Job Advice

How a Law School Specialization Can Help You Obtain Employment

Guest Blog by Ashli Irene Weiss from Ms.JD.com 

Specializing while in law school is a valuable tool. As a law student, I specialized in intellectual property and focused on trademark law. My specialization helped me land amazing intellectual property career opportunities within a field of law I enjoy and that my peers are equally as passionate about. I wrote this article to share the benefits I learned that come with a specialization, to quell the fear that many students have of specializing while in law school and to provide advice on how to choose a specialization.

A legal specialization can be work experience in a job interview.  ”Why do you want this job,” is a question I received at every job interview. As a new graduate, I always incorporated my specialization. A specialization requires certain courses to help prepare a student to practice in a specific type of law. I wrote articles on intellectual property, completed projects that simulated attorney work product and discussed new issues in IP with my peers in class. This translated to my potential employer as experience, because it aligned with some of the job qualifications required for the position. Similarly, a new graduate can use their specialization to demonstrate experience. This may help the new graduate stand out from other applicants who also have limited work experience, but no specialization.

Specializing shows to potential employers that you have a passion.  As an interviewer for an intellectual property job position, I favored those applicants that showed a passion for IP. In general, a passionate employee is dedicated to completing the task at hand, more pleasurable to work with and tends to have innovative ideas in that area of law. A specialization is a straightforward way to show an employer that you have a passion towards a particular field of law. It signals that you wanted to take specific courses in law school to prepare you for a specific career. It suggests that the employer can speak with you about breaking issues in the law, because you keep up-to-date on the news in that area. An employer may also be more confident that you will put in the hours required to solve the issue and have a better work product.

A legal specialization helps create new contacts.  In law school, I reached out to IP lawyers via email and introduced myself to IP lawyers at events I attended.  Under these circumstances, I always mentioned my specialization in IP.  My specialization was something that could relate with the IP lawyer.  People connect more willingly with one another if it is based upon a similarity.  Conversation between the two people flows more easily, because they can exchange thoughts and new ideas on a common interest.  If you practice in the same field of law, there is also a likelihood that the lawyer will run into you in the near future.  With a chance of crossing paths again, a lawyer may be more willing to help so they can maintain their reputation.

Read more on other ways specialization in law school can benefit your career.

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.

Our Advice on How to Choose a Practice Area

It can be hard to decide on a specific practice area while attending law school, especially during your first year. The choices can seem endless! Throughout the year our office will present informational programs and events with participants designed to inform you about different legal careers & practice areas. Check the Upcoming Events section of our newsletters and web site, as well as the law school calendar regularly for events that may interest you or advance your career. In addition, programs are publicized by Twitter and Facebook so be sure to stay connected.

Conducting informational interviews is also a great way to explore different practice areas and to develop professional networks. Make a list of people you know (or who family members or friends know) who have a law degree. Contact them and introduce yourself as a law student and see whether they would be open to meeting or talking with you over the phone (at a convenient time) about their work and their unique career path. It is important to start building a network of colleagues. Not only can they be a source of jobs, but a source of future collaborations. They can also be a source of valuable advice on what steps you should take to learn more about a particular field or who else to contact to gain information and expand your network.

In addition, alumni/ae, faculty and lecturers are an important source in building your network and obtaining information about different areas of practice. Search the new Wake Network or contact your career advisor for assistance in identifying/contacting appropriate alums. Don’t forget that fellow students are an excellent resource. Talk to current students about their summer experiences and how they were able to obtain their summer position. To the extent you can (especially as a 2L and 3L), consider classes in areas of the law that genuinely interest you and may help you explore a particular area of the law, rather than loading up on “bar” classes.

You may even want to consider a field placement, clinic or externship for academic credit. A great way to research public interest/public sector employment is to enroll in a field placement for a semester.  A number of public interest/public sector employers offer students an opportunity to work in their office in exchange for academic credit. Similarly, if you’ve taken a class you really enjoy and think you may be interested in pursuing a career practicing that area of law, a practicum extension may be another option to choose. Talk to the professor of the class and see if s/he would be willing to be your faculty supervisor. Please note that approval is required for any placements for which academic credit is sought, so be sure to check with the point of contact for each individual externship or clinic for details.

Still unsure of how to start deciding on a practice area? Make an appointment with your career advisor to discuss what options you are considering and they will help guide you throughout this process as well as your journey through law school.

