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

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

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

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

  1. Contact/follow up with the employer directly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Session Administrative Clerk at Texas House of Representatives - House Research Organization(1L/2L/3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Getting The Interview Part II: Leveraging Your Documents

Getting The Interview Part II: Leveraging Your Documents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Clerkship Program at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, AZ (2L/3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Getting The Interview Part 1: It Starts Now

Getting The Interview Part 1: It Starts Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 OCI Employer Feedback

OCI Employer Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Proofread cover letters.

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Ethics Research Internship at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

What Does Social Media Have To Do With Networking?

What Does Social Media Have To Do With Networking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover Letter Mania

Cover Letter Mania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Law Clerk with The Carlson Law Firm in either Killeen or Austin (Alumni, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

What Is the CDSAC?

What is the CDSAC?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job Search Tool Kit: The Informational Interview

Job Search Tool Kit: The Informational Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Real Estate Counsel at Embree Asset Group in Georgetown(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Session II Offers New Opportunities

Session II Offers New Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Associate Attorney at The Rad Law Firm in Dallas(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Part-Time/Contract Attorney at Brandy Austin & Associates in Arlington(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Welcome, Now Let's Get To Work

Welcome, Now Let's Get To Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OCI Interview Strategies And Next Steps

OCI Interview Strategies And Next Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Bidding Strategies To Get The Most Out of OCI

Three Bidding Strategies To Get The Most Out of OCI

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

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

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

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

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: 2015 Summer Legal Internship at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. (1L, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

OCI Nuts and Bolts / Tutorial Notes

OCI Nuts and Bolts / Tutorial Notes

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 will have two fall OCI sessions this year. Session 1: August 18-22 and Session 2: October 6-10.

Session I bidding/applying: August 4 through 11:59 pm on August 5. 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:

•2014 Fall Direct Contact Program

•2014 Fall Resume Collection Session One

•2014 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 50 for 2L, 11 for 3L).

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 “2014 OCI Employer 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 on August 4 and 5.

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 August 2. 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 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. If you plan to submit your appellate brief, you may only submit the sections you authored.

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 August 4. You are strongly encouraged you not to wait until the last minute.


During the bid dates (Aug 4-5):

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 5th.) 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 22 to 11:59 pm September 23.

Note: Occasionally employers not participating in OCI will post a job in the Job Posting section of Symplicity for a 2L summer clerkship. I've highlighted one example below. 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: Summer Associate at Arnold & Porter in Houston (2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Making Your Resume Work (Part II)

Making Your Resume Work (Part II)

In Part I, I discussed the importance of the first-glance appearance of your resume, given how little time you have to make an impression. Today, we continue with that theme, as well as take it a step further with some details on how to lay out your resume to properly display your attributes.
  1. Try to create as much white space as possible throughout a resume and to make it easy for the eye to quickly scan the page. When you have several different indents and some information in the right-hand column (or inconsistent formatting), it makes it difficult to quickly find the information you want.

  2. Either put dates in the right-hand column or not, and either put them next to your school/job or not. Use italics for all job titles or none. The important thing is to pick a format and stick with it!

  3. Don’t use two words when one will do (e.g. “Relevant Experience” should be “Experience.”)

  4. Remove the hyperlink in email for resumes that will be printed and sent to employers. We really discourage any hyperlinks at all, as they are just another underline shouting for attention.

  5. I do not recommend an objective or summary statement for legal resumes. Let’s cut to the chase--what are your qualifications?

  6. Candidates often use generic statements when describing their prior work experience, such as “performed legal research.” Be more specific (without disclosing too much information) about the work you performed. When applicable, include objective measures of success such as an increase in sales, etc. (Though we recognize that can be hard to do for a legal clerkship or internship position.)

  7. Use action verbs to describe your work experience, and make sure they are in the correct tense (i.e. drafted v. draft or drafting).

  8. Understand the difference between hyphens, en-dashes and em-dashes, and use them appropriately.

  9. More bullets and short descriptions, less long sentences and paragraphs.

  10. Activities or interests sections are not required, but if appropriate and compelling can be a great way to stand out and build a connection with an employer. Use your judgment, but here are a couple of examples of when you might or might not want to list something in one of these categories:
    • “Running” – no, “Compete in triatholons” – yes

    • “Play video games” – no, “Design and test video games” – yes

  11. Do not include personal information (e.g. age) or a headshot.

  12. Do not include references. If an employer asks for references, list them separately from the resume.

  13. For “survival jobs” you might have had during college or law school (e.g. waiting tables, retail), don’t feel as though you have to list bullets describing your role. However, if you were a team leader or manager, you would definitely want to describe those duties.

