January 04, 2017

Interviewing and Opportunities L3


The 3L Year

For law students, the 3L year presents an interesting mix of excitement, anticipation, and apprehension. Students having secured their first legal job have shed a great burden, and a source of stress has been relieved. Others, however, are still searching for the first open door, and perhaps reevaluating career paths. Below are some pointers valuable to both students still seeking that first job, and those fortunate enough to have landed a position and are preparing to impress new employers. 

For starters, I would urge 3Ls still seeking employment to consult Professor Lawrence Rose’s article in this issue providing guidance to students beginning the 2L year. His article is full of great kernels of advice regarding topics such as managing online presence, résumé building, and interviewing. His tips are as applicable to 3Ls still engaged in the job hunt as they are for 2Ls beginning the process. 

Besides relying on job postings available through your law school’s career development office (an obvious starting point), there are many other things you can and should do to expand opportunities that may become available to you. As you embark on this journey, two important concepts must guide you: networking and skill development.

There are many practitioners in your community and elsewhere who are eager to help students who have the confidence and show the initiative to simply establish a relationship. The best way to establish relationships that could lead to opportunities is to get out into your community and interact with practicing lawyers. Reach out to local bar associations near your law school and/or your hometown. Most bar associations have young lawyer divisions, as well as CLE programs over the lunch hour or in the early evening. Identify subject matter or practice areas that interest you and make an effort to attend CLE programs and networking events often held in conjunction with those programs. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn how impressed practitioners will be to learn that you, as a law student, have made the effort to take advantage of learning opportunities and want to become acquainted with them. 

Consider reaching out to professors, especially adjunct professors to inquire about any local Inns of Court programs that you could join as a law student member. A primary focus of the Inns of Court is developing civility and collegiality within the bar. Each local chapter, or “Inn” as they are called, is comprised of a series of “pupilage” or mentorship groups. Most Inns welcome law student members recommended by a professor or practicing attorney who is a mentor. Generally, the groups meet monthly, and each meeting consists of a CLE program followed by an informal dinner where practicing attorneys, judges, and yes—law students—interact. Each month, a different pupilage group is assigned to prepare and present a CLE program to the Inn. Members of the pupilage group meet several times (often in a judge’s chambers or a local law firm) to prepare the program. Participation will provide you the opportunity to work with practicing lawyers and judges to construct and present CLE to other members of the local bar. If you volunteer to help prepare written materials, you will have a great opportunity to display your talent, work ethic, and interpersonal skills. I know many law students who landed their first job as a result of relationships formed as 3Ls in one of the local Inns.

More networking opportunities are available through alumni associations of your law school, undergraduate institution, and secondary school. Many associations sponsor programs in which alumni offer to be a resource for current students and young alumni seeking career advice. Identify attorneys whose practices and cities interest you, and reach out to them. Rather than viewing you as a burden, they will be flattered that you contacted them for advice. Be prepared to quiz them about how they achieved success and, at the same time, share with them the efforts you have been making to enhance both your knowledge of the law and to learn about the practice of law.

Regardless of whether you have secured your first legal position or not, seek out as many clinical opportunities as possible through course work or otherwise. Most law schools have trial advocacy programs, and many offer clinical opportunities such as working in a local prosecutor’s office or public defender’s office in which you can earn course credit. Some schools also provide opportunities to earn course credit while interning with local state or federal court judges and/or magistrates. Such programs provide you with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, and an understanding of the expectations and demands on practicing lawyers. You will learn valuable skills that will put you in a position to hit the ground running when you start your first job as a lawyer. Moreover, you may even find that the adjunct professor, prosecutor, or judge with whom you work becomes your biggest advocate in your quest for that first job. Indeed, a federal magistrate judge and the local assistant district attorney for whom I worked as a 3L were instrumental in helping me land my first position after graduation from law school. 

Finally, I reiterate the sage advice of my colleague and friend, Professor Rose, in urging you to consider joining the ABA Section of Litigation as a law student member. If the Section holds any meetings or programs near your law school, you should attend. Membership is free and will provide you with numerous opportunities, resources, and benefits to enhance both your academic and networking opportunities. We would love to help you get involved, and hope to get to know you this year. 

Author: Sean O’D. Bosack
833 E. Michigan St., Ste. 800
Milwaukee, WI  53202

Member, ABA Section of Litigation Leadership-Membership & Marketing Committee