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Employer Updates
Avoid These Summer Associate Pitfalls
[4/18/2016]

Avoid These Summer Associate Pitfalls

I attended a fascinating session at the NALP Conference last week in Boston featuring a panel discussing various summer associate missteps, many of which cost the offender a full-time offer. I briefly mentioned this in a series of tweets (@BaylorLawDaniel), and promised a longer discussion on this platform, so here it is.

The first category of summer associate (SA) behavior we’ll discuss falls under the umbrella of pride. Examples include: 1) an SA began talking during a negotiation conversation and made offers on behalf of the firm’s client, and 2) SA stating he didn’t need a trial advocacy class due to prior experience with...his own legal troubles. You need to understand your role and your place as a summer associate (and for that matter as a first and second year associate); don’t allow your pride to prevent you from earning a full-time offer, or worse, ruin your reputation and limit opportunities in the future.

These days, many firms try their best to only hire enough summer associates as they have the ability to hire full-time. Therefore there isn’t the same level of “competition” among the class of summer associates for a limited number of full-time positions as there used to be. That should make this next grouping of issues irrelevant, but sadly it hasn’t. SAs are known to rat out their fellow colleagues, talk to superiors about how much harder they are working than others, and even commit acts of sabotage. Funny enough, the examples given on this topic all wound up with the envious candidate not getting an offer, and the candidate(s) being talked about (even for valid reasons) getting an offer.

Firms with large summer programs will treat you well, but don’t be presumptuous and don’t take advantage. Treating you to lunch at a nice restaurant doesn’t give you license to choose the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu or multiple courses of food. And speaking of wine, we should address the issue of overindulging. It happens in every summer program and the person quickly becomes known as “that guy” or “that girl.” Be smart when it comes to alcohol and don’t throw your future down the drain for one night of thrills. One more general comment on social behavior: embarrassing but otherwise innocent conduct may not crater your candidacy if your work is great, it’s a one-time thing and you show the proper awareness and remorse. But again, why take a chance?

It should go without saying that you need to work hard during your clerkship and respect your employer, but I was amazed at the stories of summer clerks who didn’t show up for hours or days at a time, plagiarized work and even modified (i.e. falsified) their transcripts. But without question the most common issue within this genre is summer associates not responding to inquiries about a work assignment, and then leaving it with the supervisor on the last day of the clerkship, often incomplete or incorrect. Please communicate with whomever is giving you work, keep them up to speed, and let them know if you are falling behind or having trouble. They are going to find out at some point anyway, and when they do it will be too late for you.

The last piece of advice from this session relates to background checks and social media checks. You should assume every employer is performing some type of check along these lines. Therefore, if you have an issue that could turn up, best disclose it yourself before they find out and believe you’ve hidden something from them.

Got more questions about summer associate bad behavior? Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Summer Clerk with Brown Fox PLLC(2L, Dallas) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Mailbag!
[4/11/2016]

Mailbag!

Q: I’ve been attending networking functions and meeting people, but nothing has come from it in terms of an actual job yet. What am I doing wrong?

A: I understand the frustration; however, there are two assumptions in your question which are (most likely) mistaken. First, networking is a process; and not just a transaction whereby you attend x number of networking events and in return you receive a job. It’s also a process you will continue throughout your career as a lawyer, in order to recruit and retain clients and maintain beneficial relationships in your local bar. So just because you haven’t received a job after attending some networking functions doesn’t mean nothing has come from it. You know more people now; they know you. If those people are made aware of a job opportunity in the next couple of months, they might think of you, whereas before they would not have. That is progress! Think of it this way: scientists work for years studying diseases, and only after hours and hours of hypothesis testing, trials, being wrong and making adjustments, and more trials do they (sometimes!) arrive at a cure. I am certain those days can feel long and pointless with no assurance of reward at the end, but without those days of investment the reward will simply never come.

The second assumption which is likely off-base is that you are doing something wrong. Like I said, the process can be long and difficult and without much reward for a period of time, regardless of whether you are doing everything right or not. However, it is possible you could be doing something that hurts your chances, and if you think that’s the case please come by and talk with Angela or me about it. We are happy to visit and see if we can validate what you are currently doing, or suggest some tweaks that might help you going forward.

Q: Is working for a judge really something I should consider? Even if it is unpaid?

A: The general answer for most of you is going to be an emphatic yes! Working for a judge is something that employers often mention to me as an experience they value highly or even specifically look for. They say it gives students an inside look on how a judge thinks and works, which can be very helpful to a summer associate or entry-level lawyer. True many of these positions are unpaid, which is why we suggest you consider working for a judge either in your first summer or during your 2L academic year. (Most of you will likely want to find a law firm to work in during your second summer, since those experiences are more likely to directly lead to a full-time position, and they are paid)

I also want to address the handful of you with the opportunity to work in a post-graduate federal judicial clerkship. These are prestigious positions that you should strongly consider for your first year of practice prior to going on to your long-term employer. Future clients, colleagues and employers will ascribe a level of credibility and prominence to you as a result of your clerkship that is difficult to duplicate any other way. And the experience itself will make you a better lawyer. Please stop by the CDO if you are interested; the application deadlines are different for every judge, and some even begin reviewing applications from students late in their 1L year!

Have questions for the mailbag? Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Summer Law Clerk with Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball(1L/2L, Houston) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Employment Stats: Where Do They Come From and Why Are They Important?
[4/4/2016]

Employment Stats: Where Do They Come From and Why Are They Important?

April is stats month. Every law school around the country accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) will be reporting their annual employment statistics from the 2015 class within the next week. Baylor is no exception, and the CDO has been working feverishly over the past few weeks to collect each piece of information the ABA requires, including supporting documentation.

Understand, we believe transparency and accurate information is important. You relied on it (as did Angela and I) when researching law schools and ultimately choosing your legal education destination, and various constituencies comb employment data to make broader judgements about the quality of each law school.

Why do I tell you all this? There are two primary reasons: 1) to thank the 2015 class for their cooperation and responsiveness, and 2) to impress upon you the importance of responding to our requests for employment information when your time comes.

Employment data does not just magically appear in our inboxes. Employers don’t submit their new entry-level employees to all the law schools for us to report. Rather, the responsibility is placed on law school CDOs to go out and request this data from each one of you, and for you to respond with timely, complete and accurate data.

This is why I want to spend time in this piece thanking the 2015 class. You see, the large, large majority of them responded to our initial requests and allowed us to move on to the few others who were not as responsive. This made the process more efficient and freed up our time to do what we are all here for: to help current students and recent graduates find employment. Every minute we spend collecting employment data is a minute we’re not helping you; I suspect you agree this is not the best use of our time. (That said, Angela does much of this work outside normal business hours, taking as much or more from her personal time than from her typical work day, but you get the point). So thank you Class of 2015; you made this year’s process go about as smooth as it possibly could go.

