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West Texas Tales

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 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

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 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.



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 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

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 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

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 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

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 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

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 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.

Associates Are Getting Happier; What Does It Mean For You?

Associates Are Getting Happier; What Does It Mean For You?

The American Lawyer recently released the results of a survey of law firm associates (third-fifth year), which indicated the associates were happier with their work-life than a year ago, both of which were the highest positive scores in a decade. The study also shows which firms have the highest rankings of satisfaction among its worker ranks. As you go about your job search, this type of data should help guide your decisions on whether a law firm is right for you, and if so, the size of the firm, and perhaps even which firm.

The overall satisfaction scores are primarily attributed by author of the piece to: 1) Fewer peer attorneys due to the hiring slowdown in recent years has led to the surveyed associates being more valuable, which has led to enticing lateral offers as well as lucrative retention packages; and 2) Improved technology enabling the associates to be more effective, as well as allow for more flexibility in how they work (e.g. working remotely). Other key metrics according to a quoted source were "engaging work, feedback, training, the opportunity to be promoted…"

I also thought it was interesting that these increases in satisfaction among associates come at the same time as increases in billed hours:

Billable Hours

There is more to know about these numbers that would impact how we look at them. Primarily, are these associates simply working more hours, or are becoming more efficient, billing more of their work hours than before? The latter would more obviously connect the change in billed hours with greater satisfaction, as more billed hours on the same number of work hours makes both the firm and the associate more money without working any additional (i.e. the old work smarter not harder adage).
As you’re evaluating different career paths and law firms, keep in mind some of these issues and ask questions of our office and those you meet with while networking or interviewing. I’ve heard quite a bit from students recently about the difficulty in differentiating between law firms; the task can be daunting. However, I do think if you narrow down your scope to the small number of issues that will really impact your satisfaction in the workplace, you’ll find the process is more manageable. Those key issues may or may not be what is identified above, so you should do some self-reflecting to make that determination for yourself.

I should mention that, as with most legal employment surveys, the concentration of data here is in the big law firms, so keep that in mind. However, I think the factors being raised as they pertain to associate satisfaction would not be all that different in a smaller firm or other type of employer.

If you’re interested, I pulled out the employers who recruit from us (or have in the recent past) from the list of those in the survey with the highest associate satisfaction when being graded by their own associates. The full list is there in the article.

Law Firm Ranks

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 Intern with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (Washington, D.C., 1L/2L/3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

OCI Has Come And Gone; Now What?

OCI Has Come And Gone; Now What?

The weeks after On-Campus Interviews have a way of sorting students into categories, and then the students in each category generating a different set of questions about what happens next in their job search. Today we’re going to look at what some of these categories and questions sets are, and give you some ideas if not answers to address them.

First, to those of you who have accepted a summer clerkship offer or are deciding between offers, congratulations and well done. You may have some stressful decisions ahead which we are happy to assist with, but they are essentially “first world” problems. The one thing I will say is since most of you will only have the first half of your summer committed, think a little more out of the box with regard to what to do with your second half. Perhaps that’s volunteering with a non-profit you’re passionate about, working for a judge or finding a company in the industry you’re ultimately interested in serving and offering your services there.

If the group above is in category one, category two is comprised of those of you who had some interviews, maybe even a callback or two, but nothing has come from it. This can be very frustrating as you feel like you performed well yet have come up just a little short. The best advice for you is not to change up anything too much (i.e. don’t panic!). If you’re in this group, you’re doing the right things but thus far the numbers have worked against you. Meaning, most of these firms are selecting one or two candidates out of a large pool, and to finish third or fourth or fifth is really quite an accomplishment. As time goes on, the pool thins out and you will rise to the top. My primary suggestion to you would be to feel free, if you haven’t already, to reach back out to your callback employers and request any additional feedback they could provide that might help you moving forward. This goes without saying, but if you do this be sure to have a positive attitude and not express any bitterness for not being chosen. You should also participate in the October session of OCI, as well as reach out directly to firms who didn’t come to OCI that you have interest in.

A third category is those of you had a number of on-campus interviews, but did not receive any callback opportunities. Again, this is not the time to panic. You got into the interview room which says a lot about your abilities and credentials. However, I do suggest you come in to visit with Angela or me about your experience in the interviews, and see where we can identify causes that can be addressed. It might be an issue with your interview performance, but it might simply be a mismatch of employer type to your strengths. There are other possible explanations as well, so please make time to come by soon so we can address them before the next opportunity to bid, apply, and/or interview.

Finally, I want to address those of you who participated in OCI and bid with a number of employers, but received few if any interviews. Similar to the last group, we would love the chance to visit with you and see if we can identify causes. Without interviews as a potential cause, it might be documents that stood in your way (typos in cover letters, etc.). It could also be you bid with employers whose hiring criteria (stated or unstated) was above where you currently stand in the class. Please come by and we can see if these or other causes are identifiable and fixable before moving forward.

