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How To Counter

How To Counter

Last week I talked about the infamous entry-level salary graph, and some issues surrounding it. I hinted at implications for negotiating and making counter-offers, but didn’t really get into it. That’s what I hope to accomplish here.

So you’ve interviewed for a position at a 12 attorney firm in Dallas which does mostly transactional work with small businesses (formation, employment, real estate, etc.). They made you an offer of $58,000; what do you do?

Let’s remember back to a couple of points I mentioned last time, and take another look at the salary graph.
2013 NALP Salary Chart
First, you really do have to take the $160,000 jobs out of the equation for determining the proper salary for most other types of positions. Certainly that would be the case in our example. When I run a back-of-the-napkin calculation on the mean salary without those outliers, it comes in around $63,000. That is very near the median salary (I come up with $60,000) with or without the $160ks. So it appears the offer is coming in just under both metrics.

Second, you need to consider the location, size and practice type as you evaluate the offer. A Dallas firm would likely trend higher than similar firms in other locations, though keep in mind when comparing using the national numbers as guides they are including employers in even more expensive cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Generally speaking Texas as a whole enjoys an overall lower cost of living, and you would expect to see salaries reflect that spread. A practice catering to small businesses could fall along a wide range of sophistication, and therefore demand higher or lower priced attorneys; so this is something you’d need to feel out in the interviews.

Let’s say you’ve objectively studied this and other data, and determined that you’d really like to get at least $63,000 for the position. What do you do? How do you counter? To start, keep in mind that if they’ve made you an offer, they like you. They want you. If you say no then they have to go to their second option, if they even have one. The fact they made the offer means you do have some leverage and ability to negotiate.

Before making your counter offer, however, I believe it’s important to let the employer know how thankful you are they selected you, how excited you are to get on board, and how committed you are to make it work. You want the job and they should know you want the job. Once that foundation is laid, make your counter. You might be tempted to counter at $68,000, thinking that you’ll meet in the middle at your target number. This might work in some circumstances, but there are two problems I see: 1) You should be able to back up why any number you suggest makes sense, and in our hypothetical I haven’t done that, and 2) $10,000 is a large percentage of the original offer, and could offend or shock. A counter like that may work in certain circumstances, but in this market and an employer like I’ve described, I would go a different route.

What about countering at $65,000? This still give you some room to get your number if the employer chooses to counter. It also is a smaller percentage of the original offer, which lessens the opportunity to offend or shock. Also, remember our graph? There were two peaks on the left-hand side: one at $50,000 and one at $65,000. Clearly this employer and position is more in the latter category, and you could use the graph to show where you got the number. You could even break out the actual means of near $80,000 to show you understand the market and that you’re not even asking near what the mean is, and that Dallas is an expensive market.

Maybe they’ll accept your offer, in which case you’re $2,000 better than you needed. Maybe they’ll counter, in which case most employers would at least get to $60,000. If that’s all they are willing to do, perhaps you can talk about performance based raises to get you to the number you need. I do think it would be rare for an employer to stick with their original offer and not negotiate at all, though you should be prepared for that scenario.

Each situation and negotiation is very different, so please don’t look to this as a broad brush which will work in every scenario. I just wanted to use a hypothetical to give you some of the things you ought to be thinking about. If you have specific questions, or even if you are in a negotiation and want our assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact Angela or me.

Connect with Daniel at and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

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Mean Salaries Only Tell You So Much

Mean Salaries Only Tell You So Much

If you read this blog regularly or remember anything from programs I’ve led or spoken in over the years, you’ll be familiar with the infamous entry-level salary graph.

2013 NALP Salary Chart

It shows the percentage of entry-level attorneys earning various salaries. Usually the point I’m making when showing the graph is the large valley between the $160,000 peak (paid almost exclusively by large law firms) and the $60,000 peak (paid by everyone else), where it is very rare to find an entry-level salary between $85,000 and $155,000.

Today, however, the focus is on the peaks and the mean. I’ve heard from students quite a bit lately regarding offers, what is fair, what is unfair, how the offer compares to the mean and how to go about making a counter offer. Typically this arises when a firm offers a salary that is below the mean, and the candidate feels it is either unfair of offensive.

It is important to keep in mind that a mean is just an average, and if you look closely at the graph, it is an average of a wide variety of data points. The salary curve begins its upward trajectory at $20,000, meaning there is a least some reporting of entry-level attorney jobs paying that amount. It goes all the way to $160,000. You’ll notice that very few new attorneys are earning the mean of $82,000, somewhere around 3%.

What do we learn from this? First, it is a mistake to think you’re going to earn the mean salary; hardly anyone does. Even the adjusted mean of $78,000, which takes into account the relative underreporting of lower salary positions, is only earned by around 4% of new graduates. So while knowing the mean may be helpful in negotiating with your future employer, you should be aware that far more employers are paying $50,000 and $60,000 than they are anything other than $160,000.

We also have to keep in mind that a mean is not a floor. The very nature of a mean is that there are numbers on each side which create it. To take offense at any salary offer to the left of the mean would treat a mean like a salary floor, which it is not. A very large chunk of employers pay salaries below the mean, are doing it fairly, and are paying as much as they can afford and still stay in business. They realize that if you are a superstar, they are going to have to increase your pay over time or lose you to another employer.

I think that if you’re not in the running for a big law / $160,000 position, you almost have to eliminate that side of the graph when gauging what a reasonable salary offer is. Consider what the mean would be without the $160,000 salaries going to 17% of new attorneys. I haven’t seen numbers on this, but it would likely be much closer to the left-hand peaks of $50,000 and $60,000.

There are two important caveats to this issue: 1) some of you may well be able to find a position which pays in the valley (Intellectual Property attorney comes to mind), so don’t allow what I’m saying cause you to devalue yourself if you fit into a handful of unique categories, and 2) evaluate the employer based upon the its size, type and location. A mid-size firm in Dallas with large corporate clients will often be one of the above-the-mean employers. While a five-person Waxahachie personal injury firm will likely be of the below-the-mean variety. Note that you are the same person, candidate, etc. regardless of the employer, and yet you are going to get offered different amounts based upon the employer. That’s normal, okay and should be expected.

I hope this helps provide some perspective as you approach job offers now and in the future. I’ll address related issues in the near future, and if you have specific questions about this please let me know.

Connect with Daniel at and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

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Q: I met an attorney over Christmas Break who said I should stay in touch with him. What is the best way to do that? How often should I contact him?

