My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

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My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:06 pm

Reading TLS, ATL, and AutoAdmit the past couple weeks has made me feel extremely fortunate for learning how to "hustle" at an early age. I'm not exceptionally smart or super attractive. I am average in all aspects except one - I hustle my ass off and I'm not afraid of failure. I go to a T25, top 33%, no journal, non-IP, no extra-curriculars, nothing special. Well, I worked for 3 years at Deloitte after UG...that's about it. Yet I hustled hard, scored 10 callbacks and received 4 offers so far; including (1) V10 and (1) V20. And I wouldn't be surprised if more offers came through in the next week or so.

I sincerely believe ALL of my callbacks and offers are a direct result of my ability to hustle. Thus, here is my guide on hustling (for jobs). If you treat this seriously, give it 100%, and work methodically, I sincerely believe you will be able to score a job in BigLaw (or wherever you desire). Keep in mind you still have to be in the ballpark to begin with. If you are bottom of your class at a TTT, you may be screwed even if you get a partner to bat for you (some firms have very strict policies regarding grades). In my opinion, my qualifications are probably the lowest acceptable by most of the V100.

I've always loved this quote: "I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed; and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying" (Tom Hopkins). When you start networking you're going to face many, many awkward experiences, but it's the only way to get over it. It's like picking up girls (or guys) at a bar - there is no such thing as "getting lucky", the game is methodically learned, I've struck out hundreds of times before mastering the art.

So if you struck out at OCI or want to supplement OCI with hustling - below is a step-by-step process on what you will need to do. I am not a fan of mass mailings because mass mailing is a game of chance (unless you have spectacular grades/credentials). My system does not rely on dumb luck, it systemically identifies your greatest opportunities and allocates effort appropriately to focus on the ones with the highest probability of success. Oh yeah, a general, but very important piece of advice for everything below: MAKE SPREADSHEETS.

(1) Reach out to family friends, college professors, anybody who knows lawyers. Ask them to introduce you to any of their lawyer friends or any of their friends that have lawyer friends. Do not be shy. DO NOT ASK THEM TO HELP YOU FIND A JOB. No, you need advice. You want to know if BigLaw is a good fit for yourself. You are wondering what a litigation associate does on a day-to-day basis. You are wondering how lawyers go from firms to in-house counsel.

If there is a connection (i.e. dad -> dad's friend who is lawyer), ask the connection to send a generic introduction via email (i.e. "My son is graduating from XXX Law next year and was wondering if he can ask you some questions regarding what's it like being a lawyer"). Then follow up with a brief email. Here is a real follow-up email that I sent last year:
Hi BigLaw Partner,
This is LawStudent, LawStudentDad's son. I was wondering if I can call you sometime and ask some quick questions about patent law. I just finished 1L at XXX Law and I want to make sure I am choosing the right career path.

I'm sure you have a busy schedule - is there a particularly good time for me to call? Thank you in advance for your help; I really appreciate your time.

Regards,
LawStudent

If you are 100% sure your connection will not make an intro for you, do it yourself. But make sure to name drop your mutual connection. Here is an email I sent to a person I met through work:
Hi BigLaw Associate,
This is LawStudent, a friend of WorkFriend. WorkFriend told me you recently graduated from YYY Law. In August I will be a 2L at XXX Law. I'm debating what type of law I should focus on and I was wondering if I could call you sometime for a little advice? I'm interested in patent law but I'm not quite sure about the differences in patent litigation vs. patent prosecution.

Please let me know if this would be ok. I'm sure you have a busy schedule; your time is really appreciated.

