1L Fall and the Office of Career Services

zaleskiby James Zaleski, Class of 2019

Since arriving at law school, every 1L has been asking himself or herself the same questions: (1) what kind of law do I aspire to practice? and (2) how am I going to secure a 1L summer job? The Office of Career Services (OCS) is here to help. OCS purposefully leaves 1Ls alone in August and September so that we can focus on our classes and adjust to law school without worrying about careers and interviews. With two months under our belts, we are now prepared to take on the additional responsibility of beginning our job search. Over the past month, we have had several productive sessions with OCS. We met as a large group for our first session, and each of us received a career planning manual. The manual includes a plethora of career information such as tools for assessing your ideal practice area, networking tips, and strategies for writing a cover letter just to name a few. One of the most useful items is a timeline for the 1L summer job search with specific steps we should take each month.

My second meeting with OCS was a valuable session on resume building. I attended this workshop with my small legal writing section (13 students), and we learned how to build a legal resume. OCS has a wealth of experience with legal employers and knows what distinguishes great law school resumes. The session included a variety of information including what type of resume layout legal employers preferred as well as how to emphasize the legal skills that employers are looking for in our past experiences. I gathered several useful strategies that I am currently incorporating into my resume as I prepare to enter the 1L summer job hunt. In addition to these periodic OCS sessions, every 1L sits down with their career advisor in OCS to touch base and to develop strategies for the 1L job search. I have my meeting next week, and I look forward to speaking with my career services dean about my career interests and job search.

OCS also does a great job of inviting practicing attorneys to the law school to serve on alumni panels. The purpose of these panels is to expose students to different practice areas and provide insight into the life of a practicing attorney. Many 1Ls, myself included, came to law school with an idea of an area of law they want to practice but are still interested in exploring different specialties. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the career panel: Alumni Perspectives, Transactional Law Careers. The panelists included Bonnie Brown (W&M ’12), Ryan Kendrick (W&M ’09), and Kristen Welsh (W&M ’12). I enjoyed hearing their perspectives and learning about their work. Bonnie is a senior assistant city attorney for the city of Hampton, and it was fascinating to hear the work she does as a city attorney. I never realized the diversity of legal issues that arise in local government! Ryan is an associate at Williams Mullen in Norfolk, VA. I enjoyed listening to Ryan talk about his experience as a first-year associate and his insight into how the job changes as you acquire more experience and responsibility. Kristen is corporate counsel for CarMax in Richmond, VA. It was helpful to hear her compare her experiences as an associate at a large law firm with her new experiences as in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company.

All three panelists were highly informative and approachable as they were all happy to answer individual questions after the panel. Transactional law is an unfamiliar practice area, but it is one I would like to research further as a possible career. As a 1L who is busy with writing assignments and case reading, it is always refreshing to hear from young attorneys who are practicing law and who were in law school just a few years ago. I look forward to working with OCS as I begin my summer job search and research legal practice areas.

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