Common Evening Student Myths
MYTH: I can wait until I graduate from law school before I start the job search process.
FACT: Legal employers seek graduates who have acquired practical legal skills in "real life" settings, such as in internships and clerkships, before they graduate. As such, it is incumbent upon you to get this experience during law school. Moreover, certain legal employers (such as large law firms) actually make hiring decisions one to two years before a student graduates.
MYTH: The elective courses that I want to take to prepare me for my legal career are just not available when I want to take them.
FACT: The best way to ensure that you are able to take the elective courses of interest to you is to plan ahead. Engage in self-assessment to determine your area(s) of interest and the classes you will need to take to meet your goals, and plan your schedule accordingly.
MYTH: I can wait until after graduation to engage in self-assessment and networking.
FACT: Only by engaging in self-assessment early in your law school career will you be able to plan ahead to take the courses you wish and obtain the experience you need. Similarly, networking is a long-term process. The earlier you start, the larger and more effective your network of professional contacts will be. Many Evening students can utilize the people they know in their current profession to help them meet and develop relationships with attorneys practicing in their area of interest.
MYTH: I already have a resume so I do not need to have it reviewed by the Career Services Office.
FACT: Most Evening students have a quality business resume that is appropriate for their current profession. They do not, however, have a resume that is appropriate for the legal profession. Our office can assist you in revising your resume to highlight skills of interest to legal employers and make the format appropriate for the legal market.
MYTH: I have no legal experience, so no legal employer will be interested in hiring me
FACT: Even if you have no actual legal experience, chances are good that you have other experience that demonstrates skills that are transferable to a legal setting. Our counselors can help you create a resume that highlights these transferable skills.
MYTH: I work full time. There is no way that I can do an internship, work full-time, and go to school at night. Besides, I have too much coursework, business and family commitments to worry about what I will do when I graduate. I don’t need to think about looking for a legal job until after I graduate.
FACT: There is no question that acquiring legal experience is difficult for Evening students. Nonetheless, because such experience is so important to your being able to successfully obtain legal employment after graduation, it is necessary to find creative ways to obtain this necessary experience. Consider these options: find a way to perform legal work at night, on weekends, by taking some annual leave from your present position or by taking a job in the legal field full-time. For example, particular courses focusing on particular skills, or conducting research for a professor, will help build your resume and can fit into your schedule.
MYTH: Career Services programs and counselors are not available at times that are convenient for me.
FACT: The Office of Career Services is open until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. on Fridays. In addition, a counselor will make appointments with you outside these hours to accommodate your schedule. Career Services presentations that are given during the day are videotaped so that evening students can access them at their convenience. Many local bar associations hold functions on week-nights and weekends. These provide excellent networking forums.
MYTH: I plan to stay with my current employer after graduation, therefore I don’t need career services, a new resume or legal experience.
FACT: Many students, although intending to stay with current employers after graduation, find a whole new world awaits them. Additionally, in bad financial times employers might experience lay-offs, closings, etc. All students must prepare for this and make sure they have taken advantage of all that is offered.
MYTH: Employers are not attracted to older students or feel threatened by second career law students.
FACT: To the contrary, employers feel more confident in hiring someone that may be older or has had a successful prior career because these students bring a higher maturity level, a wealth of life experience and the ability to handle responsibility. This is what you, as an Evening student, should focus on and promote during an interview.