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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.

Where Are We With Salaries?

Where Are We With Salaries?

A year and a half ago, I wrote a two-part series discussing reasonable salary expectations (part 1, part 2). I thought it was worth updating as there have been a number of you ask me about this, and it has changed somewhat. I should also mention that employers (usually smaller and who hire every few years) ask for this information as well, so you’ll also be up to date on what we’ve shared with them. I will come back and update this information again when we have 2014 data, likely sometime in the fall.

So what hasn’t changed (and won’t for a generation)? The massive gulf that exists between what I’ll broadly call “Big Law,” and everything else. I almost look at Big Law as a separate industry, not just because of the vast salary difference, but also because there are a number of differences in what the actual job entails when compared to other legal positions (but that’s a post for another day).
You can see the gulf I’m talking about in our favorite NALP Annual Salary Chart from the graduating class of 2013:

2013 NALP Salary Chart

Notice that the Big Law firms are still paying $160,000 (relatively unchanged since the bulk of these firms went to that number in 2007), and that the next two highest points on the curve are at $50,000 and $60,000. Approximately 38% of the entry level salaries in this survey are one of those three figures. This is relatively consistent with where we’ve been.

What I continue to point out when discussing this data is how so few employers pay in the $100,000 to $155,000 range. A common misunderstanding is that if the Big Law employers are paying $160,000, the next level of employers would pay something slightly less like $140,000. As you can see from the data, that simply isn’t the case.

There are a couple of other facts to take a look at. First, the adjusted mean increased 3.5% in 2013 from $75,554 to $78,205. The prior year’s increase was just 2.1%, and we saw a significant 4.3% drop from 2010 to 2011. You can see this encouraging picture in graph form below:

2010-2013 Mean Salary Chart

Second, I don’t believe I’ve provided median salary numbers in a while (if at all), so I wanted you to see those. Mean data can be so skewed since the Big Law employers drag a lot of numbers to the right. The chart below highlights the median 1st year associate salaries based on firm size. (One big caveat to this chart is the response rate from the various groups of employers; relatively few small firms responded as opposed to the large firms, so the accuracy of the data should be considered accordingly).

2013 Median Salaries By Law Firm Size Chart

When you consider what we’ve just been discussing regarding the Big Law / everyone else salary gulf, this graph might be a bit confusing. It appears that most law firms are paying at or above $100,000. Don’t let the visual images fool you. Two major things are going on here you must consider: 1) the data from this graph is only made up of law firms (i.e. government, business, other industry are not included), which tend to be higher paying, and 2) The number of firms made up of between two and 25 attorneys far exceeds the number of firms made up of more than that. A quick search on Martindale shows 2,334 law firms made up of between two and 25 attorneys, while only 270 firms show up with more. To illustrate that point, Baylor’s 2013 class saw 71 of our 152 employed graduates (47%) obtain positions with a firm made up of between two and 25 attorneys. 30 (or 20%) obtained employment with law firms with 26 or more attorneys.

There is so much to talk about when discussing salaries, and I plan to continue picking out nuggets here and there to share with you throughout the year. I also encourage you to go back and read the Salary Expectations series I mentioned at the top, and the How to Counter post I wrote in January that ties into this. If you have specific questions about salaries you’d like me to address, 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: Attorney I - Municipal Court Prosecutor (Alumni, Wichita Falls) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Yes, Not Sending A Thank You Note Could Cost You

Yes, Not Sending A Thank You Note Could Cost You

“We interviewed [x] candidates, and we received [x/2] thank you notes – th(ose) who sent thank you notes [moved forward]…we debated between two candidates for quite a while and even asked our office manager to weigh in on it. It wasn’t that we disagreed about who should get it – we just flat out couldn’t decide because they were both great, qualified candidates. However, one of the two sent a thank you note, and that candidate received the offer (it wasn’t 100% of the reason why, but it ended up being a useful factor in deciding).”

