me’ will work in gaining you a position within their firm/organization. Instead, try a simple introduction where you disclose that you are considering a specific summer experience and just ask if he or she has any advice about the industry or location in general. You could also request an informational interview or even a job shadowing opportunity if they have the free time. A great way to put this plan into action (instead of the often harsh, basic cold call) would be to meet an alum through a mutual contact, career advisor, alumni office, or via a regular alumni association networking event and start up a relationship from there.

Ok so now you have a strategy of how to communicate. So where are all the Wake Forest Law alums? One helpful tool that includes a majority of Wake Forest Law alumni is the Martindale database. You can access this database easily online through their website www.martindale.com. Once you are at the web site, click on the Advanced Search link under the People tab at the very top of the web page in the red section. From the ‘Advanced Search for Lawyers, Law Firms & Organizations’ page, you can fill out any necessary search criteria to narrow your alumni search.

Want to practice law or obtain a summer position in the Baltimore, Maryland metro area? Simply select Maryland from the State/Province drop-down menu and type “Wake Forest” in the Law School text box. Now click the Search button. (pictured above) Viola! You now have 59 Wake Forest Law alumni to choose from. Narrow your search even more by selecting your desired practice area or city on the left hand side of the screen under ‘Narrow results by’. Also, if you would like to identify Wake Forest Alums that are working in government agencies, conduct a search as outlined above and if there is a Government Agency category on the left on the results page, you will be able to narrow those results by selecting a particular Government Agency in which you are interested.

Many of the contact details in the search results will also feature phone numbers as well as a link to the contact’s company web site. Click the ‘View Website’ link to research their organization or firm in greater detail as well as give you a feel for the type of work they do. And nine times out of ten, the person in which you are trying to contact will also have a biography on the company web page, filling you in on their work history and achievements all the way back to Wake Forest.

If sending emails is your preferred means of driving your networking efforts, you can most often find email addresses for each alumni contact on their firm or company’s web site under a company directory or attorney drop down menu list. A downloadable vCard may also be available so that you can keep all their contact information, including their email address, on hand for future reference. Here is a sample email to use as a guideline when emailing alumni:

Dear Mr./Ms. ____________,
I found your name and contact information on Martindale’s online directory when searching for Wake Forest Alumni in the Baltimore, MD area. I am a first year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law, and I am interested in immigration law. I would greatly appreciate any advice or information you could offer me about the field. Would it be possible to set up a time to speak with you sometime next week via telephone?

Ready, set, go? If you want to iron out a plan about contacting Wake Forest Law alumni, be sure to make an appointment with your career advisor and give them an idea of your targeted geographic location and practice area. This will give your advisor the information they need to help you obtain important tips and advice on connecting and communicating prior to making your initial contact with Wake Forest Law alumni. With the right approach, you will gain experience in networking which will give you important, lifelong connections that will aid your career well into the future.

Five Tips for Public Service Informational Interviews

Informational interviewing enables students to connect with professionals and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to practice in various settings and substantive areas. Since networking is an important part of obtaining a public service job, one must conduct a successful search in order to seek out informational interviews that will open up one of the best avenues for such networking. Here are five tips that will aide in your informational interviews and job search:

1. Timing is everything. You don’t start an assignment without researching. The same goes for reaching out to an attorney for an informational interview. By doing your homework ahead of time, you will able to find a more convenient time to talk to your potential interviewer which will also help develop a more meaningful conversation during the interview. Although there is no way to know an individual attorney’s schedule, there is a way to gauge when a particular office will be busier. For example, asking a legislative attorney to meet right before a legislative session is not considerate of the demands on that attorney’s time. Ask you career counselor for advice on timing if you’re not certain.

2. Develop a professional network. Think job fairs, alumni connections, and bar associations. Due the fact that many public interest organizations and agencies have a small or limited amount of staff members, they are until to travel directly to specific schools. However, many organizations and agencies participate in a variety of career fairs to meet students. This is the organization’s chance to get the word out to students about their work and values as well as what qualities they are looking for in students and attorneys. You can further connect with these folks by attending local and regional job fairs, bar association meetings, and other legal events so that their network is complete with a firm foundation of diverse contacts. And don’t overlook alumni connections. Logging onto WIN and conducting a search can put you in touch with Wake Forest Law Alumni who know the ropes and many connections. You’re your base network is established, you will be able to reach out within that network and locate contacts for informational interviews.

