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May 21, 2008

Top Tips for Summer -- before you worry about resumes and cover letters

1.   Develop an elevator speech -- two minutes of professional, useful information that you can share as you walk around a prospective employer's office.


2.  If you are interested in BIG LAW, take the time to learn about it.  Read THE AMERICAN LAWYER (your law library probably has years of back issues), the NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL, or in DC (required reading for public and private practice)  THE LEGAL TIMES).


3.   If you have targeted specific cities, read the local newspapers (on paper or online).  Your commitment to the new place will shine through in your conversations with interviewers if you know what's going on in town.  This will be of enormous help if you are applying for a public sector job because you will be up-to-date on hiring freezes, which may alter your search strategies.


4.   Scrub your electronic persona for anything that would embarrass your grandmother or that might not help your career if it appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Your law school's career office staff will gladly review your personal websites or myfacebookspace.com pages if you have questions.


5.  Scrub "I'm like" from your vocabulary before you interview with anyone. "I'm like" is not a part of speech, nor is it a substitute for "I said" or "I thought."   If you don't know whether this is a habit of yours, ask your friends.  If you don't believe them, walk around with a tape recorder for a day.  Then, imagine that you are cross examining a witness and your words were entered into the Court record for all eternity.  It is not impossible to rid yourself of generational speech patterns:  your parents no longer say "far out" at the end of every sentence.

6.  Reconnect with family, friends and former colleagues and bring them up to date about your law school experience.  This will make it easier to ask for recommendations when you need them.

7.  Connect with attorneys who are doing the work you would like to do.  Consider a visit to the local bar association, attend CLEs, and arrange some information meetings.

8.  Work on your interviewing skills now.  Do mock interviews with your friends and ask the HARD questions.  Remember, when you learned to play the piano, hit a baseball, paint a picture or bowl, you had to practice to improve.  Interviewing is not magic – it’s a learned skill.

Susan Gainen

University of Minnesota Law School 


May 21, 2008 in Job Search Strategies | Permalink


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