Hopefully in my praise for the 2015 class, you perceived why it is so important that when your time comes to respond to our requests about your employment data, that you do so in a timely manner. This is so important, that you might recall we mentioned it in our very first meeting with you as a 1Q. We truly believe that each student here owes it to the next class to “pay it forward.” And note that, if you choose to be one of the few non-responders, it isn’t the CDO or even Baylor Law School who you will hurt (we will ultimately just report you as Unknown, which isn’t necessarily harmful or helpful). Rather it is the next class who didn’t benefit from our time because we were trying to track you down unsuccessfully.

So please keep this in mind as you near graduation and begin to receive graduation surveys, employment surveys, and other similar requests. We depend on you, but more importantly, the next class is depending on you, just as you depended on the class ahead of you. And fortunately for the Class of 2016, those ahead of you absolutely did pay it forward. Great job 2015ers!

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: 2016 full-time summer law clerk with Grotefeld, Hoffman, Schleiter, Gordon, Ochoa & Evinger, LLP(1L/2L, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


How Should You Handle This Interview Curveball?
[3/21/2016]

How Should You Handle This Interview Curveball?

I recently met with an employer who, at the beginning of an interview, asks the candidate to tell him a little bit about the firm. Whoa! That question was supposed to end with “yourself” instead of “the firm.” But no, this employer wants to learn some things about you right out of the gate, by watching your actions rather than words. You can talk about yourself, your strengths, why you want to join the firm, etc., but in the mind of this employer, he has crafted a question that allows you to demonstrate these traits rather than just talk about them.

Exactly what is it this employer is attempting to learn with a question like that? First, he wants to see how you prepare. Preparation is a reflection of work ethic and dedication, two important qualities in a candidate for an attorney position. If you don’t prepare for a job interview, why should he expect you to prepare any better for a client meeting, deposition or trial?

He also is looking for your interest in his specific firm. We’ve discussed this on the blog before, but it is worth repeating here. Employers don’t want candidates just looking for “a” job, they want candidates looking for “this” job. Candidates who would be just as happy working at the firm upstairs aren’t very enticing. So how you answer the question is certainly a way to gauge your level of interest in the firm. (i.e. your issue might not be lack of preparation generally, but rather lack of interest in this specific firm which led to your lack of preparation).

What this employer is doing is cutting through the preliminaries and getting to the real meat of the matter. Most interviewers look for signs throughout your interview answers that you have researched the firm, know what they do and weave your personal story into what the firm is looking for. They also look for interest and preparation when offering you the chance to ask questions at the end. After all, how can you ask intelligent questions if you haven’t prepared? But that model of interviewing, though still by far the most prevalent, stretches out and delays an inevitable rubber-meets-the-road moment: when the employer learns whether you want this job enough to prepare for the interview like you would a final exam.

I don’t know what happens in an interview with this particular employer if the candidate bombs on that first question, but I can say there is no coming back from it. On the flip side, if a candidate knocks the question out of the park, they are going to be in the discussion for moving forward in the process even if the rest of the interview doesn’t go as well.

Think of the typical interview as a reverse bell curve, where the beginning question is key because it’s you trying to make your first impression, and the end is key because that’s when they are giving you a chance to ask questions and demonstrate your preparation and interest in the firm. What this employer is doing is moving that key, important portion of the interview to the very beginning, creating essentially a slide from early/more important to late/less important.

Two takeaways from this are: 1) recognize the importance of preparing for each interview, and 2) recognize the importance of the first few minutes of an interview. If you have questions about this please don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a mock interview so we can work on these issues together.

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Associate Litigation Attorney with Touchstone Bernays(3L/Alumni, Dallas) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


When And How To Follow Up With An Employer
[3/14/2016]

When And How To Follow Up With An Employer

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from students and job seekers comes after either applying or interviewing: when can/do I follow up? How do I follow up? It can be a difficult decision to make. You want to express your continued interest and get an update on the process, but at the same time don’t want to come across as annoying, or worse, desperate.

I think a starting point on this topic is to say there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, except that you should always send a thank you note following an interview. The type of employer matters, as does how well you know the interviewer. The best resource to use for answering this question, particularly after interviewing, is what was said in the interview. Did the interviewer give a timetable for when to expect to hear back? Did they say how many people they were interviewing and when those interviews were? Did the interviewer say to feel free to contact them if you have any other questions?

If they gave you a specific timetable, I would reach out a day or two after the mentioned date. If a specific date wasn’t mentioned but you gleaned a timeframe based on the interview schedule with other candidates, I would reach out a week or so after the final scheduled interview. If you don’t know anything about their timetable, then I suggest following up between one and two weeks after your interview.

The point in the process also matters. If you applied and are waiting to hear if you will be interviewed, I tend to wait a bit longer to follow up (i.e. two weeks or more). I wouldn’t wait as long after a first interview, since reaching out one more time and expressing interest could help you get into the next round. (Of course I’m assuming you already followed up post-interview with a thank you note). If you’ve interviewed a final time and are just awaiting word on if you got the job, again I would be following up around one week after the interview.

Email is fine to use in most of these cases, and more important than the mode of communication, the primary purpose of your contact should be to express your continued interest in the position, as opposed to getting a status update. You could also ask if there is anything else they need from you (e.g. references, writing sample) to help with their decision.

Sometimes circumstances out of your control can cause you to have to reach out sooner than ideally desired, and make the contact more about the status update. For example, you receive another job offer but are still awaiting word from your first choice employer. Here you are on solid ground to reach out “early” to the first choice employer to let them know of your situation and see when they might have a decision.

Finally, if you reach out and either don’t hear back, or they respond but now another week or two has gone off the clock, there is definitely an art to the continued follow-up. I suggest no more than weekly (perhaps longer if they don’t seem in any rush), and to change up the type and style of the contact. Alternate between email, phone and letter. Refer to your different strengths and remind the employer how that strength makes you a great candidate.

Staying in touch with employers throughout an application and interview process is important, and something you should be doing with at least some frequency if you are serious about the job. Think about it: if three finalists are in regular communication and two other finalists have been silent since the interview, who does the employer think really wants the job?

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Law Clerk for Summer 2016 with Cokinos, Bosien & Young(1L/2L, San Antonio) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.



