The process of landing a job in a high-powered law office is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are a few tips to help you during your long, arduous journey.
Excel in College
The journey that will eventually lead you to a high-powered law office begins long before you fill out your first law school application. Getting excellent grades in college is an absolute must if you wish to be accepted to a top law school that will smoothen your path toward a lucrative, rewarding legal career. Know your academic limitations—choosing to major in engineering or a hard science, struggling and then deciding it is not for you can do irreparable harm to your GPA.
Study Hard—REALLY HARD—for the LSAT
As perverse as it may seem, your LSAT score will almost certainly be the single largest determinant of which schools will extend an offer of admission to you. Yes, your GPA provides a larger—and arguably much more representative—sample of your capacity for academic success than a 100-question test that is completed in the span of four hours on some otherwise inconsequential Saturday morning. The test is the most important piece of the application puzzle, though, and you should treat it as such. Ideally, you should study for at least 200 hours and complete several practice tests before you take the real thing. Afterward, you will be happy you did.
Focus During Your First Year of Law School (Particularly Your First Semester)
By the time you have received your offers of acceptance and chosen a school, you will likely be exhausted—four years of college, plus the LSAT and the application process will be behind you. However, your first year of law school is one of the most important years of your legal career, so the marathon is not quite over yet. First-year grades will determine whether you will be invited to join your school’s law review, what type of job you will be able to get for the summer between your first and second years and, perhaps most importantly, what your class rank will be for on-campus interviews (“OCI”) during the fall semester of your second year. OCI is your reward for all your seemingly interminable first-year study and outlining sessions. Employers—mostly from law firms, but also from government and in-house legal departments—flock to law school campuses across the country to interview and hire second-year students to participate in their summer internship programs.
Network and Prepare for OCI
The OCI process will be much less stressful if you know what to expect. Talk to attorneys who have found jobs with employers you would like to target. This will not only give you an idea of what to expect from the process, but also what to expect from the job when you get it. Take advantage of the fact that most people love to talk about what they do, as these attorneys can provide you with an invaluable look at your potential professional future.
Keep your eyes on the prize, trust the process and know that your short-term sacrifices will pay off exponentially over the course of your career. Before long, you will be in your law firm’s corner office offering this same advice to college and law students.