If you’re a 1L, you have one semester of law school under your belt. Where you fell in rank (if your school ranks after the first semester) or your grades will define whether or not you are eligible for early on-campus interviews for upcoming summer associate positions. It seems a bit harsh for employers to base their decision on so little (maybe 5 exams?), especially when things could change in the second semester…right? Regrettably, those first exams are the only thing that illustrates your ability to understand the law. They tell the employer how you are doing compared to your classmates as well as the likelihood of your success in law school and with that firm. Fortunately, if you did extremely well during your first semester, you will likely be recruited this month for on-campus interview season. As summer associate positions are dwindling across the nation, it is important that you prepare thoroughly for your interviews. Whether you are going to do interviews now or have to wait until the end of the spring semester, these tips will help you.
1. Get your paperwork in order. Polish up your résumé and writing samples. Have career counselors and your legal writing professor check over these and ask for critiques on how to make your documents stronger. Get copies of your transcripts as well. Study all of these materials so you can answer any question that might arise, be it a legal issue or case from your writing sample or a blip on your résumé. Expenses: invest in quality paper and a quality printer. Since you should bring these materials with you on the interview for the interviewer’s convenience, your documents should be professional.
2. Suit up. Get your suit to the dry cleaner early so it is ready for last minute interviews. If you don’t have a suit, purchase a solid color (black, gray or navy) so you can mix and match it with tops and/or ties already in your closet and get multiple uses out of it. Expenses: purchase of a suit and/or dry cleaning bill.
3. Practice! Come up with questions and professional answers. Practice them. This way when your nerves take over, you’re less likely to stumble, mumble, or sound stupid. Research everything you can about the firm and the person conducting the interview. Come up with questions you would like to ask. Remember, this interview is both ways and you want to be sure this firm will be helpful to your goals. Practice with trusted mentors, career counselors, and established attorneys you may know to get critiques and differing points of view. Expenses: Free. HERE are some good questions to get you started.
4. Follow up. Be sure to send professional Thank You cards to interviewers and anyone who may have taken time to help you practice. After sending the thank you, do not pester the employer about their decision. Many times, the interviewer will state when you will likely hear back from them. If they do not mention a time, feel free to ask during the interview or wait 3 to 5 days or up to a week before asking about your status. Expenses: Invest in professional stationary for your Thank You notes.
Take these four steps and be your best professional self, and you could have summer associate listed on your résumé by next fall.
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