This is a quote from an employer who participated in OCI this spring. I thought it was particularly important to share with you, because it is a real world example of something we often describe in hypotheticals or in the abstract. It also wasn’t the only time an employer made reference to who had sent thank you notes and who had not, as Angela mentioned in a March 5th Facebook CDO Group post:

"An employer who recently interviewed several Baylor Law students mentioned to us that only two students sent him a thank you note after the interview. It made an impression on him and not in a good way.
I recommend that you always send a thank you note after an interview. It may not make any difference in the hiring decision, but it is a professional courtesy to the employer who took the time to meet with you.
We have thank you cards in the CDO. Please help yourself to them!"

I agree with Angela, that generally the thank you note will not make the difference in the hiring decision. More specifically, thank you notes won’t likely overcome a poor interview or inferior credentials (all other things being equal). However, I do think thank you notes can make a difference when there is a multiple-step interview process, and the employer is deciding who to move through to the next round. And as in the example above, if the margin between two candidates is razor thin, whether or not candidates sent a thank you note may go on the big board of pros/cons for each.

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please remember to send some type (hand-written or email) of thank you note to any employer who interviews you. Interviewers have taken some amount of time out of their day to consider you for a position in their organization; that alone deserves your respect and gratitude. When you can do the right thing and benefit from it (or at least not do harm), what possible reason is there not to do it? None is the answer you’re looking for.

I mentioned the option of hand-written or email thank you notes, and I’ll close with a brief note about that since it is a frequently asked question. We’ve heard a wide variety of opinions on this topic from employers, so it seems clear that the form preference is a very personal thing. Without a general rule to follow, it’s going to be up to you to determine the best approach based on what you learned about the interviewer. That said, we do know that some employers (especially big firms) move very quickly after on-campus interviews. So to the extent a thank you note could impact your candidacy, email is the only safe harbor. My personal practice has been to send emails to interviewers after round one/on-campus/telephone/Skype interviews, when you know there is another round of interviewing still to come. I would then send handwritten thank you notes to interviewers after callback/in-person/comprehensive interviews. At the end of the day, don’t let these small practical issues paralyze you from sending something; anything is better than nothing.

If you’re in the habit of sending thank you notes, keep up the great work. If not, start now. There’s simply no reason to let an employer pass on you because you failed to do so.

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 Associate at Sprouse Shrader Smith PC (2L, Amarillo) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

OCI Is A Tremendous Job Searching Tool: Use It!

OCI Is A Tremendous Job Searching Tool: Use It!

The combination of Spring On-Campus Interviews this week, upcoming registration for Fall On-Campus Interviews (be on the lookout for information soon) and the 1L Interviewing Skills program last week with the attorneys from Jackson Walker, created some great topics to discuss in this week’s blog. I settled on the purpose and value of OCI, particularly for those of you in the middle and bottom of the class.

A myth often makes its way across the student body which says that OCI is only for those students at the top of the class. Like many myths, they begin with some truth. The truth in this case is that big law firms, who recruit 2Ls into a summer program, which often results in a $160,000 position after graduation, tend to target the top of the class (at most law schools they go to, not just Baylor). These firms do most, if not all, of their recruiting through the law school OCI process.

There are a couple of things for you to keep in perspective here: 1) we do our best to encourage employers to widen the pool of their prospective candidates, as well as recruit employers to participate who will generally have less restrictive criteria, and 2) we’ve had some success! So let’s look at the numbers.

I pulled the data from last year’s Fall OCI Program, Session I (which is going to be the most restrictive of our three programs). We had 61 employers register to participate, and of those there were a total of 26 whose stated hiring criteria were Top 25% preferred or higher (or 43%). Those employers open to students in the Top 26% - Top 50% totaled 21 (or 34%). That left 14 (or 23% of) employers with criteria below the Top 50% mark; in fact, many of those had no objective criteria listed at all.

