Category Archives: Resources

Tips from the Practitioners Series: Practice in a Large Firm

By Dodi Walker Gross, L’ 82
Partner at Reed Smith LLP

Well, what is a large firm?  It depends on the location of the firm and how many offices the firm has.  The Pittsburgh Business Times rankings in January 2013 showed the largest local multi-office firms had anywhere from 268 Pittsburgh lawyers (Reed Smith) to 66 Pittsburgh lawyers (Burns White).  Some pros and cons to consider about “Big Law Practice”:

Pros:
Lots of resources
Many smart lawyers with experiences across a broad range of practice areas
Can navigate your own path, with lots of options

Cons:
Figuring out the resources
Can be intimidating
Need to be a self-starter

This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

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Business Cards Available for Law Students

The Career Services Office will provide law students with business cards to use for networking purposes. You’ll have opportunities to use the cards at upcoming events this semester including speed networking events with health law practitioners and members of the Women’s Bar Association, a Practice Area & Concentrations Fair and more. Other programs and events sponsored by offices and organizations here at the Law School, the local bar associations and other groups are great venues to meet and exchange cards with other professionals.

If you would like to receive 30 complimentary business cards, please complete an order form by Friday, February 14, at 5 pm. You can find an order form at https://sharepoint.law.duq.edu/cso/Lists/Business%20Card%20Requests/newform.aspx. (If you need to log-in, please use your Multipass/DORI log-in credentials.)

When the cards are available, they will be placed in your student mailbox.  Please contact Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu if you have any questions.

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Filed under Announcements, Networking, Resources

Sign-up for a mock interview today!

All students are encouraged to participate in the Mock Interview Program coordinated by the Career Services Office.  The program will take place from January 27 – February 12, 2014. In this program, local attorneys volunteer to conduct mock interviews with students either at their law firms or at the Law School.  Each mock interview is scheduled for approximately 30 minutes: 15-20 minutes for the mock interview and 10-15 minutes for feedback on the student’s resume and interview techniques.

Mock interview times that are available as of January 31 are listed here.  Mock interview appointments will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis by sending an email to comas@duq.edu.   Confirmation notices will be sent to students as interview times are confirmed.  You may sign up for as many interviews as your schedule permits.

As additional attorneys sign up for the program, updates will be made to the schedule.

The interviewer(s) will be provided a copy of your resume prior to your mock interview, so please be sure to update your resume in preparation for this program.  Information about legal resumes, including sample resumes, can be found in the CSO Handbook (available on this site under the “Career Resources” tab).  Please forward your questions about the program or your resume to Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu.

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Public Interest Summer Job Search Webinars

NALP and Equal Justice Works are co-sponsoring a two-part webinar series for law students and CSO professionals that will provide insight on the key elements of the summer public interest job application process. Attorneys with years of application review experience highlight what you should and shouldn’t do; explain how and why public interest application materials may substantively differ from law firm materials; and explore the dynamics of personal interactions in interviews and networking situations.

Duquesne Law students do not have to pay to watch these webinars, but registration is required.  Students are not required to attend both sessions.

The Summer Public Interest Job Search Part I – Best Practices in Drafting Cover Letters and Resumes
Thursday, January 23 at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
https://www2.gotogeeting.com/register/488502650

The Summer Public Interest Job Search Part II – Best Practices in Interviewing and In-person Networking
Friday, January 24 at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/462203130

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Top 10 Career-Related Things To Do Over 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 www.nalp.org.

#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 comas@duq.edu) 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 www.oscar.uscourts.gov, 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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Filed under Networking, Resources

Last Chance to Order Business Cards This Semester

The Career Services Office will provide students with business cards to use for networking purposes. You’ll have opportunities to use the cards at two upcoming events: the Judicial, Government & Public Interest Law Reception, sponsored by the Law Clinic & Career Services Offices, and a reception following the “Day in the Life Panel Discussion” sponsored by Law Alumni & Career Services Offices. (See below for details). Other programs and events sponsored by offices/organizations here at the Law School, the local bar associations and other groups are great venues to exchange cards with other professionals.

If you would like to receive 30 complimentary business cards, please send the following information to comas@duq.edu by Friday, October 18 at 5 pm:

Name as you would like it to appear on the cards
Anticipated Graduation Date (ie, June 2014)
Address
Phone Number
Email Address

When the cards are available, they will be placed in your student mailbox.

Event details – students may attend as much of these events as your schedules permit:
Judicial, Government & Public Interest Law Reception
Wednesday, October 30 * 5-7 pm * Power Center Ballroom

A Day in the Life Panel Discussion & Reception
Tuesday, November 19 * Panel: 5-6 pm * Room 203
Reception: 6-7 pm * Student Lounge

RSVP for these programs on DuqLawConnect – Events tab.