Regards,
LawStudent


(2) Reach out to alumni. Find the firms you want to work for. Be realistic. Buy a Vault.com Gold membership and read reviews, learn as much as you can about the firms. Make a list of ~10 firms you wouldn't mind working for AND are qualified grades-wise to work at. Go to the websites of these 10 firms and search their lawyers by school. Find 2-5 lawyers who are alumni of your law school that look like they would be able to help you out. Race and gender are great predictors of whether a person will help you out or not. So for example, if you are a black gal at Harvard law and there just so happens to be a black woman partner alumni of Harvard Law at the BigLaw firm you are researching, she is your #1 contact for the law firm. Next is age. In my experience, recent graduates are not helpful because a) they are not in a position of power to get you an interview and b) they usually do not have the time to help you out. Read about the attorneys on their firm webpage and also google every attorney's name. If the firm webpage shows a guy that is smiling from ear to ear, and a google search finds he volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters, this guy also goes on your list. You get the idea. Spend at least a total of 40 hours doing your research. Like they say, "the case was won way before trial - in the preparation and research."

Send these lawyers this email:
Hi BigLaw Partner,
This is LawStudent, a graduated from XXX Law, your alma mater. In August I will be starting 2L and I'm debating what type of law I should focus on. I'm interested in patent law but I'm not quite sure about the career paths of patent litigation vs. patent prosecution. I was wondering if I could call you sometime for a little advice?

Please let me know if this would be ok. I'm sure you have a busy schedule; your time is really appreciated.

Regards,
LawStudent


(3) In general, people actually like helping other people. Lawyers especially love giving advice. Stroke their egos. Sound innocent, eager, and really contemplating the rest of your life. Do not underestimate people's willingness to help a young eager version of themselves. Add all of the lawyers you found in (1) and (2) to your spreadsheet of contacts, even if they didn't respond to your initial email. You should have about 30-40 contacts minimum.

(4) The Prep Work: make a list of questions that you plan on asking your contacts. Think of at least 20-30 questions in case you really hit if off and end up talking for two hours (this has happened). The questions should all be aimed towards developing your relationship. As a rule of thumb, do not ask stupid questions which can be answered by a quick google search.

These are examples of horrible questions:
- "Does your firm do patent litigation?"
- "How many hours do associates typically bill in their first years?"
- "How many years does it take to make partner?"

This is what you should be asking:
- "I saw from your firm's website that you do a fair amount of patent prosecution and litigation - I was wondering if associates can do both and how hard is it to jump from one to the other? I want to get a lot of experience before settling on one specific area, what would you recommend? What are the career paths you typically see in patent law?"
- "I'm a really competitive person so the idea of billable hours seems great to me, but I want to make sure that BigLaw is not competitive to the point of being cutthroat. Can I find a good team atmosphere in BigLaw?"
- "If you don't mind me asking, was it really hard for you to reach partner? What do I have to do in order to get to where you are today? If you were in my shoes what would you do, as far as career?"

(5) Time to call your contacts. Start with the ones that have responded to your emails. Then cold call the ones who have not. A simple, "Hi is LawStudent, I wrote you an email last week [tell them the content of your email], is this a good time?" Do not be shy. If it's not a good time, ask them when you can call back just to chat. If you get a secretary or an answer machine (very, very common) - leave a message and call every couple of days until you get through. You have nothing to lose. Persistence is key.

This call is in essence your first interview. Make sure you are comfortable. Drink some coffee. The surest way to make a good impression is to be humble and let the lawyer to most of the talking. Ask open ended questions that allow for a discussion, not yes or no questions. Be sure to squeeze in a couple "oh, I see now!" and "wow, that's different than I imagined!" when the lawyer is telling you his stories. Do not brag about your accomplishments. Let them slip in casually, ONLY if on a related subject. For example, I was talking to a lawyer about work-life balance so I let it slip, "Yeah, when I was a Deloitte I worked 70-80 hours a week sometimes, and I could deal with hours fine...but the one thing about consulting I couldn't stand was the travel. Living out of hotels and flying to a new city every week was really getting to me." Do not mention anything about needing a job, wanting a job, wanting to work for BigLaw. You are only seeking advice. That is all.