Regardless of where you are at this point in the fall interview season, we want to work with you to help move you forward in a positive direction. Your OCI experience is new information that can help inform your decisions as well as our thoughts on how to help you, so let’s get together and get to work!

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 Intern with U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas (Dallas, 1L/2L/3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Momentum In The Right Direction

Momentum In The Right Direction

Like any other trend analysis, we are always looking at year-over-year data of various metrics, in order to gain some understanding of what is going on in the legal market. While the data is still coming in on the results of this year’s August session of On-Campus Interviews, and we’ll also evaluate the results of the October session when the time comes, I think we can say without question there is momentum in a positive direction.

Let’s start with a few numbers: 67 employers registered for Session I of On-Campus Interviews this year, versus 61 a year ago, nearly a 10% increase. As or more important, the average number of interviews each employer conducted rose 9%, from 9.57 to 10.43. We are constantly communicating with employers about the tremendous value that the entire class of students at Baylor possesses, and it’s fantastic to see employers taking note. The result of the previous to statistics is that we saw an increase in total interviews conducted go from 584 in 2014, to 699 in 2015, a nearly 20% increase.

Put these numbers in context with other recent data and you can begin to talk about the market getting going again. This past spring we saw, for the first time since the recession, an increase in the percentage of entry-level lawyers finding a job. We can also now look back upon 2010 and 2011 as the low-point in the hiring market and see a slow, gradual, but steady uptick in the years since. Specifically here at Baylor, we can see that over the past 12 months there were 247 “entry-level” positions posted through Symplicity, which is up nearly 10% over the prior year (225 from 2013-14), and a significant 56% over the same period from 2012 to 2013.

The data I’ve outlined above appears to not only be evidence of a demand increase on the part of employers, but also highlights the supply decrease in terms of candidates, which also works to your benefit. We know that law school entering classes have decreased substantially over the past few years, with the most recent class the smallest since the 1980s. This combination of more jobs and fewer candidates has led to an improved job market for law students and graduates.

Amidst all the good news, we should keep in mind that we’re still a long way away from where we were in the early and mid-2000s, and it doesn’t appear those numbers are coming back anytime soon. We also continue to see big shifts in the big-law market and model, which ultimately impacts the entire profession. Finally, there is the issue of “underemployment,” which is reflected in the still historically low numbers of new graduates getting jobs practicing law (i.e. many of the new jobs are in non-practicing categories such as compliance or general business), as well as relatively stagnant salaries.

Even considering those concerns, it’s encouraging to see positive movement once again on a scale that we can see, touch and feel. There's no question it is still an employer's market, but the signs are there that it's starting to move back in your direction! We are here to help you take advantage of this momentum, so please come by our office any time to visit with us and formulate your job search strategy.

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 Capshaw Green, PLLC (Texarkana, 3L/Alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Day 1

Day 1

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. I’ve also been to San Antonio, Midland, Amarillo, Lubbock, Tyler, Longview, Texarkana, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Beaumont, and of course, visited with our local employers here in Waco. I will also visit with employers outside the region at national conferences and events. Over the past three years I've met with nearly 500 employers, and look forward to sharing what I've learned in those visits with you.

I will 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, what deadlines 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 by getting out and networking.

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.

I would like to put a specific plug in for mock interviews. I highly encourage you to make an appointment with me to do a mock interview, and the sooner the better. It will only take 45 minutes or so, and I think you'll find it to be a valuable use of your time.

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.

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: Family Law Attorney at Zinda & Davis in Austin(3L, Alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

OCI Video Tutorials (Pre-Bidding)

OCI Video Tutorials (Pre-Bidding)

Last week the CDO released four video tutorials walking you through the OCI bidding process. This blog post is mostly text from the transcripts used in the videos, but condensed and re-formatted for your benefit and reference. We hope this helps you as bidding approaches next week!

*For those having trouble accessing the videos, be sure you're using your BearID, which is your first name_last name, and password.


Remember that On-Campus Interviews are just one tool for you to use to find employment. If OCI does not work for you, we want to work with you and encourage you to meet with us ASAP to create a job search strategy. Please do not wait until the spring quarter or Spring OCI!

Remember that we have two fall OCI sessions. Session 1: August 17-21 and Session 2: October 5-9.

Session I bidding/applying: July 31 through 11:59 pm on August 4. For those of you in Scotland, please remember that is 11:59 pm CST. This deadline will not be extended for any reason.

You will bid for interviews, upload documents, and schedule interviews through Symplicity.

All of you have a Symplicity account and should know how to log in. As a reminder, you can access Symplicity through the CDO’s homepage.