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Frequently Asked Questions – On-Campus Interviewing

In response to students’ questions about the on-campus interview program, the Career Services Office (CSO) created the attached “Frequently Asked Questions” handout.  Of course, students with additional questions are encouraged to contact the CSO.

Is someone in the CSO available to review my application materials?
Yes.  Students should forward documents (in Word format) to the CSO for review.  Documents should be forwarded to Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu.  Due to increased requests to review materials during the summer, please allow one week for the review of your materials.

The CSO will not review writing samples for content, so students should contact the professor or attorney involved with the writing sample with questions about content.  Students intending to submit documents written while serving as an intern, law clerk or volunteer must get permission to use such documents as writing samples, either with or without redactions.

How can I research firms and employers?
The firm’s website is the natural place to start your research, but you must do more.  Talk with other students who work at the firm or have interviewed with the firm in the past.  Some students submit Summer Employment Surveys to the CSO, and we keep them on file in the office.  Ask the CSO to identify students who are willing to talk with current students going through the interview process.  Thankfully, many students will make themselves available to answer questions for the benefit of those that follow them.

You can use the tools on Lexis and Westlaw to get an in depth look at the types of cases the firm handles.  Before you tell a firm that you have been interested in the practice of health law since you were 10 years old, find out how many cases involving health law the firm actually handles.  This not only will prevent you from including incorrect information in your cover letter or an embarrassing situation during an interview, it also allows you to show the employer that you have looked beyond their website while preparing your application materials.

You can use the NALP Directory of Legal Employers to research many large firms that provide detailed information to NALP for inclusion in this on-line directory.  You also can use Chambers Associates to discover information about some large firms.   (Follow the link to both on the left menu bar).

How can I distinguish myself in my cover letter?
As noted in the previous question, do your homework by learning as much about a firm or organization as possible.  When writing your letter, consider your audience.  Generally speaking, an employer wants to know how you can help them by furthering their business objectives and addressing the needs of their clients.  Cover letters are very often the most difficult document to prepare during the application process.  You must convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job without rehashing everything on your resume or overstating your qualifications.  This art takes practice.  Consider “Cover Letters: 7 Steps to Creatign a Great True First Impression” as you write (and re-write) your cover letters.

Should I tailor my cover letters?
Yes.  Each letter should be tailored to the firm to which you are applying.  You should include the specific contact information for the firm in your letter (Name, Firm Name, Address) in the appropriate place in the letter.  You should address the letter to that contact (Dear Mr. or Ms. ____:).  You can find the contact information in the OCI listing; letters should be addressed to the person listed under “Contact Information.”  You should let the employer know why you are writing to them in particular.  This is where your research comes into play.

Where can I find sample legal resumes and cover letters?
The CSO Handbook includes a chapter about each of these subjects, as well as other topics such as interviewing skills and follow-up correspondence.  You can find The CSO Handbook here under the Career Resources tab and on DuqLawConnect (under the Resource tab).

How do I get an unofficial transcript from DORI?
The best way to get the transcript from DORI is to copy & paste it into a Word document.  You can either save it as a pdf or convert it to a pdf when you upload it to DuqLawConnect.   While scanning the transcript may work, sometimes the scanned transcript results in a file that is too big to upload.  You are welcome to use the scanner in the CSO if needed, however.

Are OCI application materials sent to employers all at once or on a rolling basis?
The CSO will not release any application materials to the employers before the application deadline.  After the deadline passes, every application received by the deadline will be sent to the employer for review.

Can I make a change to a document after I submit a bid?
You can update your documents any time prior to the application deadline.  However, you must withdraw your bid, upload the revised document, and re-submit your bid.  These steps must be done before the application deadline.

Will the CSO forward late applications?
No.  Only materials submitted by the posted deadline will be forwarded to the employer.  Students who miss the application deadline must submit their materials to employers directly in order to be considered for an interview.

Does the CSO rank or screen applications?
No.  The CSO submits all materials submitted by the deadline.  The employer then reviews the application materials and provides the CSO with a list of students they would like to interview.  The CSO does not use any type of ranking, screening or lottery system for student interviews.

What does “Total Slots” mean on the OCI listing?
This indicates the number of candidates the employer intends to interview at the time they register for the On-Campus Interviewing Program.  The employer may end up interviewing more or less students, but they typically interview the number stated.

How will I know if I have been selected for an interview?
After receiving notification from the employer, students will receive an email from the CSO informing them if they have or have not been selected for an interview.

