5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Letters of Recommendation for Clerkship Applications (and Beyond!)

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Letters of Recommendation for Clerkship Applications (and Beyond!)Please welcome guest writer Kelsey Russell, a recent clerk for the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York, to discuss how to get letters of recommendations, an important aspects of clerkships applications.

If you are considering a judicial clerkship, you are likely well aware that your letters of recommendation are an essential component of your application.

As someone who decided to apply for a clerkship pretty late in the game, getting quality recommendations felt like a tall order. Many of my classmates had already taken advantage of opportunities such as research assistant positions, which led to relationships with professors who, in turn, could write personalized recommendations. By the fall of 3L year, no single professor stood out in my mind as a natural recommender. So I started brainstorming: Should I start with the professor who gave me my highest grade? Or the professor who ran my pro bono project? What about employers prior to law school? Given that I was trying to compile my materials in relatively short order, I was also working against the clock. [Read more…]

Transitioning to a Non-Traditional Legal Career

Transitioning to a Non-traditional Legal Career

Please welcome guest writer Kathryn Blair, law school tutor and PhD student, to discuss the transition from a traditional law career to something different.

It has been about two years since I left a successful career as an attorney and turned back to academia for the start of what I hope will be my third and final career. This was a difficult transition for me. The joke about law school being an escalator — seamlessly delivering you to a career in Big Law — is funny because it is true. But jumping off that escalator was a big and hard decision, and, despite the support of family and friends, it still felt a bit lonely. But it shouldn’t feel that way. Many attorneys face and make these decisions, and the shared experiences of others can be helpful as you think about these questions. [Read more…]

What To Do If You Start 3L Year With No Job – Advice From a Fellow 3L

What To Do If You Start 3L Year With No Job – Advice from a fellow 3LPlease welcome back guest writer and current 3L Shirlene Armstrong to discuss some options if you find yourself in your 3L year without a job offer.

You did it. You finally get to your last year of law school and you are already looking forward to never going back to classes. You are excited about the next step in your journey and can’t wait until this last year is finished. All you need to do is survive this year, study for the bar exam and sit for everyone’s favorite two-day exam then you will be on your way to becoming an attorney. (Right??) However, something else lingers in the distance: you have to get a job. It is great to have that “Esq.” after your name, but you have to find some sort of placement beyond law school to utilize it to its full extent. But what happens if you don’t have a job when you start your 3L year? Should you panic? What should you do to make sure you snag a position for after graduation? Here are some tips from a fellow 3L in order to help you in your job search at the beginning of your 3L year. [Read more…]

5 Benefits of Having a Career before Law School

Post about the benefits of having a career before law schoolPlease welcome our guest writer and 1L Briana Borgolini to discuss why having a career before starting law school could be beneficial and how to use what you have learned in the workforce to be a better law student.

The decision of if and when to attend law school is a highly personal one, and often only becomes more difficult the further away from undergrad you get. After spending just a few (or many more) years in the workforce rather than in the classroom, it can be daunting to think about returning to a student lifestyle. If you’re anything like me, you might wonder how you managed to learn so many different things in such a short amount of time in college when it took you nearly two years to (almost) fully understand the nuances of your current job. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that your previous career likely prepared you to handle the rigors of law school, even if you don’t know it. [Read more…]

3 Skills of Top Lawyers that You Can Start Developing as a Law Student

3 Skills of Top Lawyers that You Can Start Developing as a Law StudentOur guest writer this week discusses some skills you’ll need as a practicing lawyer and how you can start working on them as a law student.

Here’s the bad news and the good news. The bad news: law school doesn’t show you how to be a real lawyer. The good news: top lawyers have three skills that you can start developing in law school, so you can hit the ground running. [Read more…]

Alternative Careers – Investigator for Workplace Complaints

Please welcome Joanna Sattler, Law School Toolbox tutor, to discuss her alternative legal career as a workplace investigator.

