11.1 Mission

The Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) provides a welcoming and accessible environment, serving as a resource for students and alumni seeking assistance in all stages of their career development. Utilizing our collective expertise and technology, we provide counseling, programming, and resources regarding the evolving legal profession, as well as instruction on professional skills and development. We foster and expand upon relationships with internal and external constituencies, which includes providing proactive assistance to employers with their hiring needs, as well as serving as a bridge to connect our students with our extensive alumni and professional network.

11.2 Professionalism

Being a member of the community in a professional school brings with it certain responsibilities. OCPD details those commitments through the Statement of Professional Obligations document all students must sign. In it, you will acknowledge your obligations and pledge to fulfill them while conducting your career search and when interacting with OCPD staff, alumni, employers, and all members of the legal community. The Statement must be signed and submitted to OCPD early in your first semester of law school to sign up for appointments, apply for jobs via the Symplicity job bank, and participate in on- and off-campus interview programs.

11.3 Programming

11.3.1 Career Exploration

Student come to law school with varying levels of exposure to the legal profession. OCPD provides opportunities for you to gain insight into the range of career options available to those with a JD. For example, OCPD hosts attorney panels that concentrate on a variety of practice areas and settings; our of state job search calls; and visits to employers in an array of geographic locations. Finally, OCPD takes advantage of the 15,000+ law school alumni and countless other Badgers by calling upon them to provide advice and guidance in a more personalized approach. 

In addition to the required sessions outlined below, we strongly recommend first year students attend at least one of the career exploration speaker panels.

11.3.2 Required Programming for First Year Law Students

OCPD conducts four mandatory sessions for first year students:

  1. Required Session 1: Introduction to OCPD and Job Search Strategies (Fall semester);
  2. Required Session 2: 1L Intake Meeting with Assigned Advisor (Fall semester);
  3. Required Session 3: Legal Research & Writing Resume & Cover Letter Class (Fall semester);
  4. Required Session 4: Introduction to 2L Summer Job Search (Spring semester).

11.3.3 Other Programming / Events

OCPD hosts a variety of additional information-based, skills-development, and networking programs throughout the academic year. OCPD will hold workshops on networking, judicial clerkships, the bar exam, and honors and fellowship programs, to name a few. Finally, the office organizes trips to select cities outside of Madison. These trips include information sessions and networking events and allow students to engage with practicing attorneys. 

11.4 Individual Counseling

As a student, you will be assigned an OCPD advisor to serve as a point person to prepare you for your job search. OCPD staff are all professionals with varying backgrounds in law practice who believe in a holistic approach to counseling. Each advisor is available by appointment to help students with resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills, job search strategies, connections with alumni in cities across the United States, and a wide range of other services. During your 1L intake appointment, you will talk over your career goals and interest areas. In addition, you will have an opportunity to develop your own personal job search strategy and learn about some of the best resources for advancing that plan. This first intake meeting is intended to ensure your OCPD advisor meets you to learn about your career goals and aspirations. You will receive instructions via email on how to schedule this appointment. After your initial intake meeting, you are highly encouraged to make acounseling meetings with your advisor throughout your job search.

11.5 Symplicity

Symplicity is a multi-purpose online resource available to current law students and alumni. The UW Law Symplicity page functions as a searchable job database, event information hub, counseling scheduler and more.
The most widely used aspect of Symplicity is its job search functionality. OCPD maintains password-protected access to this searchable job database with the most up-to-date employment opportunities available. The Symplicity job bank includes all current job openings submitted to OCPD by employers as well as opportunities derived through OCPD outreach. Symplicity contains a variety of postings ranging from part-time and full-time jobs, summer positions, and externships that tailor to your career preferences.

In addition to providing a database to access and apply for jobs, Symplicity is the multi-dimensional resource you should use for on-campus interviews (outlined below in 11.6), storing your application documents, signing up for OCPD events (workshops, networking events, professional panels, etc.), and scheduling counseling appointments. Symplicity also houses Alumni Network Connect, a resource for identifying alumni willing to provide advice and guidance to students and recent grads. First-year students receive a Symplicity username and password that will allow access soon after submitting a signed Statement of Professional Obligations.

