According to a 2010 survey of employers, the answer is NO. You should not include a statement on your resume that references are available upon request. In fact, including such a statement was Number 9 on the employers’ Top Ten List of Resume Mistakes. “References available upon request” is viewed as an archaic term, and if a prospective employer wants references from you, they will indeed request them without the necessity of your including such a statement on your resume. Also, nix the objective statement. First, it’s not appropriate for a legal resume, but even in other employment arenas, employers find it unnecessary. It’s too subjective and does not accurately reflect your qualifications and skill. Use the space instead to highlight a great legal experience, including the types of documents you drafted or court proceedings you attended. That’s a much better use of the space.
How many times have you looked at someone’s Facebook page only to ponder how they could have such poor judgment in deciding what to post? Do you think law firms check social media sites for information about potential hires? The answer is a resounding YES! Thus, it is critical that every element of your online presence reflects your professional demeanor. No problem, you might say. I just limit my access on Facebook and other sites to “friends.” But in this world of connectivity, you cannot rely on such filters. Often, someone at the firm knows one of your friends, and they might ask that person to pull up your Facebook page for them. Voila. They now have photos of you that would make your mother cringe! And in this competitive hiring market, you can’t make any mistakes in how you present yourself. A single indiscretion recorded in your social media may be just enough to give another applicant the edge. In upcoming posts, I will give you some tips on how you can avoid putting your cyber foot in your mouth. Stay tuned!
According to a 2010 survey, there are 10 key mistakes on resumes that are critical to avoid. Over the upcoming weeks, I will feature each of those mistakes to avoid, beginning with number 10 . . . . . . . .TMI. Employers are adamant that too much information is never a good idea. It is particularly a bad idea when it is on your resume being reviewed by hiring managers who are busy, tired, and looking for critical information to help them making hiring decisions. If you put too much information on your resume, the reviewer is likely to not read it at all or to just scan it quickly. Furthermore, it suggests that you have difficulty sifting through critical information and identifying what is substantively important. So pull out your resume, look at each detail, and consider what it adds to your resume. If you aren’t sure if an item should be included, make an appointment with a Career Services Counselor. And stay tuned for 9 other mistakes to avoid on your resume!
If you have learned anything from this blog, it should be the importance of networking and personal relationships in finding the right legal job for you – particularly when it comes to law firms. To develop those relationships, you need to learn as much as possible about your local legal community, through attending bar luncheons, reviewing bar newsletters, or any other information you can get your hands on. In Jacksonville, for example, you can learn a great deal about the local legal and business community by reviewing The Daily Record. We have a paper copy in Career Services that you can stop by to peruse, or you can visit The Daily Record’s website. Also, the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Bulletin is published in The Daily Record, with articles highlighting local attorneys and upcoming events that are wonderful networking opportunities. So check it out!
Whether you are conducting informational meetings or searching for job opportunities, you will need to identify which law firms to target in your search. One tool for doing so is Martindale-Hubbell, which provides a listing of law firms and practitioners in various geographic areas. The directory may be accessed at http://www.martindale.com/. You will find that it includes information about the firm itself, including a sampling of clients and practice areas, as well as more specific biographical information about each member of the firm. You should note, however, that because there is a significant fee to be listed in Martindale-Hubbell, some small firms and solo practitioners forego the expense and are not listed. As such, although it is a wonderful resource to identify target firms, it does not include every firm or practitioner in the area. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful starting point to assist you in identifying the key firms in your target market.
As law firms slowly begin to pull out of the economic decline of the last few years, they have emerged with what has been coined “the new normal” with respect to law student hiring. Although firms were once willing to take full responsibility for training new associates and little emphasis was placed on learning through on-hands experience, law firms are no longer willing or able to do so. Now, firms look for associates who have substantive legal experience that will allow them to hit the ground running. This is important because clients are no longer willing to pay for training an associate on their nickel, and firms cannot afford to write off significant portions of associate hours devoted to on-the-job training.
What does this mean for law students? It means that you must obtain legal experience during your law school career and that your resume should highlight the practical knowledge you have gained through those experiences. Ideally, you should have at least 400 hours of legal experience by the time you graduate, which not only provides invaluable training, but also enables you to network and learn about opportunities in the legal field. To find out more about how you can obtain legal experience, schedule a counseling session with a Career Services Counselor.
If you are uncertain what area of law is the best fit for you, consider a split summer. In a split summer, you work half the summer for one employer and the other half for a second employer. It is often difficult to find paid opportunities for a split summer, but if you are volunteering, employers are generally flexible. For example, if you are undecided between family law and commercial litigation, volunteer the first half of the summer with a family law firm and the second with a commercial litigation firm.
Externships are a great opportunity to obtain legal experience while simultaneously earning academic credit. The law school has a large number of established externships throughout the country for which you may apply. In addition, you can create your own externship by finding a non-profit legal employer or government entity willing to allow you to extern. In addition, you can receive CPE credit for your externship. Externships are listed in Symplicity. Apply today or meet with a Career Services Counselor to learn how to create your own opportunity.
A local personal injury firm has an immediate opening for a law clerk position for a 2L or 3L. The selected student will work 10 to 20 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks. Compensation is $12.00 per hour, and the deadline is Monday, March 5th. To apply, log into Symplicity and click on “OCI” for information about this and other on campus interviews. Remember to update your status in Symplicity since you will only be able to view those OCI’s applicable to your class year.
If you will be clerking with a law firm this summer, schedule an appointment with your Career Services Counselor to discuss how you should prepare. We can educate you regarding how law firms work and provide tips to ensure a successful experience. For example, always pin down a due date for each assignment and be mindful of which assignments are billable. Also, if you have an interest in a particular case, express it to your supervising attorney, and you may have an opportunity to work on it. In addition, conduct informational meetings with attorneys in the firm to learn more about the local legal market.