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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions About the First Year Job Search

During our counseling appointments with first year students there are a few questions that inevitably come up. How do most students find jobs? When do most students find jobs? How important is it that I work this summer? Below are answers to those questions.

When do I need to start looking for summer employment? What is this December 1st deadline I keep hearing about?
Students should schedule an appointment with a career counselor as soon as possible to review their resume and go over their individual job search strategy and time line. In general, government and public interest internship deadlines usually fall in January, February and mid-March, at the latest. Mid-sized and small firms usually hire on an as-needed basis and many small law firms do not begin to think about their summer needs until much later in the spring semester.

The December 1st date is when employers can begin speaking to first year students under the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) Standards. Large firms usually begin reviewing first year candidates soon after this date. However, very few large firms hire first year students and those that do will hire only one or two students out of the hundreds of applications they receive. Thus, students should not spend a disproportionate amount of time & resources targeting large firms.

How do most students find their jobs?
To find a summer job, you will need to do more than just apply to jobs that are posted. According to the 2008 Summer Employment Survey, 28% of the 229 students who responded found their job through the CSO Job Postings or a job fair. An overwhelming 65% found their jobs through networking, self-intiated contact, or through a referral by a friend, family member or colleague.

What if I want to do a study abroad program instead?
If you decide to participate in a study abroad program, plan on finding a volunteer or internship opportunity for when you return. Many of the study abroad programs end in the early summer, so you still have the rest of the summer to gain legal experience.

Is it true that the job you get for your second year summer determines what you will be doing after graduation?
Not necessarily. Large firms usually give their summer associates offers for post-graduate positions at the end of the second year summer, however those firms only make up 10% of the legal employers out there.

Will I limit my career options if I work in a practice area I am not sure I want practice after graduation?
No. All legal experience is valuable and many the of skills you gain in one practice area are skills that can be applied in another (i.e. research & writing, interpersonal skills, etc.)

When do most students find their jobs? When should I start panicking?
There is no single time of year when most first-years find their jobs. Some know where they will be working by February while others won't find something until April. Small firms will continue to look for summer law clerks throughout the late spring. Between April and June in 2008, 65 summer job postings were posted for first year students. So, even if you have not found a job by the end of April, know that there are still employers out there looking for summer help.

Lastly, remember that the first step to the first year job search is meeting with a counselor in the Career Services Office. If you have not already done so, call 617-422-7229 to schedule an appointment with a counselor for next semester.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Loan Forgiveness for Public Service

"I would love to do public interest after graduation but I also need to pay off my student loans!"

We often hear this lament in the Career Services Office from students who are interested in a public service career after graduation but do not think it is a possible avenue for them if they also want to be able to pay off their large amount of student loans.The Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Law: The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 was created to address this problem so that pursuing a career in public service and being able to pay off student loans may no longer be mutually exclusive.

The Act helps public service attorneys in two ways:
1. Lowers monthly student loan payments on federally guaranteed student loans (called Income Based Repayment or IBR)
2. Forgives remaining debt for public servants after 10 years of public service employment (called Loan Forgiveness for Public Service)

Under IBR, annual loan payments may be no more than 15% of discretionary income. Under the Loan Forgiveness for Public Service, if a borrower makes 120 qualifying loan payments on a Federal Direct Loan (including Federal Direct Consolidation loans) while working full-time for 10 years in public service, the unpaid balance is forgiven by the federal government.

Public service employment is defined as:
- employment in a 501(c)(3) organization; or
- employment in government (local,state, federal, and tribal; including military and employment in public schools and universities); or
- service in a full-time AmeriCorps position; and
- employment in a "public service organization" (including legal services).

The Financial Aid Office will hold a Loan Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness Seminar on Thursday, November 13th, Room 305, 3:00pm - 4:30pm where they will go into the guidelines and benefits of this new program in more detail. Interested students should RSVP by emailing

Additional information on the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Law is also available on the Equal Justice Works site.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What are the best predictors of Big Law success?

A recent study conducted at a top 25 law firm found that law school rank and grade point average are not the best predictors of success at large law firms. In an article in the ABA Journal, one of the study's authors, Ron Paquette, notes, "The Harvard attorneys do not perform any better than those at the 30th-ranked law school."

