About.com’s Sally Kane has written that the majority of all attorneys in private practice work in small law firms, so there is a good chance that your path may include a foray, if not a lifetime, of practicing either solo or with a small firm. Some reasons why you should consider small firms. . .
- More client contact and case management
- Hands-on experience in the courtroom and with cases
- More autonomy and responsibility
- Greater variability in the types of work and cases
- Work environment differences–more friendly, more relaxed and informal
- Ability to see how your work helps others
- More flexible work schedules
- Abbreviated Partner track
When deciding whether to accept an offer, you should be examining whether it is a good “fit” for both you and the law firm. Review the information you know about the law firm. Will you be comfortable working with the people in the firm? Do the members of the firm enjoy their work? Do they seem to like each other? Do they respect each other? Do you like the geographic area? Does the firm offer growth potential? Weigh each of these factors and consult with a Career Services Counselor for guidance on your decision.
In today’s challenging job market, if you want to find a job with a law firm, you can’t simply be passive. One of the worst things you can do is stay at home, avoid networking, or just not follow through. If you have a lead, you need to follow up on it. Find local bar events that are likely to attract firm participants, and consistently attend. Join a bar committee so that you can actually work with law firm members. Law firms rarely hire through job posting sites, so don’t fall prey to the trap of sitting home and passively monitoring the internet for opportunities.
A local solo practitioner is seeking a 2L, 3L, or graduate to assist in her family law practice. This part-time internship position is unpaid, but offers a wonderful opportunity for legal experience. The clerk may even work remotely when conducting research or drafting documents, but is welcome to accompany the practitioner to court or in client meetings. The required qualifications are an interest in family law and good grades in LP/research and writing courses. To apply, log into Symplicity and submit your application under the OCI tab. Remember to update your status in Symplicity since the OCI will only be visible to those registered as a 2L, 3L, or graduate. The deadline is Friday, May 4th. If you need assistance in completing your application materials, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with a counselor.�
Often, students who lack stellar academic credentials question their ability to succeed in a traditional, competitive law firm environment. Recent research has shown, however, that success in law firms is not always correlated with your academic pedigree. As Indiana University Professor Bill Henderson has noted, “in this more competitive environment, [students] need to be personable, collaborative, entrepreneurial, service oriented, and interested in contributing to the collective welfare of the law firm.” What does this mean for today’s students? If your academic credentials aren’t dazzling, focus on distinguishing yourself in other ways. Demonstrate your understanding of the law firm business model, your business development skills, and the intensity of your commitment. For one-on-one coaching with a career counselor to learn more about the business of law firms and how to distinguish yourself as a candidate, schedule a counseling session with Career Services.
“Law Prof Predicts a ‘New Hierarchy’ of Law Schools,” ABA Journal, November 15, 2010.
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.
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.
The Law Office of Ronald Sholes, P.A., a personal injury law firm in Jacksonville, is accepting resumes and cover letters from 2L’s and 3L’s for a part-time law clerk position this semester at the rate of $12.00 per hour. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 5, 2012 via Symplicity under the OCI tab. Make certain your current year status is up to date as a 2L or 3L or you will not be able to view the OCI posting.