What to Wear (And Bring!) to a Legal Job Interview

As Fall On-Campus Recruiting season draws near, students will soon feel the excitement of having a legal job interview. The excitement also rings true for recent grads still in the market for a position after taking the July bar exam. However, once the initial excitement of landing the interview wears off, two questions are sure to follow: What should I wear? And: What should I bring?

As far as the ‘what to wear’ part, the rules for men and women are similar: always err on the conservative side. With very few exceptions, your number one dress choice for a legal interview should be a suit. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed on such an occasion. Here are some tips to remember as you prepare for the big day:

  • Make sure everything fits properly. Make sure nothing is too tight, or too loose, too long or too short. For women, check skirt length carefully, and ensure there’s no excessive “button gap” on button-down shirts (look from the side in the mirror). If you need changes, enlist a tailor to make alterations or ask for help in the store as you’re trying things on. These people are trained to make you look good!
  • Get rid of wrinkles. You can have the nicest interview outfit in the world, and it’s going to look lousy if it’s full of wrinkles. If you are traveling to interviews, think about how you’re going to keep everything clean and pressed. Will you iron in the hotel? Do you need to send things out? Is a travel steamer the answer? There are lots of options, but waking up the morning of your interview and realizing your shirts are a mess isn’t ideal!
  • Buy decent shoes. At a minimum, your shoes should match your suit (and pay attention to socks) and be leather or leather-like. For the ladies, closed-toe shoes paired with nylons are best. Think conservative!
  • This is not a time to make a statement. A job interview is the worst place to try and make a statement about your brave personal style. The hiring manager is looking for someone who is grounded. They are looking for someone that will show up every day, ensure great work and fit in with the rest of the office. Make sure your clothes reflect that value.
  • Check your hairstyle. For the men, go conservative with the hair — yes, this means getting a traditional haircut. A classic taper is the best option, or something similar that is at least short on the sides and back, but long enough for some versatility when not interviewing. Keep in mind that hair will always grow back, so it may be to your advantage to get a haircut now that will look good to perspective employers. Once you get the job you can always grow it back if you can.

Once you’re appropriately attired, it’s time to think about what to bring. Women have a bit of an advantage here, because they often carry a bag or purse. But, for men and women, a nice portfolio is useful for carrying copies of all application documents: résumé, writing sample, transcripts, references, etc. Always bring copies! You can’t assume your interviewer will have them.

Bring any personal care items you might need: gum, mints, a toothbrush (if you’re coming for a meal), extra hosiery, eyedrops, touch-up makeup, etc. And don’t forget directions (including parking locations, if you’re driving). You’ll probably also be bringing your cell phone, but be sure to turn it off or put it in airplane mode before the interview.

With these tips in mind, you will look great and be well-prepared to handle your upcoming legal interview. Best of luck this fall and with all your future interviews!

8 Questions That Will Help You Land A Job

Featured Guest Blog by Mary Crane at MaryCrane.com

Too many summer associates and interns make the mistake of believing that they only need to produce quality work to land a job offer. Make note: In today’s competitive work environment, turning in a first-rate assignment earns little more than a “meets expectations” evaluation. To receive a coveted job offer, summer associates and interns must also establish relationships with professionals at every level in an organization.

If you’ve just begun work, don’t worry. Every employer I know has planned lots of opportunities for you to meet with a variety of people in your firm or corporation. When you do, request permission to set aside 10 to 15 minutes to ask a few questions of your own. Then use the following eight relationship-building inquiries to guide your conversation.

#1 How do you spend your time?

Make this inquiry for three different reasons:

First, this question helps you clarify and confirm the role the individual plays within the organization. If you’ve never stepped inside a law firm before, you may not know what a Chief Marketing Officer does and why the role is critically important.

Second, this question helps you develop a clear understanding of day-to-day work expectations. Learning that an entry-level financial analyst frequently spends 70 hours or more per week creating complex financial models may or may not be consistent with the work-life balance you hope to achieve.

Third, the answer contains important information that you can use to follow up and demonstrate your genuine interest in the professional and his or her work. Let’s say a partner tells you that she currently spends an inordinate amount of time assuring a particular client that proposed regulations are unlikely to move forward. After the meeting, you can create a Google Alert about the regulations. As soon as you receive notification of some development, you can share the information with the partner, thereby showing your interest.