You should log into Symplicity and upload all requested documents as soon as possible. Please let Monica Wright know if you have any problems logging in. Please do not create a new account!

Thee area few tabs in Symplicity you will need to be comfortable with using for oci.


•Profile page: Before you bid, you will need to update your class year. Everyone should be listed as a 2L, unless you are seeking post-graduate opportunities, when you should list yourself as a 3L.

•Documents tab – This is where you will upload and manage all documents for OCI and for other job postings (see Documents Tutorial).

•OCI tab

Within the OCI tab note the Sessions Dropdown Menu, and you should see:

•2015 Fall Direct Contact Program

•2015 Fall Resume Collection Session One

•2015 Fall On-Campus Interviews Session One

You'll also see the Session Two options which, for now you don't need to be concerned with.

If your class year is listed correctly in your profile, you should be able to see employers listed below (roughly 55 for OCI I 2L, 20 for RC 2L; 18 for OCI 3L and 7 for RC 3L; 10 for OCI Alumni, 2 for RC Alumni).

If you are selected to interview by an employer to whom you bid, you are REQUIRED to interview. Please research each employer before bidding for interviews. While we encourage you to bid broadly and to use as many of your bids as possible, please restrict your bids to those, based on your research, in which you have a strong interest.

If you plan to apply to employers, especially large firms, not participating in Baylor’s OCI, you should apply to these employers at the same time that you bid for Baylor on-campus interviews. Large firms will have recruitment information on their websites about how to apply; please refer also to the spreadsheet Daniel is sending out with specific large firm information.


Researching employers is a critical piece to getting the most out of your OCI experience. This tutorial discusses pre-bidding employer research.

First, check the employer’s interview date and make sure you’re available on that day.

After confirming that, click on “review.” In this screen is the majority of the employer’s information you’ll need.

Employers may display any selected practice areas, the office (note not the firm) size, as well as the dates of their summer program.

The options are 1st half summer (typically mid-May through June), 2nd half summer (typically July 1 through mid-August), no restriction or other. If the employer selects other, they should state the details of their program in the “Other” text box below.

In the "Employer's Schedule" table, you can see when they will be on campus, which office(s) they are interviewing for, any additional requests they have from applicants and their hiring criteria.

What most of you want to see the most is Hiring Criteria. As a reminder: if a criterion is required, there’s no wiggle room (e.g. Top 31% student cannot apply for Top 30% required position). If it’s preferred, there is some reasonable wiggle room. We provided detailed information for you in your yellow/pink sheet.

You'll also be able to see which document the employer is requesting/requiring. Only the documents being requested will appear (and prior to the bidding you’ll see “not selected” next to each one. Don’t get confused; that’s just how Symplicity labels them prior to the bidding window being open. It’s saying you, the student, have not yet selected a document to submit to that employer. You’ll of course do that once the bidding window is open).

We strongly encourage you to have every commonly requested document (resume, cover letter, transcript and writing sample) ready to go prior to bidding. Angela has a separate tutorial on OCI documents that I highly recommend you view before the bid dates.

Below the requested documents is the employer’s contact information. This is for your use in cover letters and thank you notes only. You are not to submit application materials directly to the contact person listed. All application documents are to be submitted through Symplicity, as described in the OCI Bidding Tutorial.

To make your research a little easier, the CDO created a spreadsheet with links to OCI firm websites and NALP forms for those who are NALP members. You will find it in the Related Resources window on the far right-hand side of the page: Titled “2015 OCI Employer List and Information.”

That's everything for pre-bidding employer research. I'll have more to say on this topic as you prepare for your interviews.


Please note that all required application materials for OCI must be uploaded in Symplicity BEFORE you bid.

Here are a few notes about each type of document you might need for OCI before moving on to Symplicity.

Resumes: Most of you have your final resume approved in Symplicity. If you do not have a resume uploaded in Symplicity, it must be uploaded and approved by July 31. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to verify that you have an approved, updated resume in Symplicity before you bid.

Please also remember that, for your resume, you are required to use the class rank found in BearWeb, not the approximate class rank found on the Baylor Law website.

Cover letters: You will upload your cover letter in the documents section in Symplicity. Cover letters should be tailored for each employer based on your research.

Please note that even if an employer includes a contact name and address for the cover letter, you will still submit your cover letter through Symplicity. Do not send your materials directly to the employer (if OCI or Resume Collection Session; Direct Contact Session Employers (currently just two) will request you send materials directly).

You do not need to sign your cover letter and scan it into Symplicity.

If an employer has not requested a cover letter, they do not want a cover letter. Please do not send a letter directly to them. It is important to show that you can follow application instructions.

Transcripts – There are two ways to get a copy of your unofficial transcript to upload in Symplicity: One is to scan in and upload an unofficial transcript (which you get from the Tower). The other is cut and paste” the transcript information from your BearWeb account into a Word document (you may also want to convert to PDF prior to upload).

