What To Do As The School Year Begins

Welcome back to all the 2Ls and 3Ls - and a fresh welcome to all the 1Ls. This is my one of my regular newsletter columns where I highlight a job hunting issue each week. The other column lists a job that I highlight, either because it will be expiring soon or because the position or organization may be unknown but of interest to students. The columns are usually published every Friday, so be sure to check each week. One note - these columns supplement, but do not replace, other Career Services communications which are sent out via emails, symplicity annoucments, and other newsletter postings. Since this is the first column for this school year, I will address some part of it to each class year. As a result, the column is longer than usual. 1Ls: First priority right now is your classes. There's a lot to learn and take in academically and grades will be very important in what opportunities you can pursue. So there's not much for me to write from a Career Services/Job Hunting perspective. There are a few things to note though. First, the Career Services Office brings in speakers on a regular basis to discuss topics such as interviewing, particular practice areas, or what it is like to work in a particular setting such as a large firm, government or public interest organization. All students are invited to these presentations and 1Ls are encouraged to come in to hear about the opportunities and options that are ahead of you. Second, there will be a mandatory Career Services Orientation for all of you later in the year. We look forward to seeing you there. Lastly, take advantage of the Career Services Office library to brush up on your resume and cover letter writing and interviewing skills. Your law school training and grades will help you get a job. But your resume and cover letter writing skills will help you get the interviews and your interviewing skills help you land that job. Do not wait until the week before you send out applications or have an interview to polish up on these very important skills. Read up on what you need to do to effectively write resume and cover letter and what you need to do to conduct an effective legal interview. Practice by drafting a resume and cover letter. And take advantage of mock interview opportunities to learn what you do well and what you need to work during an interview. 2Ls and 3Ls: Many of you are busy with the On Campus Interviewing (OCI) program. However, OCI is not for everyone. OCI is geared towards law students who are interested in large firms or organizations. However, there are many students who feel or know they are better suited in a smaller or mid-sized firm. There are those who do not meet the employers' grade cut offs. And there are those who think that working in a big law firm or government agency is not their ideal legal job. While I encourage you to participate in the OCI process, if only to learn and see what opportunities are open to you, OCI is not the only path to obtaining a legal job. In fact, statistically, OCI ranks third on how our students and graduates obtain permanent positions. The majority of students get positions through job postings in symplicity or through self initiated contacts with employers who they are interested in working for. So instead of worrying that you did not get enough interviews or enough call backs, take control of your job search by not just participating in OCI but also by sending out applications to other employers that you would like to work for. If you are not sure who you want to work for or in what type of practice, its time for a self assessment and informational interviews with alumni who can answer what they do and why they do it. One of the things interviewers may ask you is whether you signed up for a law journal or moot court, and if not, why not. Interviewers ask because they want to know whether you are working on your writing skills or oral argument skills. Employers want to know whether you enjoy traditional law school activities that offer you a glimpse of what you will be doing in your legal career. And lastly, employers want to know because participating in those activities is a mark of distinction and they want distinguished lawyers. For those of you who joined a law journal or the Moot Court board, congratulations. For others who are still searching for an opportunity, consider the following options: 1) Judicial Internships & Clinics - Experience goes a long way when trying to convince someone that you enjoy legal work and will be a good lawyer. The judicial internship program offers the opportuntiy to work with a state court judge (at the trial or appellate level) or federal district court judge. Depending on the judge, you will get the opportunity to observe proceedings, draft many memorandums, legal opinions, and participate in discussions on how to resolve an issue or case. A good internship can also result in an letter of recommendation from the judge. Similarly, a clinical experience gives you the opportunity to handle a caseload, get significant client contact, and focus on a substantive area(s) of law. 2) Writing Contests - There are numerous writing contests each year. Many are posted on the wall next to the Appellate Courtroom on the third floor. Not many people enter, which means your entry has a good chance of succeeding. Writing contest winners get some type of cash prize and a very distinctive achievement to talk about. 3) Volunteer - Again, what employers are looking for is skills and experience. Volunteer with local non-profits, the Department of Justice, or local law firms. You'll get some good experience, network with attorneys in the area, and get a chance to develop substantive experience. 4) Independent Moot Court competitions: There are many competitions that students can sign up for on their own. Some of these competitions are free but many others have registration fees. You may be eligible for school credit (by getting prior approval and registering for an appellate advocacy course through Professor Clauss). Competition finalists may even be able to petition for membership to the Moot Court board (see http://www.law.wisc.edu/students/mootcourt/mootcourt.htm). To find out which competitions are available to you, do the following: 1) Check http://www.mootcourt.com/ for a list of many popular moot court competitions. If you are interested in any, be sure to check with the Moot Court board (or see their web page) to make sure it is not already sending teams. Many of the competitions limit each school to two teams and the Moot Court board may already have plans for sending two teams. 2) Competitions at UW Law - Each fall, 2Ls can participate in the Omar Megahed Competition. In the spring semester, there's the Heffernan Appellate Advocacy Course which is a seminar with a brief writing and oral argument component. 3) Nothing beats a google search. Typing in "moot court" brought the following to my attention: http://mootness.typepad.com/ & typing in "moot court competition" will bring up quite a few competitions you may otherwise not hear about.

Submitted by Nilesh Patel, Career Advisor on September 12, 2006

This article appears in the categories: Career Services & Student Job Postings

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