#2 Is this what you thought you’d be doing every day?

You may think that most professionals follow a clear roadmap as they advance in their careers—they start at A, move to B, and eventually advance to R, S, and T. But today, nearly every successful professional engages in a nonstop game of chutes and ladders. They start in one position, often move sideways, and periodically slide on a diagonal. Sometimes they even go backward before they move forward again.

This question elicits the professional journey people have taken. Ask this question if for no other reason than most professionals love to share their stories. Many of the responses you receive will be filled with funny anecdotes about obstacles encountered and approaches tried. You will likely hear about career transitions currently unimaginable to you.

#3 What are you most proud of?

Everyone likes the opportunity to toot his or her own horn. Give the people with whom you meet this chance. Let them talk about a victory they snatched out of the jaws of defeat, or the biggest deal they closed, or the time they helped someone who was flailing at work become a proven performer.

#4 What weaknesses have you discovered?

This question helps you identify a respondent’s ability to self-reflect. Professionals who actively think about their day-to-day work experiences—especially errors made in judgment or understanding—begin to comprehend the underlying causes of their success or failure. This knowledge allows them to consciously change behaviors instead of repeating mistakes.

When someone indicates that he has no weaknesses (or is unaware of them), do a quick check to confirm whether he’s joking. If he appears to be serious, you’ve likely found someone who is not good at self-reflection. Keep this in mind during future meetings. As soon as someone cites a specific weakness, fine tune your ears and listen carefully. This professional is affording you the opportunity to learn from his experience.

#5 Are there organizations that I should join?

While social networks are great, never underestimate the importance of connecting face-to-face. Virtually every industry and profession has organizations and conferences where like-minded people connect. Use this question to discern those groups and events that are most worthwhile. You may even learn how to get on the inside track and quickly become a rising star.

#6 Who else should I connect with?

Your summer work experience will move at the speed of light. Absent the insights of seasoned professionals, you risk missing out on some potentially transformative conversations. Use each conversation to help you strategically plan your next one.

Finally, whenever you encounter a specific obstacle or challenge, feel free to ask, #7 What would you do if you were me? And before any one of your conversations ends, don’t hesitate to ask  #8, I appreciate the time you’ve given me. Is there anything I can do for you? This closing will help you end the meeting on an especially high note. It demonstrates your intent to build mutually beneficial relationships, an outlook valued by today’s employers.

See more tips from Mary Crane on Starting Work, Networking, Business Etiquette, Time Management, and more on her web site.

A Candid Interview with Alumnus Vlad Vidaeff

Vlad Vidaeff, Wake Forest University JD/MBA ('13)

Vlad Vidaeff
JD/MBA (’13)
Wake Forest University

We recently spoke with Mr. Vlad Vidaeff, a 2013 JD/MBA graduate of Wake Forest University, about his unique career path and journey to success. His extensive resume includes co-founding the retail company 20 Pirouettes and acting as the Social Media Manager at the REFUGE Group. Mr. Vidaeff has also been involved with multiple business endeavors in Texas, New York, and North Carolina. In this interview, you will find out how he uses his legal background in a business setting, what his day-to-day work involves, and how other business-minded students can pursue a similar career track with a JD.

Biography

Vlad Vidaeff was born in New York.  After moving around quite a bit growing up, he spent most of his childhood in Boston before moving to Houston in 8th grade. He attended high school in Texas and subsequently pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan.  Straight out of college, Vlad began the JD/MBA program at Wake Forest University.  After graduating in 2013, he returned to Houston and accepted a marketing position at eCardio.  Vlad spent almost a year with the company before starting his own company, 20 Pirouettes, with a business partner.  Now that most of the grunt work is out of the way, Vlad has recently accepted a marketing manager role with The REFUGE Group.  The REFUGE Group is a full-service advertising agency located in Houston.  In his free time, Vlad enjoys exercising, watching sports, and watching movies and TV shows.

What is your job title?

I am the Co-founder of 20 Pirouettes and the Social Media Manager at The REFUGE Group.

What do you do at your position?

While my position at The REFUGE Group is interesting, I think my role at 20 Pirouettes is the job where I more directly use my legal background.  Starting my own business was a lot more work than I could have ever imagined but also one that gives me a great sense of satisfaction.  There were many tasks that had to be completed before going public: writing a business plan, registering the business as a legal entity, filing for trademark protection with the USPTO, applying for a federal tax ID and any permits needed, etc.  Being a licensed attorney was invaluable in handling the legal and tax aspects to my business, areas that often make entrepreneurs uncomfortable.  Since we are a retail business that sells hand-made jewelry made out of precious gemstones and crystals, another huge focus of our business is marketing/promotions.

