So I hear it's a good idea to...

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
die Zauberflote
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:12 pm

So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby die Zauberflote » Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:59 pm

So I hear it's a good idea to beef up your resume and prepare cover letters before your 1L year starts. How exactly do I go about that? Should my resume differ substantially from the one I sent out with my applications, or do I just add what school I now attend? And how do I prepare the cover letters when all I know is where I'll be going to law school? Do people typically send them out to both firms and judges? Do I address the letters to alums or to the personnel office or both? I assume that the career services office would answer these sorts of questions once school is in session; right now I don't know where to begin.

I (like everyone) really want to get a paying legal gig after my 1L year. Aside from getting the best grades I possibly can, is there anything I can do now or be doing during the school year that will give me an edge?

(If the answers to these questions are posted somewhere else, I apologize. I couldn't find them.)
Last edited by die Zauberflote on Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ran12
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:28 pm

Re: So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby ran12 » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:12 pm

There probably isn't much you can do right now. Unless you went to b-school or had some sort of legit resume and cover letter help, to be honest and not condescending, but your resume and cover letter prob suck at the moment. I don't know how most law schools teach resumes and cover letters but in b-school, a popular method is the STAR method. Basically your resume should be about how you accomplished things, not about your duties and responsibilities which is what UG seems to teach. Your resume should have quantitative points to show just what you accomplished. As for your cover letter, it should basically be a short story on your past experiences and how they relate to the job. It's hard to explain fully on here but I'm sure your career office will be able to help. In the meantime, just make sure you have a basic foundation in terms of what you've done.

User avatar
Bronte
Posts: 2128
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:44 pm

Re: So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby Bronte » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:14 pm

Mostly it's about putting together an application plan than beefing up your resume, whatever that means. You could select firms, judges, government agencies, etc. and write cover letters to each firm and have it read to go with contact info and everything. You really won't know much about the job search after a few months of LS than you do now or can learn from the internet.

die Zauberflote
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:12 pm

Re: So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby die Zauberflote » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:41 pm

Bronte wrote:Mostly it's about putting together an application plan than beefing up your resume, whatever that means. You could select firms, judges, government agencies, etc. and write cover letters to each firm and have it read to go with contact info and everything. You really won't know much about the job search after a few months of LS than you do now or can learn from the internet.


If I understand you correctly, now I should mostly be gathering info. Like a spreadsheet of potential firms and their HR contact info? How tailored should these cover-letters typically be? Also I have connections to some smaller markets but I am primarily interested in working in a primary market. For big law 1L clerkship, what's a good strategy? Resumes to V-20, V-50, or all V-100? Would I send a single application to the main office, or one to an office in each primary office that interests me.

Also, should I gather contact information of partners who went to my undergrad and/or law school? Will it be appropriate to reach out to them when I'm seeking a 1L clerkship?

User avatar
Bronte
Posts: 2128
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:44 pm

Re: So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby Bronte » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:55 pm

die Zauberflote wrote:If I understand you correctly, now I should mostly be gathering info. Like a spreadsheet of potential firms and their HR contact info? How tailored should these cover-letters typically be? Also I have connections to some smaller markets but I am primarily interested in working in a primary market. For big law 1L clerkship, what's a good strategy? Resumes to V-20, V-50, or all V-100? Would I send a single application to the main office, or one to an office in each primary office that interests me.

Also, should I gather contact information of partners who went to my undergrad and/or law school? Will it be appropriate to reach out to them when I'm seeking a 1L clerkship?


It's extremely difficult to get 1L firm jobs. Most people who get them have a direct family connection to the firm. Most people don't tailor their cover letters for 1L positions. They just mass mail a bunch of firms, typically in their home market, obviously tailoring the contact info, names, etc. However, you best bet is try to get a position with a federal judge in your home market, in either district court or bankruptcy court. Just mail all the judges, whether or not they say they're hiring. If you search "sample judicial internship cover letter" in Google, I think it's UVA that has some good examples that you can pretty much use for any institution, judicial or not.

The next best bet is the Department of Justice. They take about 1000 1Ls every summer, and this is probably the best experience you can get 1L. They're understaffed, so they'll have you doing real work. Their website is very clear on how to apply. You apply to each division (or "component" individually, often without regard to region). I would apply to any component in which you have a remote interest. Some (like the antitrust division, the appellate division, the Solicitor General's office) are much hard to get than others (like the U.S. Trustee program). They can all be very rewarding though. Be aware they they will send your resume to field offices all over the country, and you might get a call from Puerto Rico asking if you want a job.