Put the bottom two categories together and what do you have? 57% of the opportunities at 2014 Fall OCI Session I were open to those outside the top 25%. Not bad! Of course, those at the top of the class can bid for those same opportunities, and therefore still have an advantage. But that’s not something limited to OCI; that’s simply going to be the job market in general. Those with better credentials will have more opportunities. But that fact shouldn’t lead someone to the conclusion to pass on OCI; it should have the opposite effect. Any law student, and particularly those outside the top of the class, cannot leave any tool in the job search toolbox. You simply don’t have that luxury.

Finally, keep in mind that there are tremendous benefits to participating in OCI in addition to whether or not it leads directly to a job. Here are a few: 1) forcing you to get your application materials together and in good shape so you can respond quickly when job openings occur, 2) practicing your interviewing skills, 3) building your network and 4) getting to know us in the CDO and letting us get to know you.

Those benefits aside, in what other circumstance do you have 30-70 employers, with job opportunities, coming to you?! The answer is none. There simply is no more efficient use of your job searching time than participating in OCI. So my hope is when you begin to see information pertaining to Fall 2015 OCI in the next few weeks, you’ll listen to what we have to say, and ultimately decide to participate. You may not get your job directly through the program, but you could. And in either case it will be a fantastic use of your job searching 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: Summer Clerk at Wilson, Cribbs & Goren, P.C. (2L, Houston) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Texas Is The #2 Legal Job Market In America

Texas Is The #2 Legal Job Market In America

The National Jurist recently published its analysis of the best legal job markets in the United States. It grouped the states into regions (Texas is a region unto itself; California was divided into two regions), and analyzed the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) data pertaining to the ratio of jobs to graduating lawyers.

According to their analysis, Texas was the #2 best legal job market in America, trailing the Mountain Region (consisting of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) and coming in just ahead of Georgia.

The Texas market was summarized this way:

Booming oil production and a strong mining industry have made Texas one of the strongest economies in the nation, and that is driving legal employment. In addition to energy law, financial transactions and intellectual property are needed practice areas in the state. Houston leads the state in terms of number of jobs, followed by Dallas.

“There has been a real surge in mid-sized law firms [in Dallas],” (Charles, of Robert Half Legal) Volkert said. “They are leveraging against the higher price points of bigger firms. There is a demand in litigation, lease administration, financial and banking.”

That pretty well tracks with what I’ve been seeing and hearing from the employers I talk to. The market seems to be loosening up a little bit with each month that goes by, and we have reason to be cautiously optimistic.

However, we’re still nowhere near pre-recession hiring levels, and don’t expect to be anytime soon (if ever). So by optimistic, I simply (and only) want to convey that things appear to be getting better and not worse. The improvement is slow and muted, but it is there.

So is there bad news in this report? Potentially. Notice the reference to the growth in mid-sized law firms in Dallas. Many of these are off-shoots of big law firms, and are partner/experienced associate heavy. They tend (at least at their early stages) to not be interested in hiring new lawyers for a variety of reasons, and prefer to acquire talent in the lateral market. You can get into an employer like this, but it usually takes a very strong reference from someone they really respect.

I want to specifically highlight a combination of the practice areas mentioned in the summary, Intellectual Property Litigation. While IP is a hot field, few law students have the hard science background required from most employers (usually a B.S. in Electrical Engineering or Computer Science) to do patent prosecution (i.e. filing patents). However, that requirement is much more relaxed in the area of IP litigation. The Eastern District of Texas has long been a home for IP litigation nationwide. Companies from all over usually represented by out-of-state / “big city” counsel, file their claims here and often need local counsel to step in and represent them at trial. The District also recently filled a judicial seat which had been vacant for nearly three years, and that is expected to increase the work in that court, and hopefully, the need for attorneys.

The legal market in Texas is without question in better shape than most areas of the country. We will do all we can to help you take advantage of the opportunities that exist. As always please let us 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: (2) Associate positions with Carnahan Thomas (Southlake, 3L/Alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Where Are All The Applications?

Where Are All The Applications?