A: First of all, great work getting out there and expanding your network! You’ve done much of the hard work already. Staying in touch with your new connection is very important, for if you don’t follow up or wait too long, it’s possible (even likely) that you’ll fade from his memory. Something you could do right away is find him on LinkedIn, and if he’s listed there, establish a connection. Then over the next month, I would reach out with a simple, “enjoyed meeting you…appreciate you taking time to visit…hope to stay in touch.” This should be very short and not requiring anything of your new contact. You want to be low maintenance at this point; someone he enjoys hearing from and communicating with. Over the next six months, there are many ways to stay in touch that would be appropriate. Offer to take him to lunch or coffee. Shoot him a note when he or his firm wins a big case. Ask his advice on classes to take or activities to participate in. Big picture: focus on developing a relationship with the long-term in mind. Don’t worry if after two or three encounters he isn’t offering you a job; it may take years, if ever! But you’re not just building this relationship for the job it might bring you. You’re also building it for the mentorship he can provide you once you have a job, the client he might refer to you as you build your own book of business, etc. Building your network takes time and is hard work, but it sounds like you are well on your way. (Don’t forget we did a practical networking program in the fall addressing these and similar issues. You can watch the presentation and get the notes here).

Q: I really want to be in the courtroom, but am otherwise open to the type of law I want to practice. What is your advice?

A: You are right to look hard to find those opportunities that will truly get you into the courtroom early on in your career. There is a misconception that litigation means “in the courtroom” or “trial lawyer.” Now, certainly trial law would be considered litigation, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true. Litigation can mean many things for a young lawyer, depending on the employer: intake, document review, discovery requests, memos and/or briefs, just to name a few. None of these gets you in the courtroom. So if that’s the most important thing for you, be sure to look deeper than just “litigation.” All that said, here are some categories of firms/types of law that will generally offer courtroom experience earlier than most: 1) criminal, 2) family, 3) probate, 4) plaintiff’s firm, 5) trial boutique firm, 6) government agencies (administrative hearings) and 7) some civil defense firms (look closely at these to make sure).

I hope these were helpful! Please send in your questions so I can answer them in the next mailbag post.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Multiple Judicial Internships (Beaumont District Court, Houston 14th Court of Appeals, Corpus Christi 13th Court of Appeals) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Get In And Win

Get In And Win

Watching the new college football playoff has reminded me of something that my high school baseball coach used to say: “You gotta be good to get there and lucky to win it.” He was referring to the high school state tournament, but unfortunately we were never good enough to even try our luck. The college football playoff is similar, though I wouldn’t call anything I saw in either Ohio State or Oregon’s wins luck. They were the better teams that day.

What does this have to do with your job search and career? Think of it this way: all that you’ve done to build your resume to this point is similar to what Oregon and Ohio State did throughout their regular seasons. In fact, at selection time, football analysts often refer to a team’s “resume.” Much like those teams, your accomplishments (as indicated on your resume) and other application materials (e.g. cover letter, writing sample) are how you make your case to an employer to be invited to compete. Note that’s not how you get the job, or in Oregon or Ohio State’s case, win the championship. There’s still work to do for both of you toward those goals.

Here’s the important part. Once you’ve been invited to interview (i.e. compete), the resume and everything in it dramatically lessens in value. In the new college football playoff, the value drops to zero: win two games and you’re the champion, regardless of resume. In your job search, you should take a similar approach, even though the resume value probably hasn’t dropped all the way to zero. Assume that anyone being interviewed, including you, has an equal chance of getting the job.

This cuts both ways. You may feel confident in your resume and candidacy with some employers and not as much with others. But in either case your approach must be that you have the same chance to win the job as the next person, and they have as good a chance to win the job as you. This will cause you to shift your focus from you and your resume, to the employer and its needs.

So if the resume is no longer of (significant) value in the interview stage and the focus shifts to the employer, how do you win the interview? Through preparation. Each employer has different needs and structure and people and culture, and you must prepare and research to appeal to each. One employer may be looking for a dynamic personality who can bring in business and charm a jury, another may need someone to grind out discovery requests or pre-trial motions. What nearly all employers will want is someone who fits in with their culture and will be pleasant to work with.

Stand out in the interview as the person who is the best fit for the employer, and you will get the job most of the time, regardless of how your resume stacked up against the other candidates. That means going into the interview you should not be overconfident in your resume, nor should you be lacking confidence in what you perceive to be a resume that doesn’t quite cut it. Like Oregon and Ohio State, or Alabama and Florida State, each candidate is there for a reason and has a chance to win the day. Just do everything you can to make sure it’s you.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Entry Level Attorney - Personal Injury at Bergquist Law Firm in Houston, TX(3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Networking Is All About The Follow-Up

Networking Is All About The Follow-Up

The Christmas holiday is coming, and many of you will (and/or should) be making connections while you’re away from campus. I want to go ahead and plant a seed in your mind right now to create a system whereby you will be able to stay in touch with these new or recurring contacts over the following months and years.

There’s no question that just making that first call, sending that first email or initiating with any new contact is one of the most difficult things to do. If you’ve done that, or do it over the upcoming break, you're off to a great start! However, you do yourself and the work you did to make that connection a great disservice if you don’t follow up and maintain that relationship.

I referenced the example in my networking program last month (Story here, and now includes link to video of the full presentation) about the farmer sowing seeds, and how there is a lot of time, work and patience that occurs between the planting and the harvest. We didn’t get into detail about that in-between time, but this is the follow-up. If you don’t maintain the relationship, it will die out, much like a seed that goes without water. When that happens, the initial meeting that you worked so hard to get will be the high point. You don’t want that.

So what do you do after the initial meeting or contact? First, get organized. You need to have some method of tracking when the last time was you communicated with the person, what the content of that conversation was, and when you should reach back out. There isn’t a shortage of ways to do this, from hand-written notes in your planner, to Excel, to more sophisticated sales/customer-relationship-management software. They all are tools to help with the same objective: develop, maintain and improve relationships.

You also need to think about what you bring to this relationship. Sure, there are plenty of attorneys who will get personal satisfaction simply by helping or mentoring a law student. However for some, that won’t be enough (or a benefit at all). What can you do to add value and make it worth their time? Remember this is a relationship, not a one-way-street where they are the giver and you are the receiver. Sure, at this point you might stand to gain more from the relationship than they do. But it won’t be that way forever, and even now there are ways you can reciprocate the generosity they bestow on you.

How about offering to help them in some way? This doesn’t always have to take the form of a (paid) clerkship. Most attorneys do pro-bono work, and perhaps could use someone to help here and there on a volunteer basis. Or perhaps you’re knowledgeable in some area they are not, such as web design or social media. You could offer to help them with their website or write their social media content. Of course you need to be smart about how you present this; some people may not respond well to feeling like you’re calling their website a disaster. But you get my point; offering to help is a great way to add value to the relationship.

Another approach which you should be mixing in with everyone, is just communicating without asking anything at all of them. Send emails or notes just to check in and ask about their family. It's best to end these communications with no requirement or expectation at all on the other person to respond. Notice the difference between “I hope you’re doing well” and “let me know how you’re doing.” While there is a time and place for the second version, the first is great because it doesn’t place the person in the position of feeling rude if they don’t respond.