(6) Analyze the results. Out of 40 contacts, there will probably be ~10 you haven't heard back from at all (even after leaving 5 messages at their office). There will be ~15 that just didn't click perfectly for one reason or another. The rest are your "keepers". Send a thank email to every lawyer your talked to, but wait 3-4 days. If you can find the lawyers on LinkedIn, add them as friends, but wait about 1-2 weeks before doing this. Rank your keepers in order of which ones you think can help you the most on your job search.

(7) 2 weeks later, call your "keepers" in reverse order (least likely to be able to help you). Call these people back first. These people are your warm-ups so you don't screw up when you call your #1 go-to guy. This is analogous to hitting on a not-so-attractive girl at the bar before you move on to your real targets. "Hi Mr. BigLaw Partner, this is LawStudent, I really appreciate all your help 2 weeks ago. Patent litigation really interests me a lot. I did some more research on my own and I think that is what I want to focus on. I hate to ask, but can you put me in contact with your hiring partner or HR manager? I want to apply for a 2L summer position but your BigLaw firm doesn't recruit on my campus. Based on our conversation 2 weeks ago, I think my personality would be a great match for your firm's culture. I'm in the top 1/3 of my class too; can I send you my resume?" The response is usually, "yes, but you still have to apply directly on our website in order for HR to see you info."

(8) Do as they say - apply on the firm's website, email the HR person, whatever the standard procedure is. The key is to name drop the partner who you've been talking to. On your cover letter the very first thing you put down is "Hi, I've been talking to Mr. BigLaw partner at your firm and he told me to send my resume to you......" If you've played your cards right and have done everything above, the HR person or hiring partner will read your cover letter, quickly scan your resume (checking your grades only), and call or email Mr. BigLaw Partner. You don't even have to ask Mr. BigLaw Partner for a recommendation because if you have already developed a relationship, he will tell the HR manager the truth, "LawStudent is a family friend, we've talked on a couple occasions, he seems to be bright and motivated, I would interview him."

(9) Interview - I'm too lazy to finish this post. But your standard interviewing advice holds true. Real quickly I'll try to summarize the most important rules of interviewing - don't be an idiot, a bigot, an asshole, cocky, arrogant, timid, or immature. Shake hands firmly, when in doubt it is better to shake with a firmer grip; it is also a good idea to practice shaking hands. Make eye contact. Be confident (but again, not to the point of arrogance). Wear a nice suit with a blue shirt (scientifically proven to be the best interview shirt color). Read the Wall Street Journal before your interview because nobody likes to talk about law for 2-3 hours straight. Especially if they take you to lunch, you can talk about the news of the day, sports, whatever. Avoid politics, don't order the lobster, don't order anything that is messy to eat, don't try to pay when it is obviously customary for the interviewer to buy lunch.

(10) Profit

Good Luck All!!

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crazycanuck
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby crazycanuck » Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:41 pm

.
Last edited by crazycanuck on Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

coherentowst
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby coherentowst » Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do not underestimate people's willingness to help a young eager version of themselves.


This.

Great post.

avram
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby avram » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:00 pm

This is an excellent post - thanks for taking the time. If you actually do want help figuring out, for example, whether you'd be better off doing patent litigation or patent prosecution, is this is a good way of finding out more? Was it valuable speaking with atty's about that sort of stuff? Assuming you have several offers in hand, would you be better off simply reading about different firms and practice areas online, given the time:insight gleaned ratio associated with speaking with attys in person?

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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:10 pm

Great post!

I also suggest doing as many informational interviews as possible. I was a strong interviewer from the start (humble, huh :) ), but when I compare both my first OCI interview and first CB interview to the ones I was doing at the end, they were horrible. Even if you are generically a good interviewer, you can always learn more. Scheduling informational interviews is good practice, especially since you will often "carry" those. It will teach you to ask insightful questions. When you listen to answers in one interview, you can pick up lingo, subtleties of practice, new ideas, etc., that you can use in your next interview. When you fall down and ask stupid questions (and that will often happen), you can learn from your mistakes and not do that in future interviews. This is why it is good to get as many interviews as you can and try to schedule them from least consequential to most consequential. Informational interviews are less critical than screening or CB interviews. But even within these, start with firms or people that you are less invested in and work your way forward to the ones you have more of stake in.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby OperaSoprano » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:18 pm

Nicely done. From another non T14 student: thanks!

