September-December | December-January | January-May | June-August | Tips
For 1Ls, do not wait until the last minute to fulfill your community service requirement. Most summer positions for clerks and interns open up in late fall and early spring and it benefits you to have some legal experience to include on your resumé when you apply for these opportunities. Also, consider if you would like a judicial clerkship in the future and do some research about which courts interest you.
For 2Ls, it is not too early to begin thinking about and applying for post-graduate judicial clerkship opportunities. In many instances, judges are looking for 2Ls to apply for after graduation. Many of these opportunities will become available in the fall, but keep in mind that you will probably have to pursue those courts in which you are interested; competition is keen enough that judges do not need to go out of their way to advertise.
For 2Ls and 3Ls, remember that summer internship and clerkship opportunities, particularly in private practice and corporations, begin opening up as early as the preceding September. Think about what you would like to do and have your information - resumé, transcripts, references, and writing sample - gathered and ready to go.
Use the Break to do some research on employers and jobs. Spend some time thinking strategically about what you want to do in the future and the best way to accomplish those goals.
Consider volunteering for a law-related organization over the Winter Break. It will emphasize your dedication to the law and increase your marketability when internship opportunities arise in the spring.
Make sure that your resumé and other employment information is ready to be sent. Try writing a few draft cover letters.
In many instances, professors will ask you to write a recommendation for yourself that they can use as a reference when writing their recommendation of you. Consider using this time to write a recommendation for yourself. This can also be a useful exercise for thinking about the skills you would like to develop- what would you like a recommendation to say about you?
For 3Ls, applications for the July bar exam in DC become available in March. Bar exam application deadlines for other states are available on the Internet. The MPRE exam is usually taken before you graduate. Talk with a professor and visit the BAR/BRI site to familiarize yourself with the bar procedures.
For 3Ls, before you leave, provide your contact information to the Office of Career and Professional Development so that the school can keep you up to date on reunions and other school news. You also have the option of receiving the Alumni Career Bulletin sent out by the OCPD.
If you cannot find a paid internship for summer and cannot afford to take an unpaid position, consider volunteering to gain relevant legal experience.
Continually update your resumé and always have the most current copy of your transcript on hand.
- Wherever you are in your law school education, it is important for you to create a resumé and have it ready to send. You never know when an opportunity will present itself, and it increases both your confidence and the quality of your presentation if you are prepared ahead of time. Whether you are starting from scratch or making an update, bring your resumé to the Office of Career and Professional Development and discuss it with a staffer. OCPD can provide an objective opinion and some helpful tips about what most legal employers are looking for when they review a resumé and cover letter.
- Begin identifying employers that interest you and schedule a certain amount of time each week or month to do some research on what these employers require and what opportunities they offer.
- Read the Career Services Bulletins sent out by the Office of Career and Professional Development; familiarize yourself with some of the opportunities that will become available to you in the coming months and years.
- Read legal periodicals; keep abreast of current legal issues; look at skills required for various jobs and begin thinking about ways to increase your experience.
- Get involved with legal organizations on campus; try to use the experience as one that teaches you about law, teamwork and leadership- not as resumé filler. These organizations can open up a whole world of contacts.
- Get comfortable speaking to people; learn how to introduce yourself; take advantage of opportunities to meet people who might be able to give you a job or can point you to more contacts - like lawyers, judges, and community leaders - and be prepared to discuss your goals with anyone who can help you (although it is generally considered impolite to directly ask someone for a job).
- If you are not already, get comfortable with computers and Internet research. Strong aptitude with Westlaw and LEXIS/NEXIS will increase your entry-level legal employment value greatly.
- Develop a close enough relationship with at least one professor that he or she would be able to speak to someone else about your abilities (it is important to have legal references when you interview for a job or internship). Talk to them about your goals.
- Seize the opportunities that are available to you to make yourself a more competitive candidate: Enter a writing contest, apply for a scholarship, compete in legal competitions, take advantage of public-speaking opportunities, etc.
- As soon as possible, get a copy of your transcript up to the present. Many employers request this document, and it will decrease your anxiety if you have it ready.
- Think about a writing sample. Keep this in mind as you write papers for courses.
- Approach a professor for a recommendation. If you are not applying for a specific position, ask them for a general recommendation or ask them if they will consider writing one for you should an opportunity arise.
- Compile your resumé, transcript, references and writing sample into one file and continually update it as changes occur. Bring your resumé to the Office of Career and Professional Development and have a staffer edit it for you.
- Keep people informed of your plans. If you have developed contacts, write them a note or give them a call and let them know what you would like to do. Let the Office of Career and Professional Development know what you would like to do; that way, we can flag opportunities that we receive and pass them on to you directly. It is important for you to advocate for yourself.