2Ls: Now What?

Some 2Ls reading this post are set. They did well in their first year. They went through OCIs and aced their interviews. They were invited for callbacks and were unfailingly charming and polite. They have jobs for next summer, with the prospect of jobs for after graduation. Congratulations to them.

But what about the 2Ls who came out of OCIs with zilch and are wondering what the heck they are supposed to do now? First, don’t panic. I found myself in precisely that situation four years ago, and worked into a great job with a great firm. Whatever your anxiety level (and I remember mine being sky high) you still do have opportunities. Second, don’t be passive about your job search. Sitting around waiting for the jobs to appear on a jobs board is a recipe for disappointment. Here are three active things you can do to improve your chances of success:

1. Get Outside The Building

I cannot overstate the importance of getting away from the law school. While academic accomplishment is necessary, it is not sufficient. Employers, especially small and mid-sized ones, are looking for lawyers who can provide value from day one. The best way to show that you can provide that value is to have done real legal work already. Getting a job as a new attorney is a lot like knocking on somebody’s door and asking them to pay for the privilege of training you. Get some of that training out of the way while you’re in school and you will be a step ahead.

Fortunately, Marquette provides more opportunities than most places for helping you get real-world lawyering experiences. You should be taking full advantage of Marquette’s Career Planning Center, which is a tremendous gateway to opportunities outside the building, and can help you develop a full job-search strategy. You should be registering for internships through Professor Hammer. Between jobs, for-credit internships, pro bono projects, and the extended network of Marquette lawyers in the community, there is no excuse for any Marquette law student not to have a resumé filled with substantive legal work before graduation.

2. Get Into The Conversation

I know, I know. Suggesting that law students network is a profoundly trite thing to do. It is nonetheless vital. Why? If you aren’t just another resume in a stack you improve your odds of getting an interview dramatically. Find a way to get into the conversations of people who might be looking for new hires, or who know people who might be looking. Even better than standing out in a big stack is being in a smaller stack to begin with. Small and mid-sized firms often don’t have the resources (or patience) to slog through hundreds of applications. These employers may decide to put the word out quietly, often through friends or professional acquaintances. The only way to get into that stack is knowing someone who knows about the opportunity. Networking is key for this.

3. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Practically from day one lawyers and law students are pushed to specialize, find a niche, and develop expertise. If you’ve been focused on a particular type of law practice but have struck out finding relevant job experience, don’t give up, but don’t be afraid to branch out either. One of the best ways to find new opportunities is to stretch yourself and be exposed to new areas of the law. This work can open up potential practice opportunities you hadn’t previously considered. Once you’ve settled into a niche as a practicing attorney it becomes progressively harder to change direction, so finding variety is valuable in any event. And at the law student level much of the work will be legal research and writing regardless of the subject matter. That’s valuable experience even if you never end up specializing. Law school is the time and place to explore the variety of the law anyway, and the side benefit of new job opportunities makes it too good to pass up.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.