3. Preparation is vital. You’ve heard it before – you only have one chance to make a good impression. And this goes without saying for informational interviews and networking in general. Fewer things are more likely to set the wrong tone than not preparing for a meeting. In order to be in the best shape possible for a meeting, be sure you are cruising over an attorney’s or organization’s website in its entirety. Check articles written by employers or attorneys by searching online databases so you know as much as you can about the company or ask your regular contacts such as career counselors, mentors, professors, and prior employers. Once you are in the meeting you will need something to talk about, right? Take the time to prepare a list of relevant questions before the meeting and always bring several copies of your résumé. Please note, the résumé should only be given to the attorney upon request.

4. Be professional. This doesn’t mean be stuffy, but a critical element of a successful informational interview are the simple points – how to dress, timeliness, and courtesy. If you are not sure what to wear to any type of event, including informational interviews, it’s always best to err on the side of being formal. So make sure your suits are pressed! And don’t forget – to be early is to be on time. Arrive for an informational interview 10 to 15 minutes early. Check routes, traffic, and parking availability ahead of time. Once there, greet your contact with a firm handshake and make sure you are maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation. Last but not least, keep an eye on the time and length of the meeting so that you are sensitive to the fact that your contact has busy schedule. Don’t overstay your welcome!

5. Cultivate and grow. Informational interviews are a great way to learn about someone else’s interests and work. Period. It is not a way to secure an immediate job. These interviews are one of the best ways to also expand your professional network, gain valuable insights, and more importantly, be the beginning of a relationship that you should cultivate. Cultivation of the relationship should begin immediately after the informational interview. Thank your contact when you leave the interview and again within two days by sending a hand-written thank you note directly to them. Having good manners and an appreciation of a busy attorney’s time will go a long way toward leaving a positive impression and promoting a continuing relationship. Then, at some point in the future when an article or publication crosses your path that you think might be of interest to the person with whom you interviewed, email it with a short note letting them know you were thinking of them. This will offer the other person access to information that he or she might not have otherwise come across and you will definitely stay in their mind in the future, especially as job openings surface.

A job search takes confidence, preparation, and keeping the right frame of mind. A significant asset is to maintain an open and professional relationship with mentors you have found through informational interviews. Be sure you are keeping these important tips in mind as you venture out to meetings, functions, and parties throughout the year. This knowledge will ensure a successful start to new, professional relationships whenever you meet a new connection!

Sales First. Then Law Career.

As a law student, that sounds pretty crazy, right? Well, if you are suddenly in the interview stage of your law school track then you are going to be selling something important soon – yourself!

Listing out your outstanding accomplishments and achievements on your resume and cover letter won’t necessarily make the cut in the interview process. Sure, it’s great to give your possible employers an idea of what you’ve done academically; however, to become a cut above the rest, you have to sell yourself as if you were a valuable product sitting on a shelf in a quality department store.

Start to think like a salesperson. No, not the super pushy salesperson on the phone trying to get you to buy movie channels – the salesperson that talks to you like a respected colleague as you browse your favorite store. Likeability is important, even in sales people. If a salesperson is confident in their product and is friendly, maintains good eye contact, a strong handshake, and a smile, you would likely feel more inclined to buy from that person.

Listing out your resume bullet points again in your cover letter is like hearing that pushy salesperson drone on about how your cable bill will go down if you just sign on for another year. All you want to do is let them finish or even just hang up on them. (We’ve all done it!)

Try it again. But this time, get excited! Get your customer interested in you as a product. Talk about your great features and benefits. Mention that one of your features is your dedication, but then explain the benefits of that dedication. Perhaps you’re the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave. Or better yet, mention a time that your dedication created a tremendous result in a school project or during an internship. Focus on your other skills and factors that make you immediately productive. You wouldn’t want to wait 6 months to start enjoying your movie channel if you purchased the movie package. The same goes for employers who don’t want to wait for six months before you deliver benefits to them. Concentrate on what you can do for the company, not on what the company can do for you.

What about all those common interview questions that you keep hearing and possibly stumbling over? Treat those tricky questions like a sales call and as if your salary depended on making that sale. “Why should I hire you?” would be the same as “Why should I buy from you?” Well, why? Tell your interviewer that you will be getting more than just a product (you). They would also be getting quality work, dedication, drive, and intelligence. Developing a storytelling flair will also go further in an interview when faced with those questions. Everyone loves a good story. It doesn’t mean you need to become a chatterbox, but your interviewer was interested enough in you to interview you in the first place. Be sure to prepare short little true stories that support your claims of relevant skills and accomplishments.