So, what are better predictors of success? Participation in extra-curricular activities and collegiate-level athletics were among the 12 factors identified as better predictors for big firm success with success being defined as "longer tenure at the firm, higher productivity, and being a good cultural fit, based on an evaluation by a human resources staffer." All of the factors could be categorized as attributes connected to leadership.

"Based on his experience in corporate America, [Paquette] believes attributes such as an ability to adapt and get along with people contribute to success more than technical expertise. 'When you look at people skills, it really comes down to working well on a team,' he says, 'In reality, the best performing teams are the ones that learn to get along and leverage each other's skills.'"

It should be noted that this study only examined lawyers who were already "the cream of the crop." However, the results do indicate that those with the top grades from the top law schools aren't any more likely to succeed in an large firm environment than those from other schools with simply good grades.

Click here to read the entire article in addition to a lively discussion in the ABA Journal's comments section!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More on the Economy and the Post-Graduate Job Search

There are a number of articles out there addressing the issue of the current economy and the legal employment market for upcoming graduates.

The Boston Business Journal covers the issue of the legal market in Boston in particular:
"Elizabeth Armour, director of employer relations at Suffolk University Law School, acknowledges that summer associates are no longer guaranteed job offers at the end of the summer, as large law firms - facing an uncertain economic future - grow increasingly reluctant to load up on young associates who collect $160,000 first-year paychecks. [...]
James Leipold, executive director at the National Association for Law Placement in Washington, D.C. said that while his organization does not have data yet on offer percentages, he has anecdotal evidence that points to lower offer rates in Boston this year, which hit 97.9 percent in 2007, according to NALP. [...] 'All bets are off because this situation continues to change, ' said Leipold. 'The economic situation is so fluid. We've certainly heard that some firms are not making offers to everyone.'"

How does this news affect your job search? Both the New York Lawyer and the National Law Journal provide articles with practical tips.

Cameron Stracher, a professor at New York Law School, writes in the New York Lawyer (via The American Lawyer), "The wise job-hunter will cast a deeper net, focusing on firms with niche practices that have not been hit by the downturn or groups within firms that have not been popular. [...] Take lots of meetings. Networking is more important than ever, which means talking to everyone you know, and even people you don't. "

However, the National Law Journal disagrees with Stracher's advice to postpone your job search by entering into an LL.M. program.
"'I've got students coming in asking if they should go for an LL.M.,' said Carole Montgomery, director of career development at George Washington University Law School in Washington. If students want to pursue the advanced law degree to avoid looking for a job, Montgomery advises against it. 'I tell them, 'you need to make a good-faith effort to get yourself a job,' ' she said."

While it is still unclear how today's economic events will affect the legal employment market six months from now, one thing everyone can agree on is that the post-graduate job search will take longer than it has in the past and now is the time to start!
"The delays in start dates and the slowdown in hiring will leave many people unemployed late into the year or even after graduation. 'Make a mental (and financial) plan that the job hunting process will take six to eight months,' says Meg Reuter, Assistant Dean for Career Planning at New York law School." (New York Lawyer)

Adds Gail E. Cutter, Senior Managing Director of SLJ Attorney Search, in her NYL article, ,"It takes discipline to take charge of your career when so many people are freaking out. Panic won't help, but neither will maintaining the status quo while the legal world morphs all around you." (New York Lawyer)

Thoughts or questions on this article? Post them in our comments section!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beyond Fall Recruitment

This time of year our office often meets with students who are worried because they did not find summer employment through the Fall Recruitment Program (FRP). Do not worry!

Only 10% of legal employers hire through FRP. Medium and small firms, and most other legal employers, do not hire on a specific schedule. They hire people when they have a need. Often, these employer hire part-time law clerks and interns during the school year and those positions continue into the summer. There are also many employers who offer their part-time law clerks permanent employment after graduation.

There are many ways to find positions at these firms and organizations. Many post summer and academic year positions on our Recruitment & Programming Center (RPC) JobNet. Students should also use other on-line job resources including Craigslist, PSLawNet, the Government Honors & Internship Handbook and other sites listed on our on-line job resources handout available in the CSO. In addition to applying to the jobs that are posted, students should also contact employers directly using the Martindale directory, Lexis or Westlaw. Most importantly, every job search should include networking.