What’s the typical day like?

As we are not yet public, each day brings new tasks and challenges.  We are hoping to have our website up and running by the end of April.  But to give you an idea of some of the major activities we’ve been working on over the past couple of months, here are some examples.  We have worked with an advertising agency on creating a logo for the brand.  Since we are an online business, we have bought our shipping materials in bulk and designed some promotional flyers to be included with each package.  A major task facing 20 Pirouettes in the next month will be taking photos of our products with a professional photographer so they can then be uploaded to our website.  There are a ton of small responsibilities here and there that I won’t go into detail to bore you!

How did you got to this position in your career?

I feel like I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and having the opportunity to attempt to build a brand from the ground up is something I really enjoy.  My business partner and I had discussed opening a business for many years but the timing was never right.  I was busy in school and was living out-of-state.  Moving back to Houston and then leaving eCardio gave me the extra free time I needed to help get things off the ground.  Starting your own business is all about having an idea, whether it is a product or service, and having the courage to dive in and make your dreams come true!

What recommendations do you have for students who want to be in your field?

While my path has not been the traditional one that most law students follow, I believe my legal education has been a great tool in my field.  Do not be frightened to take a non-traditional path as there are many avenues to success and by going to law school, you have developed many transferrable skills. Having strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential to being a successful entrepreneur.  Moreover, having an attention to detail is also important as you are making major decisions frequently and cannot afford to make mistakes due to carelessness.  I had the added benefit of gaining a business education in addition to my JD, so I would recommend that students interested in entrepreneurship read books or take online courses in entrepreneurship, marketing, and finance.

Are there any specific courses you would recommend students take in order to be more marketable for a position like yours?

Legal courses that are business-related would be most helpful.  Some of the most valuable courses that I took include contracts, business organizations, intellectual property, and business drafting.

How Blogging Can Boost Your Career

There’s no better way for a law student to network with leading lawyers, alums and potential employers than blogging (or also called ‘blawgging’ when referencing legal blogs). In addition, there’s no better way for a law student to demonstrate their passion for and desire to get into a niche area of the law than blogging.  Writing frequently helps to improve your expression, and the blog format means you learn to explain things in a clearer, more concise manner. Being able to explain something simply and accurately is the best way to be certain you and others understand it.

Then there are the career benefits. Blogging is particularly helpful if you are interested in a specific area of the law where opportunities are few and competition for particular positions can be somewhat intense. When you have no prior experience, all you can do is tell your prospective employer how interested you are in a particular practice area or legal niche. This typically involves saying, “Oh yes, I’m really interested in this area of the law,” and then worrying whether you sounded too enthusiastic or not enthusiastic enough when you said it.

If you had a blog, you could tell the employer that you’ve been blogging about that particular area of practice for some time, thus proving both your knowledge and your interest, particularly since you’ve been writing the blog in your free time. Later on when you are a practicing lawyer, a blog is can be helpful for attracting clients, motivating you to keep up to date with new developments in your practice area and networking with fellow practitioners, particularly as more and more lawyers are reading law blogs as a way of keeping up to date. Who knows, you may even end up a bit of an authority on your specific blogging area.

There are plenty of free blogging platforms on the Internet today, but WordPress and Blogger are the most commonly used. There are plenty of custom templates to choose from, but if you’re not feeling tech-savvy, seek out a tech-savvy friend to help you with setting up an account or check out the links below. Then, choose a central theme that interests you and be sure that it is one that you are passionate about. A blog takes a lot of a commitment, so your chosen topic area has to be something you won’t tire of after one or two posts. Maybe you want to write about your experiences during your summer clerkship, or maybe you want to be more academic and write about a specific area of the law – it’s your call. Need more tips and advice? Check out the links below which will help guide you through the setup and blogging process:

No Offer? Now What?

Steps to Take When You Have Not Yet Received an Offer from Your Summer Employer

If you did not get a job offer from your summer employer, you are probably wondering, ‘what should I do next?’ Students who worked with an employer this past summer can find themselves in the uncomfortable position of returning to school without a job offer.