Better yet, become your own leading salesperson by mastering a one-to-two-minute “commercial” about yourself. In sales, commercials are meant to intrigue the client when asked the standard, “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Almost certainly you will be asked to respond to some version of the “Tell me about yourself” question during an interview or even when you are out and about in networking groups. Memorize a short description of your background (education, experience, and skills) that matches your strengths to the job or any job in which you are seeking. Be sure to also add a sentence or two about your curiosity, commitment, and drive to move mountains above your already amazing skills base.

As with every new challenge you face, practice will make perfect. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse these new tips or even try recording yourself and playing it back for you to review. Ask a friend, professor, or career advisor to go over some practice interview questions to get you to the point where you are truly comfortable. On-campus interviews are also available for your benefit, so take advantage of each bidding session. Soon, your ease and confidence will speak for themselves during your next interview (Spring 2014 for 1Ls) and you will soon make your first sale – you!

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

Use Thanksgiving to Help Your Job Search…

If you’re going home for Thanksgiving, here are three effortless things you can do to further your job search.

You might be asking, how can Thanksgiving dinner help with my job search? Can’t I just enjoy my turkey and football and not think about the job market for one day? Of course you can.  But there are a couple of simple things you can do that don’t require leaving the comfort of your home – you never know what might pay off!

First, tell people that you are looking for a job. You should be doing this anyway.  Your kooky Aunt Sally might just happen to know someone in the field of your interest.

Second, share what you’ve been learning.  You can pull this off without seeming obnoxious.  For example, if the turkey is dry, don’t start talking about what section of the UCC you can sue under.  But if there’s a subject you enjoy, getting into a debate with your cousins about it might just highlight an area of practice that interests you and help you focus your job search.

Finally, manage the expectations of your family and friends. Are you feeling pressure from them about the job search? Do their expectations seem unrealistic? Be up front about your plan and tell them about your strategy.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the holiday! Take the time to listen to what’s going on in other people’s lives and get some perspective on life outside of law school.

More information is included in the OCPD weekly newsletters, available here:

1L Newsletter2

2L Newsletter9

3L Newsletter9

Networking 101

This is a recent article from our OCPD Weekly Newsletter, sent to 2Ls and 3Ls.

You’ve heard it over and over again.  Networking is the key to success. Networking will help you find a job.

If one more person tells you networking will solve all your problems, you’ll scream!

Take a step back. Think about all that networking entails.  It is a skill – much like analyzing a case or presenting an argument.  Like all skills, these take education, practice, and time to develop.

Networking is not just about finding a job. It’s about building relationships.  This is a skill that you will use throughout your professional career.  Employers – whether law firms, government, or public interest – expect law graduates to not only have excellent analytical skills and writing ability, but also be able to develop connections with coworkers, clients, and potential clients.  By building rapport with colleagues, community members, and other professionals, you begin to establish the trust that is the foundation of a business relationship.

You already do a lot of networking. Are you on Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? These sites are about building relationships.  People who are active in social networking generally enjoy personal engagement, enjoy getting to know people.

Nevertheless, you’re not going to get very far if you limit yourself to online networking.  You have to get out there, attend professional events, volunteer, take part in community activities.  Just show up.

Once you’re there, here are some tips for “working the room.”  The more events you attend and the more actively you participate, the more skills you will build.  As you get more comfortable in this type of environment, you will see that building relationships gets easier. Who knows, it might even turn out to be fun!

Have something to talk about. If you’re going to an event sponsored by a specific group, see if that group has been in the news lately (it’s easy to run a news search on Lexis or WestLaw). If you know who is going to be there, read up on their bios. Keep up on what’s going on locally – what are people talking about outside of the law school bubble?  None of these things may come up in conversation, but you’ll feel more at ease knowing you have something to break an awkward silence.

LISTEN.  This may be the most obvious, but hardest to do. You’re nervous, you’re thinking about the next thing you want to say in the conversation. Focus on what the person is saying and let the conversation flow naturally.