There is obviously so much more I could (and will) say on this topic. But for now, hopefully you see the importance of maintaining and cultivating these new relationships, and now have a few ideas on how to go about it.

Connect with Daniel at 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. Department of Justice in Oakdale, LA(1L, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Make It All About The Employer

Make It All About The Employer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve encountered an issue from employers that I think warrants discussion here. It’s the idea that job candidates tend to present themselves in cover letters and interviews as wanting the job because of what it will do for them, rather than how hiring them will bring value to the employer.

Let’s compare a couple of examples:

1) “I am interested in Education Law and a former teacher, and this would be a great opportunity for me to get experience in this area I am passionate about.” and,

2) “I am interested in Education Law, and my teaching experience helped me develop strong communication skills and a deep knowledge of the relevant issues that make me uniquely qualified for this position.”

The first example represents what the employers brought to my attention. It may seem harmless, but the focus on you raises a concern for employers who consider the millennial generation to be self-absorbed and more interested in their warped idea of work-life balance than the well-being of their employer (their words not mine). It also does nothing to make the employer aware of your skills and abilities, nor why the employer should find them valuable.

The second example, on the other hand, takes a completely different tack. It begins the same by expressing interest in the practice area, but then goes on describe the candidate’s experience and acquired skills. It says nothing about the benefit the candidate will receive if she gets the position, but rather what the employer stands to gain if she is brought on board (and conversely what the employer will miss out on if they don’t hire her).

The idea of spelling out for an employer what skills have been acquired through experiences is not well understood, nor is its importance. During a mock interview I’ll sometimes learn about an experience someone had prior to law school that is really fantastic, such as being a teacher, but they will fail to show me what skills they therefore possess and how that will translate into making my (the employer’s) life better. While I think I know some of the skill sets teachers bring to the table, I certainly don’t know them all, and I definitely don’t know this specific teacher’s strengths. Most employers will be in the same position. So it’s critical that the teacher/candidate communicates what skills she developed as a teacher, as well as how those skills translate into the legal world for that specific employer.

Aside from the practical benefits of approaching cover letters and interviews from the employer’s perspective rather than your own (i.e. using example two rather than example one), you will also set yourself apart from the vast numbers of candidates applying for jobs. I’ve talked before about looking for ways to stand out in a positive way, and this is a perfect example of how to do that.

So as you are writing cover letters and preparing to answer interview questions, take some time to consider what is it the employer needs from me? What value do I bring to them? How can I demonstrate that I have the skills/experience/personality/work ethic necessary to benefit them? Ask these questions, make it all about the employer, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your odds of moving forward in the hiring process.

Connect with Daniel at 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 at Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody in Austin(1L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Build And Work Your Networking Plan

Build And Work Your Networking Plan

Last week, I gave a presentation titled “Build and Work Your Networking Plan.” Some of you attended, which I truly appreciate. For those who didn’t, I wanted to at least summarize here what I covered, and you can also watch the video here.

The goal of this presentation was to be very practical, and give you some tools to use as you take action steps. You might recall from our quarter-by-quarter job searching plan that we suggest you add 3-6 new people to your network each quarter. This was and is meant to help you do that.

I began by laying out four different types of potential sources for adding / developing your network of contacts. The first was your personal list (family, friends), which we further subdivided into those with connection to the legal industry (likely the minority) and then those without (likely the majority). We also discussed how to leverage those contacts into more (and more helpful) contacts.

The second type is a group of contacts that come from using your job search criteria (e.g. practice area, geographic preference) to locate employers and then contacts that would make sense to reach out to. There are numerous employer search tools to begin the process, but then it will be helpful to have our office (where applicable) provide a specific contact at that employer, and/or an introduction, so it’s not a “cold call.” There will likely be some that you’ll need to reach out to without a connection, but even in those circumstances you may be able to find a Baylor alum at the employer who will be more receptive than others.

The third type is to attend law school facilitated opportunities and meet guest speakers/presenters/volunteers/etc. Every quarter, between our office, student activities, faculty and others on campus, there are numerous events which bring guests from the legal field right to you. The alumni networks also put on events in cities around Texas you have the ability to attend. What easier and better way to meet new people and build your network?

The fourth and final type we discussed was other organization events and activities. Examples were local and state bar association events, other professional organizations such as the NAPE Conference for those interested in oil/gas, volunteer organizations of any sort and law firms themselves (e.g. 1L holiday parties).

Note that of these four types of contact sources, only one (the personal list) begins with people you already know. The other three require you to initiate with new people and develop relationships with them from scratch. The remainder of my presentation walked through how to do that. We discussed how to set up appointments and how to conduct them, how to cultivate these new relationships, and then when the time is right, how to inquire about employment opportunities.

I’ll conclude this summary with something that I both began and ended the presentation with. Networking is work; work that pays dividends later rather than immediately. The example I gave was a farmer growing a crop. (Not that I would know first-hand) There is a lot of hard work that goes into planting the seed, watering, providing proper soil, removing weeds/pests/etc. Only after all that and months of time does the harvest come. Networking is very similar. And to those who say “it’s too much work without any guarantee of a job,” I would simply say the only guarantee is that without networking there is a guarantee that you won’t add to your network. That also guarantees none of those potential contacts can/will help in your job search, in addition to the long-term harm of not having those professional relationships. So commit to the work, don’t get discouraged when it feels like nothing is happening, and know that there is a harvest down the line.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Verizon Legal Department Summer Intern(1L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Getting The Interview Part III: Don't Wait And See

Getting The Interview Part III: Don't Wait And See

In Part I of this series, we talked about how to put yourself in the best position to get an interview before you even apply. Then, in Part II we discussed how to leverage your application documents for the best chance at success. In this final part of the series, we’ll address the “wait and see” period that comes after you’ve applied and before you’ve heard anything back from the employer.

So what can you do during this anxious time when it often seems there’s nothing you can do but wait? If we’re talking about dropping resumes during OCI, then you’re going to be pretty limited due to time constraints and the process in place. It should also be noted that no two circumstances are alike, and you are required to use judgment in how you approach each one. All that said, here are few actions you can take after applying to a more typical job posting:

  1. Contact/follow up with the employer directly.

    (a) If the application process is through a third party facilitator (Symplicity; State Bar), you could reach out to the firm directly just to confirm they received your application (be sure to watch out for postings which say no direct inquiries and abide by their wishes). This little gesture can do two positive things: showcase your diligence and make your name recognizable when they review the applications.

    (b) If it’s been two or three weeks since the application deadline and you haven’t heard anything, it’s entirely appropriate to follow up, reiterate your interest, and check in on their progress. If you don’t hear anything, wait another couple of weeks and then try again.

    (c) If you have a connection with the employer or if our office can provide one for you, it may not too late to reach out and do an informational interview with that contact.