I’m the child of no fewer than three lawyers (if you count my stepmother, that is). All three practiced law upon graduating from law school and pursued “traditional” legal careers (two at large firms, the third in-house). As such, I had a certain view of what lawyers did and a (fairly) certain path I planned to pursue: work at a large law firm after graduating and then, maybe, try to work in-house. (At the time, I didn’t realize I could go in-house straight from law school; I truly thought there was one path and one path only!)

A planner by nature, I followed my plan. I worked hard in law school. I summered at a large firm and received an offer of post-graduation employment. Although I didn’t take that job (I didn’t love the firm’s satellite office in the city where I planned to live), I took another firm job soon after passing the California bar.

[Read more…]

Perfecting Professionalism at a Summer Internship

Perfecting Professionalism at a Summer InternshipPlease welcome back guest writer Jaclyn Wishnia to discuss how to maintain a professional demeanor at your summer internship.

Law students are expected to maintain a steady level of professionalism regardless of the venue. In class, you are held to a higher standard by both your professors and peers; for extracurriculars, you are urged to communicate as well as uphold your responsibilities in a respectful manner; and of course, at work, your behavior has the potential to make or break your future legal career. Thus, it should go without saying that how you present yourself during a summer legal internship matters.

Despite the title, a summer legal internship is more akin to a job than what you may have experienced at a college internship. Whether you have a full-time or part-time internship this summer, strive to be professional; especially if you are heading into your 3L year. Want to ensure you have the basics of professionalism covered? Continue reading for some tips pertaining to various areas of work where you should be exhibiting professionalism and perfecting it.

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The Challenges for Women in In-House Legal Roles

Challenges of being a woman and an in-house attorneyThis week our guest writer, an in-house attorney, discusses the unique challenges of being a woman attorney in an in-house legal role and how she has dealt with these challenges.

Even as more women graduate from law school than ever before, carving out a successful legal career as a woman can be an extremely challenging undertaking. A recent report showed that women make up just 35 percent of lawyers at law firms. There are few comprehensive studies about the overall percentage of women in in-house roles, but one statistic paints a stark picture: as of 2015, just 22% of Fortune 500 companies had a woman in the top legal position.

An in-house legal career offers some enticing advantages over the traditional law firm track. Compared to their counterparts at law firms, in-house lawyers generally enjoy an improved work-life balance, have more leadership opportunities, aren’t under pressure to bring in new clients, and are free from the billable hour (and all of the paperwork that goes with it). But even with these perks, there are many challenges faced by women in in-house legal departments. If you’re considering taking an in-house legal position, here’s what you can do to confront these challenges head-on. [Read more…]

Collaboration vs. Competition

Collaboration vs. CompetitionPlease welcome guest writer, Whitney Weatherly, to discuss how to balance the competitive legal world with the need for collaboration and working together.

A student recently requested my help with something, and I declined, deferring to a colleague who specializes in the type of help that she needed. It was a positive interaction, though, and I told one of my coworkers about it. She suggested that I could have done the work, but I insisted that I was right to decline. In a way, my coworker was right. With training, I probably could provide the help that the student needed. But would that have been the best way to serve her and my company?

We live in a world where people are too apt to claim expertise for fear of appearing weak or inadequate. As lawyers and law students, our culture seems to reward all-around experts rather than people who are willing to acknowledge their limitations, defer to the superior knowledge of others, and collaborate when appropriate. It’s time to think about the spectrum between competition and collaboration, and how attorneys can move the industry standard in a way that fosters information sharing for the benefit of clients. [Read more…]

How to Go In-House Straight from Law School

MotivationToday’s guest writer discusses how you can make the jump from law school to an in-house position without stopping at a law firm first!

If you’ve been following news coverage of the legal job market lately, you may be aware of a new development in legal hiring. In recent years, more and more companies have been willing to hire early-career attorneys to work in their in-house legal departments who are either new graduates or have just a few years’ experience. Gone are the days when landing an in-house position requires several years of prior law firm practice. So how can law students take advantage of this emerging trend and best prepare themselves to go in-house immediately or shortly after graduation? [Read more…]