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Spring OCI Week Updates
[2/29/2016]

Spring OCI Week Updates

(I’ll have updates to this post throughout the week, so keep checking back)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 29TH

9:00am – We’re off and running with Spring OCI 2016. Today is busiest day in terms of number of employers and interviews, but they continue Tuesday and Wednesday. Students remember to check in with Monica 10 minutes prior to the interview, and bring copies of your resume just in case the interviewer asks for one. Relax, be yourself, and confidently answer questions and engage in discussion. You’ll do great!

2:10pm – Nearly through with day one, and something keeps coming to my mind about interviewing that I wanted to share (if you were in my interview program last week you already heard this): you want to answer the question, “Why do you want to work here,” even if it isn’t a question that is directly asked. Many employers will ask this question, or a version of it. But regardless, you want to make it clear that you want the job, and why. A common mistake is to answer this in terms of geography and practice area, but not personalize it further to that particular employer. There are scores of litigation firms in Houston; why do you want to work at THIS ONE?!

4:55pm - As the day is winding down, I want to give you a note of encouragement. Multiple employers have gone out of their way to say what a great group of candidates you are. Specifically, they cite your confidence and preparedness for the interview. When they mention anything about why students might not get a callback interview or offer, it's due to lack of fit, which is not something you can (or should) want to do anything about. We still have a few interviews going on and if there is more to say today I'll update you. Otherwise we'll be back in the morning. Get some rest!

TUESDAY, MARCH 1ST

10:43am - Great tip from an employer to start the day: treat EVERYONE at the firm with respect and kindness. First and foremost, it's the right thing to do. But secondly, you never know how much an associate, paralegal, office manager, etc. can help or hurt your chances at getting the job. You should do everything you can to make sure anyone you come in contact with during an interview is supportive (or at least indifferent) to your candidacy.

5:52pm - More great feedback from employers today! One commented on how impressive it was that the candidate had found some of his work on PACER. Another mentioned how excellent the resumes were. One more day of interviews!

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Associate with Kemp Smith(3L/Alumni, El Paso) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Winter 2016 Legal Market Update
[2/23/2016]

Winter 2016 Legal Market Update

I mentioned in the last post that toward the end of January I visited employers in New York City. The initial reason for the trip, however, was actually to attend a NALP conference with colleagues from both law firms and other law school career development offices. One of the items on that agenda was a legal market update from NALP’s Executive Director James Leipold. Mr. Leipold is an expert on the legal market, and his presentations are always keenly observed.

We continue to be reminded that while 60,000 legal sector jobs were lost in the recession of 2008 and 2009, only 10,000 jobs have been recovered. So the industry is still down 50,000 jobs from pre-recession levels. Technology and globalization are also contributing factors to the losses.

The 2015 employment numbers won’t be in until April (if you’re a 2015 graduate and haven’t completed an employment survey, please do so!), but 2014 saw the first growth in the employment rate since 2007. That said, there were actually fewer jobs obtained in 2014 than in any year since 2008. How can those two facts be true? Because there were significantly fewer graduates in the 2014 pool than in past years (i.e. a smaller denominator in the employment rate fraction). Enrollment in law schools has continued to decline, from a high of over 52,000 five years ago, to 37,000 in 2015-16. So even though the number of total legal jobs has actually declined, the reduction in the number of students seeking jobs has propped up the overall employment rate: simple supply and demand.

Numbers from last fall’s on-campus recruiting season were encouraging. 36% of schools saw substantial increases in the number of employers recruiting on-campus, while 43% saw little change (Baylor was in this category). Only 21% saw numbers substantially decrease. Further schools are seeing increased participation at their spring on-campus programs, as are we here at Baylor.

Non-OCI job postings have also increased or stayed the same at the vast majority of schools across the country. We have seen ours increase by 16% from 2014 to 2015.

Employers are also reporting increased recruiting activities. 2015 was the first year since 2011 that more employers increased the number of schools they were recruiting from than decreased. Those visits are also paying off for students in the way of offers. 59% of employers made more offers in 2015 than they did in 2014, with another 15% making 10 or more additional offers than in the prior year. Students going on callback interviews are more and more likely to receive an offer from that callback over the last few years. That number has steadily increased from a low of 44% in 2012, to 54% in 2015.

Summer associate class sizes at the large firms are always a barometer I look at for the overall strength of the legal job market. That number was 30 in 2007, and dipped all the way to eight in 2009. It had slowly risen to 15 as of 2014, but then saw a substantial increase to 20 for 2015. That’s a positive sign, though the class size is still just 2/3rds of what it was pre-recession. Also of note is that full-time offer rates for 2L clerks rose to a modern high of 95% in 2015; even the booming pre-recession years only saw highs of 93%.

The last stat I want to share is the on-campus recruiting activity of law firms with regard to 3Ls (i.e. full-time searches). The pre-recession years saw between 40% and 50% of law firms recruiting 3Ls when they went on-campus. That number dropped to 3% percent in 2009, was back up to 15% in 2010, and in 2015 is up to 23%.

Overall, I do believe these numbers tell an accurate story. The job market is improving, perhaps faster over the past year than in any since 2008. However, the factors we mentioned at the beginning continue to be a drag on the growth of the market, and have kept it from returning to pre-recession levels.

If you have any questions about the market or these numbers, please don’t hesitate to stop by or email me.

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Summer Internship with the U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Texas(1L/2L, Tyler) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Want To Work In The Big Apple? Takeways From My New York City Excursion
[2/8/2016]

Want To Work In The Big Apple? Takeways From My New York City Excursion

When I was in law school, I had the good fortune to obtain a 1L clerkship with the in-house department of a company in New York City. I wasn’t seeking out the Big Apple specifically; I just wanted to work in sports. But it occurs to me that there are a number of you who either are, or would be interested in, an opportunity in New York (or for that matter, an out-of-state major market). I was just there at the end of January for a NALP conference, and had the chance to visit a number of legal employers as well*. Let me tell you what I learned.

In some ways, New York is similar to the large markets here. You have a group of big law firms setting the employment trends for everyone else, and then a ton of other employers of all types, sizes and varieties. Specific opportunities I came across on this trip were in-house internships/clerkships, and the district attorney’s office for full-time positions.

New York is the financial capital of the world, so it is filled with companies possessing an in-house legal department. I met with several, and all were open to receiving resumes from Baylor students for internships and clerkships, though they don’t post positions here (or in some cases anywhere). These jobs are great for the 1L summer, providing experience and a network of contacts you can call on down the line. Being for-profit, they also tend to be paying gigs (though it is New York, so you’ll need a decent check just to pay the rent!).

