The Office of Career Strategy is dedicated to assisting you as you
assess your interests, skills and goals,
investigate employment options,
network with graduates and practitioners,
perfect job-search tools and techniques,
reassess strategies in light of personal and market changes, and
develop professional skills.
This page provides a general orientation for 1Ls; more detailed guidance and the full range of student resources are available on our Current Students page. An electronic copy of the 1L OCS Orientation Binder is available here.
It can certainly seem daunting: What sort of summer jobs are available? How do you find them? What should you look for if you don't know what sort of law you want to practice, or what setting you want to practice in? What if you're not sure you want to enter traditional law practice at all? What are future employers looking for in a 1L summer resume entry? We'll address your particular questions with you in your initial appointment, of course, but keep these generally applicable points in mind:
First, there's no perfect summer job that every 1L should seek. No matter what your career goal, a wide variety of experiences will start you on your way professionally and advance your application in future recruiting. You needn't land a summer spot with your dream employer in order to appeal to that employer in later recruiting.
Second, a summer experience is a successful one if it provides you with information that helps you focus your professional ambitions. Ideally, you'll return to campus with information on at least one question you have about your career goals (for example, you might explore your interest in a certain subject matter, work in a geographic location you're considering after graduation, or compare practice in the public interest with what you observed in a pre-law-school job in the private sector), an appreciation of the difference between the study of law and the practice of law, and the beginnings of a professional network.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Financial support for students accepting unpaid summer positions is available, but very limited; in most cases one must accept the summer position before an application for funding can be submitted. The Public Service Law Network (PSlawnet.org) collects summer funding resources; we recommend you also check with state and local bar associations. W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program offers a few federal work study positions to law students working in pre-approved summer internships with organizations addressing the legal needs of the poor. OCS issues a few funding awards to students working in the public sector – preference is given to 2Ls and to those working in legal aid and public defender offices. Detailed information on how to apply will be provided in January. Finally, PILSA, the Public Interest Law Students Association, raises funds each year to provide grants to students. Watch for information on the application process from PILSA in spring.
ACADEMIC CREDIT: Academic credit is available for summer study abroad and certain summer internships. Details about the policy are made public in January; as a general introduction, visit this Law Records webpage.
Connecting with others in the profession is one of the most important skills you'll develop during law school. Professional contacts can help you understand law practice, refine your goals, pitch your qualifications, find unadvertised positions, and get the inside track for consideration. The earlier you start, the more value networking can bring. Review this tip sheet to get started; visit our Networking Resources page for more detailed guidance and sources of contacts.
Practice makes perfect. In today's competitive job market it is important to practice your interview skills to make a positive first impression.
With that in mind, all first year students must complete a mock interview experience by March 1. You may either: (1) arrange a mock interview with an alumnus or practicing attorney of your choice, or (2) sign up for a mock interview slot through Symplicity.
Further information about this requirement can be found HERE.
When arranging a mock interview with an alumnus or practicing attorney, provide them with THIS information
The search for employment is an important venture, and we look forward to our partnership as you manage your transition from student to professional. Your conduct should reflect the highest standards of professionalism for an aspiring practitioner of law. You are expected to comply with both NALP Principles for Candidates and OCS's Recruitment Policies. In addition, you must abide by this Student Professionalism Statement (acknowledgement of its terms is required at your first login to Symplicity). You may view opportunities on Symplicity beginning on November 1; you may upload a resume once it has been reviewed by an OCS counselor, either during a walk-in session, at an individual appointment or (beginning in December) by email.
Counseling. You are welcome to meet with an OCS counselor with whatever frequency you find helpful. Emergent questions can be addressed on a drop in basis - if an office door is open, we're happy to chat. We provide advice on an individual basis at appointments made through our online recruiting system, Symplicity. Your first appointment should be made with the counselor assigned to your small section (below). Thereafter, you may select from available times with any counselor; if there's no suitable time available, contact Jane McDonald at McDonaldJ@wlu.edu or the counselor you wish to see. Provide any document you'd like to discuss at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment time.
Document Review without an Appointment. During October and November, resume review is available at a number of walk-in sessions. Thereafter, you may email a resume or cover letter to a counselor and request that comments be given by return email. We understand the value of having more than one counselor review your documents; please assist us in maximizing efficiency by submitting your resume or cover letter to only one counselor at a time.
Resources. OCS provides a wide variety of programs on everything from job search basics, interviewing and networking to practice areas, practice settings, professional development and the like. OCS also provides a number of resources to students including a career reference library, employer brochures, and career related periodicals. Books on developing resumes, cover letters, and networking, guides to finding internships and directories of law firms, government organizations, and state and federal judges, and information on study abroad, LLM programs, and legal specialties may be accessed and checked out at any time of day. In addition to print materials, the office provides access to a color printer, a fax machine for employment-related materials, and a typewriter for completing bar applications. All of these resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Questions? Email email@example.com