Saturday, April 15, 2017
Practicing attorneys who want to switch to law school positions often contact those of us who have ASP/bar experience to get advice on making the transition. Requests for information are particularly prevalent in spring and summer when turnover is high and so many positions are advertised. Here are some tips for attorneys considering the switch:
- Read through all of the ads posted even if they are not for law schools or parts of the country where you want to be. You will see trends in position descriptions, required/preferred skills, duties, departmental structures, reporting lines, and other typical characteristics for the jobs. This broader view of ASP/bar work provides you with comparison information as you focus on specific ads.
- Write variations of your cover letter and resume that match the specific law schools and ad requirements to make yourself more marketable. A one-size-fits-all approach may overlook your major selling points for a particular position. Make sure your cover letter matches the emphases in the ad so your resume gets a review. Remember that for some positions, your first "cut" is at the university's human resources level instead of at the law school!
- Take time for a serious consideration of your strengths and weaknesses for the types of positions you want to apply for at law schools. List your specific qualifications and experiences that match the trends you see across job ads; this is your strengths/pros list. Next list specific qualifications and experiences that you lack for the trends you see across job ads; this is your weaknesses/cons list.
- On your strengths/pros list: add characteristics that you may have initially overlooked in the ads; continue to add your own qualifications/experiences initially forgotten.
- On your weaknesses/cons list: add strategies for filling these gaps as quickly as possible. Here are some strategies you might consider:
- read multiple sources in the ASP/bar field (Carolina Academic Press has a wonderful catalog of books to choose from; West Academic, Wolters-Kluwer, and Lexis are other publication sources)
- regularly read the Law School Academic Support Blog and read archived articles from the last year where relevant to your gaps
- consider informational interviewing by phone or in person with some ASP/bar folks at law schools where you are not applying for positions: your alma mater; law schools in your current location; law schools where colleagues have connections
- inform yourself through web resources about ABA standards, LSAC law school admissions data, NCBE bar data, etc.
- Salary information is not typically given in ads for ASP/bar support positions. Ads will normally say that salary is dependent on qualifications. At some universities, you can view an online position that will give a position grade/level - the corresponding HR/payroll pages may show the salary ranges by grade/level. However, in many cases, there will be no readily available information. On-line salary comparison calculators can give you a ballpark for what salary in a new geographic location would align with your current salary.
- There is a great deal of movement by ASP/bar professionals among law schools as people gain more experience and move to other law schools for promotions etc. You may need to find an entry-level position and later move up in your school's hierarchy or change schools once you have specific ASP/bar experience.
- Realize that there may be other types of law school positions that may be suited to your specific interests, qualifications, and experiences: doctrinal faculty, legal writing and research faculty, clinical faculty, career services, development, admissions, student life, special events coordinator, etc.