Writing samples – Your writing sample should be approximately five to seven pages in length, unless otherwise noted by the employer. If your writing sample is longer than five pages, you can choose a portion of the writing sample to submit. In that case, you will want to provide a short introduction to give the employer some context.

If you have legal writing samples other than a first-year memo, I encourage you to use it. If not, a memo will be fine.

If you plan to use a writing sample from work performed for an employer this summer, please remember to get approval from your employer. You may need to redact confidential information.

Also, it goes without saying, that your writing sample must be entirely your own work.

Adding documents to Symplicity is simple. Go to the documents tab in Symplicity. Scroll down to “add new.” Add a name for your document in the label field.

Please include your first and last name when saving documents and when naming documents in Symplicity. For cover letters, include the name of the firm in the title of the document so that you will not get confused during bidding. You do not want to send the wrong cover letter to the wrong firm!

Select the type of document you are uploading, and browse your computer for the appropriate file. Then, hit submit. If you upload a Word document, Symplicity will convert it to a PDF for you (though we encourage you to double-check the formatting to make sure it looks right/good).

You can upload several different versions of your resume and cover letters if you would like. The only type of document that requires approval before you bid is your resume. If you want to use more than one version of your resume, both versions must be approved. Again, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to verify that you have an approved, updated resume in Symplicity by August 2. At the top of the documents page, you will see an approved documents tab and a pending documents tab. Your resume will stay in “pending documents” until Angela approves it.

Again, it is your responsibility to upload all documents before bidding begins on July 31. You are strongly encouraged you not to wait until the last minute.


During the bid dates (July 31 - August 4):

1) You will go to the OCI tab in Symplicity to bid.
2) Click “Review” next to the employer you wish to bid for.
3) On the right-hand side where you previously saw a list of required documents, you’ll now see drop-down menus next to each. You’ll also see a “Bid/Application” drop-down menu. Click on that and select the number 1 (The only number you need to be concerned with is 20, as that is your last allowable bid).
4) Go into each document (e.g. resume) and select which document from your document library you wish to submit. For cover letters you’ll want to locate the employer specific cover letter in the drop-down and select it.
5) If applicable, enter the preferred location into the text box labeled as such.
6) Select the “Apply” button. You’ve now bid for that employer.
7) You can now go into the next employer’s “Review” page, and in the “Bid/Application” drop-down select “2”, select the appropriate documents, and hit “Apply.”
8) Continue this process until you have used all of your 20 bids (or as many up to 20 as you wish, though we encourage you to use them all).

Note: You are able to make changes to your bids any time during the bidding window (which ends at 11:59pm August 4th.) After that no bidding changes are allowed. You may, however, make changes to your documents (e.g. new grade comes in and you want to update your transcript) after bidding has closed. Contact us for more details.

Note: You might notice an exclamation mark within an orange triangle noting something called “No Multiple Interviews.” For the most part, you can ignore this. This is for employers who have, or are interviewing for, more than one office location. If they indicate “no multiple interviews,” it simply means that you must select one office location with which to interview, or in the case of an employer only listing one office, you’re interviewing for that office only.

Note: you will use the same process for Session Two BUT there is NO bid limit. You can bid to all Session Two on-campus interview employers if you would like. Bid dates for Session Two are: September 18 to 11:59 pm September 22.

Note: Occasionally employers not participating in OCI will post a job in the Job Posting section of Symplicity for a 2L summer clerkship. Please check the job postings regularly for these opportunities.

That is everything for the OCI bidding tutorials. Again please contact us if you have any questions.

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 potential for associate position at Arguello, Hope & Associates in Houston (2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

How To Leave Your Summer Clerkship On A Good Note

How To Leave Your Summer Clerkship On A Good Note

Many of you are nearing the end of your summer clerkship, and I thought it would be a good time to discuss how to wind down your experience on a positive note. There are three groups of people who, upon your exit, you want to be sure to leave impressed: hiring people (partners, recruiters, etc.), potential colleagues (associates, staff) and fellow clerks. Now, there’s little that can be done in the final days to salvage your experience if you’ve made major mistakes. But assuming otherwise, you can certainly still either solidify or spoil the good you’ve done. Let’s make sure it’s the former.

Hiring People

It’s important that as many attorneys in the firm as possible know you and your work. This is especially true of hiring partners, of which there are usually few. If you’ve yet to spend much time with one or two of them, make it a point to do so before you leave. See if they have a quick project you could knock out for them or otherwise just grab coffee or lunch. You also want to make sure you complete or appropriately handoff any project you’re currently working on, and communicate status updates clearly.