A common thread in my visits with employers over the past couple of months has been they don’t get many applications from Baylor. Alternatively they might say they rarely get applications from Baylor, or get very few. Now, sometimes that’s because we’re a small school and they had fairly limiting hiring criteria. But just as often, there isn’t an obvious explanation. It’s these circumstances I want to analyze a bit deeper, and ask all of you what is going on. After all, these employers want to interview and potentially hire you! They recognize the value of a Baylor Lawyer and are looking for one; if only you would apply!

I went back and pulled the job postings for entry-level attorneys (i.e. not On-Campus Interviews) in Symplicity over the past year, limited to Dallas, Houston and Austin. There were 84 of them. The number of applicants for these positions might surprise you:

Applicants Positions
20 or more: 1 (25 candidates)
15-19: 2
10-14: 7
5-9: 15
1-4: 35
0: 24

What does this tell us? As a starting point, it tells us that at one or more points in the calendar, at least 25 candidates were in the market looking for work. So we can use that to provide context for the number of applications each position received.

What jumps out first to me is the 24 positions which received zero applications. To be fair, the job titles of those positions were mostly comprised of post-grad clerks and interns, or alternative jobs like consultant or trust officer. However, nine of the 24 were for actual attorney positions. Nine! And it’s not like we’re talking about getting to the end of the interview process and turning down the position after a full vetting; we’re talking about zero students even submitting their application and going on an interview. (Keep in mind this does not include positions in remote or rural areas, which often tend to have fewer applications. Just imagine if I had included those!)

When I take a closer look at the 35 positions with one to four applications, I have a much harder time figuring out the cause. These are mostly full-fledged attorney positions, many with small to mid-size firms (which is where a plurality, if not a majority, of students go). What is going on?

I could see in a booming market that students would be pickier, only applying for positions they have strong interest in (and perhaps the market has improved more than it appears in other metrics). But in today’s market that just isn’t a viable job search strategy for most candidates. This is particularly true when you consider that students applying for entry-level positions as 3Ls or alumni don’t have any time left on the clock. This isn’t a 1L or 2L situation, where the student can choose to take classes, maybe do some research for a professor, etc. if they don’t find exactly what they want to do (I don’t condone that strategy for those students either). It’s a critical time for the students in this potential applicant pool, and yet few are applying.

So here is a question to leave you with: when you’ve chosen not to apply for a job which you are qualified for, what has been the primary reason?

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: Policy Analyst, Center for Effective Justice (Austin, Entry Level Attorney, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Spring OCI Is Around The Corner

Spring OCI Is Around The Corner

Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow last week, indicating six more weeks of winter. But Spring On-Campus Interviews wait for no groundhog’s approval. On March 2—6, employers from all over the state will descend upon the law school in search of their next intern, clerk or full-time attorney. My hope is this post will provide you the essential details you need to know (which you should know already if you’ve been reading the Monday email!), as well as some thoughts on how you can get the most out of this extremely useful job search tool.

Student (and Employer) registration continues this week, so if you’re still needing to register or to get a resume approved by Angela (both a requirement for participation), do so immediately. Once you are registered, you’ll have the ability in Symplicity to view each employer that is recruiting your class year. I can tell you that right now the breakdown of employers recruiting class years is:

1L: 11
2L: 13 (plus three through Resume Collection)
3L: 12 (plus three through Resume Collection)
Alumni: seven (plus one through Resume Collection)

Bidding (i.e. applying) will take place Monday, February 16th and Tuesday, February 17th. There is absolutely no extending the bidding past 11:59pm the night of the 17th. So my advice is to prepare all your application documents well in advance, load them into Symplicity, and have everything you need ready to go when the bidding window opens.

I strongly encourage you to research each of the employers recruiting your class year to determine whether you fit their hiring criteria, and whether it’s an employer you have at least some interest in. At this point in the process, it’s important to keep your options open and not narrow them too quickly. You’ll have the opportunity to do that after the first round of interviews.