For those interested in full-time opportunities, the best option might just be the district attorney’s offices. I met with the New York County (Manhattan office) recruiting folks, and they were very receptive to our message and what Baylor Law students and graduates have to offer. They are open to those outside the top of the class (though the jobs are competitive), but you do need to be able to demonstrate your commitment to criminal law and prosecuting.

One note on the big law firms, as I did spend some time with them. The best way to get in the door might just be to make a stop in a judicial clerkship first before applying. While they will accept your resumes and give you a look, my impression is it will be a challenge to get an interview while in law school or immediately after. And look, if you’re at that level, a judicial clerkship ought to probably be a serious consideration for you anyway.

So if you are interested in spending time in New York City, you should come see me so I can share more specifics with you. The contacts I’ve made there were gracious and helpful, and I’m certain would be a good place for you to start even if they don’t have an opportunity immediately available for you. My 1L summer in New York was a law school career highlight, and I would love to help any of you experience something similar if you have the interest.

*Employers visited: Major League Soccer, Estee Lauder, Time Warner Cable, Common Legal, New York County District Attorney’s Office, Moody’s Investor Service, Major League Baseball Networks, Sullivan & Cromwell

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: OATH Legal Internship Program(1L/2L, New York City) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Three Common Interview Issues I See, And How To Fix Them
[1/25/2016]

Three Common Interview Issues I See, And How To Fix Them

I have conducted scores of mock interviews over the last three years, in addition to actual interviews I’ve either conducted or participated in. Reflecting on those experiences, I believe three issues are the most prevalent and need to be addressed. They are: 1) talking about yourself, 2) providing examples to back up what you’re saying, and 3) asking quality questions of the interviewer. Let’s take these in turn.

It is perhaps the most common interview question there is, and yet at the same time, causes the most anxiety and difficulty for interviewees. The question is, “Tell me about yourself,” or any of that question’s progeny. Why is it such a challenge? There are a number of reasons. I think the biggest one is how broad the question is, and determining not only what to say, but in how much detail. Obviously the interviewer isn’t asking for a verbal form of your 200 page biography, but at the same time they are wanting to get to know you better in that 60-120 second answer. There is some good news, however! Because you know it (or something like it) is coming, you can prepare. Nothing provides more (well-placed) confidence than practice and preparation, so use that to your advantage here. Spend some time going over the key points, twists, turns in your life, figure out which intertwine with strengths or experiences you prefer to highlight for the interviewer, and craft a concise and complete (meaning it has a defined end!) answer that is no more than 120 seconds.

Speaking of strengths, I hear many in the interviews I conduct. Among law students the list often includes such traits as: hard worker, organized, detail oriented, oral advocate and written advocate. These are all great strengths to trumpet in an interview. The problem arises when the strength is all there is. If I am interviewing 21 students during OCI and I hear 21 strengths or lists of strengths, they are going to start running together at some point. Even if there is a particular strength I am looking for and I narrow down the field based up who gave the “right” answer, I still need to differentiate. The clearest way that distinction is made is when a candidate provides specific and on-point examples of the strength they just named. If four students mention detail oriented as their strength, but one follows it up with a story that underscores (dare I say proves?) that fact, that candidate is going to stand out over the others.

Finally, perhaps the best way to make your mark in an interview is to ask excellent questions. Yet so few take advantage. The first pitfall to avoid is asking a bunch of process questions (i.e. When would the internship start? How much does it pay? When are you hoping to make a decision?). Nothing is wrong with these questions, per se. But you miss an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the employer and preparation for the interview. What if instead of those questions above, you asked: “I noticed on your website that you recently brought in an oil/gas partner; do you see that as a growth practice area in the future that I might have an opportunity to work in?”, or “I saw where you were awarded as a best places to work in Dallas; to what do you attribute that impressive honor?” These are questions that demonstrate you know something about the employer, and you are curious and want to know more.

I hope you’ll take advantage of a mock interview in the coming weeks so we can work together to improve and enhance your interview skills. There is so much more I can share in that forum that we simply don’t have the space for here. So don’t miss out!

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Law Intern 2016 at BNSF Railway(2L, Fort Worth) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Don't Let Perfect Get In The Way Of Good
[1/11/2016]

Don't Let Perfect Get In The Way Of Good

I recently met with an alumna who absolutely loves her job. She hasn’t been out of school very long, and this job is not her first. (Before I go any further, I want to be very clear that in no way am I advocating “job-hopping” or not committing to an employer. The purpose of this article is to address what I regularly see in students who let the perfect job get in the way of a good job.)

It has been happening more and more recently; students or recent graduates will have a very good job offer, yet be apprehensive and doubtful about accepting it, perhaps even choosing to decline. These candidates are often looking for the perfect job (or perhaps, near-perfect). The reasons they give will vary. Sometimes, the entry-level candidate is looking for a job that almost always is going to someone with experience. Other times, the job is in the “wrong” location. Maybe the work is not quite what the candidate wants to do, or the pay is a bit lower than he or she hoped. But while the specific reasons may vary, the big picture issue is the same; perfect is getting in the way of good (or very good!).

Expectations is a tricky subject to address with students. We want you to reach for the stars and go after your dreams. At the same time, we know the realities of the market, and the truth that the dream job usually comes, if at all, much later in a career. Further, I would make the argument that students can hurt their chances at the dream job if they are too picky when deciding on the first. Why? Because unfortunately what can happen is the candidate is selective and turning down opportunities up until the time the first loan payment is due or finances start to get tight, and then they wind up taking a job that is not as good an opportunity as the one they turned down months earlier.

You know what else? Do the math on how much money someone could lose waiting for that perfect job. Let’s say six months passes between turning down the good job and taking another. With a modest salary of $60,000, that’s $30,000 the candidate gave away waiting around for the perfect job.

Much of this is about risk and reward. True, there have been times when a student has held out and been very glad they did. But those situations are relatively few, and usually founded upon a realistic view of their prospects in finding the position they were seeking. Take a top 25% student with an electrical engineering degree who has a job offer to do IP litigation in East Texas for $70,000/year. If that student wanted to hold out for a $100,000 patent prosecution position in Dallas, that would probably be a reasonable risk to take. IP attorneys are in demand, and commonly attract six-figure salaries. However, if a middle-of-the-road student (which I was) has that same IP litigation/East Texas offer and is holding out for a six-figure Dallas commercial litigation position, my advice would be to take the offer. It will take a couple of years for that student to get where they want to go, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

Going back to the alumna I mentioned at the beginning; she did some work in a prosecutor’s office and in a civil litigation firm before making her way to a non-practicing role with a political organization. If she had waited on the perfect job out of law school, it likely would not have come. By going the route she did, the experience and relationships she gained in those other jobs made a way for her to wind up in her dream job. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good, because many times good is a necessary first step.