To the extent your firm has recruiters, be sure to make them feel appreciated for all the work they put in to get you to this point. They likely were the first screeners of your resume, provided input to the partners during the offer stages, and have helped you navigate your clerkship. They were also responsible for any fun you may have had over the summer, which took considerable planning. Finally, they likely will be providing input to the partners as full-time offers are being considered.

Potential Colleagues

There will be some similarities among these three groups as you would expect; after all they are people and you want to show them you’ll be a great addition to the team. So be sure to meet as many associates you’ve yet to come across, as well as solidify the relationships you’ve built over the past six weeks with those you’ve worked directly with or for. Ask their advice on job and career matters; take them to lunch; make sure you ask to stay connected with them over the coming year or two (and actually follow up!). As with partners, make sure all current projects are appropriately dealt with.

The firm's staff has likely been as helpful to you over the past six weeks as any of the groups we’ve discussed thus far. Let them know it! One, it’s the right thing to do. Two, one word in either direction from a staff member to a hiring partner may make the difference in whether you get a full-time offer.

Fellow Clerks

This category is a little different, as they won’t be the ones to give you a job. However, you should be taking the long-view of your career, realizing you may work with/for/against some of these people at one time or another over the next 30 years. Build on these relationships and create a robust network of peer attorneys. Being able to call on one another with any number of issues throughout your careers will help you more than you know.

Wrapping Up

Remember that even if you don’t get a full-time offer from the employer you’re working for now, the people there are now a primary reference for any other employer who might hire you. So you want to make sure they not only say good things about you, but are willing to proactively give your name to their colleagues when asked for referrals. Leave there with advocates on your behalf!

If you've worked hard and well at your clerkship, you have put yourself in a position to benefit. Take these last final steps and seal the deal!

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: Construction Law Student (paid internship; open to all classes) with Texas Sterling Construction in Houston Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

The Importance of Staying Informed

The Importance of Staying Informed

I have heard Dean Toben speak to large groups of students on multiple occasions, and in most of those talks he specifically mentions the importance of staying informed. He discusses how critical it is to be well-read, not just from a legal standpoint, but from a state, national and world affairs standpoint as well. I want to highlight this issue today and provide my own thoughts on the matter.

Today is the last day of the 84th Legislative Session here in Texas. So when first considering what to write today, I thought about providing a list of key or controversial laws that have been (or will soon be) signed into Texas law this legislative session. However, I quickly realized that the point I was trying to get across was a larger one, and one Dean Toben often makes: it’s critical that you stay informed. So with that change of direction let's talk about what it means to stay informed, and why you should make it a priority.

Why? First of all, there are practical reasons. You are budding lawyers who need to know what the laws are. It’s why you will be required to accumulate Continuing Legal Education credit in order to maintain your Bar license. It’s also a way in which you can distinguish yourself from the many choices people and companies have when it comes to who will provide their legal services. And let’s not forget, most job interviews start out with at least a little bit of chit-chat, and that’s at a critical point when first impressions of you are being made.

What about the idea that as a lawyer, you’re also going to be called into leadership within your community. Baylor Lawyers in particular are serving their communities in a variety of roles all over the state and the nation, and you won’t be successful in those roles if all you know is your slice of the legal pie. Being knowledgeable about the issues of the day will be a necessity.

Remember also that for long-term success as a lawyer, you’re ultimately going to have to attract new and retain clients and business. Being conversant in the news may not get that new client or convince that client not to leave, but it’s sure helpful to have some topics to draw from when you’re at networking events or in a position of having to make small talk. Conversely, not being able to carry on a conversation can make you come across as uninformed, out of touch, aloof or detached. None of these are endearing characteristics to a prospective client.

As an example, last week I traveled to Houston early Tuesday morning after the severe rainfall overnight caused incredible flooding, which you’ve no doubt seen over the past week. How would it have made me look if I had gone into my first appointment without knowing what was going on, or without asking if the person I was meeting with and their family were safe? Once I realized the extent of what had happened, I emailed each of the people I was to meet with to ask those questions and let them know that I understood if we needed to reschedule. The early part of each meeting I had was all about the flooding, stories of missing people, where the worst of it was, etc. My credibility to discuss the virtue of you, the Baylor Law student, would have been shot had I been uninformed on the flooding issue.

The last point I want to make is this: get out of your information bubble. The internet age and 24/7 cable news cycles have enabled us to seek out news that only appeals to our view of the world. This new era has its positives and choice is always good. However, it’s important to recognize that you’re going to interact with many people who don’t share your worldview, and you are going to have to find ways to connect with them if you’re going to be their lawyer. So challenge yourself to mix it up a bit; it’s always good to hear what someone else might be thinking or feeling, even if in the end you’re not going to agree with their conclusions or decisions.