Remember what we generally say about the 1L summer: it is a networking summer. So don’t worry as much about pay (many 1L opportunities are volunteer, with government, judges, etc.) and employer type, but do prioritize practice area, geographic location and opportunities to meet people. You want to leave the end of your 1L experience with multiple leads and contacts heading into Fall On-Campus Interviews and your 2L year in general.

It’s a bit tougher to give 2Ls general advice, because you’re each in such different positions at this point. If you don’t have any part of your summer filled yet (or one half with a volunteer/networking type job), you may want to prioritize those few opportunities with law firms, which pay, and could lead directly to a job. Those of you who already have a paying clerkship are looking for something in the other half of your summer, might want to pursue a networking type opportunity for the other half that could open up more doors should the other clerkship not yield a full-time offer.

3Ls and alumni have a great opportunity during Spring OCI, because these employers need someone full-time, today or very soon. There’s no guessing about whether a job awaits after a clerkship, and what the market might do in the intervening year. They have a need right now. That doesn’t mean you apply for everything, however. A common refrain from employers these days is they cannot stand the candidate who either directly or indirectly communicates that their interest in the firm is because they need a job. That’s simply not a good enough reason for them (though it may be for you). That’s why research, preparation and careful consideration of each opportunity is so important. You must figure out if you truly want the job, why, and then how you’re going to communicate that to the employer.

We have several video tutorials to help you to navigate Symplicity before and during OCI. I encourage you to take some time to watch these, and ask us any questions you still have. We hope you have a fun and productive 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 Internship at U.S. District Court - Northern District of Texas - Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton (Fort Worth, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Drown Out The Crickets

Drown Out The Crickets

It happened again. “Joe Smith.” (crickets). Each year about this time, our office gets together with faculty to go over each recent graduate still seeking employment. One by one we go through the list, allowing faculty who know the person well to share any information that might be used to help them get a job. Sometimes the news is the person has a job and we just didn’t know it…the best news!

Unfortunately, for too many of the graduates still seeking at this point in the cycle (to be clear, this would be the Nov13-August14 cohort), a very common response to hear is…nothing. They either don’t know you, or don’t know much about you other than remember you were in their class. Now, in the 1L classes where you might have 70 or more, it’s simply not realistic that each of you is going to have a close relationship with the professor. However, the reality is you could if you really wanted to. And in the classes of smaller size there really is no excuse.

Something we talk with you about in 1Q and 2Q meetings specifically, but throughout the job search process as well, is the importance of building your network. We emphasize that the large majority of you are going to get your job through a connection, a referral or some other person-to-person assistance rather than in response to an online job posting. One of the first circles of people we suggest you develop relationships with is your professors. Faculty members are constantly being contacted by potential employers asking for recommendations or what they know about a Baylor applicant. You want them to be able to communicate a positive message to that employer, but they simply can’t if they don’t know you or perhaps only know what grade you made in their class (even if it’s a very good grade!).

So regardless of whether you’ve recently graduated and are still looking for that first job, or you’re a 1L just trying to make it through another set of finals, make it a personal goal to pick a faculty member or two to build a relationship with. At first that might just mean going in for extra help once in a while or getting feedback on your exam. At some point it should definitely include offering to do research or work in that professor’s clinic. Over the course of time you should also be sharing what your goals are and where you’d like to work after law school.

You need to start working now to make sure that when the faculty member is asked about you, the crickets are drowned out by a clear and passionate message detailing the kind of person and worker you are, the opportunities you’re interested in, and/or why you’d be the best person for a particular job. How many of you can say right now that you know one professor who could do that for you? If so, great job and do the work to keep up that relationship! If the answer is no, go see one of your professors today.

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 Law Clerk at Foster, LLP (Austin, 2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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.

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 in Clinical Ethics(MD Anderson, Houston, 1L and 2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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.

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: Briefing Attorney or Junior Staff Attorney (Thirteenth District Court of Appeals, Edinburg) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.



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.

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