Among the various reasons why students do not receive an offer from an employer, three common reasons include: financial constraints from the employer, work performance issues, and not being a good “fit” with the company. Sometimes, students who don’t receive offers because they already decided that the employer wasn’t the right fit are happy to seek other employment. However, due to the fact that future employers are likely to inquire about whether an offer was received from a prior employer, a student must be prepared to deal with that issue.

1. Make an Appointment with a Career Counselor - Run, don’t walk to your career services office and discuss your situation in detail. After hearing about your summer experiences, your counselor can point you in the right direction and let you know what to do next.

2. Find Out the Reason for the Non-Offer - You must take charge in finding out the reason for the non-offer with the employer by contacting the recruiting coordinator, your mentor, and/or the employer’s hiring partner. Ask for valuable feedback regarding points you need to work on, which projects were below average, and whether there were certain projects that turned out well. Then, you can then contact the attorneys and staff with whom you worked on the projects that turned out well and see if they will serve as a reference for you. Having great references is always a plus. However, if the employer tells you that you were not the best “fit,” simply ask for some additional information that led them to that decision and outcome. Having this essential information on hand will be beneficial when you have to answer questions on your summer experience with prospective employers.

3. It’s Time to Rethink Your Career Objectives - If you were unable to receive an offer from your summer employer, now is a great time to rethink your career goals and aspirations and possibly modify them. What parts of your summer experience did you like in particular and why? What areas of the summer experience did you not enjoy and why? Do you think there is a different practice area or work environment that would better suit your passions, personality and /or work habits? Flesh out these questions with your career advisor today by making an appointment to meet.

4. Obtain Important Information from Your Summer Employer - It’ is time to contact your summer employer and ask them a few important questions. Find out what they will say if they are contacted about you by a prospective employer. Inquire who at the firm would be able to be a great reference for you to utilize in the future. It is vital that you have at least one or two attorneys in the firm who will speak highly of you and your work. Summer employers may even provide some assistance in your job search efforts. This is especially true with larger firms that have a larger amount of contacts available. They may be more than willing to put you in touch with the right people, especially if your non-offer was for financial or fit reasons.

5. How to Handle Interviews Going Forward - In preparing for interviews from this point forward, you must decide on how you will answer questions regarding your summer experience. This could include the big question about whether you received an offer as well as questions relating to why you did not receive an offer. If possible, try to bypass those questions by first explaining that while you enjoyed your summer (and support this statement with reasons why), your summer experience has taught you that you are more interested in other law practice areas. By explaining your new focus and new career goals, prospective employers may not think to inquire about whether you received an offer.

However, if prospective employers do inquire about whether or not you received an offer, be sure to always be positive when reflecting on your summer experiences and your skills. When asked, provide the reason for the non-offer, but do not spend a large portion of time on this point. Once explained, continue the process by providing great references, writing samples, and any other knowledge and illustrations of how you have the abilities to succeed at their company. The goal is to always respond to the questions conducted in the interview, but to keep the interview exchange on a positive side.

Are You Ready for the Legal Interview?

When it comes to interviews, there are certain imperative steps you must always take to ensure you have done your best. It seems to go without saying but you obviously must dress professionally and be on-time. However, making a first impression takes quite a bit of preparation and practice. It is a large part of the interview process as a whole. Whether you are going to be experiencing your first legal interview during OCI this fall, or if you’ve been through several interviews in the past, be sure you always keep these key points in mind:

1. Really Research the Employer – You’ve definitely heard this one before. But only because it is one of the most important points! Doing research beforehand on the company in which you are interviewing is a must. The employer needs to know that you’ve not only heard of them (or took initiative to learn about them), but that they were your first choice for a job. There are a ton of resources online for doing reconnaissance (Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn, Martindale-Hubbell, Vault.com, Bloomberg.com and articles written for legal industry periodicals, as well as bio pages for the partners or staff you’re meeting on the company web site.) Also, include summer evaluations in Symplicity.

2. Understand the Role in the Organization or Law Firm – If you’re interviewing for an associate position (or even an internship), make an effort to really understand what the employer’s expectations are of you. This means either dissecting the job description, or if there isn’t one, doing enough research to find out what the role really requires.

3. Know Your Career Narrative Inside Out – Your legal resume (or perhaps even a contact) could have landed you the interview, but the real challenge begins now. About 10%-20% of the interview will be focused on confirming your resume and that you know what you’re talking about from a “technical” standpoint. The remaining 80%-90% will be about finding out if you’re the right fit for the position or culture.