  14. Don’t include college or law school entry exam (e.g. LSAT) scores.

  15. Check, double check and triple check for typos and grammar mistakes (that goes for all your application materials including cover letters and writing samples). I’ve had several employers say they will immediately trash the resume of someone who has a typo, regardless of their other credentials. Don’t let that happen to you!

Please take advantage of our office, as well as resources we’ve put online at the CDO website. You have all the tools you need to craft an outstanding resume that will impress every employer, but it takes time, care and attention to detail to do so. Now go do 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: Misdemeanor Prosecutor Position with the Denton County District Attorney's Office (Entry Level Attorney) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Making Your Resume Work (Part I)

Making Your Resume Work (Part I)

“Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”

Skills: “I can type without looking at thekeyboard.”

Experience: “I’m a hard worker, etc.”

Additional Skills: “I am a Notary Republic.”

Writing resume on the back of current employer’s letterhead
“nine page cover letter accompanies by a four-page resume”

*You can see these and other resume blunders here.

There is one document which recruiters and employers will be looking at more than any other to initially gauge your candidacy for any open position: the resume. Oh sure employers will look at transcripts, cover letters and writing samples too; albeit some more than others. But virtually every employer will in some way use your resume as an initial screening tool to determine whether or not to consider you further. So let’s talk about resumes, because as you can see above, it’s not at all apparent that students and graduates take them as seriously as they should.

According to experts, your resume has six to ten seconds to positively impact the person reading it. That’s it. Therefore, it is critical your resume quickly and without error tells a compelling story of why you’re worth further review. Notice I say “worth further review,” as opposed to “get you the job” or even “get you an interview.” That’s because the vast majority of entry level jobs you’ll be going after will receive a large number of resumes. So the resume acts as a filtering tool which the reviewer can quickly sort the contenders from the pretenders.

What are the employers looking for that it takes them less than 10 seconds to find (or not)? It depends. For a big law firm looking at 2Ls for OCI, it could simply be meeting a class rank requirement and/or law review. For a smaller firm looking for a full-time associate, it will likely be combination of academic performance, indication of a specific practice area, leadership positions and prior work experience, among others.

One thing all employers will be likely to notice, even if not looking for it specifically, is the presentation of the information on your resume. They will want to see you can communicate in a crisp, clean manner. If you can’t do it with your bio, how are you going to do it with a complicated landlord/tenant dispute? Take a look at these two examples? Forgetting the qualifications of either candidate for a minute, who do you think is most/least likely to survive the first cut?

Bad/Great Resume Comparison

Without a quality presentation, it’s entirely possible an employer may not look at any substantive material in your resume at all. Remember, they’re sticking with an average of 10 seconds. That means there will be some that take longer, and some even shorter. You can bet the ones taking two – three seconds are those looking more like the one on the left above.

The CDO (a.k.a. Angela) does a ton of work with students and their resumes. If you’re not taking full advantage of her expertise you need to be. That said, just take a look at the two examples above and do your best to get a decent resume into shape before sending it to her. When resumes like the one on the left come in, it’s hard for us not to think the same thing an employer would.

So take the extra time and put together a good, solid first draft of a resume. Then let Angela help you fine tune it and make suggestions you may not have thought of. Be sure your resume is one that will get you past the first round of cuts, so your education, experience and skills get an audience with the employer.

In Part II, we’ll discuss how you can craft your resume such that it not only gets through the initial screening, but also prompts the employer to invite you for an interview. Stay tuned!

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

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Fall 2014 Legal Intern with the Office of the Governor - Office of the General Counsel (1L, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

How To Leave Your Summer Clerkship

How To Leave Your Summer Clerkship

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 finish 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 will also 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 staff has likely been as helpful to you over the past six weeks as any of the groups we’re talking about here. 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 any 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!