It seems this advice would work just as well outside a biglaw setting. I like the friends of friends approach, and I do find it interesting that recent graduates were not as able to help you.

Do you think your WE played a role in your success? Deloitte is not a bad soft at all. Would this work as well for someone with no WE, or inapplicable work experience (my situation)?

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williestark
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby williestark » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:29 pm

Gangster post. Hats off.

Agent
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Agent » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:34 pm

Bumpworthy old post.

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BarbellDreams
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby BarbellDreams » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:28 pm

Based on my law school experience this post is arguably TCR more so than anything else I have ever read. Do what this post says, always.

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AlanShore
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby AlanShore » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:34 pm

tag

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hume85
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby hume85 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:35 pm

AlanShore wrote:tag

+1

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IAFG
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby IAFG » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:38 pm

Agent wrote:Bumpworthy old post.

This should be stickied to something or linked from a sticky.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:27 pm

Great post

bbmic45
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby bbmic45 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:28 pm

Golden advice. This is basically how I landed my first job out of law school last year. Should be required reading for K-JDs.

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Veyron
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Veyron » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:07 am

So credited I'm surprised it ended up on TLS.

Slight modifier to #8: if you did 1-7 right you won't be applying thru normal channels.

Agent
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Agent » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:22 pm

Well, I guess bumping this was a good call. To see an equally credited post, click here.

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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:34 pm

Most of the networking threads specifically address law firms. Is the above also advice for if I am trying to get in good with a prosecutor's office? Can I just randomly e-mail assistant district attorneys?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:39 pm

Agent wrote:Well, I guess bumping this was a good call. To see an equally credited post, click here.


Matties networking posts are great, but I think the OP is likely more useful to a lot of people on this board because Matthies' advice requires attending law school in the city you want to work in; whereas, you can do almost everything listed in the OP remotely with nothing more than a phone. The latter is more useful for people who decided to attend t14s that are not located in the city that the law student wants to work in.. It's incredibly difficult to do most of the networking things Matties suggests (which primarily revolves around joining the local bar association, going to events, and meeting practicing attorneys that way) if your law school isn't in the city you want to work in.

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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Rocío » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Most of the networking threads specifically address law firms. Is the above also advice for if I am trying to get in good with a prosecutor's office? Can I just randomly e-mail assistant district attorneys?


Hustling is also incredibly helpful for prosecutor/public defender/public interest jobs, but the process is a little different. Start with your clinic professors or lawyers who supervised you through externships or internships - you want them to reach out personally to prosecutors they know who work in your target offices. Prosecutors (and public defenders) are really busy and receive tons of emails, so you need a contact to reach out for you so your email doesn't get lost. If you pm me, I can give you some really detailed info geared toward the public interest job hustle.

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IAFG
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby IAFG » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:05 pm

Rocío wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Most of the networking threads specifically address law firms. Is the above also advice for if I am trying to get in good with a prosecutor's office? Can I just randomly e-mail assistant district attorneys?


Hustling is also incredibly helpful for prosecutor/public defender/public interest jobs, but the process is a little different. Start with your clinic professors or lawyers who supervised you through externships or internships - you want them to reach out personally to prosecutors they know who work in your target offices. Prosecutors (and public defenders) are really busy and receive tons of emails, so you need a contact to reach out for you so your email doesn't get lost. If you pm me, I can give you some really detailed info geared toward the public interest job hustle.

Would you consider writing it out? BK has been sort of collecting all that advice into one place.