Are interview times assigned?
No.  Students who have been selected for an interview will receive an email notification informing them that they must go to DuqLawConnect to select an interview time.  The interview times determined by the employer will be listed accordingly, and times will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Will I know the names of the people interviewing me?
Most employers provide the names of the people (either attorneys and/or recruiters) planning to conduct the interviews.  However, it is not uncommon for a firm to contact the CSO prior to the interview with a change.  If time permits, the CSO notifies students of the change in interviewer.  Time does not always permit, though, if the change is last minute.

While you are researching each firm or organization, you should also research the interviewers.  Lexis and Westlaw provide tools to conduct searches about attorneys, as well as firms.

What should I wear to an interview?
You should wear conservative attire to interviews – this includes your suit, shirt, ties, shoes and jewelry.  Although a firm might have a “business casual” dress policy for its employees, you should wear a conservative suit to all interviews.    The CSO Handbook includes a chapter about interviewing skill, including professional dress attire.  You can find The CSO Handbook here under the Career Resources tab and on DuqLawConnect (under the Resource tab).

Where are initial screening interviews held?
Employers may choose to hold their initial screening interviews at the Law School or at the firm.  The location of the initial interview will be noted on the OCI listing.  Interviews to be held at the Law School will be held in Rooms 205, 206 and 207 (make the left just after Room 204, before the stairway, to find the interview rooms.)

If the interview will be held at the firm, additional instructions may be sent to you from the CSO or the law firm recruiting office.  This may include details about parking, security check-in and where to report once inside a building.  Students should consider a test drive or walk to the firm location in order to give themselves ample travel time.  Firms conducting initial interviews at their offices are within a 10-minute walk from campus during normal traffic and weather conditions.

Where are call-back interviews held?
Call-back interviews most often are held at the law firm or organization.  Each firm conducts these interviews differently. These may include a panel of interviewers, multiple interviews with different individuals (1-on-1) or interviews during lunch.  Any interaction with the firm’s lawyers, recruiters or employees – from the time you enter the building to the time you leave a cocktail party –should be viewed as being part of the interview process.

How early should I arrive for an interview?
Regardless of the interview location, students should plan to arrive 10 minutes prior to their scheduled interview time.  While you are encouraged to give yourself ample time to walk or drive to the employer’s location, you should not check-in at the firm itself (e.g., the reception area, recruiter’s office, etc.) until 10 minutes prior to your interview.

Should I do a mock interview before the real interview takes place?
Yes.  The CSO’s formal mock interview with local attorneys takes place in the spring semester.  You have two other options to do a mock interview throughout the year.  The CSO staff is available to conduct mock interviews by appointment by sending an email to lawcareers@duq.edu.  The CSO also uses Interview Stream – an online mock interview program – for students.  You may create a free account at https://duq.interviewstream.com and then record yourself answering interview questions.  You may then watch the interview yourself or send a link to it to the CSO or anyone else you trust to provide constructive feedback.

Preparation is key.  While you don’t want to sound rehearsed, you should verbalize your answers to potential questions before the actual interview takes place so you can rework any answers you think sound awkward or otherwise not right.  While answering questions, remember that the interviewer is looking for someone who has the professional skills to do the job, who fits the job requirements and who wants the job.  Be engaged in the interview – be sure your nervousness doesn’t outshine your interest in the job and in the employer and take time to answer the questions asked of you.

Are resources available about interviewing skills?
Yes.  The CSO Resource Center includes many books and publications about interviewing skills.  The two most popular resources in recent years have been Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Walton and An Insider’s Guide to Interviewing: Insights from the Employer’s Perspective by NALP.  Multiple copies of Guerrilla Tactics are available for students to borrow from the CSO.  The CSO purchased enough copies of An Insider’s Guide for students to have their own copy of this informative booklet.  A complete listing of the items available in the CSO Resource Center can be found here under Career Resources or DuqLawConnect (under Resources), where you can also find The CSO Handbook that includes an Interviewing Skills chapter.

What else should I read as I prepare for interviews?
On a regular basis, you should read The National Law Journal (www.law.com), The Legal Intelligencer www.law.com/pa, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Law section published every Monday (www.postgazette.com), and the Pittsburgh Business Times (www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh).  Free copies of the Post-Gazette are available in the Student Lounge during the school year, and you can find the daily paper in the Center for Legal Information.  The CSO and Center for Legal Information have copies of the Pittsburgh Business Times available for review year-round.  Of course, if you are interested in another city or state, you should become familiar with the news in those areas.

Additional information about Fall Recruitment, including on-campus interviewing, can be found in the memo distributed via email on July 1, 2013.  A copy of the same was posted here on July 1, 2013.