  2. Have someone else contact the employer on your behalf (this of course presumes you’ve taken our advice and created a network of advocates who would be willing to do this). A reference / vote of confidence from a former employer, faculty member or other credible connection can go a long way. This could come in the form of a letter, email or even a phone call (the best in my opinion), and would simply involve the advocate telling the potential employer the reasons why you would be an outstanding employee, and should be given serious consideration. You do have to think strategically here for a number of reasons:

    (a) When it comes to the majority of the people you would have make this call, you wouldn’t want to ask them a bunch of times in a short time-frame. So for those types, getting a generic reference letter that can be used multiple times would be advisable. And then only for the positions you want the most or feel you have the best shot at would you ask them to make a direct plea to the employer.

    (b) You’re going to want to save some references to be used after the interview but before the hiring decision is made. In fact, I would almost always save direct calls from my best advocates for this phase.

  3. Target your networking. Find out where representatives of the employer are likely to be in the coming days/weeks (CLE, Bar event, etc.) and show up and meet them. Don’t forget to go up, meet the employer representative and mention that you are a candidate for the open position. What better way to indicate your interest in the practice area and the employer by doing all you can to get to know them better.

There you have it. I hope this series on Getting The Interview has been helpful. I know we’ll continue to revisit the topic in the future, as there is plenty more I could say about it. In the meantime, please let me know if you have questions or would like to talk through this issue in more detail.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Session Administrative Clerk at Texas House of Representatives - House Research Organization(1L/2L/3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Getting The Interview Part II: Leveraging Your Documents

Getting The Interview Part II: Leveraging Your Documents

If you’ll recall where we left off two weeks ago, we were using an example of a 35 attorney Houston law firm hiring an entry-level attorney. I made the point that if nobody at the firm knows you at the time of the posting, either through an informational interview, clerkship or some other prior relationship, you’re likely starting off behind to someone they do know (not always, but you won’t know for sure so just assume there is a known candidate(s)).

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an interview or even the job. It does mean you’ll need to work a bit harder and really make it clear the rest of the way that you’re the right person for the job. How do you do that? By what I’m going to call leveraging your application documents. Meaning you have to get the absolute most out of your resume (for sure), cover letter (probably) and writing sample (maybe). Let’s talk about the resume and cover letter.

Your resume is going to be the one document you can feel pretty good is going to at least get a cursory look from someone. It may not be the hiring attorney/manager during the first round of screening, and the person reviewing it may not read the whole thing. But in most cases it’s going to be seen. So how do you get the most out of your resume? At a minimum, meet with Angela and get her approval before you submit your resume to anyone. But go beyond that. For each employer (or perhaps during OCI each category of employer), give serious thought to how you might tweak your resume to appeal more to that employer. For example, you might detail out your job experience at an accounting firm prior to law school if the employer is hiring for a tax attorney. If, however, the employer is hiring a trial lawyer, you may list that accounting firm as just one bullet, and then add several other lines of information that highlight your advocacy skills (e.g. awards, college debate, etc.).

You can (and should) do the same type of personalization with your cover letter, catering it each employer. And remember, the cover letter isn’t your resume in narrative form. It’s your opportunity sell the employer on who you are and why you want to work for them. In many ways the cover letter is a “do no harm” document, meaning it more often eliminates candidates than elevates them. I would label it a “do no harm plus” document. It’s important to make zero mistakes and not eliminate yourself, but you also need to make a positive impression and stand out above the crowd. Imagine the employer placing candidates in three categories based on the cover letter: 1) eliminated, 2) not eliminated / consider further and 3) interesting and excited to know more. Which bucket do you want to be in? You get to #3 by demonstrating your knowledge about the employer, your sincere desire to work for them and your best argument for why your skills, abilities, etc. fit with what the employer is trying to achieve. Do your cover letters accomplish that?

Hopefully you’ve put yourself in position, through your pre-application efforts (Part I) and by leveraging your documents, to be strongly considered for an interview. But we’re not quite done. In the final part of this series, we’ll talk about what happens after you’ve submitted your documents, and what you can do to increase your chances during this apparent “all you can do is wait” period.

Connect with Daniel at and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

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Getting The Interview Part 1: It Starts Now

Getting The Interview Part 1: It Starts Now

We’ve been gathering and listening to feedback over the past few months about topics you’d like me to address in the blog, and one that has come up regularly is what I would call “getting the interview.” It was pointed out that a number of my posts focus on what to do in the interview or afterward, so I’ll attempt to balance that out moving forward starting today.

How do you get the interview? The answer is the lawyer's favorite: it depends. It depends first of all on the type of job. If we’re talking about a big law firm coming to interview at OCI for 2Ls, then the answer is simply to make good grades. But it becomes more complicated when you start talking about smaller firms, government or other employers, which may place less importance on grades and evaluate your candidacy in a broader fashion.

Let’s use a hypothetical example of a 35 attorney Houston law firm which has posted a job on Symplicity for an entry level lawyer. Their criteria are top 50% preferred, interest in litigation and strong desire to be in Houston. How do you get an interview for this job?

If this is the first time you’ve heard of or interacted with the firm, you’re unfortunately already a step behind, and may have missed your first opportunity to land the interview. What am I talking about? Did this firm have a student clerking for them over the past two years? Was that you? If not, did you try to clerk with them? At the point the firm is posting a position like this, a student who clerked or applied to clerk would have a slight to moderate advantage over someone they don’t know except on paper.

Similarly, a group of students interested in this position likely would have had some interaction with an attorney in the firm prior to applying for the job. This may have been in the form of an informational interview, attending an attorney’s presentation at a local bar meeting or on campus and visiting with them after, or perhaps interacting with them while working for another firm. These students would also have a slight to moderate advantage over someone they don’t know.

Why do I start with these points? Because for anyone reading this, including 1Ls and 2Ls, you need to understand that with every contact you make and every internships/clerkship you do or even apply for, you are laying the ground work to get interviews months or years later.

In today’s market which still heavily favors the employers, stacks of resumes are quickly whittled down based largely on two factors: 1) grades/credentials and 2) familiarity/who knows you. You have some control over the first but total control over the second. We’re going to have a CDO session on networking on November 24th that I’m going to conduct. If this is an area that you struggle with or want to understand better, I strongly encourage you to attend.

In the coming weeks we’ll continue this hypothetical job posting by taking a look at how to use your connections to get the interview, as well as what to do when you don't have any connection to the employer prior to applying. So stay tuned!

Connect with Daniel at 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 Attorney at Harrell Pailet & Associates in Dallas (3L/Alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

2014 OCI Employer Feedback

OCI Employer Feedback

If you participated in On-Campus Interviews over the past few months, you were probably asked to provide our office with feedback about the experience. What you may not know is that we similarly ask employers to provide their feedback as well. I want to share some of the general themes with you today, both on the positive and negative side. Hopefully you’ll find it beneficial moving forward with future interviews.