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Rocío
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Rocío » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:03 am

IAFG wrote:
Rocío wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Most of the networking threads specifically address law firms. Is the above also advice for if I am trying to get in good with a prosecutor's office? Can I just randomly e-mail assistant district attorneys?


Hustling is also incredibly helpful for prosecutor/public defender/public interest jobs, but the process is a little different. Start with your clinic professors or lawyers who supervised you through externships or internships - you want them to reach out personally to prosecutors they know who work in your target offices. Prosecutors (and public defenders) are really busy and receive tons of emails, so you need a contact to reach out for you so your email doesn't get lost. If you pm me, I can give you some really detailed info geared toward the public interest job hustle.

Would you consider writing it out? BK has been sort of collecting all that advice into one place.


Sure thing, I also received some PMs from a few posters so there appears to be some interest in this. I'm a public defender in a major metropolitan area, and I graduated in 2012. My job hunt focused almost exclusively on public defender and prosecutor positions, although my job search was very similar to friends and classmates who focused on other types of public interest careers. I also focused on offices which hire pre-bar, but a lot of this advice would similarly apply to offices which hire post-bar. The main difference is that the process is a lot faster with offices which hire post-bar. I've written posts before with advice to law students interested in public interest careers, and specifically public defender/prosecutor jobs, on what experiences, classes, and extracurricular activities they should have on their résumé. (see here if interested: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=155423&p=5875911&hilit=+clinic#p5875911)

So now for my advice about hustling for a public interest job in this economy. In the Big Law context, there is a lot to be said for reaching out to alumni of your undergraduate university or law school, and asking them to meet for coffee, etc. But in the public interest setting, I think the more effective strategy is to rely on people with whom you already have a relationship to reach out for you – I’ll refer to these people as your contacts. Your most effective contacts are going to be those individuals who work, or have worked, at the public defender/prosecutor office to which you are applying. Even better still will be those contacts who have worked (or still work) at your desired office, and who have supervised your work in a law school clinic, internship, or volunteer experience. Some of the most obvious people who fit this bill might be a professor in your school’s criminal law clinic or criminal law externship program, or an attorney who supervised you during your summer internship with a prosecutor/public defender office.

But any contact you know who worked at these offices is better than nothing, and any contact who can attest to your work ethic and skills will be incredibly helpful. Just the other day, I wrote a recommendation for a former classmate of mine who is applying to work at my office in next fall’s class. The goal is for your application to get pulled to the top of the pile. An in-office contact is great because you can depend on that person to remind the hiring coordinators to take a look at you. The application process can be very long, depending on the office. For example, the process at one office I interviewed with last year took nine months: I applied in September, had a screener in October, had a callback in March, and had my final interview in the beginning of May, and then received an offer at the end of May. Your contact can be a friendly pest for you, and can check in with the recruitment coordinator and give you updates on the timeline and where you are in the process.

If you don’t know any mentor-type contacts who work at your desired office, the next best thing to do is ask around. I’d recommend starting with professors in your school’s criminal law clinic or any supervisors you have had in internships/externships/volunteer experiences. Your criminal clinic professors will have some great contacts: they often stay in touch with students for years, and some of those students will go on to have managerial positions in public defender/prosecutor offices. Also try asking your criminal procedure professor if they know any former students who are working at your target office. You can also try contacting alumni of your law school on your own, but I never had much luck with getting anyone to return a phone call or email.

So once you have found your contacts: now what? While there might be some people who disagree with me, I think it is best to have your contacts put in a word for your after you’ve applied, but before you’ve interviewed. So the first step is to apply to the office. Whether you are applying for an internship or a job after law school, follow whatever the protocol is. After you’ve applied, then have your contacts get to work. This might be something as simple as a current employee of that office who fires off a email to the recruitment coordinator which sings your praises; this email will get added to your application file. Or maybe your contact calls someone in your desired office. Either way, have your contact put in a word for you early on in the process to ensure that you actually get that initial interview.