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: Any one of several jobs currently posted for alliantgroup in Houston Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

It's Not All Bad News

It's Not All Bad News

What you typically hear from me regarding the legal hiring market, either in this blog or in meetings, are the hard realities of the present, and the slim chances of much improvement in the immediate future. It’s not the message I enjoy giving. However I feel it’s important not to sugar coat industry news, and to make sure you’re well-informed and prepared for the job search ahead. Having said all that, in this post I wanted to try and provide you with good news, interesting opportunities and whatever positive data I could cobble together. So let’s get started.

First the anecdotal. When I’m out and around visiting employers each week, there tends to be a common feel I get among the people I meet with of their outlook on the industry. In late 2012/early 2013 it was noticeably bleak, with the only positive perhaps being they felt they had reached some sort of bottom. Recently that collective feeling has evolved somewhat, into what I would describe as cautious optimism.

Employers now look back and feel they were correct about the “hit bottom” point; and they haven’t just plateaued at the bottom (as many feared), but rather have seen some uptick in business/revenue/etc. This anecdotal evidence is supported somewhat by the most recent NALP employment data I shared with you back in April, which pointed toward a hiring low point in the 2010-11 range.

I would qualify this in several ways: 1) it is by no means a scientific survey, 2) employers could be wrong and merely be experiencing a brief, unsustainable surge, 3) there are still employers who feel things are just as bad as they were before (i.e. each individual employer may be experiencing a different reality) and 4) improved business may not have led to changes in hiring strategy / hiring new lawyers. Nevertheless, based on the employers I’ve recently met with, it appears things have been getting better.

Our own school-specific measures tend to point in the same direction as well—that there is slight improvement going on and it’s slowly impacting legal hiring. Examples include: 1) Our 2013 graduating class employment statistics are up slightly over 2012, 2) There has been an increase in the total number of employers coming to campus to interview as compared to last year at this time, and 3) we’ve see an increase in the number of year-over-year job postings.

While this data appears to point toward more opportunities across the board, I believe the public sector is specifically ripe. With state and other public organizations still coming out of a period of layoffs and hiring freezes, they are trying to catch up and keep up with increased demand for their services while still being (in some cases dramatically) understaffed.

So there you have a few observations and evidence which points toward some positive aspects of the legal hiring market. Please keep this in perspective with everything else we communicate about the market: it’s still very tough and will likely remain so. But there is still a path forward, and we are willing to partner with you every step along the way!

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 The Coffey Firm in Fort Worth(3L, alumni) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

It's Possible!

It's Possible!

Recently, the Spring 2014 starters attended the 2nd Quarter CDO meeting, and we felt the response to the content presented merited more discussion. For everyone else you may or may not remember your 2Q CDO meeting, but we made some changes to it so this will be new to all of you. Plus there was some controversy so you wouldn’t want to miss out!

What was the controversy? Well, the guiding document for the meeting was a quarter-by-quarter action plan (we'll upload this to Symplicity soon), which is our suggestion to you on how to practically and methodically go about your job search. Within the plan, there are several quarters when we suggest you add three to five attorneys to your personal network.

Reaction to that specific suggestion was a combination of disbelief, shock, defeat, horror and in some cases resentment. “How could you ask such a ridiculous task of us?” “Is that even possible?” “Where would I even begin?” “Why is that even necessary?”

Let’s take these one at a time.

  1. “How could you ask such a ridiculous task of us?” – It’s not ridiculous. It’s simple networking, and professionals (of which you are in training to be) do it every day.

  2. “Is that even possible?” – Yes, but that’s not what’s really important. What matters is that you recognize, right now, that the quantity and (more importantly) quality of your network is critical to your job search. If you recognize that and take at least some action to develop that network while in law school, you will be better off and give yourself a much better chance at your desired job.

  3. “Where would I even begin?” This one is actually fairly easy: attend CDO events. Over the past three quarters I count that we brought in 12 attorneys to speak at various programs. If you just attended those programs, introduced yourself to the speaker(s) afterwards and then followed up, you would pretty much have the entire year done. In addition, how about asking your family/close friends if they know/have ever used an attorney. Have the family member/friend make an email introduction and you’re off to the races. Another great one is to attend a Baylor Law Alumni Event. Berkley Knas (Director of Alumni Relations) has been gracious to invite students to attend one of these quarterly receptions in Dallas, Houston, Austin and Fort Worth. There are usually between 40 and 70 Baylor Lawyers in attendance; you could knock out an entire year’s worth of network additions in one night! (Calendar of events here; email Berkley here) Right there are three easy, simple ways to meet the networking suggestions we made in our action plan. And note not one of those involved any type of cold calling, etc. You can do this!