Take it from Dean Toben, staying informed is a critical piece of your professional development, and will serve you well in the great many roles you’re soon likely to assume. Oh, and since I changed directions on this blog post, go read the Texas Tribune (or your local news outlet of choice) to make sure you’re up on all the new laws.

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 County Attorney - Child Protective Services (Conroe, 3L/Alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

When You Have To Go Get The Work

When You Have To Go Get The Work

I’ve recently visited with attorneys from several different firms who have mentioned one of the keys to being successful as a clerk or young associate is the ability to go get the work. They’re not talking about getting new clients (i.e. rainmaking). What they mean is there isn’t a systemized method by which partners and/or senior associates dole out work they need done. Instead, they give work to either 1) the person who asks them, or 2) the person they have given work to before with good results.

What does this mean for you? It means that as early as your first internship/externship/clerkship, you need to learn how to ask for work. And that involves getting out of your office or cubicle, and literally going door-to-door around the office, introducing yourself (if you haven’t already), and asking if that person has anything you might be able to do for them.

Perhaps your first assignment will be making copies or getting coffee; perhaps it will be organizing sets of documents. You might get lucky and get an interesting assignment right out of the gate. Whatever the task may be, do it to the best of your ability (remember (2) above!). Don’t worry if it’s not the exciting and challenging work you want to do; that work will come if you do the simple tasks well.

An associate at one of the firms I referenced shared with me that he and another associate joined their firm at roughly the same time. He thought the two of them both did commendable work and got along well with others at the firm. However, the other associate tended to stay at his desk, waiting for work to be assigned to him. My contact, on the other hand, would do what I’ve just suggested you need to do; he went around asking partners and senior associates for work. The result at the end of the year was that my contact had billed more hours, earned more in bonus, and received a raise. What happened to the other associate? He didn’t bill enough hours, missed out on bonuses and soon left the firm.

Remember in the situation I just described, the quality of the work was no different between the two associates. Neither was the way they got along with colleagues around the office. But none of that matters when you’re not able to justify the salary you’re collecting with revenue-producing billable hours. We saw a non-legal industry version of that play out last week, when arguably the most popular and influential sports media personality, Bill Simmons, and his employer ESPN decided to part ways. ESPN’s point of view was essentially: “You’re great, but you don’t make us enough money to justify the salary you’re asking for.” If that’s the reality for someone like Mr. Simmons, what does that mean for the rest of us who aren’t the preeminent people in our field (I’m sure one or more of you will be, but the point is that doesn’t save you!).

Whether or not you work for an employer whose work distribution rewards those who go out and seek it, this is a valuable lesson to keep in mind. In the one instance your professional survival at that employer may very well depend on it. But even if you are constantly given work and it doesn’t appear to be an issue, you can increase your reputation as a team player and devoted employee just by asking for extra work and offering to help someone else out.

So this summer when everyone is leaving the office, look around and see who still has their light on. Go by and ask if there is anything you could do to help them out. Developing that habit now will pay off, and may even save your job.

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: Prosecuting Attorney at City of Fort With (3L/Alumni, Fort Worth) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

New Legal Market Data A Mixed Bag

New Legal Market Data A Mixed Bag

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released its 2014 law graduate employment data. This measures the employment status of graduates as of March 15, 2015, roughly 10 months after graduation for most students (though at Baylor the timeframe can be as short as seven months and as long as 16 months, depending on which quarter the student graduated). The results are somewhat a mixed bag. To analyze these numbers we’re going to be looking at data from both the ABA and the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). The ABA didn’t begin collecting this employment data until recently, but the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has been doing so for many years. Though the two do have some reporting differences, for the broad purposes we’ll be addressing, they are negligible and don’t prevent using both to complement each other.

The good news is there was a slight increase in the employment rate of entry-level law graduates from 2013 to 2014. According to the ABA data out last month, 59.9% of graduates found employment in a full-time (FT), long-term (LT), bar passage (Bar) required position; that figure was 57.0% in 2013. 11.2% of graduates obtained full-time, long-term positions in positions where having a JD was an advantage; that figure was 10.1% in 2013. The unemployed and still-seeking number dropped from 11.2% in 2013 to 9.8% in 2014. This is encouraging and is a sign the market is beginning to rebalance after a dramatic shift during and immediately after the recession of 2008.

However, there are three reasons why this improvement should be looked at with cautiousness. The first is that the “as-of” reporting date used for collection of the 2014 data was moved back one month, from February to March, allowing extra time for graduates to obtain employment (when comparing to prior years; it won’t be an issue moving forward).

Second, while the percentages went in the right direction, the total numbers did not. For example, there were fewer entry-level attorneys hired in that major category of FT/LT/Bar positions in 2014 than in 2013, even though the percentage hired in that category increased. Why the difference in the two indicators (percentage and total numbers)? Simply, there were nearly 3,000 fewer graduates in 2014 than in 2013, so the smaller denominator allowed for fewer positions to still register percentage increases. All that said, JD Advantage positions grew both as a percentage and in total numbers, so that’s a category to keep an eye on for potential opportunities.