Once you’ve been invited to interview, have your contact get in touch with the person (or persons) who is interviewing you. Generally, it’s best to do this in advance of your interview, but not too long in advance: a week before your interview, tops, is the time your contact should reach out to your interviewer. Your contact should do the same for any follow-up interviews you have.

You also want to use your contacts to get inside interview tips, and better yet, to mock interview you. Public interest law interviews are very different from Big Law interviews. Interviewers can sometimes be hostile. Your interviewers will fire complicated ethical hypos at you. Your interviewers might tell you to stand up and cross-examine a cop on the fly. The more info you can get about the interview process, the better prepared you will be. Your contacts will also be able to give you the inside information on your interviewers so you know how to handle them.

I ended up with two offers, and I hustled to get both of them. My supervising professor at my school’s criminal law clinic, who used to work for one of the offices I received an offer from, was amazing. He was still very close with one of the people in charge of attorney recruitment. When he found out that one of my interviewers didn’t like me, he went to bat for me and convinced the recruitment coordinator that the problem was with the interviewer, not with me. I had another professor in my school’s criminal law clinic reach out to her former student, who had become the head of one of the offices of the public defender office in which I’m now working.

In this economy, you simply can’t be shy. Also, the application process can be painfully slow. Your contacts can help you cut through the bureaucratic nonsense.

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francesfarmer
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby francesfarmer » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:46 am

Rocío wrote:
IAFG wrote:
Rocío wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Most of the networking threads specifically address law firms. Is the above also advice for if I am trying to get in good with a prosecutor's office? Can I just randomly e-mail assistant district attorneys?


Hustling is also incredibly helpful for prosecutor/public defender/public interest jobs, but the process is a little different. Start with your clinic professors or lawyers who supervised you through externships or internships - you want them to reach out personally to prosecutors they know who work in your target offices. Prosecutors (and public defenders) are really busy and receive tons of emails, so you need a contact to reach out for you so your email doesn't get lost. If you pm me, I can give you some really detailed info geared toward the public interest job hustle.

Would you consider writing it out? BK has been sort of collecting all that advice into one place.


Sure thing, I also received some PMs from a few posters so there appears to be some interest in this. I'm a public defender in a major metropolitan area, and I graduated in 2012. My job hunt focused almost exclusively on public defender and prosecutor positions, although my job search was very similar to friends and classmates who focused on other types of public interest careers. I also focused on offices which hire pre-bar, but a lot of this advice would similarly apply to offices which hire post-bar. The main difference is that the process is a lot faster with offices which hire post-bar. I've written posts before with advice to law students interested in public interest careers, and specifically public defender/prosecutor jobs, on what experiences, classes, and extracurricular activities they should have on their résumé. (see here if interested: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=155423&p=5875911&hilit=+clinic#p5875911)

So now for my advice about hustling for a public interest job in this economy. In the Big Law context, there is a lot to be said for reaching out to alumni of your undergraduate university or law school, and asking them to meet for coffee, etc. But in the public interest setting, I think the more effective strategy is to rely on people with whom you already have a relationship to reach out for you – I’ll refer to these people as your contacts. Your most effective contacts are going to be those individuals who work, or have worked, at the public defender/prosecutor office to which you are applying. Even better still will be those contacts who have worked (or still work) at your desired office, and who have supervised your work in a law school clinic, internship, or volunteer experience. Some of the most obvious people who fit this bill might be a professor in your school’s criminal law clinic or criminal law externship program, or an attorney who supervised you during your summer internship with a prosecutor/public defender office.

But any contact you know who worked at these offices is better than nothing, and any contact who can attest to your work ethic and skills will be incredibly helpful. Just the other day, I wrote a recommendation for a former classmate of mine who is applying to work at my office in next fall’s class. The goal is for your application to get pulled to the top of the pile. An in-office contact is great because you can depend on that person to remind the hiring coordinators to take a look at you. The application process can be very long, depending on the office. For example, the process at one office I interviewed with last year took nine months: I applied in September, had a screener in October, had a callback in March, and had my final interview in the beginning of May, and then received an offer at the end of May. Your contact can be a friendly pest for you, and can check in with the recruitment coordinator and give you updates on the timeline and where you are in the process.

