Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time Flies, Take Advantage of your Three Years.

Something I realized as a recent graduate and young lawyer is how fast the three years of law school fly by and how little time you have to really make the right start to your legal career. In that three years you must study hard, make good grades, establish good relationships with your friends and faculty, get involved in the legal community in some capacity, and get good legal experience in your summers or during the school year. If you live in or near the city where you want to practice, its a lot easier to get involved early and get your name out. If not you have to make more of an effort to get out there during your school breaks and maybe get out of your comfort zone and send out some emails or pick up the phone.

In law school, it goes by so fast, you really have to be strategic and think about what you want to accomplish and what it will take to accomplish it. Even if you don't plan to practice law, it still crucial to network and get good internship or externships. Do take advantage of your career services office, but also be proactive, use the Internet to research practice areas and lawyers to contact, ask your friends and family if they know anyone that you may contact. Contact your local bar association or the bar association of the city or state you want to practice in.

Right now the legal field is hit and miss as far as jobs go. If you are not early, proactive, present and persistent, you may find yourself on Graduation Day with no job. And even despite your most persistent efforts, you may still find yourself jobless, but at least if you put in the effort, you won't the one to blame.

The other thing I recommend for those who are applying to law school. Consider attending a lower ranked law school in the area you want to practice over a higher ranked law school in a city you don't plan to stay in. First of all, you may perform better at a lower ranked law school and law firms look at grades more than anything else. Secondly, you'll be able to start participating in that city a lot earlier and during the school year, rather than in just the summers. Most cities have many events and the fees are often waived for law students. Getting involved early shows your commitment to the city.

Also be broad in your thinking. You may be able to use your legal degree for a plethora of career paths. If you are interested in politics, try seeking a legislative internship during or before law school. If you hope to work for the government, contact city and state government agencies and ask if they have any internship opportunities.

Time flies in law school, think about where you want to be at the end of the three years and go after it. Enjoy law school, but focus on that bigger picture. You do have to pay back your loans, afterall!


Excellence in the Workplace: Legal and Life Skills in a Nutshell

7 comments:

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  3. Really enjoyed reading your blog--stumbled onto it today by accident. Would love to pick your brain some more about the "Consider attending a lower ranked law school in the area you want to practice over a higher ranked law school in a city you don't plan to stay in" perspective... I know I ultimately want to wind up in Dallas, where I'm at now, and just found out yesterday that I've been admitted into the law school of my alma mater up in Michigan... so I'm a bit torn. As you know, all kinds of opinions are going around ("Go to school where you want to practice..." "If you're not in one of the 'top 10' law schools then pedigree becomes irrelevant..." "The second year clerkship is the most important..."), so it's difficult to sift though and determine what actually is..

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  4. Justin, I'd say go to Michigan. It's a great school and if you get a summer internship/clerkship in Texas, you should be able to find a job after law school.

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  5. honestly, I'd say to try to go to the highest rank school that you can get into that will also give you a good scholarship, but also keep in mind where you want to practice. I think if you do well in law school, no matter where you attend, and use your summers to intern where you think you want to practice, you should be okay. But doing well in law school is almost as important as, if not more than where you go.

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  6. Answered like a true attorney; qualifying everything and taking a middle position, LOL

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