At least half of all positions are obtained by informal means. Over half of the 229 students who completed our 2008 Summer Survey found their positions through networking or a referral by a friend, family member, or colleague. This does not mean a student needs to come from a family of lawyers in order to find a job. There are a variety of opportunities for law students to meet and network with attorneys, including informational interviews, bar association events, conferences and seminars, CSO panels and programs, and using the New England Law alumni network.

the Fall Recruitment Program may be the most visible hiring program for summer legal positions, however most students obtain summer positions through our job postings, contacting employers on their own, networking, or through their part-time school year positions. By following the above recommendations, it is highly likely that you will be able to secure employment throughout law school and beyond.

Need to discuss your job search? Call the Career Services Office at 617-422-7228 to make an appointment with a career counselor today!

Questions or comments? Post them in our comments section.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Elephant in the Room: Your Job Search in Today's Economy

With the recent events on Wall Street, many students are wondering how the current economy will affect their job search. How hard will it be to find a job upon graduation? Will there be any jobs available for new attorneys? Are there some practice areas that are recession-proof? These are all good questions. While certain practice areas such as real estate and corporate transactions have been detrimentally affected by today's economy, there are a number of fields that are not drastically affected by the current climate as well as others that do especially well when the economy dips.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, there is nothing certain in this world except death and taxes. We can also add two other items to this list of certainties: crime and divorce. Because there will always be taxes, divorce, crime, and death, law practices involving tax, family law, criminal law and probate are relatively unaffected by economic downturns. Family, criminal defense, and probate law practices are most common among smaller firms and solo practitioners while tax law may be practiced in both a small or large firm setting as well as within government organizations. An obvious legal field that is getting a lot more work at the moment is bankruptcy. Large firm bankruptcy practices are especially busy in light of current events. Bankruptcy cases can also generate work for other practice groups within a firm, including litigation, tax, and securities.

While a job search may take longer during a weak economy than it would during boom times, the same job search resources and strategies should be applied. Every successful job search includes not only applying for jobs that are posted but also contacting employers directly, conducting informational interviews, getting referrals from family and friends, and networking. Most importantly, students should not wait until graduation to begin looking for employment. Taking an active role in your job search now and doing more than just applying to job postings is the best way to guarantee employment under any economic condition.

Questions or concerns on this subject? Feel free to post them in our comments section!

For further reading...
"Crisis gives and takes away at law firms" (Boston Business Journal)
"Boom Time for Bankruptcy?" (The New York Lawyer)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Law Clerk or Paralegal?

This week's question in the "Crossroads" column of the New York Lawyer asks whether or not it is a hindrance for a student to work as a paralegal as opposed to a law clerk. This is a question we get a lot in the Career Services Office, especially from evening students who are working full- time. Below is the answer from Linda E. Laufer, the Director of Career Development at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

"One of the difficulties for many evening students is the inability to give up the financial stability of their current position so that they can gain legal experience. As a paralegal, you are in a position to mitigate that issue. How much advantage you gain can depend on factors such as your responsibilities and the type of matters that you handle.

In looking at your resume and comparing to other candidates in your class year, employers will be particularly interested in the exact nature of your legal skills and substantive knowledge. For example, they are likely to look for legal research and writing. Without the opportunity to exercise those skills, or engage in other work similar to that performed by your classmates, you can be at a disadvantage.

[...]Consider whether you can ask your current employer for assignments that will enable you to accomplish that goal. If your employer hires law clerks, perhaps you could be placed in one of those positions. "

In short, it is the work you are doing rather than the job title that is important. The danger of becoming a paralegal instead of a law clerk is that the substantial bulk of your work will be administrative. However, if your employer is also able to assign you in-depth legal research and writing assignments, then serving as a full-time paralegal while attending law school is a good way to gain legal experience.

For more advice from the Crossroads column, visit the New York Lawyer website. You will need to register to access the site, however registration is free.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What are memorandums? Frequent Resume Mistakes and Questions

During the Fall Recruitment Season our office receives many resume questions and requests for critiques. From our experience, below are the most frequent resume errors and questions.