11.6 Resources

11.6.1 Electronic

In addition to Symplicity, OCPD provides a number of online resources on its website at OCPD Job Search. OCPD also provides students with passwords needed to access other job posting sites, such as the Government Honors and Internship Handbook and the Vermont Guide to State Judicial Clerkships. 

OCPD’s website also contains information about recruiting programs, career paths, and handbooks containing calendars to help students plan for the next three years.  Finally, you can find sample resumes at OCPD Sample Resumes, and sample cover letters at OCPD Sample Documents.

11.6.2 Print


11.6.3 Video / Teleconferencing

More and more often, students are asked by potential employers to participate via phone or video. OCPD offers several options to help students participate in virtual interviews. If you need assistants setting up a video or teleconference interview, contact OCPD at career@law.wisc.edu

11.7 On-Campus Interviewing (OCI)

Each February ("Spring") and August and September ("Fall"), a number of employers send interviewers to the Law School to conduct screening interviews of our students, or interview virtually during the same program. This process is frequently referred to as “On-Campus Interviewing,” or “OCI.” Most of the Fall OCI employers are medium-sized or large law firms; however, a number of government agencies, corporate legal departments, and small law firms also participate. Many Fall OCI employers come to interview second-year students for summer internships which can lead to full-time, post-graduate job offers and some employers interview third-year students for permanent, post-graduate positions. Spring OCI usually consists of a mix of employers, some interviewing first- and second-year students for summer internships and others interviewing third-year students for post-graduate positions.

In the spring semester, before students depart for the summer, OCPD conducts mandatory information sessions for first-year law students to explain how OCI works, and to help students determine whether they should participate in Fall OCI. Detailed information about participating employers is on the OCPD website under the heading “List of Employers That Participated in On-Campus and Off-Campus Interviewing Programs,” and additional information can be found under the “Fall On-Campus Interviewing (OCI)” link. OCPD also offers interviewing workshops and mock interviews prior to both Spring and Fall OCI.

Early in the spring semester, a large number of Wisconsin public interest and government employers participate in the Wisconsin Public Interest Interview Program (WPIIP), co-hosted with Marquette University Law School on both schools' campuses. This is primarily an opportunity for first and second year students to interview for summer internships. (For more information, please see 11.10.1 below). 

11.8 Other Recruiting Events

In addition to OCI, the Law School participates in a variety of other recruitment events, including job fairs and off-campus interview programs. Information on some of these programs and job fairs are provided below. Additional details can be found on the OCPD Recruiting page.

OCPD will notify students about job fairs and off-campus interview programs through the requried Introduction to 2L Summer Job Search program (see 11.3.2), through announcements in the OCPD electronic newsletter, on Symplicity, and via email. Be sure to pay attention to these announcements, as the registration deadlines for these events often occur many months in advance and are strictly enforced.

11.8.1 Off-Campus Interview Program

Midwest-California-Georgia Consortium (MCGC): In collaboration with six other law schools, the University of Wisconsin participates in a consortium that hosts virtual recruitment events for students interested in employment in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and Texas. Students generally must register and apply for these events by late June, and the interviews are usually scheduled for mid- to late-July. 

11.8.2 Off-Campus Job Fairs

University of Wisconsin law students are eligible to participate in a number of national job fairs each year. Below is a list of many of those fairs. For more information on each fair and deadlines, please go to OCPD Recruiting. Diversity Job Fairs

If you are interested in these job fairs, be sure to join the Diversitiy Opportunities listserv by emailing career@law.wisc.edu Specialized Job Fairs Public Interest Law Job Fairs

11.9 Judicial Clerkships

OCPD works in collaboration with the Career Development & Judicial Clerkships committee to promote and encourage students to pursue post-graduate judicial clerkships. To assist students interested in clerkships, OCPD maintains extensive information about the clerkship application process on our website at OCPD Judicial Clerkships. The website explains why judicial clerkships are universally thought to be great experiences for young lawyers, as well as information about how and when students should apply for clerkships. Additionally, OCPD keeps a list of faculty and alumni who have completed judicial clerkships.