You can also apply to public defenders offices, state prosecutor's offices, and nonprofits. I would recommend applying to all of the above, all at once, before Christmas. This can help significantly reduce your stress second semester. A lot of these organizations will require a first semester transcript. Don't wait for these. Just say in your cover letter that you'll send a transcript immediately when it becomes available.

Keep in mind that it really doesn't matter what you do 1L year, as long as it's real legal work. Also note that if you're not at a firm, you probably won't get paid, except maybe at in-house positions, like at say Microsoft (which is another route you can take). Good luck.

die Zauberflote
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:12 pm

Re: So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby die Zauberflote » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:12 pm

Bronte wrote:It's extremely difficult to get 1L firm jobs. Most people who get them have a direct family connection to the firm. Most people don't tailor their cover letters for 1L positions. They just mass mail a bunch of firms, typically in their home market, obviously tailoring the contact info, names, etc.


I'm support my family, so I'll definitely need paying work...I just hope that it will be law related. When applying to firms in my home market, should I be selective, or should I apply to ever single firm.

Also, not to belabor the point, so you're saying that applying to V-100 firms as a 1L without any family connections, even from a top school, is pretty much a waste of time? Resume in the garbage can without being read?

Bronte wrote:Keep in mind that it really doesn't matter what you do 1L year, as long as it's real legal work. Also note that if you're not at a firm, you probably won't get paid, except maybe at in-house positions, like at say Microsoft (which is another route you can take). Good luck.


For in-house positions, should I contact the firm's legal department with a "cold" resume and cover letter as I would a firm in my home market, or is there a different process? And how do I find out which firms have the best legal departments? Is it just bigger company = better legal deptartment?

And BTW, thank you so much for taking the time to earnestly respond to my questions. I sincerely appreciate it.

User avatar
Bronte
Posts: 2128
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:44 pm

Re: So I hear it's a good idea to...

Postby Bronte » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:46 pm

die Zauberflote wrote:
Bronte wrote:It's extremely difficult to get 1L firm jobs. Most people who get them have a direct family connection to the firm. Most people don't tailor their cover letters for 1L positions. They just mass mail a bunch of firms, typically in their home market, obviously tailoring the contact info, names, etc.


I'm support my family, so I'll definitely need paying work...I just hope that it will be law related. When applying to firms in my home market, should I be selective, or should I apply to ever single firm.

Also, not to belabor the point, so you're saying that applying to V-100 firms as a 1L without any family connections, even from a top school, is pretty much a waste of time? Resume in the garbage can without being read?


Another thing you should start looking into is getting an outside source of financing. For example, if you have a scholarship, you could still take out bigger loans and save money for the summer. Also, there's usually stipends that can be had through your school and through outside organizations. This is something you can start researching now. I would not count on getting paid legal work. If you have to get paid nonlegal work, the need to support a family is a solid excuse come OCI. It's not going to break you if you don't get legal work.

Don't worry about "V" anything 1L. Do not be selective in the firms you apply to, just bomb them all. If there's some specific firms that you have ties to, you could tailor cover letter to them or contact them through less formal routes. A lot of 1L resumes go in the garbage bin because a lot of firms are not hiring 1Ls at all or are only hiring one or two, who they pick up via a connection. Firms are much less worried about rank of school and grades with 1Ls because their whole hiring process is geared to toward 2L OCI.


Bronte wrote:Keep in mind that it really doesn't matter what you do 1L year, as long as it's real legal work. Also note that if you're not at a firm, you probably won't get paid, except maybe at in-house positions, like at say Microsoft (which is another route you can take). Good luck.


For in-house positions, should I contact the firm's legal department with a "cold" resume and cover letter as I would a firm in my home market, or is there a different process? And how do I find out which firms have the best legal departments? Is it just bigger company = better legal deptartment?

And BTW, thank you so much for taking the time to earnestly respond to my questions. I sincerely appreciate it.


I didn't apply to in-house positions, so I don't know as much about it. I would look at F500 websites for companies that actually have 1L internship programs, but it never hurts to ask. You can always start with an email to the legal department asking if they'll be taking 1Ls.




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], MSNbot Media and 2 guests