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Associate with Davis Craig & Taylor(3L, Dallas) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Let's Clear This Up
[12/15/2015]

Let's Clear This Up

I think there has been a miscommunication somewhere. Some students seem to have the impression that a large law firm will require them to work exceptionally hard, and smaller firms and other types of employers will not. If those messages were received from our office, they were unintended and we apologize. We need to be very clear about this: being a lawyer is hard work no matter where you practice.

If you are using such factors as work load and work/life balance when evaluating your career options, you have to remember to analyze them within the confines of the legal profession, and weigh them appropriately as well.

There are plenty of office jobs out there which are 8-5, no holidays or weekends, and little to no stress. Being a lawyer is not one of them. Let’s say Big Law is an 85 on the 1 to 100 scale of challenging work hours and expectations (making this number up, but allowing for all Mike Rowe-type jobs to fill out the top 15%); it isn’t like other law firms are in the 40s. And that’s the feel I get sometimes when listening to students. I think what you’ll find is a group of other law firms at or near Big Law level (including a few even more demanding), and the rest slightly below. The idea that a “work/life balance law firm” is going to have the same feel as the 8-5 office job I referenced earlier is a misunderstanding of the legal market.

Why is this important? Am I suggesting you should all pursue Big Law? Obviously the answer to the second question is no. But as to the first, it’s important that you have correct information on which to base your decision. I feel we could be on a path where some of you go to work in firms you perceive are less onerous, and in six months feel you were duped because it really is hard work. You’ll then start wondering whether you should look for another firm that matches what you were looking for (which probably doesn’t exist). My hope is for you to avoid all of that by recalibrating your expectations, today.

You should assume that any job you take as a practicing lawyer is going to be demanding of your time and mental energy, regardless of the size of the firm. If it turns out the firm you chose is one which is slightly less consuming of your time, you’ll feel blessed by the relief rather than upset it didn’t meet your formerly out-of-whack expectations.

Finally, remember that as a lawyer you have a duty to serve your client. If that requires a few 20 hour days before trial, so be it. If the client is distraught and calls you during dinner, so be it. Whether you’re at a big firm, small firm, or even a government job (we taxpayers can demand a lot sometimes as well!), the law will demand much from you. So recalibrate your expectations now, and move forward in your job search with eyes wide open.

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: 2016 Summer Associate with Foster(2L/3L, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


The Most Important Interview Tip I Can Give You
[12/7/2015]

The Most Important Interview Tip I Can Give You

Okay, so the headline is quite a tease and I apologize I’m not going to give you the answer right away. Before I reveal the most important interview tip, here are the tips that lost a close race to being most important.

  1. Be prepared – this should go without saying, but it is important and sometimes overlooked. Interviewers can tell who has done their research and who hasn’t, and it can become an easy way for them to eliminate candidates when narrowing the pool down to a more manageable number.

  2. Want the job – sometimes students go overboard in an effort to not appear too excited or desperate for the position. This is a mistake. Often when employers are down to just a few candidates, all of whom they feel could do the job, it will be the candidate they perceive as the most interested in the position who will get the job. Most employers want to hire someone who will be there for a decent amount of time, and the candidate’s interest in the job is one indicator of that.

  3. Ask great questions – this one is interesting because it is really an offshoot of (1) and (2). If you prepare well and demonstrate genuine interest in the job, it will show in the quality of the questions you ask. You can use research you’ve done on the employer as a jumping off point for a question (ex. I saw your firm recently added a Bankruptcy partner; is that an area you are looking to grow moving forward?). Avoid “process” questions such as “when might you make a decision” or “how many clerks are you planning to hire?” (For the life of me I don’t understand the value of that last one, yet it gets asked fairly often).

Now that we’ve dispensed with the "runner-up" tips, I can spend some time on the most important interview tip I can give you: create, develop and get comfortable with your personal story (i.e. your elevator pitch). It is common to be asked early in an interview to “tell me about yourself.” However, when I ask students that question in a mock interview, it tends to be the one they have the most trouble with. When addressing the reason for the struggle, the most prevalent response is “I’m not comfortable talking about myself.” “I don’t know what they want to hear” is another refrain.

Here’s my advice on how to prepare to tell your story and communicate it clearly and succinctly:

  1. Start at the beginning. I’m always disappointed when the first words out of a student’s mouth are “I’m a 2L at Baylor Law School, studying trusts and estates.” Why? Because it’s very difficult to then go back and fill me in on the first 20+ years of your life. And even if that was the intent, it doesn’t happen. Where are you from? How did you get from there to here? These are important to mention and not skip over.

  2. Identify four to six key moments or stages in your life that you would say directly contributed to your being in law school and interviewing for this job. Maybe it was debating in high school. Were you a devoted watcher of a legal drama on TV growing up? Was your mom in an accident when you were younger, and a helpful attorney made an impression on you? You aren’t going to tell these stories in their entirety (there won’t be time); but you do want to provide a sample of something interesting they might want to know more about.

  3. Practice, practice, practice. Because you know you’re going to be asked some version of this question, it only makes sense that you should prepare the answer ahead of time. I suggest you plan on approximately 90 seconds, and if you feel they want more you can always go back and fill in your key moments with more detail. Lock this answer in, and you’ll not only be prepared when the question comes, you will deliver it with confidence.

  4. Knowing how to talk about yourself and tell your story is critical in an interview. Because the question typically comes at the beginning (maybe even #1), it can set the stage for the rest of the interview. If you knock this answer out of the park, you are in good shape and even have some room to slip up here and there and still have a solid performance. If, on the other hand, you struggle through this answer, you start off way behind and it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to come back.

I strongly encourage you to do a mock interview if you haven’t already, and we can work through these issues together. Happy Interviewing!

Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: 2016 Summer Associate with Husch Blackwell(1L, Dallas) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


Four Tips For 1Ls Starting The Clerkship Search
[11/30/2015]

Four Tips For 1Ls Starting The Clerkship Search

Tomorrow is the day. All across the country, first year law students will fill up law firm recruiters’ inboxes with resumes for summer clerkships. Before you do the same, here are four tips to help you take full advantage.

  1. Personalize each application. Whether you are sending an email with your resume attached, or mailing it in old-school (nothing wrong with this by the way, unless the firm has provided explicit instructions otherwise), make sure the recruiter feels like you sent this one to them specifically. If the instructions dictate you apply via an online tool which removes personalization, you’ll have to get a bit more creative. Perhaps you contact the recruiter separately, just to let them know you applied and make sure they received your resume. Another route might be to find a Baylor Lawyer at the firm, and let them know you applied.


