This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel for an American Bar Association Law Student Division Super Circuit Meeting. It’s a lot of words that boils down to a group of law student leaders getting together to find out how they can boost their chances and make things happen as a law student. It was a bit surreal considering that less than two years ago, I was in their shoes. Listening to speakers, attorneys, and trying to figure out what I could do to make me stand apart and land my first job (the bar experience aside).
Here are a couple of the basic questions and my best answer to help law students jump in to swim among us sharks:
Does being a leader in law school make a difference to employers?
Yes. You can spend all of your time in the library working on your grades, but showing that you are able to not only succeed academically but taking a role as a leader means you have something more to offer. You show up, you take charge, you are able to make things happen. This makes you not only successful in law school, but it can translate well into law firms where it’s about making it rain. You show up, you build relationships, you bring in the business.
What do I do if I’m attending Law School in a State I don’t intend to practice in?
Reach out to your school’s alumni. Take advantage of those leadership connections and set up appointments to seek advice with alumni and other leaders you know. All attorneys love being asked for advice, especially by law students. It’s flattering and it can help you on your way to gaining employment. Join the local bar association and find a mentor. Volunteer. Use your summers, winter breaks, and spring breaks to volunteer (in the event you can’t find an internship) at a Legal Aide, the Public Defender’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the Staff Attorney’s Office for the Judiciary, etc. Putting in that time and effort shows that you have ties to the legal community you intend to practice.