Finally, when you look at where these numbers are relative to pre-recession numbers, you see just how far removed the market continues to be from that peak era, and how far we have to go if we’re to ever get back to those levels. According to NALP, the 2006 and 2007 classes enjoyed FT/Bar positions at a clip of 69.9% and 68.9%, respectively. So you can see that while we’ve improved from the worst of times, we’re still down approximately 10% from pre-recession highs. In raw numbers, that equates to about 4,000 jobs nationwide.

It’s my opinion we won’t return to anything like the 2006-2007 market anytime soon, and that we have to adjust our expectations accordingly. It’s helpful that the number of graduates came down from 2013 to 2014, and that trend looks to be continuing for the next few years. This will have the effect of raising the employment percentages (all other factors being equal) as it did this year, and creating a better balance between the number of jobs and the number of graduates.

Next week I’ll take a more in-depth look at these numbers, including salaries, what’s going on with specific types of employers, and geographic trends you should be paying attention to.

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: Texas Department of Public Safety Summer Law Clerk (2L and 3L, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.



Q: An employer recently made me a job offer, and it is their practice that each new employee goes through a 90 day “probation” period. Is this typical/reasonable? Should it worry me?

A: Employers in all types of industries use probationary periods with new employees, so in that context there isn’t anything worrisome or unusual about it. However, it is somewhat less common among law firms. You would want to make sure you’re clear what exactly the probation period entails. Some employers use it before you become eligible for full-benefits, while others may use it to evaluate whether you should continue as an employee. The reality is that no matter where you go you’re almost always an at-will employee, subject to dismissal by the employer and yourself free to leave without penalty. So in practice the 90 day period is just a more formal way of evaluating new employees.

Q: An employer made me an offer over the phone recently, which I accepted. However, I haven’t received anything in writing. Should I be worried?

A: Probably not. There are many employers who don’t put their offers in writing and simply conduct their hiring business over the phone. However, if the person you spoke with gave any indication that they needed any additional approval, I would not consider the deal done. Also, if the employer specifically mentioned they would be getting you a written offer soon and you haven’t received it, I think it’s certainly appropriate for you to follow up and ask about it. If you want something in writing, or perhaps you’re in a situation where a potential landlord/mortgage company/etc. is requiring proof of employment, again I think it’s entirely appropriate to ask the employer to draft something for you. But if the question is, should you worry about whether you actually have the job simply based on the fact the offer/acceptance occurred via phone and not in writing, the answer is generally no.

Q: After I have interviewed for a position, how long should I wait to hear from them before reaching out? If I don’t get a response, when and how often to I follow up?

A: This is always a difficult question, and as you might imagine much depends on the circumstances. Notably, what did the employer say, if anything, regarding the timing of when they might make a decision? If they didn’t provide a target date, I think two weeks after the interview is entirely appropriate, though you could probably get away with contacting them a little sooner. A few days is certainly not enough time. So probably sometime in the second week after the interview is the sweet spot. If they provided a specific target date, I would probably reach out between three and five business days after that date. I find employers often give Friday as a target date; using my advice that might mean reaching out at the end of the following Wednesday or Thursday.

Got a question for the Mailbag? Send it in!

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 at Sauders & Walsh, PLLC(Entry-level attorney, Plano) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Before You Back Out On An Employer

Before You Back Out On An Employer

Look, I understand. It’s an employers’ market. There are more candidates than positions, and that can sometimes lead to “settling” for a second or third choice earlier than you would like. Then when something better comes along, you have a decision to make. Do you honor your original commitment to the second choice employer? Or do you accept the better offer and back out on the second choice? We’re seeing more and more of these incidents crop up, and felt compelled to address them.

Let’s make one thing clear. If you’re at the decision point I just described, you already made the decision. You’re taking the better offer. How do I know? Because the decision was made the moment you applied for that better job. Why would you, having already secured a position, apply for a different position that would require you backing out on the first, if you weren’t prepared to do just that? You wouldn’t. (There are exceptions and caveats to this general rule, but we’ll leave them for another blog post).

That issue aside, the most important thing I feel like you need to hear on this topic is to include us in your decision making process. And as importantly, begin at the point when you’re thinking about applying for a different position, not just when you’re faced with the pseudo-decision. As you can tell, I think at that point it’s often too late. I would even encourage you to reach out before accepting an offer with a second choice employer.

What might we say to you? What are the typical points you ought to be considering?
  1. You need not be in a hurry to secure a position. We often see students who in late fall/early winter feel as if they have to accept any job offer they receive. The fact is many students receive offers well into the late winter and spring. So don’t accept something early on if you’re plan is to simply continue applying for positions you would take over the one you have.

