Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 To Dos for Law Students This Winter Break

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Finals are done!  Time for the twenty-four hour marathon of The Christmas Story, a little Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and plenty of sleep so those sugar plums can dance up a storm in your head.  Oh wait, you’re a law student.  If you want to give yourself every advantage, you’ll be spending your break working towards your goal – to be an employed attorney upon graduation.  Slip on your Snuggie, buckle down with a cup of hot cocoa, and check these items off your winter break to do list.
1.      For 3Ls:  You will have a little extra work ahead of you this break.
a.       Complete Your Bar Application:   The bar application takes up a lot of time and isn’t something you will want to add to your already busy semester.  Use your break to track down all of your employers and addresses.  Secure your references.  Get your finger prints and get forms notarized.  Check with your state’s bar admissions for directions, required documents, and deadlines.
b.      Review Graduation Requirements:  Make sure you have all of the credits and courses required to graduate completed.
c.       Plan Your Budget:  This next semester, you will want to scrimp as much as you can.  Big expenses such as bar applications, bar prep courses, and graduation fees can put a significant dent in your financial plan.  Not to mention, you will need to plan for unemployment during bar study and possibly afterward.
2.      Get Ready for Interview Season: Update your résumé to include any changes in your rank, GPA, and any new experience or activities from the fall semester.  Polish your writing sample. Get in touch with your career counselors to have them review and critique your documents.  See if they are available during break or schedule an appointment upon your return to have a mock interview and critique session.  If you need interview attire, the sales for suits are awesome this time of year.
3.      Create a Financial Plan:  As many applications for student financial aid are due for the next academic year in the early spring semester, use this time to figure out your best options, fill out applications, and submit them.  Look for scholarship opportunities and try to finance the majority of your education with them.  Government loans aren’t what they used to be, so shop around for the best deal.  Establish your budget.  How was your spending last semester?  Are there areas that you can cut back on?  If so, maybe you can ask for fewer loans for next year or even accept less this upcoming semester.
4.      Hunt For Opportunities:  Can you get your Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) training or certification?  Having this experience lends to your résumé and may even provide you income down the road when you might need it.  Participate in any CLEs or bar association meetings where you can gain some experience in a niche field or to help you build a network.  Are you planning on practicing law in your hometown, but go to school elsewhere?  Hit the pavement hard while you’re home.  Not only can you make face-to-face contact when dropping off your information (which can be better than a cold email or letter), you might save yourself travel costs during the semester.
5.      Start Reading:  Get ahead by reading supplements for your upcoming courses.  Organize for the upcoming semester.  If you didn’t do well last semester, reevaluate how you study and manage time  or even whether you want to go back to law school.  Start on your outlines or flash cards.  Shop around for your textbooks early to get the best prices.

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