The good news is that overall, employers were very pleased and impressed with you and their experience. We posed three questions which simply asked them to choose a response, ranging from Very Good to Very Poor. Here were the results:
  1. How were the logistics of the program? Very Good – 37; Good – 2; Fair/Poor/Very Poor – 0

  2. How did the candidates present themselves? Very good – 29; Good – 9; Fair – 1; Poor/Very Poor – 0

  3. How would you rate the preparedness of the candidates?
    Very Good – 29; Good – 10; Fair/Poor/Very Poor – 0

After these three questions, we asked the following open-ended question: How can students improve their application documents and/or interview preparedness? This question solicited a range of responses as you might imagine. But here are the ones that were the most common or that jumped out to me.
  1. I was very pleased with the students level of preparedness (5)

  2. Some interviewees did not research the firm or interviewers (3)

  3. Some resumes were not well formatted / formatted strange (2)

  4. Candidates should be prepared to carry the conversation if there is an awkward lull.

  5. Every candidate…had spent sufficient time on firm website to ask specific and thoughtful questions.

  6. Proofread cover letters.

Let’s talk about these. I’m going to group numbers one, two and five together as employer research / interview preparedness. We talk about this quite a bit in programs leading up to OCI as well as in my own blog posts, but it is clear that when students are prepared and have researched the employers, it is noticed. On the flip side and when they don’t, employers notice that too. We cannot overstate the importance of researching both the employers and, if possible, the interviewers themselves.

Response four is one that doesn’t get mentioned as often, but I think it’s more because the employer has trouble articulating the critique rather than a sign it’s not as important. What they are saying is you cannot simply be a robot in the interview, responding only when questioned and only providing the bare minimum answer. I see this some when doing mock interviews, and it is a painful experience that can easily make you memorable for the wrong reason. Responses to interview questions should be direct and answer the question, but also packaged with examples, anecdotes or experiences illustrating and providing evidence for the answer. At other points in the interview (i.e. when not responding to a direct question but there is a lull), ask questions of the interviewers that demonstrate your knowledge of the employer and/or gets them talking about their own experience.

Lastly, feedback three and six refer to mistakes which should simply never happen because they are so preventable. Cover letters continue to be a place where candidates make critical errors which, if they had just had someone else proofread them, would have been identified and corrected. Please take the time to do this going forward! This includes making sure the cover letter is addressed to the correct person, and they are addressed appropriately (i.e. Ms., Mr.). Regarding resume formatting, the reference here is a viewing/printing/possibly Symplicity issue. Symplicity is known to wreak havoc with your Word documents, so my advice is to always save all your documents into a PDF FIRST, and then upload to Symplicity. If you insist on uploading other document types, be sure to go back, open them up, and make sure Symplicity maintained your formatting. I would even print them out to make sure nothing is lost in translation from the screen a piece of paper.

I hope you will find this feedback helpful moving forward, and if you have any questions at all about these or any other OCI/employer matters please let me know.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Ethics Research Internship at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

What Does Social Media Have To Do With Networking?

What Does Social Media Have To Do With Networking?

Last week we heard from social media guru Amanda Ellis, who presented a wide range of issues and practical suggestions for how a law student and/or lawyer can best utilize this still-emerging tool. I wanted to provide some highlights I took away from the presentation, as well as put it in context of my own social media advice, and the broader issue of networking I’m going to present in an event next quarter.

Ms. Ellis spent most of her time discussing LinkedIn and Twitter, where more users approach their platforms from a professional perspective. She and I agree it really is essential for you to have a LinkedIn profile that is substantial and impressive. A key advantage of Linkedin is once you get your profile built, you can pretty well just let it sit there and it can be effective. If you want to take it a step further you can join groups and engage other group members in conversation. Recently added is a feature where you can use LinkedIn as a platform to write your own blog posts.

So what are some practical tips for LinkedIn? If all you do is connect with each new person you meet who also has a LinkedIn profile, you’ll be ahead of the game. It’s such an easy way to follow up with someone after a meeting or encounter, and even if the person doesn’t respond or accept your invitation (which could happen), it is an appropriate way to reach out and does make a positive impression. There is a default message which accompanies the invitation that’s fine to use with people you know well. As Ms. Ellis mentioned, however, connecting with people you just met or barely know probably requires tweaking that message to make it more personal.

If you just want to keep up with someone or read their content on LinkedIn, you’re permitted to “follow” them much like you would follow someone on Twitter. This doesn’t require any action from the person being followed, and is another appropriate way to connect with someone you don’t or barely know.

Twitter, I would argue, is not as essential as LinkedIn. Employers aren’t scouring the web looking for your Twitter profile the way they are with LinkedIn. And if they are, it’s to find something disqualifying about you rather than qualifying. Twitter also requires you to be somewhat active if you’re really going to use it to advance your personal brand and authority in a subject. You can certainly use it as a news service and build lists to follow certain people (which I definitely recommend) and remain informed, but this won’t gain you followers or help you build credibility.

Ms. Ellis also had some good recommendations for third party resources to assist you with building and protecting your social media presence: 1), 2) and 3) Newsle is a website which allows you to get news alerts for anyone in your network. Followerwonk helps you identify your Twitter audience as well as identify other Twitter users in your field. Finally is a website which searches your Facebook profile for potentially damaging images/status updates/likes you’d like to clean up.

“How does any of this help me with my job search?” you might ask. It’s simple: using social media as we’re discussing it here is nothing more than networking, moved online. And as we’ve said time and again, the majority of you will get your first job through some type of personal referral or networking connection. I know you don’t want to hear that; but the fact you don’t want to hear it doesn’t make it any less true.

On November 24th, I’m going to lead a discussion on the topic of networking. We’re going to tackle all the objections to it head-on, with the goal of you coming away with practical steps you can take to increase your professional network in a steady, effective manner. I encourage you to attend, and in the meantime I would love to hear what questions you have about networking so I can include them in my presentation and/or discussion.

Whether it’s through new methods like social media, or old ones like going to a happy hour, networking is still a major source of not only jobs, but referrals of all kinds that will benefit you long after you’ve left law school. I look forward to continuing this conversation over the coming months.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Prosecution Internship with the Williamson County District Attorney's Office(2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Cover Letter Mania

Cover Letter Mania

When talking with employers, one of the most frequent topics they will comment on is applicant cover letters. The criticisms range from grammar and typos, to dullness and length. We’ll get into some of that here, but I also want to drive home a point that much of this is subjective and tells us more about the reader than the writer. So at the end of the day there isn’t a silver bullet answer to how to best draft a cover letter. With that caveat aside, let’s jump right in.

