Top 10 Career-Related Things To Do During the Semester Break

#10. Do a Self-Assessment. Spend some time figuring out what you want to do. Assess your skills, interests, personality traits and consider where you would most like to work . . . Law Firm? Public Interest? Judicial Clerkship? Government? Military? Non-traditional Career? Check out the CSO Handbook (under the Career Resources tab above) for a self-assessment checklist or stop by the CSO and borrow a book on a career path you are considering.

#9. Get a Letter of Reciprocity. If you are leaving town over winter break and want to begin searching for a summer job in another city, get a letter of reciprocity. Letters can be sent to law schools throughout the country. A reciprocity letter entitles you to use the Career Services Offices of other law schools. A copy of the reciprocity policies of various law schools is on file in the CSO and online at

#8. Update and Revise Your Resume and Cover Letter.  Review the chapters in The CSO Handbook to assist in your edits and then send your documents to the CSO (at so we can review them for you.  The University will re-open on January 5, 2015.

#7. Conduct Informational Interviews. Locate someone who is doing what you think you want to do and arrange an informational interview. Ask: What is a typical day like? What do they like most/least about what they do? How can you make yourself an attractive candidate in that field? Who else should you contact?

#6. Renew and Make New Contacts. Get together with contacts, even if it is just for a morning cup of coffee. Also, find out if there are any bar association functions that you can attend. A number of functions involving lawyers are conducted over the holidays, and these are a great opportunity to network.

#5. Write an Article or Do Volunteer Work. If you are not working over the holidays, see if a local legal services/aid office could use some volunteer help. A good way to get your name noticed is to write an article for a bar journal, a competition, or a publication in the field you are interested in. Often, students can get involved in various bar sections & attend meetings – another great way to meet people!  Information about scholarships, writing competitions and professional organizations can be found via the tabs above.

#4. Create a Job Folder. If you’re working, keep track of your assignments: drafting pleadings & motions, preparing discovery, etc. Keep a folder in which you briefly describe what you have done. This is a useful tool when it comes time to update your resume & cover letter.

#3. Prepare Applications for Public Interest and Government Opportunities. Take time to review postings online for public interest and government positions – paid and unpaid. If unpaid, apply for the Law School’s Summer Public Interest Fellowship or McGinley Public Service Law Fellowship (applications to be distributed in the Spring Semester).  If you are a 2D/3E/3P student, apply for the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Summer Fellowship (applications on DuqLawConnect).  If you want to work in this area, often you need to volunteer or work for low pay to make contacts, gain experience and show your commitment.

#2. Prepare Applications for Judicial Clerkships. If you are scheduled to graduate in 2015 or 2016 and considering a clerkship with the federal or state courts, use the break to gather info and prepare applications to submit in the spring. Ask your professors for letters of recommendation now; some of them are former law clerks. Do some research, talk to alumni who are currently clerking and get materials in order.  Info sheets about applying to both court systems are available in the Career Resources tab above.  Many federal court applications will be submitted via, so be sure to create a free account soon.  Note: due to a recent change, 2L students may submit application materials to federal court judges now; in previous years, the application window did not open until the summer.

#1. Check the Internet. Over the holidays, spend some time with your computer/tablet/notebook/phone that is focused on your career development and goals. This can be a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the career materials available on Westlaw, Lexis, DuqLawConnect, LinkedIn and the web generally.

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