If you don’t know any mentor-type contacts who work at your desired office, the next best thing to do is ask around. I’d recommend starting with professors in your school’s criminal law clinic or any supervisors you have had in internships/externships/volunteer experiences. Your criminal clinic professors will have some great contacts: they often stay in touch with students for years, and some of those students will go on to have managerial positions in public defender/prosecutor offices. Also try asking your criminal procedure professor if they know any former students who are working at your target office. You can also try contacting alumni of your law school on your own, but I never had much luck with getting anyone to return a phone call or email.

So once you have found your contacts: now what? While there might be some people who disagree with me, I think it is best to have your contacts put in a word for your after you’ve applied, but before you’ve interviewed. So the first step is to apply to the office. Whether you are applying for an internship or a job after law school, follow whatever the protocol is. After you’ve applied, then have your contacts get to work. This might be something as simple as a current employee of that office who fires off a email to the recruitment coordinator which sings your praises; this email will get added to your application file. Or maybe your contact calls someone in your desired office. Either way, have your contact put in a word for you early on in the process to ensure that you actually get that initial interview.

Once you’ve been invited to interview, have your contact get in touch with the person (or persons) who is interviewing you. Generally, it’s best to do this in advance of your interview, but not too long in advance: a week before your interview, tops, is the time your contact should reach out to your interviewer. Your contact should do the same for any follow-up interviews you have.

You also want to use your contacts to get inside interview tips, and better yet, to mock interview you. Public interest law interviews are very different from Big Law interviews. Interviewers can sometimes be hostile. Your interviewers will fire complicated ethical hypos at you. Your interviewers might tell you to stand up and cross-examine a cop on the fly. The more info you can get about the interview process, the better prepared you will be. Your contacts will also be able to give you the inside information on your interviewers so you know how to handle them.

I ended up with two offers, and I hustled to get both of them. My supervising professor at my school’s criminal law clinic, who used to work for one of the offices I received an offer from, was amazing. He was still very close with one of the people in charge of attorney recruitment. When he found out that one of my interviewers didn’t like me, he went to bat for me and convinced the recruitment coordinator that the problem was with the interviewer, not with me. I had another professor in my school’s criminal law clinic reach out to her former student, who had become the head of one of the offices of the public defender office in which I’m now working.

In this economy, you simply can’t be shy. Also, the application process can be painfully slow. Your contacts can help you cut through the bureaucratic nonsense.

Thank you for posting this! If you don't mind answering, what rank school did you go to and how were your grades? Did these factors matter at all? Was it difficult for you to get into the clinics and internships you wanted? Having geared your law school experiences specifically toward becoming a PD/prosecutor, do you feel you locked yourself out of pursuing other PI work, if you had wanted to?

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Rocío
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Rocío » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:16 pm

francesfarmer wrote:Thank you for posting this! If you don't mind answering, what rank school did you go to and how were your grades? Did these factors matter at all? Was it difficult for you to get into the clinics and internships you wanted? Having geared your law school experiences specifically toward becoming a PD/prosecutor, do you feel you locked yourself out of pursuing other PI work, if you had wanted to?


I went to a T30. My first-year grades were nothing spectacular: I was above median but below the top-third. I had a upward grade trend but I still graduated without honors. I did get very good grades in all the core criminal law/procedure classes, and in Evidence, but no one ever seemed to care about that. Also, prosecutor and public defender offices did not care at all about my being on a journal. Grades matter to the feds and obviously matter for federal honors programs. But as for state or local prosecutor/public defender offices, grades don't matter, unless you are applying to an honors fellowship program such as with a state attorney general's office. One other exception is the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, which considers itself to be the most prestigious public defender organization in the country - PDS cares about grades and where you went to school.