Easy stuff first: you simply can’t have grammar mistakes, typos, etc. in your cover letter. There isn’t anything subjective about this one. I’ve talked to numerous employers who will simply toss an application in the trash after seeing the first mistake. Sound like an overreaction? I say yes and no. When it’s a job seekers’ market and there are more jobs and applicants, my guess is the stance on this would soften. But right now we’re still in an employers’ market, where they receive dozens if not scores of applications for each position. Employers taking this approach are simply using cover letter mistakes as another screening tool, much like grades, in order to cull the applicant pool to a more manageable number. Finally, let’s also not forget that you’re applying for a position where you will do a lot of writing, there is a high level of importance on being precise and clear in that writing, and so a mistake in the cover letter directly speaks to your competence to do the job you’re asking them to give you. So take no chances and do whatever it takes to ensure your cover letter is mistake-free.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the easy one, let’s move on to some cover letter issues which are more subjective. Length is one we are often asked about, and I’d say that the large majority of employers prefer short cover letters as opposed to long. How short? This blog post is already getting close to the total number of words you would want in your letter. It could be longer, but I can say if your letter bleeds over into a second page you’ve blown through any reasonable range.

You might ask how you’re supposed to say everything you need to say in such few words. There are two responses to that: 1) part of artful and precise writing is using as few words as is required (President Lincoln used 272 words to address the crowd at Gettysburg, you ought to be able to get an employer’s attention in double that), and 2) you may not be clear on the purpose of the letter and therefore the content it should contain.

Let’s explore #2 a little bit more. I see cover letters all the time which are essentially the candidate’s resume in narrative form. This is a mistake. The cover letter should supplement your resume, not rehash it. Why do you want this job? What about the employer excites you? How do you plan to solve the employer’s problem? Why are you uniquely qualified for this job? These are the questions you should be answering in the cover letter. When you approach the letter like that, my guess is you’ll see it doesn’t require 1,000 words and two pages, nor will you be simply restating your resume.

Lastly, like any piece of writing you want to know your audience and write to that audience. Your cover letter will be read by either attorneys or recruiters, so that’s who you want to focus on as you write. Recruiters deal with a lot of candidates and a lot of new associates, so they may be interested in hearing how you’re a team player and easy to work with. Attorneys may want to know you can do the work, and that you’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done efficiently and right. Then again, the particular employer you’re addressing may have other priorities they want to hear more about. More specific still, one attorney may have a pet peeve or highly valued trait they want to hear about, which differs from her colleague. That’s where we get into the highly subjective nature of cover letter writing. You’re not going to please everyone, but through research and thoughtfulness, you should be able to clear the cover letter hurdle and get to the next phase of the process.

The Career Development Office has resources you can take advantage of when drafting your cover letters, and we strongly encourage you to take advantage of them. Professor Susan Kelly-Claybrook will review your cover letters and work with you to hone your message, and of course Angela and I are always willing to help as well. Happy writing!

Connect with Daniel at 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 The Carlson Law Firm in either Killeen or Austin (Alumni, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

What Is the CDSAC?

What is the CDSAC?

Today marks the first gathering of our Career Development Office Student Advisory Committee (CDSAC; like S.H.I.E.L.D. we’re still working on the name). Many of you may not know of this committee, but it is a collection of two students from each class which meets quarterly during the year.

The purpose of the committee is to: 1) Allow you as students, through your representatives, to bring ideas, comments and concerns to us, and 2) Allow our office to communicate with you any updates, new initiatives, responses to past issues/concerns, etc.

Agenda items in recent years that have been raised by CDSAC include: 1) CDO communication with students, 2) OCI employer participation, 3) efforts to help those outside the top of the class, 4) guest speakers to bring in (or not) and 5) providing more structure for a 1L job search.

Our office is always open to any of you who wish to communicate with us directly, but we know that doesn’t always happen for any number of reasons. So we find this is a very important alternative vehicle to allow you to communicate with our office.

Each year the representatives will rotate on/off, so for a current list you can go to the CDSAC webpage. We strongly encourage you to seek these reps out and share with them anything about the CDO that’s on your mind. We take all student feedback seriously, and will certainly respond with action if we feel it is in the best interest of the student body and the law school to do so.

I would also encourage those of you thinking about ways to get involved on campus to consider joining our committee next year. The positions are appointed by the Student Bar Association, so you can reach out to those representatives to express your interest.

We look forward to hearing from you, and working with all of the 2014-15 CDSAC members.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Assistant City Attorney with City of Waco (3L, Alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Job Search Tool Kit: The Informational Interview

Job Search Tool Kit: The Informational Interview

Perhaps you’re a 1L trying to figure out how to start making connections with attorneys. Perhaps you’re a 3L or recent graduate still looking for that full-time job. Whether you’re in one of those two camps or somewhere in between, a powerful tool in your job search arsenal should be to go on “informational interviews.”

What is an informational interview? Very simply, an informational interview is an informal conversation between a prospective job candidate and an employer, when the purpose of the encounter is not to interview for a specific job currently available.

So what is the objective? Here are several: 1) get to know the person you’re visiting with and begin a long-term relationship, 2) learn about the employer’s culture (i.e. what is it like to work there?), 3) learn about the practice area more generally, and 4) solicit advice about how to position yourself for a position with that employer or in the practice/geographical area.

How do you go about initiating an informational interview? Don’t make it any harder than it is! Simply asking someone to coffee/lunch and for career advice is the easiest way to get started. Most attorneys are more than happy to spend a few minutes with you. Do keep in mind, however, that every minute they are with you is one they aren’t billing, so be respectful, thankful and mindful of how much time you spend with them.

What’s the biggest difference between an informational interview and a real job interview? Aside for what I’ve already said, the biggest difference might be in the division of who asks the questions. In a real job interview the employer will often ask the large majority of the questions, saving a couple of minutes for you the candidate to ask your questions. In an informational interview, you’re going to be asking the questions. You might even ask all the questions! So certainly that will alter your preparation somewhat, and you need to have a slate of questions, in priority order, ready to go.

Similarities between real and informational interviews include: 1) professional dress, 2) be slightly early/on-time, 3) bring copies of your resume (either to ask their advice on the look of your resume, or just in case they ask you for it), 4) prepare a large majority of your questions around substance (e.g. culture, practice areas) and not process (e.g. application deadlines, hiring criteria), and 5) (perhaps most important) demonstrate genuine interest in the person/employer.

Remember that you’re not looking for a job from this person at this time (though it’s not unheard of to wind up with a job which began with an informational interview). You want to build your network of people in the field who you can go to for advice and who will eventually be an advocate for you either within their own organization or another.

Finally, to take full advantage of the informational interview, it’s absolutely critical to follow up with the person and remain in contact. You can’t do one information interview as a 1L, and then call the person back up after graduation and say, “Remember me!” It doesn’t work that way.

