Smart Strategies for 1Ls

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Smart Strategies for 1Ls

Career Services for 1Ls begins after October 15 (NALP Principles & Standards Part V (D.1) and schools will have programs introducing staff and services. Don’t miss these programs and do not fail to connect to your career office.

Smart strategies for 1Ls

  1. Introduce yourself to your career services professional. You will not be handed a job in your first meeting. This meeting is like a first, tentative blind date, except you will need to tell the truth about your goals and ambitions, and be forthright about how much effort you are willing to put into a job search.
  2. Write a resume and have it reviewed. A resume is retrospective and you will have multiple versions. The one that you used to apply to law school does not have “law school” on it. You should have:
    • “The Everything Resume” which includes every job you have ever held. You will need the information on this resume to complete your bar application.
    • One or more additional well-edited resumes that you tailor for every job application or every category of employer.
  3. Do not write a complete cover letter until you are applying for a specific job. It is hard to write sincerely about a phantom job and it is an absolute waste of time to write a generic cover letter.
  4. Commit to a Winter Break Networking Project. (See below)

Between Thanksgiving and the end of finals

Study. Get your outlines into tip-top shape. Get yourself into tip-top shape. Exercise. Eat from the four real food groups, not “sugar, fat, salt, and caffeine.”

Thanksgiving Dinner Project

Your loved ones are worried about you, your schedule, your job search, and your new-found ability to turn every conversation into a law school exam question. You will have to explain over and over, and again and again, reassuring them that you are doing all of the studying that you need to do, and that you cannot engage in a full-tilt job search until after finals.

You should also add that historically, lots of jobs are posted in April and – believe it or not – the employers will want to interview during spring finals. Why? Because they have work that needs to be done, and they are no longer on school schedules and don’t keep track of exam schedules.

That said, if you are applying to employers with December 1 deadlines, print the letters, resumes, and address labels, and enlist your loved ones in stuffing them (before the dinner begins and everyone has sticky fingers.) If you are lucky, your loved ones will pay for the postage.

Friends, Family, and Connections Strategy

Although NALP and ABA rules preclude you from applying for jobs before December 1, you may have a cadre of friends and family who are eager to help you. You are allowed to talk to people who are already known to you.

Whether or not they are lawyers, they either like you or your parents and want to help. Some will be deeply hurt if you don’t ask for help. Be prepared to provide a resume and an elevator speech with meaningful specifics about your interests and goals. Do not say “I want a job, any job,” because it is unhelpful to the person who would otherwise be delighted to assist you. Never make it hard for someone to help you.

After finals.

Take a real break for a few days. You will need to decompress, and your loved ones will not appreciate hearing about the Case of the Thorns all the time.

Winter Break Networking Project

After a few months of law school, it’s time to talk to lawyers in their natural habitats. Seek out alumni, friends, family, friends of friends, and make appointments. Some lawyers are crazy busy at the end of the year; others will have plenty of time to talk to you.

You will ask for a short meeting, saying that after a semester of law school you would like a debriefing, and you have some questions about what they do based on what you are beginning to learn.

Be prepared to ask meaningful specific questions about what these lawyers do every day, where their clients come from, what their challenges are, and what they wish they had learned in law school. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about what lawyers do every day.Wear a suit.

Related posts:
Interview Practice & Protocol (checklist)
Talking to Lawyers (includes questions to ask in a networking interview)
1L Job Search: Manage the Marathon, Not the Sprint
4 Rules to Manage the First Year
4×4: 4 Exam Tips and 4 Winter Break Guidelines 
4-Part Year-Round Interview Prep Plan

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One Response to Smart Strategies for 1Ls

  1. Anonymous says:

    I hate to say it but in this tough job market the best thing a 1L can do is do well on finals because whether we like it or not the first year grades still matter more than any other grades when it comes to getting a job post law school. To that end, here is my advice: read in advance of every class; attend every class; prepare your outlines now and keep preparing them; do as many practice exams as you can between now and then; talk to your professors about what to expect on the exams; talk to 2Ls about what to expect on the exam; review and review again what you have learned to day to make sure you do not have any gaps in your understanding; get lots of sleep; give up TVand going to the bar and other activities except law school and studying. I know this sounds harsh but if you are able to put in the time and effort you can hopefully pull it off. the first year of law school is decided by who has the endurance and the gut to put it all on the line and give up everything else temporarily. Accept that this is your life short term. You will be better off in the long run if you make the short term sacrifices necessary to do well now. It isn’t pretty or nice but it is the truth. What gets you a job or the options for jobs are first year grades. What forecloses options for jobs is less then stellar first year grades. Improvement from first year grades is a nice story but that will not get a 1L into the OCI the beginning of his or her 2L year and that is where it is easiest to obtain a job.

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