In addition to the typical legal interview questions you would expect to receive (see below), you’re also going to have to craft some interview stories. These are stories that have longer answers which you would give to behavioral questions. For example: “Tell me about a time you had multiple, time-sensitive projects due — how did you prioritize and what was the result?” The interviewer is likely to be looking for your prowess in several specific competencies or skills such as time management, negotiation skills, or whether you work well under pressure. Stick to a cohesive and compelling story that highlights your skills and abilities and you will have a great, engaging answer for the employer.

4. Preparing for the Employer’s Interview Questions – Before your interview, research commonly asked questions and really understand and practice how you’ll answer them. Obviously, every interview will be different, but if you can articulately and thoughtfully answer the questions below (and also have several “interview stories” in your back pocket), you’ll likely land the position:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you decide to go to law school?
  • Why did you choose your law school?
  • Is your GPA an accurate reflection of your abilities? Why or why not?
  • What do you know about our firm?
  • What area of law most interests you?
  • Tell me about a major accomplishment.
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What interests you most about the legal system?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How has your education and experience prepared you for the practice of law?
  • Describe a professional failure and how you handled it.
  • Why should we hire you over other candidates?
  • What questions do you have?

5. Always Ask Questions – At the end of the interview, it’s important that you ask questions. It shows not only that you were prepared and listened thoroughly to your interviewer, but also that you are seriously interested in the organization or firm. For more information on this topic, check out biginterview.com’s Top 12 Best Questions to Ask at the End of the Job Interview article.

6. Don’t Forget Your Thank-you Note – Good old P’s & Q’s. Everyone loves them! The thank you note is an important little piece of the interview process, and an art form unto itself. After every job interview, it’s critical to follow up with a thank you note to the person that interviewed you. Thank you notes are not just common courtesy; they are essential elements of the interviewing process. For info on how to structure a great thank you check out: Job Interview Thank You Notes 101.

In the end, your resume contains credentials that are only a small piece of the whole interview process. Making the strongest possible impression when you’re face-to-face with potential employers is essential. Keeping in mind all these tips will surely prepare and help you with all your future interviews. Good luck!

What If I Get Stuck in the Wrong Kind of Practice?

Students sometimes assume that, by accepting a summer clerkship/internship in a specific practice or for a certain type of employer, they are committing themselves to developing a career in that area. This can be a big cause for concern because early in the process (and sometimes even later on in the process), many students and new lawyers are uncertain about their interests and do not yet know what types of practice they would like to develop. This assumption of being stuck in a certain area of law can be an even bigger stressor if you accept a job or internship, and then realize that you may have made a poor choice.

Imagine, for example, that you enjoyed your Criminal Law or Criminal Procedure class so much that you have accepted a summer position in the felony division of the prosecuting attorney’s office. It would seem that you’ve landed the ideal job. Your supervising attorney is attentive; your assignments are challenging; and the attorneys take you to meetings and court as much as possible. On the other hand, you’ve learned that there is a big difference between analyzing fact patterns in a case book and working with real victims and serious crimes. Real-world practice is very different from academic study, and it may be that criminal law is not right for you. But all is not lost!

If you find yourself in an area of law that is unappealing, just remember that your employment setting is temporary and that you can still gain important experience at that job or internship. Professionalism, social skills, and various law-related skills such as writing briefs and working with clients will all prove beneficial later on, once mastered. Dedicate the time at that position and use it as a learning tool and eventual springboard from which to jump from and land into a better position later down the road.  In addition, keep in mind the valuable connections you’re making with coworkers and your supervising attorney. They may be able to introduce you to someone practicing in a field that’s a better fit for you.

Plenty of lawyers change jobs after learning more about themselves and their responses to difference practice areas and environments. You will consistently evolve as a law student and practicing lawyer, so your practice area preferences may also change. You certainly do not have to change the world after law school if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to practice a certain kind of law. Simply take an opportunity to observe what works for you and what doesn’t and you will soon find what appeals to you. Following your passions and strengths as a lawyer will ultimately have you on the road to a satisfying career.

If you have any questions or concerns about your desired career path or need help finding where to start, be sure to book an appointment with your career advisor. They are there to help guide you along your path and answer any questions that should arise on your journey through law school and beyond.