  2. Follow instructions and eliminate mistakes. You would be amazed at the stories I hear of recruiters tossing resumes out from otherwise qualified candidates, on the basis of not following instructions or making mistakes in their application documents. Remember they are receiving hundreds of resumes this month, and are looking for easy ways to cull down the list of viable candidates. Be sure to clear this unassuming but deadly hurdle by re-reading the recruiting website for instructions, and proof-reading all documents you are submitting.


  3. Follow up. Don’t submit your resume and wait for a call; unless you are the child of a shareholder it likely isn’t coming. You need to stay in touch with recruiters throughout the process (see example in (1) above). Also, find out where they will be over the next month or two. Many firms participate in job fairs and host holiday receptions; know their calendar and make plans to meet them in person at one or more of them. Finally, don’t wait for the firm to ask you to for your grades. Submit them as soon as you are comfortable (i.e. if you only have one grade, but it’s an A, I would go ahead and submit. You can always update them as others come in).


  4. Don’t limit yourself to law firms. While the December 1 date generally applies to law firms, you should not limit your search for 1L opportunities to firms. First, there simply aren’t enough opportunities to warrant such a restriction; the odds are you will not find a law firm position in your first summer. Second, the 1L summer is a great opportunity to see a couple of different career options, including government/judicial employers and non-profit/business employers. You will have the opportunity in the 2L summer to work with a firm as well, and in fact may feel the pressure to do so, so the 1L summer is a great time to explore alternatives without any pressure or expectations.

  5. Please don’t hesitate to ask Angela or me about issues related to 1L summer clerkships and related opportunities. Also, don’t forget to review the list of employers who may have 1L opportunities; you can find it when you log in to Symplicity. Good luck!

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Summer Judicial Internship with United States Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of Texas(1L/2L/3L, McAllen) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    West Texas Tales
    [11/16/2015]

    West Texas Tales

    Last week, I spent three days, drove over 1,000 miles, stopped in three West Texas cities and visited 11 employers. If you’ve read this blog, attended our events, or just generally listened to us for any amount of time, you have heard us encourage you to keep your geographic options open. So I won’t repeat myself here. Today, I want to emphasize two things: 1) thinking through interview answers regarding location, and 2) understanding what most employers are looking for.

    It is critical that you give significant thought to each interview and each employer prior to the interview. I heard too many stories last week of candidates (not necessarily from Baylor, but Baylor certainly was not immune) who would make comments in interviews which were on their face disqualifying. One example is when a student said in an interview that while Dallas was their first choice, they are open to a place like Amarillo. Now, why is that a problem? First, you have to understand that one of the concerns employers have in nearly every city is that you’re going to leave for another city after you’ve been there for a couple of years. They will have essentially trained you to work for someone else. Further, “being open to a place like” is never a good phrase to use. If you think about a scale of interest in a location, that might be just one to the right of “would not consider,” with several more to the right before you get to “first choice.” It doesn’t sound like you really want to be there; and employers want to hire people who want to be there.

    If in fact the way you feel about the location of an employer you’re interviewing with is as I’ve described, there are other ways to talk about it. First, don’t mention any other city at all. The only city that matters right now is the city where the employer is located. Second, you need to find things about the city that genuinely interests you. Think about what you would do on the weekends if you got the job; research what opportunities are there. Continuing the Amarillo example, they are building a new downtown ballpark and have seen growth in a number of sectors in recent years. Know about that and talk about it! Where would you hike? Hunt? Climb? Swim? Ski? Know how close a nearby attraction is. I have several friends in Amarillo who take advantage of Angel Fire, NM, which is a 4+ hour drive away. You need to sell the employer that you want to be there, and will enjoy it!

    Quickly, the other issue I want to address is what most employers are looking for, which is summed up with the word “fit.” This is a factor with most employers, but even more so in small firms, small towns, and any employer where the environment is close knit and it’s important to be able to get along with people. When you get to an interview, most interviewers will have determined you could do the actual job, and will spend most of the time trying to determine if you are a good fit. So make sure every answer you give conveys the image of someone who works hard, is focused on team successes rather than individual successes, will not difficult to work with, treats clerical, office and paralegal staff with gratitude and respect, and is a genuinely nice person. These are often the traits that will separate the successful candidate from everyone else.

    I could probably write ten more blog posts on West Texas, and maybe I will, but for another post and another time.

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Internship with the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office(1L/2L/3L, Conroe) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    Time To Think About Holiday Networking
    [11/9/2015]

    Time To Think About Holiday Networking

    Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so I want to take the opportunity to remind you this is the time of year when you should be knocking out a lot of your face-to-face networking.

    Remember in the nine-quarter job search plan we encourage you to adopt, the winter quarter is when we suggest you prioritize meeting new contacts and adding them to your network. The goal here is not to ask for a job, but simply to begin building relationships with people in the legal community. One of the biggest mistakes I see students make is to limit the purpose of contacting people to asking for a job. Why should they want to help you at that point? What sets you apart from the other students they receive resumes from? For that matter, how is contacting them to ask for a job all that different from just emailing them a resume?

    Some of this will depend on where you are in your law school career, but for those not needing a full-time job right now (i.e. you just graduated or are about to graduate), there is simply no reason why you should be coming right out and asking for a job when you meet new people.

    You should make the first meeting one where you ask most of the questions, and get the person to talk about how they got their job, what they like best about the practice area, advice they would go back and give their law school self, etc. Then, stay in touch with that person on a regular basis by email or social media, where appropriate. Set up a google news alert for the person and/or the firm, and shoot a quick note when something pops into your feed. Try this for an exercise: don’t offer to give your resume until they ask for it! You might have that happen at the end of the first meeting, but don’t worry if it doesn’t. The time will come if you stick with it and focus on building the relationship.

    Practically, many of you will be traveling home or visiting family somewhere over the next two months; why not take advantage of that time to set up meetings with attorneys in those cities? Check with your family members or friends from back home, and see if they have any attorneys to suggest for you to meet with. Ask a professor the same thing. Visit my employer map and develop a list of options; I’m always happy to walk through them with you and suggest individuals to reach out to.

    Due to our geographic proximity to most of the jobs, and the rigor of the Baylor Law program, you only have so many days to be in the market you’re interested in without other obligations. Please don’t waste this golden opportunity to begin (or continue) building relationships with the legal community. If you work the plan as we suggest by adding new contacts each quarter and staying in touch with them throughout law school, you will be miles ahead when it comes time to ask for and land that first job.