Juris Doctor or Juris Doctorate?
When you receive your diploma from New England Law it will say that you received a "Juris Doctor degree." Thus, we advise all students to list their degree as "Juris Doctor" instead of "Juris Doctorate."

Memorandum and Memoranda
If you drafted one memo, refer to it as a memorandum. If you drafted more than one memo, refer to them as memoranda. The use of memo and memos is considerably less formal and there is no such word as "memorandums".

Words Not Caught Bye Spellcheck
We all know that spellcheck is not perfect. It may want to turn your Juris Doctor into a Jurist Doctor and it does not catch misuse of homonyms (i.e. bye instead of by) . It will also miss those misspellings that also happen to be words. Below are a couple of frequent errors we find on student resumes:
Trail instead of Trial
Complied instead of Compiled
...and Public without the "l" is a completely different word and probably not one you'd like to have on your resume!

Spellcheck can be great, but please remember to have one or two others look over your resume for those errors that spellcheck may not find.

Listing your Clinic and Study Abroad Program
Your clinic should be listed under your legal experience section. Ask the clinical office for information about how to list your job description and job title.

You may list your study abroad two ways: either as a subsection under your school section or as a separate school. Here are two examples:

New England School of Law, Boston, MA
Candidate for Juris Doctor, May 2010
Study Abroad: National University of Ireland, Program in International and Comparative Human Rights Law, Galway, Ireland, Summer 2008
National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Study Abroad Program in International and
Human Rights Comparative Law, Summer 2008

Listing Publications
Publications should be listed as a subsection under your school like so:

Subsidize Housing and HUD Projects: Economic Confinement on Low-Income Families, New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement, Volume 31, Winter 2004-2005

If you do not yet know the publication date, write Publication Pending where you would normally list the volume and issue.

One page or two?
Your resume should be one page. The only exception to this rule is if you have five years or more of professional work experience between college and starting law school.

But I have a lot of experience and it won't fit onto one page!
Try the following:
  1. Make your margins smaller. Adjust your margins to at least .5" on each side.
  2. Make your font size smaller. The smallest your font size can be is 10 points.
  3. List your address on one line running across the page.
It is still going onto a second page.
Send it to us! The career counselors in the CSO are well versed in the tricks to the trade as to how to get a resume onto one page. We are always here to help. Please feel free to email your resume to to be reviewed by a counselor.

For more tips on how to write the perfect legal resume, read the resume section of our handbook!

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Talking Stain and Other Interview Downfalls

Some of you may remember this commercial from the Superbowl. While a bit extreme, it is still a good illustration of the importance of your appearance during an interview. Every detail counts! The last thing you want is for an interviewer to be distracted from what you are saying because of a piercing, bad breath, a tattoo, strong cologne or perfume...or a coffee stain.

For a complete list of interview Do's and Don'ts, read the interview section of our handbook!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where did you work this summer?

The results from our 2008 Summer Employment Survey are in! Thanks to all who completed the Survey on the Recruitment Programming Center (RPC). You gave us valuable information on what students did this summer and how they found their jobs. For those of you who did not fill out the Survey - it's not too late! Log on to RPC today to tell us how you spent the Summer of 2008.

Summer Employment Statistics
229 students completed the 2008 Summer Survey.

  • 82% worked in a legal job.
  • 8% worked in a non-legal job.
  • 5% participated in a summer abroad program.
  • 5% did not work.

How did students find summer legal employment?

  • 32% found their job through networking.
  • 18% found their job through the CSO Job Postings.
  • 10% obtained summer employment through a job fair or on-campus interview.
  • 12% found their job through self-initiated contact.
  • 21% found their job through a referral by a friend, family member or colleague.

Where did students work this summer?

  • 75% worked in Massachusetts.
  • 20% worked outside of Massachusetts.
  • 5% worked abroad and/or participated in a study abroad program.

