Regardless of where you are in your law school journey, it's never too early and never too late to organize your job search. By that I'm not referring to making decisions such as where you want to work and what type of law you want to practice, though that's all helpful. I'm talking about practically organizing the manner with which you are applying to jobs, networking, interviewing, corresponding, etc.
Why is this important? Like anything else of significant importance and magnitude, there is a risk of becoming overwhelmed with career planning and/or a job search. We see this quite a bit with law students and recent graduates. But if you can break down what you need to do in small, identifiable and doable chunks, it helps remove the overwhelming feeling that can sometimes be so strong it cripples us from taking any action at all.
Organizing is also important because it's the best way to maximize your time and make sure you're doing everything you need to do in your search; nothing is worse than realizing you missed a networking event or application deadline due to simply forgetting. Jobs are tough enough to find if you do everything right, so anything you can do to avoid (to borrow a tennis term) "unforced errors" is critical.
We've established that it's important to organize your job search, now how should you do it? Here's where it gets a bit more subjective because there isn't a right or wrong way. I'll show/tell you how I've typically done mine, and hopefully that will at least make you think about what would work best for you. And that's what's most important; because if it doesn't work for you you'll become frustrated and likely give up. We don't want that.
Below is a sample spreadsheet like I kept during law school. I used it to find my 1L summer clerkship and then my full-time position as well (I was in PC during my "2nd summer").
Really this is nothing more than a simplified CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that someone working in sales might use. The idea is to capture as much information about each person you are in contact with as possible, communicate regularly with each contact (as appropriate), and ultimately achieve a desired result whereby you and the contact obtain a common goal (i.e. they get the employee they want (you), and you get a job!).
You can see each of the fields I kept track of, but there are many more you could add. I find the most important field is the "last contact" field, because it keeps me on track with who I haven't communicated with in a while and need to reach out to. I would typically note the type of contact (e.g. phone, email) in the notes box, but that could easily be a field of its own. That's an important piece so that you can vary the ways in which you're communicating with the contact. Three or four emails in a row will start to look like spam and lose their effectiveness, so mixing in a phone call or even a hand-written note can be effective and appropriate. I would also color code the notes box to indicate whether I was in a reasonable wait period to hear back from the person (yellow), was in an unreasonable wait period and I needed to reach back out (red) and the ball was in my court to reach out/apply/etc. (blue).
I began by talking about why it is so important to be organized, and that really is the key lesson from this post. Figure out a way to organize your job search that suits you, and you'll be miles ahead of those who don't. The how is less critical, but hopefully I've given you some ideas to start with so you can develop your own personal CRM tool.
Connect with Daniel: Daniel_Hare@Baylor.edu and @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.