If you are interested in pursuing a post-graduate judicial clerkship, you are encouraged to meet with Elizabeth IReland in OCPD and to attend the informational sessions during your first and second years that focus on the clerkship process. OCPD also maintains a judicial clerkship listserv and you are encouraged to contact Elizabeth Ireland at eireland2@wisc.edu to receive informational emails if you are interested in a judicial clerkship.

11.10 Public Interest and Government Opportunities

11.10.1 Job Fairs

In addition to the national and regional public interest job fairs highlighted under, the Law School hosts its own Public Interest Interview Program.  This Program provides you with the opportunity to interview with Wisconsin public interest and government employers who are hiring for summer internships or permanent positions. Previous participants include the ACLU Foundation of Wisconsin, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin, the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Disability Rights Wisconsin, the Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin, Community Justice, Inc., Catholic Charities, and numerous local, state and federal government offices such as the City Attorney of Madison, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin Legislative Council, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

11.10.2 Summer Public Service Fellowships (SPSF)

The Law School offers awards to students who secure positions performing public interest legal work during the summer. To qualify for an award, you must accept an offer of summer employment at a qualifiying organization then apply directly to the Law School for funding.

Information about SPSF and the application process is announced on the Law School website, OCPD’s newsletter, and via email in the spring semester.  The availability of SPSF funding can vary, as it is dependent upon annual funding.  Additional funding for summer public interest work may be available through student-run organizations such as the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) & Women's Law Student Associateion (WLSA) and the Children's Justice Project, and through numerous outside organizations.  

11.10.3 Helpful Websites

If you have a particular interest in public interest law, you should familiarize yourself the following resources:

11.10.4 Seminars / Skill Building

Throughout the academic year, OCPD hosts a number of seminars and workshops directed specifically at students interested in public interest law. These events include tips on public interest job search strategies, speakers from the government and public interest sectors, and information about applying to government honors programs and post-graduate fellowships. Check OCPD’s website frequently to stay informed about upcoming events.

11.10.5 Post-Graduate Fellowships

OCPD maintains information about annual fellowships, such as Skadden , Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Gallogly Family, and others. Application deadlines for the most sought after post-graduate fellowships typically occur in the early fall of your 3L year, so if you are interested, you should begin the application process (finding a sponsoring organization and creating a project proposal) no later than the summer before your third year of law school. If you are interested in pursuing a post-graduate fellowship, you should also meet with OCPD's public interst advisor early during your 2L year.

11.10.6 Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

The Law School sponsors Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) grants to help students who take qualifying jobs with public interest organizations or government agencies after graduation. Applications for LRAP are available in the OCPD in the spring of students’ 3L year.

11.10.7 Student Transition to Employment Program (STEP)

The STEP stipend program was created to provide financial assistance to new University of Wisconsin Law School graduates who work for at least eight weeks after graduation in unpaid public interest jobs for government agencies or nonprofit organizations. The purpose of the program is to provide an opportunity for graduates to maintain their skills while getting a foot in the door with an employer, build their network while seeking full-time employment, avoid employment gaps on the resume, and possibly lead to full-time, post-graduate employment. The STEP application process is announced in May of students’ 3L year. A limited number of grants are also made available for December graduates.  Applications will be accepted by OCPD beginning in early summer for new graduates, and OCPD continues to accept applications until funds are exhausted.

11.10.8 Public Interest List Serv

OCPD circulates a regular newsletter for students interested in public interest and government opportunities.  To receive the most up-to-date information, sign up for the list by emailing career@law.wisc.edu.  

11.11 Contact Information

Office of Career & Professional Development


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