Information for 1Ls

Hello 1Ls!

Here you will find a general information for your first year of law school as it pertains to career and professional development.  It is presented in an FAQ format.  As always, if you do not find the information you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact us


Do you have a general timeline of what I should be doing my first-year with respect to job searching?

Yes, we recommend printing out the handout you received at your orientation to OCPD session and keeping it next to your calendar.

What is the Statement of Professional Obligation?

We will hand out copies of the Statement of Professional Obligation at the first required workshop.  We encourage you to read this Statement carefully and come to us with any questions or concerns.  You can find the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) guidelines, referenced in the Statement of Professional Obligation, here.

What other skills-based workshops do you offer?

Our workshops do not end with the required ones. We will visit your first-year legal writing class during the fall semester to discuss resume and cover letter writing skills. We will also offer an interviewing skills workshop. We will repeat this presentation in the Spring. We also organize a "Resume Roundtable." This event features local attorneys who generously volunteer their time to review your resume and offer feedback. In the Spring, we offer a networking skills workshop and give you a chance to practice what you learned during an event called "Speed Networking." 

We email a newsletter every Wednesday with all dates and locations of our events. Read this email every week. The events will also be listed in Symplicity. Check it often and be sure to RSVP to the events you want to attend.

What is an intake appointment?

After October 15, you should stop by our office, email career@law.wisc.edu, or call our office at 608-262-7856 to schedule your intake appointment. At the intake appointment, you will get to know your adviser. Your adviser will ask you some questions about why you came to law school and what kinds of practice areas sound interesting to you. The primary point of this meeting is to introduce you to your adviser and for you to ask any questions you may have.

What if I don't know what I want to do with my law degree?

Short answer: that is fine! We are not here just to proofread resumes. We take an active role in introducing you to the profession. We do this is multiple ways. 

First, our Pizza with Professionals series allows you to hear from practicing and non-practicing attorneys in diverse fields. It is just like it sounds--we invite two to four attorneys to campus to share insight with you over pizza.  We will offer about six of these per semester.  Check Symplicity for dates and panel titles and be sure to RSVP. 

Second, if you do not know what you want to do, you should strongly consider participating in our Professional Development Distinction program. This program provides opportunities to meet practicing attorneys for one-on-one informational interviews. It also provides opportunities for self-assessment. For more information on the program, contact Megan Heneke at megan.heneke@wisc.edu

Third, we offer many other events -- like small group informational interviews at the reunion, a small firm reception, and trips to various locations.  All these events allow you to interact with practicing attorneys and get a sense of their practices, and what makes them a good fit for those practice areas. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your adviser is always available for one-on-one sessions to talk about your interests and values and what you would like to do with your degree. Take advantage of your adviser's knowledge!

What are the Networking Trips and when do I sign up?

As the timeline references, we offer several networking trips throughout the year.  During these trips, we stop at law firms, legal aid organizations, non-profits, and government agencies to speak to lawyers about the work they do.  How the organizations uses their hour of time is completely up to them.  At some stops, lawyers give a formal presentation.  At others, lawyers and students mingle.  These trips are invaluable networking and learning opportunities. 

During the 2015/2016 academic year, we took trips to Wausau and Stevens Point, where we visited law firms and government organizations; Chicago, where we visited law firms of varying sizes, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metro Chicago and other non-profits, and the Chicago Public Guardian and other government agencies; Washington, D.C., where we visited government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, The Department of Education, and many others; and Minneapolis, where we visited several law firms, non-profits, and the public defender's office.

This year, we will be visiting the Fox River Valley in the Fall and will have a New York Trip in the Spring of 2018. RSVPing for the trips will begin about four to six weeks before the trip.

Do you provide example job application materials?

Yes! Check out the application resources section of the website.

What opportunities are available to me my 1L summer?

You have many, many options for your first summer. We will go over all of these options in our required job search strategies presentation. Among many others options, you may find yourself working at a public interest organization, a government agency, the clinics at the law school, or a law firm. Many employers in these broad categories will recruit on campus. Check out the on and off-campus recruiting section of this website to get an idea of who has recruited on campus before. Also, check out these lists of where students have worked during their summers. 

If you have a particular place in mind for your summer, make sure to discuss this with your adviser at your intake appointment.

What sort of "soft skill" development do you do?

As mentioned above, OCPD also organizes the “Professional Development Distinction” (“PDD”) program. The inaugural professional development distinctions were granted in Spring 2015. The program endeavors to teach you the soft skills required for the practice of law. It specifically focuses on the following skills: self-awareness, empathy, making presentations, resilience, critical inquiry, and active listening. 

We will hold an information session on this program each year. Participation is voluntary.

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