DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is my PERSONAL experience. The job search during law school varies from person to person. The variables include location, law school ranking, type of law, government jobs, non-profit jobs, private laMy
For me, the law school job search was a whirlwind experience during the fall of my second year in that added 20 to 40+ hours of interviewing and traveling on top of a full course load and journal.
At Boston University, the job process really starts when the Career Development Office first meets with the 1Ls at the end of the first semester. Prior to this time, the CDO is completely hands off because the school wants you to focus on getting good grades and adjust to law school. At the end of the first semester, I started planning for the next summer. Law firms can accept 1L applications on December 1st. This is an unfortunate date because it is right before finals. The last thing I wanted to do was to write my resume, research firms, draft coverletters and stuff envelops. During this time, however, that is exactly what I found myself doing. For me, this effort paid off. I applied to over 60 law firms in Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago and my hometown of Indianapolis. I only received interviews from firms in Indianapolis, but I think this is largely due to the fact that I had worked at a firm in Indianapolis the year before. In addition, most large law firms do not hire 1L students at all. I interviewed with four firms in Indianapolis during Christmas break. After receiving a couple offers and a couple rejections, I selected a large firm in the city.
I had a great experience my first summer as a summer associate. The firm I worked for had over 250 attorneys and a variety of legal practices. Working there, I was able to sample litigation, corporate, product liability, bankruptcy, securities and labor assignments. After my twelve-week program ended, I had a much better understanding of the type of law I wanted to practice and the kind of lawyer I desire to become. Although I received an offer to return for the next summer, I decided to go through the fall interview process.
Law firms typically begin interviewing during the fall for the next summer. This meant that my fellow students and I spent a chunk of time during the summer researching law firms. For me, the best resources were Vault, internet searches, Above the Law (legal blog) and other students. Even after all this work, many of the law firms looked the same. And I was still left with a broad search.
Boston University organizes interviews through either job fairs or on-campus interviews (OCI). Students an also apply directly to a particular law firm. I did all my interviewing through Boston University so I cannot speak to the experience of students who applied directly to a law firm. I applied (through Boston Universities website) for around 100 firms in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago and San Francisco. I was open to living in any of these cities. After applying through the BU site, the law firms select who they will interview and schedule first round interviews. The first round interviews last for half an hour. After the interview, I would typically hear from the firm with in two weeks. The firms send letters for rejections, but the firm calls to schedule a second round interview. The second round interviews last half a day. I would visit the firm and interview with 4-5 attorneys (usually 2-3 partners and 2-3 mid-level associates). This is followed by either lunch or coffee with 1st to 2nd year associates. The lunches are designed so that the interviewee can ask more frank questions about what it is like to work at X firm. After the second interview, there are more phone calls (“Please come and work for us as a summer associate”) or letters (“Due to . . . . we cannot offer you a position at this time”).
After moving through this process, I had a difficult time making a final selection. I found myself calling the legal recruits at the firms to ask follow-up questions and even revisiting some of the law firms. It was incredibly difficult to differentiate between the firms and to translate these small differences into the impact they might have my everyday life and future legal career. I finally settled on a large firm in the Boston area. I had a wonderful summer at the firm and received an offer at the end of the summer program (but that story is for another blog!).