  2. Be creative and use your entire summer. Baylor affords you a longer summer than most law schools, so use that to your advantage. If you feel like you can’t say no to a second choice employer, see if you can work the first or last four weeks of the summer, leaving the rest of your summer open for more preferred opportunities.

  3. Always spend time considering the situation from the employer’s perspective. Once you’ve accepted an offer of employment, how would you feel if they continued posting the position and interviewing candidates, hoping to find someone better to replace you with? My guess is you would be in our office railing against this unethical employer, demanding we take some action. And you would be right to do so!

  4. Think about the long-term. This one can get you going in circles, but stick with me. You might make a case that reneging on your first employer and going with the preferred one is in your long-term best interest, since the preferred employer offers more (take your pick: money, advancement opportunity, mentorship, etc.). However, another view is that is actually short-term thinking, because in exchange for the benefits of the new position, you’ve risked damaging your professional reputation with the employer you backed out on. This may not sound too bad, but if you haven’t figured it out yet, your reputation as a lawyer means everything. Moreover, your integrity, trustworthiness and honesty as a lawyer mean even more. So what happens when the spurned employer tells his/her colleagues about you backing out? What happens when you’re sitting across the table from the employer in a case? Or you’re now in front of that employer who is a judge? These are the questions you should be considering, and that we’re happy to walk through with you.

  5. Be professional in backing out. Once you’ve made the decision to renege, there is a right and a wrong way to communicate and handle it. Even if we’ve disagreed with your decision, once it’s made we can still help you communicate with the employer and try to help you maintain the relationship and your reputation. There are no guarantees here, and no way to predict how an individual employer will handle the news regardless of how you break it. But there are some general principles we can work with you on.

You can probably tell we aren’t thrilled with the notion of students accepting positions and then backing out of them. We address this within On-Campus Interviews specifically in our student guide, but know that’s not the only time these situations arise. Please know that we do want what’s best for you, and yet we also must do what’s best for your classmates, and future Baylor students. The best way for us to ensure all are given proper consideration is for you to keep us in the loop and let us walk through these decisions with 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: Unpaid Judicial Internship/Externship Summer 2015 with Eleventh Court of Appeals(1L or 2L, Eastland) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Give Your Writing Sample The Attention It Deserves

Give Your Writing Sample The Attention It Deserves

It’s easy to do. You’ve perfected your resume, carefully drafted a cover letters specifically tailored to the employer, and now you’re ready to apply. However, they’ve also requested a writing sample. “Easy enough,” you say, as you grab a few pages from a memo you did fairly well on and attach it to your application. What I’ve just described is at best a missed opportunity, and at worst a potentially fatal mistake for your candidacy.

Employers overwhelmingly list writing as a skill they most desire, and also one they have the hardest time finding. Many of them think this generation simply doesn’t know how to write in the age of texts and tweets (and keep in mind it really doesn’t matter whether this is right or wrong; it is the perception of some and must be addressed). So what can you do to prove you’re the exception to their rule? Blow them away with your writing sample (the cover letter is important as well, but we’ve addressed that in some detail in past posts).

The tricky part about advising you regarding writing samples is that the reader’s tastes can be very personal. For example, I’ve had employers suggest students consider providing non-law school writing samples such as blog posts, newspaper/magazine articles, etc. They get so many first-year memos that something unique would be welcomed.

I’ve had others mention that the first-year memo doesn’t present a challenging enough opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their potential, so that employer prefers a law review note or anything that requires more sophisticated analysis.

Those anecdotal examples aside, the large majority of you (and I venture other law school candidates) are using a first-year legal memo as your writing sample, and it is entirely acceptable and probably the safest bet. So let’s take a moment and talk about how you can make this writing sample the best it can be.

First, you absolutely have to proof-read the sample over and over. Give it to other people and have them proof-read it as well. There is simply no excuse for having typographical or grammatical errors in your work. Don’t be the student in the opening hypothetical who simply grabs three or four pages of a legal memo and submits it without review. But don’t just take my word for this, go into the main story page and listen to an employer below who left this message for one of our professors.

Second, go back and look carefully at the professor’s comments to identify which section was your best work and should make up your sample. You should incorporate changes if they made suggestions on how you could improve the memo. Often students will read professor’s comments when they get back the memo, but never think about it again.

Last, if the writing you’re pulling from was written with a co-author, be sure to only select and include that which you wrote. Employers can tell when there are multiple authors in the same sample, and it can get complicated trying to describe who wrote what.

Writing samples are a critical piece of the application materials, and provide a great opportunity for you to stand out among the others. However they can also be a factor which harms your candidacy, if you don’t give them the attention they deserve.

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: 2L Summer Clerk at Fenley & Bate (2L, Lufkin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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