The most important step you can take to begin the process of planning your legal career is to set aside the time now to do so. As Evening students, you will find out that time is often your enemy. The way to befriend this enemy, however, is to learn how to carefully manage and treat it, which, incidentally, is critical to a successful career as a practicing attorney. At the outset of your law school career it is important to set aside time to take the following important steps in planning for your legal career:
1. Attend Career Services panels, seminars, and Bar Association Programs:
2. Develop Relationships with Your Fellow Classmates:
Hear from alumni and practicing attorneys, and ask for their advice and how they obtained their positions.
The Evening student body includes students with a rich and diverse array of experiences and backgrounds. The woman sitting next to you in class may be the Vice-President of a major investment bank you are interested in targeting in your job search. Do not fail to take advantage of this valuable resource.
3. Consider Switching to a Legal Job Before Your Final Year of Law School:
Use the Career Services website to view recent listings. For students wishing to practice in large law firms (law firms with 100+ lawyers), remember that these employers give a lot of weight to grades, law review or other journal experience and moot court. Large law firms tend to hire from their summer programs. As an Evening student, you will need to apply for large law firm positions in the Fall of your 2L year for summer associate positions following your 2L year (i.e. one full year prior to employment). Since the summer associate pool is one from which large legal employers hire most or all of their permanent associates, it is imperative to perform a targeted mailing and participate in job fairs and Texas A&M’s On-Campus Interview Program in the fall if you are interested in a position with a large employer. Large law firms typically pay summer associates a pro rata salary of a 1st year associate. There have been occasions where these employers have kept summer associates on beyond the summer and throughout the year, offering benefits and making it worth your while to leave your current full-time position to take a summer associate position.
4. Explore Opportunities at Your Current Workplace:
If your current employer has a general counsel or in-house legal department, ask about taking assignments after regular business hours or shadowing company lawyers on your day off to learn about their jobs. You can also find lawyers working in the human resources and contract compliance departments. You can include these short assignments as legal experience on your resume. Be sure to describe them accurately on your resume, in cover letters, and in your job interviews.
5. Explore the Possibility of Taking a Leave of Absence From Your Current Position:
This has been done especially during the summer following your third year. By planning for a leave of absence, you can build your savings to prepare accordingly.
6. Develop a Relationship with the Career Services Office:
7. Participate in a Student Organization or Bar Association Committees:
In the beginning of your second semester in law school, make an appointment to discuss your career goals with a Career Services counselor by calling (817) 212-4050 or by stopping by the front desk, and check in with us at least once every semester thereafter.
Employers often take into account a student's involvement or leadership role in a student organization. It can be a way to demonstrate a credible interest in a certain area of practice, especially if you are not able to gain any practical legal experience in the area.
8. Consider Participating in Moot Court, Mock Trial, Law Review, the Law Clinic or Externship Program:
Participation in these activities gives law students the opportunity to enhance and develop important legal skills, such as research, writing, oral advocacy and litigation skills. These are skills employers are always seeking.