Get over your distaste for “small talk.” Small talk is the foundation of any relationship. How did you meet your significant other? Chances are you didn’t immediately start out with discussion of serious issues like money and children. Small talk allows you to find the connection on which you will build a deeper relationship.

Finally, DON’T check your Blackberry/iPhone, text anyone, or look at your phone in the middle of a conversation. Nothing says “I’m not interested in what you’re saying” more than this.  If you check your messages out of nervous habit, leave the phone at home (or in the car, at the very least).

This week’s student newsletters are available in their entirety here:

 

3L Newsletter6

2L Newsletter6

 

2L Job Search Myths

MYTH: All my friends have jobs already.

TRUTH: Very few students have summer jobs lined up this early in the year. Many 3Ls will tell you that at spring finals, they still did not have a job for the summer.  The summer job search can be a long process for many reasons: smaller firms and businesses may not know their hiring needs yet; organizations may not be able to predict future demand for services; some nonprofits may be waiting for funding.  The key is to be patient and methodical. Keep checking in with your contacts. Don’t give up!

MYTH: I want to work out of state but can’t get anything without connections.

TRUTH: There is a big difference between “connections” and “contacts.” Yes, it’s nice when a parent or family friend can put you directly into a job, but this is unusual.  You are far more likely to succeed by making contacts in the legal community in which you want to work.  Join the local bar association. Call local alumni and ask their advice.  Attend a career fair in that state.

MYTH: I want to stay in NC but I’m not from here so no one will hire me.

TRUTH: You’re already in school in North Carolina—this means something! Employers want to see that you are committed to the state, so give them reason to believe this. Emphasize your involvement in the community, your knowledge of current local and state events, your interest in remaining here.  You are not the first Wake Forest student who has come to NC and decided to stay.

MYTH: I didn’t get an offer through OCI so I’m out of options.

TRUTH: Only a small percentage of students get summer jobs through OCI, because only a small percentage of employers participate in OCI.  There are numerous other avenues to pursue.  This is where networking is key—contact firms and alumni who practice the type of law you are interested in. Consider seeking out judicial externships, government internships, volunteer work with nonprofit organizations.  OCPD updates Symplicity regularly with job postings.  Your OCPD career advisor can help you identify resources to find options in your area of interest.

MYTH: There are no advertised jobs that interest me.

TRUTH: Don’t limit yourself to posted job listings. Plenty of firms and organizations do not advertise positions. Networking is essential.  Talk to lawyers, alumni, anyone you know. Let them know you are looking and what you’re interested in.  Some firms have work to be done, and would be happy to have a competent student available.  Your willingness to work is a foot in the door, and your quality of work may mean a future job.

MYTH: Networking is useless. People won’t respond if I just call them up out of the blue.

TRUTH: There is one universal truth in networking: people love to talk about themselves.  Success is all in the approach. Be polite. Ask if this is a good time.  Offer to take them out for lunch or coffee.  Have a list in mind of what you want to learn from them.  Show your appreciation with a written note.  Follow up if you can—mention a CLE or recent article that relates to something you discussed.

MYTH: I’m just going to wait tables and enjoy one last summer of freedom.

TRUTH: Your 2L summer is an important opportunity to get valuable work experience.  Not only are you building professional skills for your resume, but you also have an opportunity to “test the waters” in different practice areas, types of work, and even locations.  Use this opportunity, it will benefit you in long-term career planning

Conducting a 2L Job Search

This Tuesday 9/13 at noon in Room 1312:

While your second year of law school is in full swing, you are also right in the midst of your second summer job search. Are you wondering what happens after OCI?  Are you interested in finding out what other opportunities may be out there?  Are you questioning whether or not you are on the right track?

Come hear the advice and perspectives from four upperclassmen as well as a recent graduate on how they successfully conducted their 2L job search.

Guest panelists include:


Aaron Garnett (’12)

Legal Intern for the Economic Crimes Division

Attorney General’s Office for the State of Florida, Orlando, FL

 

Jessica Kimble (’12)

Summer Intern

Pendergrass Law Firm, PLLC, Raleigh, NC


Matthew Hayes (’12)

Summer Intern

Alaska Public Defender’s Office, Palmer, AK

 

Paul DerOhannesian (’12)

Summer Intern

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, The Hague, Holland

 

Robert Zawrotny (’11)

Associate Attorney

Novant Health, Legal Department, Winston-Salem, NC


**Remember to RSVP in Symplicity to reserve your lunch**