The staff at the Career Planning Center has a commitment to providing students with high quality information. The staff can offer advice on job search strategies, networking opportunities and professional development. The Career Planning Center is not, however, a job placement service. Because legal careers are not “one size fits all,” individual success in finding employment depends on many factors.
It is no longer enough for students to rely purely upon their strong academic credentials (both in their J.D. and undergraduate degree programs) to position them for long-term success in their legal careers. Students must now devote a good deal of time and effort to creating and nurturing their professional networks, continually enhancing their interpersonal skills and developing an accurate understanding of the legal marketplace and prevailing economic climate in their specific target markets.
The Career Planning Center offers individualized counseling services, presents a variety of professional programming and networking opportunities and sponsors multiple recruiting events for students throughout their law school careers.
The Career Planning Center offers a variety of opportunities for students to receive one-on-one services as they develop their individual career plans. These services include:
- Individual Appointments: All students are encouraged to schedule an initial counseling appointment during the fall of their first year. A student should view this individual appointment as the beginning of a conversation about the development of a career path; students can anticipate additional counseling appointments throughout their law school career. Students are encouraged to keep notes about their appointments and to develop and implement an action plan for their job search as a follow up to these meetings.
- Drop-in Sessions: The Career Planning Center holds drop-in sessions for students every week during the academic year. These sessions are designed for students to drop in to ask quick questions, follow-up questions or quickly review of portions of previously discussed documents. These sessions are not a substitute for individual appointments, but rather a supplement to those appointments.
- Job Search Document Review: While the Career Planning Center has manuals available to advise students on how to draft résumés and cover letters, we understand how useful it is to have a career counselor provide individualized feedback on these documents. To facilitate this individualized review, students are offered a service whereby they can submit a résumé and/or cover letter for individualized review.
- Resource Libraries: The Career Planning Center maintains an online library of career-related publications on Symplicity as well as an in-office resource library for students to utilize. Resources in both libraries include information on interviewing, resume writing, negotiating job offers, government and public interest opportunities, fellowships, judicial clerkships and specialty practices.
The Career Planning Center regularly provides professional programming and co-sponsors networking events and substantive panel discussions with representatives from local bar associations and students organizations. While the program offerings change from year to year, programs routinely offered include:
- Workshops: Workshops are offered throughout the course of the academic year and include topics of general interest to most students, such as how to draft a résumé, cover letters and job-related e-mails; how to prepare for interviews; and how to develop networking skills.
- Mock Interviews: Mock interviews are offered to help students refine their interviewing skills. Simulated interviews are conducted by employers and professional staff members throughout the year to allow students the opportunity to practice their interviewing skills and receive constructive feedback on how to improve.
- Panel Discussions: Panel discussions are held year round to help students gain a better understanding of various substantive areas or practice and types of legal careers. These panel discussions are often co-sponsored by local bar associations, including the Connecticut Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association.
- Networking Opportunities: Students are regularly invited to events held on- and off-campus where they have the ability to meet with attorneys from law firms, corporations, federal and state government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations.
Recruiting opportunities begin quite early at the Law School and require students to start thinking about career goals as the beginning of their first year. Final decisions about career objectives need not be made immediately, but the process of self-assessment and professional development must start early.
Different types of legal employers recruit at different times of the year. Medium to large law firms generally can anticipate their hiring needs well in advance and, therefore, primarily recruit in the fall of each year for summer and post-graduate positions. Smaller firms cannot anticipate their hiring needs quite as far in advance and usually do not begin interviewing summer or post-graduate associates until the spring or summer immediately preceding the start date.
Corporations and accounting firms generally follow the same recruiting schedule as larger law firms and recruit primarily in the fall. Similarly, many federal government agencies conduct recruiting efforts in the fall and impose strict fall deadlines for applications.
In contrast to these employers, many public interest organizations, the majority of state government employers (as well as some federal employers) and non-traditional legal employers generally do not conduct hiring efforts until the spring and summer or even after the bar exam is completed.
Because employers all follow somewhat different hiring schedules, the Career Planning Center organizes or participates in a variety of formal recruiting programs throughout the year.
Law students participate in various interview programs, conferences and career fairs such as:
- Loyola Patent Law Interview Program: Held in early August in Chicago.
- Dupont Minority Job Fair: Held in early August in Houston, L.A., and Wilmington.
- Public Interest Career Reception: Held in New York City in late August.
- Boston Lawyer’s Group Interview Job Fair: Held in Boston and D.C. in late August.
- Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference: Held in a different city each year in early September.
- IMPACT Career Fair for Law Students with Disabilities: Held in early August in Washington, DC.
- Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair: Held in Washington, D.C. in October.
- NYU Public Interest Legal Career Fair: Held in New York City in early February.
The staff of the Career Planning Center recognizes that evening division students face unique challenges in preparing for a legal career. The typical calendar for traditional, three-year law students includes two summers, during which students can obtain legal experience in preparation for a position upon graduation. This schedule for building experience is often not a realistic option for evening division students, many of whom must continue in their full-time day jobs throughout law school. Further, evening division students have busy lives, with law school, family responsibilities, and work all competing for their time. The Career Planning Center understands this situation and has suggestions to help evening division students build legal experience into résumés and strengthen hiring potential.
The Career Planning Center encourages evening division students to set up individual appointments with our career counselors early in their law school careers. Being aware of the importance of building practical legal experience during law school and knowledgeable about the various ways that may be accomplished will help students to develop a better action plan for transitioning into a legal position after graduation.