    Note: Professor Wren and I will be conducting a program on networking December 1st at 3:30pm. Please plan to attend

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Litigation Intern and Policy Intern at Texas Public Policy Foundation(1L/2L/3L, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    Mailbag!
    [10/26/2015]

    Mailbag!

    Q: An employer offered me the job, and then asked what the lowest salary I could take is. How do I respond?

    A: I have a two-part answer for this. First, I think this is a really unsavory practice that employers will occasionally use. I think most of the time they don’t have nefarious intent, but rather just don’t take the time to understand what they’re saying. When an employer asks this question, it means they either don’t know the market value for your services, or they do know, but aren’t willing to pay it. Either is enough for me to raise at least a yellow flag, and give some more thought to whether this is a job I want to accept or not.

    Now, assuming you do want to work for this employer, you still need to respond to the question. My suggestion is to say something like, “Mr. Smith, I appreciate the job offer and am excited about the opportunity with your firm. I will give thoughtful consideration to any offer that you make, as I am confident it will be fair and reflective of the current market.”

    You might have noticed I did not provide a dollar figure. I simply don’t believe you should be the one to make the first salary offer; that is the employer’s role in this scenario, and they need to go first. If you feel pushed into a corner of feeling like you have little choice but to state a number, I refer back to my yellow flag comment and would ask if it has now become red. Assuming it hasn’t, you could use available salary data to share with the employer current market trends, again emphasizing that you would consider any fair offer. My hope would be they would not push you to this point, and instead embrace their role and make the first salary offer.

    Q: I’m a 1L and I keep hearing about December 1st. What is that date all about?

    A: December 1st is the first day that the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) permits law firms to consider applications from 1L students for summer clerkships, and permits you as a student at a NALP school to initiate contact with an employer. You can review these policies here, specifically Part V, D, 2. The idea is that 1L students need to be given space to focus exclusively on their studies in this critical portion of the first year, and absent these rules that simply wouldn’t happen.

    Therefore, you should be preparing your resume (work with Angela on this) right now so that you can submit it to firms on that December 1st date. Recruiters will be slammed with resumes that day, so don’t expect an immediate response, but I do think in some instances it can help you to be among the first students they heard from. Also keep in mind that most of these firms will want to see a copy of your first quarter grades before making any offers, and sometimes even before conducting any interviews.

    Our office is working right now to put together a list of employers who offer 1L opportunities (or at least have in the recent past), so be on the lookout for that.

    Got a question for the Mailbag? Send it in!

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Law Clerk at Ottobock North America(2L/3L, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    True Job Search Stories: Volume 1
    [10/19/2015]

    True Job Search Stories: Volume 1

    A student (we’ll call her Ashley) is in the top 60% or so of the class. She finds unpaid work with a judge, and then paid work with two firms in the midst of the first summer. Not bad! Next, she goes through the on-campus interview (OCI) process as a rising 2L and lands summer clerkships in each half of the summer. Wait, what? How does someone not at the top of the class pull something like this off? But it isn’t all rosy. After the 2L summer clerkships, neither firm makes a full-time offer to the student…ouch!

    After the setback, Ashley applies for 20 positions through Symplicity; in fact, this student logged onto Symplicity nearly 400 times while in school! Finally, she obtained a position with one of the firms who had posted their position in Symplicity, in late May/early June after graduation.

    There’s even more to that story. The partner at the firm who hired Ashley had previously worked with a lawyer who was with a firm Ashley had clerked for in her 2L summer, the one who hadn’t offered her a job. As soon as the partner saw this old firm of his listed on Ashley’s resume, he immediately called his former colleague to ask about her. The rest is history.

    Why do I tell you this story? Several reasons: First, I want you to be encouraged. If you put in the effort, you will land a job. We often say that your job search is a three year process, and it truly is. We also say you should spend two hours per week on your search, and follow the job search framework over all nine quarters. Please consider this if you haven’t already!

    Second, Ashley put in the effort. She worked three places as a 1L, two as a 2L, not to mention participating in clinics and writing onto law review. 400 Symplicity logins?! That is a big number. Bigger still when you consider that we will, from time to time, see students leaving here without a job who have NEVER logged onto Symplicity. Notice that nothing I just said pertained to Ashley’s grades. Make no mistake, getting good grades will make the path easier in some respects. But not being at the top of the class doesn’t mean there isn’t a great job out there for you to be had.

    Third, you won’t always be able to see the path to the job until after you’ve arrived. Ashley was sure she would be working at one of the two firms she clerked with as a 2L, and after she wasn’t, you can imagine her feeling like that time was wasted. Clearly it wasn’t. In fact, the time spent at those firms in the 2L summer was critical, without which Ashley probably wouldn’t have landed the job.

    There are stories like this in each and every graduating class. From time to time I’m going to share them with you, because you need to know how most students get their jobs, the work that goes into it, and the benefits of using the tools and resources in our office to your advantage!

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Attorney at Ross & Matthews, P.C. (Fort Worth, 3L). Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    How To Implement Networking In Your Job Search
    [10/5/2015]

    How To Implement Networking In Your Job Search

    On-campus interview season is nearly over, and some of you without a job are starting to ask what’s next. It’s an understandable and logical question, though the answer can be somewhat frustrating.

    The way the hiring cycles work with most legal employers breaks down into two broad types: 1) hire through on-campus interviews, or 2) hire when they need someone. The vast majority of employers are in the latter group, though you wouldn’t know it because the majority of employers you are exposed to (through OCI and other ways) are in the former.

    What we’ve just gone through with OCI is helping that minority of employers find their associate or summer clerk. Now we move on to the hire-as-needed employer group, and must approach them differently altogether.

    These employers, made up mostly of small and mid-size firms as well as government organizations, will almost never come to campus to recruit. Many times they may not even post their position when it comes open. So what do they do? They: 1) hire someone they know – perhaps a former clerk or someone they’ve gotten to know through a local bar/social event/etc.; 2) They call close friends or colleagues and ask for recommendations; or 3) They call law school faculty members or career development offices.

    Knowing that, you need to adjust your strategy to put yourself into a position to be the former clerk, the person they know or someone a colleague, faculty member or CDO staffer would recommend. Let’s take each of those one at a time.

    You obviously can’t be a former clerk without actually being a clerk, so this may seem like a bit of a chicken or egg issue. But if you broaden your outlook, what you’ll see is that doing almost any work or job can help you get the next, presumably better job. So, for example, if you are in your second year and don’t have a summer clerkship lined up, that might mean taking on some part-time work while in school, so that person would have the opportunity to recommend you to future employers. But you can also be known by an employer by the simple fact of reaching out to them for coffee, an informational interview, or perhaps a CLE or state bar event. Establishing a relationship with lawyers at the firm can happen whether or not your work for them.