  4. “Why is that even necessary?” – Two reasons. First, with a few exceptions most of you will get your first job through some type of connection. Fair or unfair, that’s just the way the world works (not just in law). The only job I ever got by filling out an application or responding to a posting, without out some personal connection, was for a grocery store checker when I was 16. Personal connections are even more critical in a down job market, when employers have plenty of applicants for open positions. Second, at some point in your career you are going to have to bring in clients if you’re going to advance. How are you going to do this? For most people, it means you are going to have to join organizations, volunteer in the local bar, take people to lunch, etc. in order to establish a personal connection with people. Potential clients won’t hire or recommend you without this critical piece. So by networking while in law school, you are not only improving your job search possibilities, but also beginning a long career of developing relationships and building your own base of clients. Oh, and the two are related. Most employers will want to see that a candidate has the potential to develop their own clients down the road.

Hopefully this helps take some of the shock away, and provides some practical first steps in adding to your personal network. Also, we will be providing more tools to assist you along the way, and are always willing to visit with you one-on-one. You can do this! It’s definitely possible!

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: Intake Specialist at Zinda & Davis in Austin (1L, 2L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

Five Things Not To Do At Your Summer Clerkship

Five Things Not To Do At Your Summer Clerkship

As early as today, many of you will begin your summer clerkship. I thought it might be helpful to give you a few tips on what not to do this summer, so you can leave in six weeks with a job offer or solid recommendation. So here we go:
  1. Sacrifice Quality for Speed – Yes, we all want to be first. But being first and wrong or first and sloppy may as well be first and worthless. Take the time you need to get the project right. Take pride in putting together an excellent work product, however long it takes. Don’t take this the wrong way. If you clearly should be able to put together an excellent product in two hours, and it takes you six, you’re going to have problems. But most of the time we’re simply trying to trim a few minutes off to impress the boss, and that can get you into trouble.

  2. Get Comfortable – This is a six week job interview; treat it as such. You may think you’ve built rapport with an associate or partner at the firm, but don’t be lulled in by a false sense of security. You don’t have a job yet, and they are looking for reasons not to hire (or recommend) you. I’ve heard too many stories from employers about summer associates who, after about three weeks, acted as though they were “in the club.” You’re not.

  3. Mistreat Support Staff – You are no better than any secretary, paralegal or assistant, and the moment you start acting like you are, it’s a problem. I cannot tell you how many times employers have said to me something to the effect of, “I really liked Joe and we were strongly considering hiring him. But in our firm-wide evaluation we discovered he was consistently rude to the office staff. We don’t have room for people like that here.” Don’t be that person. Treat everyone, and especially the support staff, with the respect they deserve. (Oh and by the way, many of them know more than you at this point how to actually do the tasks you’ll be asked to do, so they can be a great resource if you’ll let them!).

  4. Miss Out – Many summer programs will allow you to get as much, or as little experience as you ask for. So don’t miss out on opportunities by waiting to be invited/asked/assigned. Ask to go along to a deposition or hearing. Ask to take a stab at drafting a motion for summary judgment. You might get told no, but so what? You’ve demonstrated you have the initiative, work ethic and confidence to be a valuable asset. (Caveat: don’t do the above as a substitute for the work you’ve been assigned, or if the work you’ve been assigned isn’t completed. You’ll come across as someone who will only do work they like/enjoy, which you’re not in a position to dictate at this stage in your career).

  5. Disrespect the Employer – This should go without saying, but we hear about it enough to mention. Here’s the situation: you’re three weeks in and you know you’re not going to receive and/or accept a full-time position. The temptation is to mail it in. You start coming in a bit later, get a little sloppy in your work or maybe even end the clerkship a few days early. Do not fall into this trap. Your reputation is at stake, and you never know when you might come across people from that employer again. Keep working hard, honor your commitments and leave no hard feelings behind when it’s over.

There you have it. Avoid these five things, and you'll give yourself a much better chance at a positive clerkship experience and a positive outcome. Best of luck as you begin your summer, and as always we are here to help if you have questions or concerns.

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 2014 Law Clerk at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board in Dallas (unpaid internship; 1L, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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