The Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) at the University of Wisconsin Law School provides a wealth of resources to assist you in obtaining employment. From your first semester of law school, up to graduation and beyond, you will receive information and advice on a broad range of legal career opportunities.
Leading law firms, government agencies, businesses and public interest organizations seek to hire UW Law School graduates. A broad range of legal employers from a number of major cities participate in the on-campus interview program, and the Law School participates in a variety of off-campus job fairs each year, in cities including New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Minneapolis. In addition, a wide range of employers not able to come to campus post opportunities on our job board throughout the year. Finally, our students receive assistance from some of our more than 15,000 alumni throughout the country. As a result, in any given year, UW Law students typically accept jobs across the country, from New York to California.
A student's job prospects depend on many factors, including the state of the economy at the time of graduation, law school grades, specialization and experience in law school (e.g., course work, concentrations, moot court, clinical programs), undergraduate major (for example, science-related backgrounds for intellectual property), work experience, contacts and professional network, geographic flexibility, and personality, professional appearance and interviewing skills. With so many factors influencing the success of a law student’s career aspirations, taking advantage of all the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) has to offer can make the difference in attaining the career you desire.
OCPD provides one-on-one counseling, materials, resources, and programs to help students and alumni in their searches for employment during the summer, semesters, and after graduation. Our three-pronged approach aims to teach students how to successfully apply for positions, learn about the legal profession, and make the connections vital to attaining their career goals. Because each student’s objectives differ and the services we provide are too varied to outline all of them here, OCPD encourages prospective students to talk to one of the professionals on our staff to obtain individualized advice based on the student’s career goals. If you would like to talk to a member of the OCPD staff to discuss the legal employment market generally and what your individual career options are likely to be, please contact the Office of Career and Professional Development.
Overview of OCPD Services
Law school is a unique experience, and students are encouraged to focus initially on understanding the educational process, developing good study habits and keeping up with their class work. In recognition of the importance of getting off to a good start, the National Association for Law Placement, an organization comprised of law schools and many legal employers, has adopted a rule prohibiting schools from providing specific career advice to first year law students prior to October 15. OCPD will however provide programming from the start of the year and throughout your time in Law School, which will allow you to learn about the profession from those working in it and to make the connections so important to your career.
During the second half of October the Office of Career and Professional Development will meet with the entire first-year class, in groups, to introduce them to the office and personnel, discuss the services provided by the Office of Career and Professional Development and provide information on the job search process. At this time 1Ls will also start to meet individually with their career counselors to discuss their career aspirations and begin to map out a path for success. Later in the semester, OCPD will teach a session of the Legal Research and Writing course covering résumé and cover letter writing and throughout the year students have the opportunity to take part in workshops covering interview skills, networking in person and on social media, judicial clerkships, and a number of other topics.
Counseling and Job Search Strategies
Each student brings very different skills and interests to law school and the job search process, making employment decisions and issues a very personal matter. Students need to explore and focus their interests and learn how to market themselves to potential employers. OCPD staff members are available for scheduled appointments to help with résumés, cover letters, interview skills, search strategies, mock interviews, networking skills, and a wide range of career services. In addition, students will meet with a career advisor at least once a year during their tenure at law school to make sure you are on track with your career aspirations and so we can provide you with the assistance you need.
Workshops and Programs
The OCPD sponsors many workshops, panel discussions and events throughout the year. Selected workshop topics include networking skills and strategies, effective interviewing, the value of judicial clerkships and how to apply among others. In addition, the OCPD invites practitioners from various fields of practice and settings to the school to participate in our Pizza with Professionals panel discussions, our “speed” interviewing, resume review and networking sessions, and a variety of other events aimed at helping students make valuable connections while learning about the profession. Finally, OCPD led “road trips” to Chicago, DC, Minneapolis, and New York, as well as locations throughout Wisconsin, allow students to meet organizations at their place of work and get an insider’s view of the participating organizations.
The OCPD website is a great source of valuable information from guidelines for a successful application to the organizations that hired students over the last few years for internships and post-graduate jobs; from timelines for each year of law school to the presentations recently made at the law school; from recruiting events available to our students to beneficial online resources.
Each year the OCPD posts hundreds of openings for students and graduates in our online job board, Symplicity, including positions which are part-time and full-time, summer and school-year, paid and volunteer, with all sizes of firms, corporations, non-profits, and government agencies.
On-Campus Interviews (OCI)
The Law School sponsors an on-campus recruitment program for second- and third-year law students during the fall semester, and for first-, second- and third-year students in the spring. Most years, over 100 law firms, government agencies, public interest employers and corporate legal departments, come from various cities around the country to conduct screening interviews of students for summer and/or permanent employment. In addition, employers with limited resources interested in our students will conduct resume collections each year and bring students of interest to their location to conduct interviews. OCPD also provides employers with the option of conducting video interviews using our newly updated facilities.
Off-Campus Recruiting Programs and Job Fairs
The OCPD also facilitates student participation in a number of off-campus recruiting programs and job fairs, which allow students the chance to interview with employers in remote locations including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and California, a patent law conference, job fairs aimed at minority candidates, and national and regional public interest conferences and job fairs.