Informational interviews are another great tool you can use in your job search strategy, so I strongly encourage you to add them to your list no matter where you are in the law school / job search timeline. Please let Angela or me know how we can help you.

Connect with Daniel at 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: Real Estate Counsel at Embree Asset Group in Georgetown(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Session II Offers New Opportunities

Session II Offers New Opportunities

Many of you get to this time of year and start to feel the concluding realities of On-Campus Interviews setting in. Perhaps you were able to secure a first-half clerkship but not a second. Or perhaps you had several callbacks but no clerkship offers. You’re starting to wonder where you go from here. If that’s you I have good news today!

This year, for the first time, the Baylor Law School Career Development Office has put together a second session of OCI. We mentioned this during OCI meetings in the spring, but wanted to give you a refresher since it’s been a few months. As you know, Session II interviews will occur October 6–10, with bidding taking place September 22nd and 23rd. Let’s talk a bit about this session, how it’s different, and how you can make the most of it.

The focus of Session II is on mid-size and small firms, as well as government, non-profit and other public interest employers. I encourage you to go to Symplicity and research the registered employers (26 at the time of this writing) for opportunities that interest you, and begin to prepare your documents for bidding.

As I’m sure you noticed, Session I was primarily populated with large and mid-size firms seeking 2Ls. Session II, however, is more balanced. Here are some stats:

Seeking:      Employer Type:      Location:
2Ls - 18        Law Firm - 13        Dallas
3Ls - 18        Gov't - 8                Austin, Houston - 3
Alumni - 17    Other - 5              Other - 12

Other characteristics you’ll find with these employers are less restrictive hiring criteria and more flexibility regarding timing of the clerkship experience (i.e. first half v. second half). That is particularly important for those of you who perhaps already have one half of your summer nailed down, but are still looking for something for the other half.

Something else I’d point out stems from the statistics provided above. The number of employers seeking both 2Ls and 3Ls (and for that matter alumni) is quite high. So while it’s true that many of these employers won’t hire in cycles the way a big law firm might, the fact they are also interviewing for 3Ls/alumni demonstrate their willingness to hire an attorney right out of school. And that is in many ways just as good. Do a great job as a 2L clerk, and maybe they’ll just hire you and not come back next year looking for one of your classmates as a 3L.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. If you’re still looking for a 2L clerkship (either half) or full-time position, log on to Symplicity today and begin researching these employers. If you failed to register for OCI back in the spring, there is still an opportunity for you to participate. Come by our office ASAP to discuss the terms of late-registration.

Bonus tip from Session I employer feedback (and my own observations): most of you have a compelling story to tell which isn’t immediately obvious from your resume/cover letter. That story needs to be told in the interview or you sound just like everyone else. I strongly encourage you to make an appointment to do a mock interview with me prior to Session II. I can help you identify those qualities and experiences and help you weave them in to your interview.

Connect with Daniel at 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 Attorney at The Rad Law Firm in Dallas(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Experience and Maturity: Employers Want It And You Can Demonstrate It

Experience and Maturity: Employers Want It And You Can Demonstrate It

A common refrain from employers I meet with is they are looking for people who are mature and have some life experience. What they generally mean is they like to see resumes from candidates who maybe worked through college, or even better, had a job/career in between undergraduate and law school. To them that indicates the candidate has at least been responsible for something, shown up to work every day on time for some period of time, and understands the basics of what it is to work in an office. The question is, how do you highlight this attribute if you don't have that experience neatly listed on your resume?

First, let’s remember what we’re talking about here. Just as the employers are using grades to identify who can handle the work (which may or may not be accurate), they’re also using prior experience to identify those who have the maturity and experience to do the work. This doesn’t mean that just because you haven’t worked in college or prior to law school, you don’t have the maturity to do the job. All it means is you have to find another way to demonstrate it.

How can you do this? The easiest thing would be to get some experience while you’re in law school that you could add to your resume. We generally recommend all students take two summers off to work, but it’s even more crucial for those who have gone straight through from undergrad to law school. While at those summer jobs, take on as much as you can handle (quality of work is still most important), and turn your boss into your biggest advocate.

A great way to add responsibility is to be in a leadership position with a student organization. Pick something where people are depending on you, you are required to account for funds, and/or make hard decisions. Just being involved in an organization won’t get it done, and neither will leading an organization that rarely does anything, or operates on autopilot. Employers want to see you have the ability to handle difficult situations, demonstrate good judgment and have a tireless work ethic.

Finally, develop advocates among the law school faculty, particularly those who teach in your practice area of interest. Often employers will reach out directly to a professor to find out who they recommend for a position. If they don’t know you there’s nothing much they can say to help you. If all they know is you did well in their class, again they won’t really be able to speak to some of these maturity/experience issues. If the faculty member can say you were in their office multiple times, seemed to have it together, or better yet took on a research project or assisted them with a clinic, now they have something to sell the employer on your behalf.

Experience and maturity are valuable assets when visiting with employers, and each of you can do something right now to bolster those qualifications. I strongly encourage you to do so! Please feel free to stop by and visit with Angela or I if you have questions or thoughts on this. We’re here to help!

Connect with Daniel at 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: Part-Time/Contract Attorney at Brandy Austin & Associates in Arlington(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Welcome, Now Let's Get To Work

Welcome, Now Let's Get To Work

Welcome (or welcome back) to Baylor Law School! This post may serve as a reminder for returning students who read this regularly. But for those who are new I hope it gives you a good foundation of the resources available on this page throughout the year.

Each week I write a blog post which, most of the time, touches on topics I learn in my visits with employers I have each week. I generally visit in-person with three to four employers each week, usually in Dallas, Austin or Houston, though certainly not exclusively. Over the past year or so I’ve been to San Antonio, Midland, Amarillo, Lubbock, Tyler, Longview, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Beaumont, and of course, visited with our local employers here in Waco. I will also visit with employers outside the region by at national conferences and events, in addition to telephone/email communication.

I like to give you a glimpse into how employers think, what they value, and how you can best position yourself to one day gain employment with one of them. Sometimes I’ll cover what areas of law employers seem to be growing in and hiring for. Other times we’ll discuss interview presentation and how employers view candidates who do or don’t do certain things. Mostly I want you to be aware of the issues employers are dealing with in this changing legal climate, and how you can demonstrate your understanding of that and be the person they need to solve their problems.

Sometimes this blog will be calendar driven, meaning that come on-campus interview (OCI) time, I’ll focus more on how to prepare for interviews, deadlines that are coming, and what to do if common situations arise. When we near holidays I’ll often talk about how you can use that break to your advantage.

Much of the time I’ll update you on data and analysis being released by observers of the legal market more generally. This will help you get a sense of where and how employers are hiring, average salaries, and how to focus your search to make it as efficient as possible.