    When an employer calls a friend or colleague asking if he/she knows anyone who would be a good fit with their firm, how do you become the first name that person thinks of and recommends? It might be to curt to say see the previous paragraph, but that’s really what it amounts to. For someone to recommend you to a friend or colleague, they will need to know you just the same as if they were the one considering hiring you.

    Lastly, how can you become the person that a faculty member or CDO staffer (i.e. Angela or I) recommends to employers? Well, we need to know who you are. So if your goal in law school is to keep your head down and get out of here with your degree and anonymity, you’re not going to be the first person we think of when an employer calls. So take the time to get to know your professors, particularly in the areas of law you’re most interested in. Also, stop in our office for coffee and donuts on Mondays, develop your job search plan with Angela, and do a mock interview with me. Make sure we know who you are and what you want to do. Otherwise, it’s very difficult for us to help you.

    I want to make two announcements in context of this post: 1) if you work your job search plan like I just referenced, you are going to have the opportunity to win prizes (in addition to better chances at getting a job of course), so stay tuned for details; and 2) Professor Wren and I will be conducting a networking program early next quarter. Be on the lookout for more information and please plan to attend.

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Austin Corporate 2016 Fall Associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Austin, 3L). Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    Your Social Media Presence Can Help And Hurt Your Job Prospects
    [9/28/2015]

    Your Social Media Presence Can Help And Hurt Your Job Prospects

    Recently I was visiting with an employer who told me their firm’s process when considering candidates for an open attorney position. In addition to the steps you might expect, she tossed in a step regarding social media. I was immediately interested, because while we know this type of thing goes on fairly regularly, it’s not often employers discuss it as part of their process.

    I must say this firm is not conducting a cursory review of social media and looking only for the really obvious disqualifying photos or statements. They certainly are looking at that, but much more. They want to see if the way a candidate presents themselves on social media fits with not only the firm, but also the firm’s clients.

    For example, a firm handling high-stakes litigation with Top 100 corporate clients won’t likely be drawn to a candidate with a social media profile featuring his many awards in competitive eating. A plaintiff’s firm, however, may have interest in someone who rails against big companies or certain industries on social media, because that person can empathize and communicate well with its clients, and fight for their cause.

    In other words, while we may think of “cleaning up” your social media profile for job seeking purposes as removing those photos or statements that are embarrassing or unprofessional, there are employers that are looking even deeper than that. The cleaned up profile is the minimum standard; past that they want to know whether a candidate is a good fit with both the firm as well as its clients.

    I was reflecting on this approach, and the way I started to think about it was that you need to be comfortable with your online presence. By that I mean you need to recognize employers will be looking, and be comfortable with whatever hiring decisions they make when factoring in what they see. If you are the anti-big business candidate, you need to be comfortable that a civil defense firm may find that off-putting, but a plaintiff’s firm may find it appealing.

    The idea you need to be comfortable with your social media presence also works because it helps you filter out which employers you really want to work for and which you do not. In a challenging job market, it can be tempting to create the impression you are the right candidate for all employers. You should resist that urge. Use social media to your advantage, but not to create a false impression just to appease potential employers. Remember you are looking for the right fit just as much as the employer is, so it is in both of your interests not to hide or shy away from who you are at the core.

    After hearing all this, you might think the simplest thing would be to delete your social media accounts altogether. You should know there are risks to this approach as well, in addition to the missed opportunity of positively selling yourself to employers. The employer I visited with views the lack of an online presence as a red flag that the person is either hiding something, anti-technology or just otherwise disconnected. That’s why we encourage you to have social media accounts, in particular LinkedIn, where you can use share with potential employers who you are and what you want to do.

    If you have any questions about your social media presence, please reach out to us anytime so we can walk through it with you.

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Staff Attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid (Houston, Entry-level) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.


    What the 2016 Campaign Can Teach You About Presenting Yourself To An Employer
    [9/22/2015]

    What the 2016 Campaign Can Teach You About Presenting Yourself To An Employer

    I admit it. I am enthralled with the 2016 presidential election. I have watched each of the first two Republican debates, and plan to watch each of the remaining events of both parties. As I was watching, I of course began thinking, ‘what lessons are the candidates providing for law students looking for a job?’ After all, campaigns are the longest and most grueling job interviews in the world, and you the citizen are the employer!

    We talk a lot around here about standing out and being memorable. One of the mistakes students make is playing it safe, not sharing too much about themselves, and leaving the interview room not having made an impression. The result is the next day or later in the week, when the interviewer is going over the list and determining who to issue callback interviews or offers to, he/she simply doesn’t remember you. You would be surprised how much more that is the scenario that plays itself out, as opposed to you doing something in the interview that is well-remembered as negative and candidacy eliminating.

    Let’s think about the candidates who are doing well in the polls at this point and who are not, and whether they are memorable when given the opportunity. Clearly Donald Trump is a master at standing out and being memorable; and though it’s not always for something positive, he resonates with the audience he is speaking to. Bernie Sanders is another candidate who is standing out, more so with his ideas than his persona (a la Trump). Carly Fiorina has stood out through her preparedness, focus and command of the debate stage. In different ways, each of these candidates is making their presence known, and being rewarded for it in the polls.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dropped out of the race yesterday. It’s quite astounding how quickly he has fallen, but he’s an example of how you can fade when you don't stand out. You may look great on paper and have all the credentials (as Mr. Walker appeared to have), but when you get in front of an employer you have to be able to sell yourself. He was not able to do that on the campaign trail or at the debates, and has now paid the price. Don’t let that happen to you!

    One more note on what the successful candidates (both presidential and you) are doing. They are each finding ways to be memorable while being themselves. Ms. Fiorina makes her mark talking succinctly and forcefully about specifics and details. Mr. Sanders trumpets his ideas in an understated, no frills way. Mr. Trump does what Mr. Trump does.

    Your presentation to employers should be similarly based on your strengths, skills, interests and style. Figure out what those are, and find ways to highlight them on paper and in interviews. An example: you’re a bit of an introvert and are extremely detail oriented. You may not feel like you can be memorable in an interview because you don't have the outgoing personality of the other candidates. But what if you made exactly zero errors in any of your application documents, knew the name, law school, practice area, etc. of each interviewer, and asked specific, detailed questions about the firm and their practice? Trust me, you will stand out, and do it while being yourself!

    Connect with Daniel at [email protected] and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

    Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Law Clerk with Arguello, Hope & Associates (Houston, 2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.



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