Otherwise, public defender and prosecutor offices care about a wide range of factors, including: your commitment to the job, as evidenced by your participation in a criminal law clinic, internship/externship with a PD/prosecutor office, and to a lesser extent the classes you took; your ties to the geographical area; how you respond to pressure and how you handle yourself in simulations during the interview process; and a host of other factors, including whether you speak any foreign languages.

It wasn't difficult to get into my school's clinic, but it was competitive to land an internship with a public defender office for the summer beteen 2L and 3L year. I got lucky and just hit it off with my interviewers at one office, but I had interviewed probably with nine offices before I received a summer internship offer. I hadn't yet learned the importance of networking, but it worked out in the end.

I suppose I can't really say if I have locked myself out from other public interest work because I haven't tried to switch, but I have some civil public interest volunteer experience on my resume, too. I think prosecutor and public defender experience is very practical for other type of public interest law, and I know plenty of people who have made this switch successfully.
Last edited by Rocío on Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby francesfarmer » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:22 pm

Rocío wrote:
francesfarmer wrote:Thank you for posting this! If you don't mind answering, what rank school did you go to and how were your grades? Did these factors matter at all? Was it difficult for you to get into the clinics and internships you wanted? Having geared your law school experiences specifically toward becoming a PD/prosecutor, do you feel you locked yourself out of pursuing other PI work, if you had wanted to?


I went to a T30. My first-year grades were nothing spectacular: I was above median but below top third. I had a upward grade trend but I still graduated without honors. I did get very good grades in all the core criminal law/procedure classes, and in Evidence, but no one ever seemed to care about that. Also, prosecutor and public defender offices did not care at all about my being on a journal. Grades matter to the feds and obviously matter for federal honors programs. But as for state or local prosecutor/public defender offices, grades don't matter, unless you are applying to an honors fellowship program such as with a state attorney general's office. One other exception is the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, which considers itself to be the most prestigious public defender organization in the country - PDS cares about grades and where you went to school.

Otherwise, public defender and prosecutor offices care about: your commitment to the job, as evidenced by your participation in a criminal law clinic, internship/externship with a PD/prosecutor office, and to a lesser extent the classes you took; your ties to the geographical area; how you respond to pressure and how you handle yourself in simulations during the interview process; and a host of other factors, including whether you speak any foreign languages.

It wasn't difficult to get into my school's clinic, but it was competitive to land an internship with a public defender office for the summer beteen 1L and 2L year. I got lucky and just hit it off with my interviewers at one office, but I had interviewed probably with nine offices before I received a summer internship offer. I hadn't yet learned the importance of networking, but it worked out in the end.

I suppose I can't really say if I have locked myself out from other public interest work because I haven't tried to switch, but I have some civil public interest volunteer experience on my resume, too. I think prosecutor and public defender experience is very practical for other type of public interest law, and I know plenty of people who have made this switch successfully.


Thank you! This is really helpful and makes me think going to a T-14 isn't worth the crazy loans it if I want to be a PD. Though I'm sure the competitiveness of PD internships locks out a bunch of people from lower ranked schools.

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Rocío
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Re: My Guide to Job Hunting Through "Networking" (Hustling)

Postby Rocío » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:27 pm

francesfarmer wrote:Thank you! This is really helpful and makes me think going to a T-14 isn't worth the crazy loans it if I want to be a PD. Though I'm sure the competitiveness of PD internships locks out a bunch of people from lower ranked schools.


One thing you really should look at in considering schools is the strength of the school's loan repayment assistance program (LRAP). Some schools, like NYU and Penn, have great LRAP programs. At the same time, some T14s have a better public interest program than other schools. NYU, for instance, is generally regarded as being more public-interest focused than Penn. If you don't go to a T14, just make sure you go to a school with LRAP, and make sure the school is local. It's a lot harder to convince a public defender/prosecutor office that you want to work there if you went to a regional school on the other side of the country.




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