Aside from the blog, this page also displays our office’s Twitter feed, @BaylorLawDaniel. There I post articles on the legal market as well as links to this blog and any other important announcements. You’ll also notice the "Tracker Map" you can click on, which will take you to a Google map/list of every employer I’ve personally visited since I started here in September 2012. If you have questions about an employer please look to see if I’ve been there. If I have, come by or make an appointment to come see me so we can talk about it. If I haven’t been there, I’ll add them to the list of those I need to reach out to.

So again I say welcome. The Career Development Office is here to help, and we look forward to being there for you every step of the job search journey. Now let’s get to work!

Connect with Daniel at and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

OCI Interview Strategies And Next Steps

OCI Interview Strategies And Next Steps

So you bid for OCI employers last week; now what? Today we’re going to go over what happens next, and some strategies you should consider as we move forward toward interviews next week.

Wednesday, you’ll have the ability to go in and see who selected you for an interview, as well as select your interview times. If you have multiple interviews on the same day, consider giving yourself a break between interviews. Back-to-back interviews may help you knock them all out in one block of time, but they may force you to: a) cut off the first to get to the second, b) be late to the second and c) not give you any time to mentally transition from one employer to the next. The CDO monitors back-to-back interviews and will do our best to make sure you get from one to the next on time, but just keep in mind the risk.

Once you know who you’re interviewing with, it’s time to go deeper with your employer research. Geography, firm size and practice area may have been enough to help you bid, but it’s nowhere near what you need to impress an employer in an interview. You’re going to want to go through the employer’s website page by page; get a feel for what they value/promote/emphasize. Google the employer and see what comes up, then go deeper using the “news” function and the date function, to see if they’ve made news in the past year. Often their own website will have a press/news page where they link to articles like this. You should be trying to accomplish two goals with this research: 1) learn more about the employer for your own benefit, and 2) be able to discuss what you’ve learned in the interview, and in particular with the questions you ask the interviewers. Keep in mind you’re not trying to impress the employer with your investigative skill here, rather be able to demonstrate genuine interest in the employer and carry on an intelligent conversation about what they do.

At some point (depends on if/when the employer gets us the information) you will know the names of the interviewers. Research them as well. See what the focus of their practice is, where they went to law school, what pro bono work they do and anything else they’re involved in. You’re looking for a way to connect, something you have in common, and/or topics for you to ask about in the interview.

If you haven’t already, consider doing a mock interview with me. Ask around and I think you’ll find those who have done so were pleased with the results. One piece of advice I always give in those sessions is to think about and develop your story, and be able to tell it in one to two minutes. Inevitably, you’re going to get an open-ended question such as “tell me about yourself.” You need to have that scripted, rehearsed and ready to adapt to however the question is asked.

Once the interview is over, you need to send some form of thank you. A safe bet is to immediately send a short thank you email the same day as the interview. We’ve heard of some law firms whose interviewers are relaying back their choices to the home office that same day, so whatever help a thank you note is to getting you through to the next round must be sent quickly. It’s a good idea to send hand-written thank you notes as well, especially to senior partners who may prefer that type of communication rather than email. Use your best judgment with each employer and interviewer.

Lastly, you’re hopefully going to be in a position to either accept or decline call-back interview requests. There will be a wide variety of response times from employers with their call-back offers/decisions. Some will be in touch during OCI week (typically large firms or those with recruiters); others may not reach out for weeks or months. You are of course required to let us know as you hear from employers making call-back offers, so we can keep the Symplicity homepage updated for all to see.

Regarding accepting/declining call-back offers, remember that while you’re obligated to interview on-campus with any employer you bid with who selected you, that’s not the case with call-backs. A good rule of thumb is, if you’re sure you aren’t interested after the OCI interview, go ahead and decline. Otherwise, you should go on the call-back.

When you respond to a callback invitation, whether accepting or declining, it’s appropriate to use the communication method the employer used for the invitation. Most employers will call you, to which you should respond with a phone call as well. Often students will ask if they can simply email the employer to decline, when the employer called them with the offer; our answer is no. Remember you’re building your professional reputation with each interaction with employers you have. The employer may be disappointed you declined their offer, and that’s fine. But what you don’t want is for them to feel you were unprofessional, disrespectful or even cowardly, in declining by email rather than by phone.

As always we are here to help, so please let any of us know if you have questions or as situations arise you’re not sure how to handle. Also remember to refer to the NALP guidelines for processes and protections put in place for both you and the employers. We look forward to seeing all of you next week!

Connect with Daniel at and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Three Bidding Strategies To Get The Most Out of OCI

Three Bidding Strategies To Get The Most Out of OCI

OCI bidding begins today. Most of you probably have an idea which firms you’re bidding with, but just in case here are some last minute tips and things to consider.
  1. Use as many of your 20 bids as you can honestly use! Honestly meaning you would at least be willing to give that employer a chance in an interview. There’s simply no reason at this point in the process to limit your options by using fewer bids than you’re allowed. Remember that all you’re committing to by bidding is to, if chosen, participate in a 15-30 minute interview on-campus. There’s no obligation past that, and you can always decide not to move forward with any employers at that point you don’t feel are honestly in the running for your services. Finally, I shouldn’t have to remind you the market is still not in your favor, it’s in the employers'. So you need to bid/interview/consider employers that, perhaps in a better market with more options, you wouldn’t.

  2. Be open geographically. Inevitably, a group of you will be tempted to limit yourself to one geographic region (usually Dallas or Austin), to the point where you will only bid for employers in that one city. Some of you may have very good reason to do so (e.g. spouse already has a job there). But for most of you it’s just a preference. For the purposes of bidding, we encourage you to let your preferences be a factor in your bidding rather than a hard and fast rule. For example, if Dallas is your preferred destination, bid with 13 Dallas employers and seven from other cities. Markets like Houston and West Texas are growing quickly right now and hiring quite a few lawyers; you ignore them at your peril.

  3. Diversify. When you applied to law school you likely had your “reach” schools, your “safe” schools and some schools in between. In many ways OCI is no different. You’re best served bidding with a few “reach” employers, a few safe employers, and then the bulk of your 20 bids should go to employers who you are most qualified for and interested in. How does this work in practice? Let’s say your class rank is Top 1/3rd. A good strategy might be to bid with five Top 15% preferred (not required obviously!) employers, 10 or so employers asking for between Top 15% and Top ½, and another five without stated grade requirements. Sure you could bid with more or less of each category, but you get the idea. Don’t bid with 20 employers asking for better than Top 1/3rd, as you’re likely to wind up with only a few interviews.

One last thing is not to forget the Resume Collection employers. There is no limit to how many of them you can bid with, and these are fantastic employers that deserve your consideration. Please let Angela or I know if you have specific questions about bidding strategies. We are here to help, and want you to get the absolute most out of your OCI experience.

Connect with Daniel at 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: 2015 Summer Legal Internship at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. (1L, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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