Below are just a few of the employers who hired New England School of Law students this summer:

Adler, Pollock & Sheehan
Committee for Public Counsel Services
Crowe & Mulvey, LLP
Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge
Greater Boston Legal Services
Harvard Law School Tenant Advocacy Project
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
Lubin & Meyer, P.C.
MA Court of Appeals
MA Housing and Shelter Alliance
Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office
New England Pension Action Center
Parker Scheer LLP
Philadelphia Law Department
Ropes & Gray
Robinson & Cole
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Suffolk Superior Court
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
U.S. Air Force JAG
U.S. Attorney’s Office
U.S. Department of the Navy, General Counsel
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Wiggin & Nourie

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome to the CSO Blog!

Welcome to the new CSO blogspot! The purpose of this site is to share updates on the topics that are important to your legal job search, including:

  • Job Search Strategies;
  • Interview Tips;
  • Resume & Cover Letter Tips; and,
  • Hot Topic Articles & Resources.

We will also use this site to post weekly polls and ask you, the student, to share your thoughts with us regarding legal career topics. Please feel free to respond to the entries using the comments section and to let us know what you'd like covered on the new CSO blogspot!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Terms of Use for Using this Website

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Federal Judicial Clerkship Information

Students may apply for federal clerkships using OSCAR, The On-line System for Clerkship Application and Review. OSCAR is a web-based system that enables clerkship applicants to file complete applications and recommenders to file letters of recommendation online. Applicants designate the OSCAR-participating judges to whom they wish to apply.

Over 500 federal judges are expected to use the system this year. Students interested in applying to those judges must do so using OSCAR. All other judicial clerkships may be applied for using the traditional methods.

To use OSCAR, visit and click on the “Application Registration” tab to create a profile with contact, background, and educational information. From that point, you can upload application materials, research clerkship vacancies, request recommendations, and submit applications. A complete user manual for using OSCAR is available here:

If you encounter any problems using OSCAR please visit the help site and look over the web log, FAQs, and user manual. If you still have questions, contact the Career Services Office at or call 617-422-7229.

Do Not Panic About Employment Prior to Graduation

Try not to panic if you have not secured post-graduate employment. As a new law graduate, you may naturally be in a limbo period until you receive your bar results in November. Some employers will wait to see if you have passed the bar exam before hiring you. This is okay! Spend your summer studying and passing the bar exam. When your life gets back to normal in August, then you can resume your job search, networking and conducting informational interviews with anyone you think may be helpful. These things will help when your bar results are available and you are a viable candidate for an attorney position.

In the meantime, there is still some time before graduation. If you want to search for jobs prior to graduation day, then perhaps the following tips can help to ease your concerns:
  1. Log on to the CSO’s Recruitment and Programming Center (RPC) to search for job postings https://law-une April - June is the busy season for small law firms and some government agencies. Contact the if you need a password to log on to RPC.
  2. Consider applying for federal government work. Check out It is reported that 30 – 50% of federal employees will be eligible to retire in the next few years. This is bound to result in a hiring boom.
  3. Consider applying for state government jobs. Check out and other state websites to find state job postings.
  4. Consider applying for public interest jobs. Check out
  5. Consider contacting government and public interest agencies that interest you. All state agencies are listed on state and local government websites. In addition, the Massachusetts Lawyers Diary and Manual is a hard copy directory that can help you find contact information for all state and federal agencies, as well as local courts. Copies of the Lawyers Diary are located in the CSO office and the law library.
  6. Consider initiating contact with legal employers. Martindale Hubble is an on-line directory of lawyers, law firms, government agencies and corporate legal departments. You can use this free resource to search for employers according to specifications such as practice area, location and firm size and then follow-up with them about possible employment opportunities. CAUTION: CSO does not recommend that you send blind mailings to hundreds of employers. Try to focus your search on a small group of employers who may be seeking new associates, but do not have the time to recruit. This is a great tool for contacting small and medium size law firms.
  7. Check job posting sites for legal work opportunities, such as,,, and There is a list of legal job posting links on the CSO website
  8. Continue to network. Nearly 85% of all Americans get their jobs through someone they know. Inform everyone you know that you are graduating from law school and will need to find a job soon. You never know if someone you know has heard of a job opening that would be perfect for you.

Do not get discouraged. There are more legal jobs out there than you realize. For more job search suggestions, contact the CSO, 617-422-7229 or We hope you have a terrific and productive summer!