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Filed under Frequently Asked Questions, Programs, Resources

Tips for Summer Associates, Interns and Volunteers

In Kimm Walton‘s book  What Law School Doesn’t Teach You But You Really Need to Know, she lists some tips for summer associates that legal recruiters had shared with her during her discussions with them.  The CSO is sharing those tips with you, with a few additional comments of our own added in.  The suggestions are helpful to summer associates, interns and volunteers, alike.

*Ask questions: if you don’t know/understand something, ask.  It is especially important for you to communicate with the assigning attorney.  Ask about time expectations and deadlines for projects.  Listen carefully when receiving an assignment; have paper and a pen with you, and take clear notes.

*If you are struggling or concerned that you will miss a deadline, you must communicate with the assigning attorney – trying to hide in the library is not a good plan!  Submit your best work, not a “rough draft.”  Also, when submitting an assignment, or filing a document, make sure it is received before leaving for the day.

*Be friendly: Communicate and don’t be shy.  Be visible, introduce yourself to others and attend functions that allow you to meet a variety of attorneys, especially partners, i.e., don’t just hang out with other summer associates.  Therefore, while you have to work hard, don’t work so hard that you don’t have time to socialize.

*Be gracious: Treat everyone nicely.

*Seek feedback: Ask attorneys for feedback.  Be persistent so that you can improve your work product.

*Seek out projects from as many different lawyers and practice areas in the firm as possible and don’t be afraid to try things in areas you are not familiar with.

*Ask for work: If you don’t have enough work, seek out assignments.

*Be timely and responsive: Be on time for all meetings and events, return phone calls and emails, and RSVP for events promptly.  If someone calls you, return the call instead of responding via email. 

*Work hard: Always work hard and complete all of your projects before leaving the firm for the summer.

*Be open to constructive criticism.  Learn from it.

*Dress professionally.  If you doubt for a second whether you should wear something, don’t wear it.

*Behave professionally: avoid being overly familiar, gossiping, or engaging in office politics and avoid drinking too much at firm functions.  Treat your summer associate position as an extension of your job interview. After all, you most likely are hoping for a long-term employment offer from that employer.

*Don’t be arrogant and brag about your credentials – remember, there is always somebody who is smarter, faster, etc. (See treat everybody nicely above.) 

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Things To Do Over the Holiday Break

*Update and revise your resume & cover letter especially if you are going to use your resume over break. Refer to the chapters about resumes and cover letters in the CSO Handbook.

*Renew & 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.

*Conduct informational interviews. Locate someone who is doing what you think you want to do and arrange an informational interview. Ask them: What is a typical day like? What do they like most about what they do? What do they like the least? How can you make yourself an attractive candidate in that field? Who else should you contact? Need help identifying a contact? Stop by the CSO and review the Alumni/Student Mentor Directory. We also have a NALP brochure on how to successfully conduct an informational interview.

*Write an article or do volunteer work. If you are not working over the holidays, see if a local legal services office or other legal aid organization 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 and attend meetings – another great way to meet people doing what you would like to do.

*Manage your on-line presence. If you use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, does the information you post portray a positive professional image? If you don’t use any of these sites, consider creating a LinkedIn profile so you can use this medium to make professional connections. Review NALP’s E-Guides for E-Professionalism so you are sure to put your best foot forward while sending e-mail messages and using various social media sites.

*Get a letter of reciprocity. If you are leaving town over the winter break and want to begin searching for a summer job in another city, get a letter of reciprocity. 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. However, schools vary on what services are available. You can find details about schools’ reciprocity policies at www.nalp.org. If you would like a letter of reciprocity, please send a request to lawcareers@duq.edu.

*Do a Self Assessment. Spend some time figuring out what you want to do. Assess your skills, interest, and personality traits, and consider where you would most like to work. Do you want to work in a law firm? What size firm? Do you want to do public interest work? Do you want to do a judicial clerkship? Would you like to work for the government or the military? How about using your degree in a non-traditional role? You can find self-assessment books in the CSO Resource Center, and you can borrow them to read during the break (or any time).

*Prepare applications for judicial clerkships. If you are a second year (2D, 3E, 3P) or third year (3D, 4E, 4P) student considering a clerkship with the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior or Commonwealth Courts, use the break to gather information and prepare applications. Ask your professors for letters of recommendation now. Review the CSO’s judicial clerkship resources. Talk with someone who has clerked. (A number of our law professors are former law clerks.) Many local judges will be accepting applications in the spring. Do some research, talk with alumni who are currently clerking, and get application materials in order.

*Prepare applications for public interest and government opportunities. Take time to review the postings online for public interest and government opportunities (paid & unpaid) at www.psjd.org, in the Government Internship and Honors Attorney Handbook (available via DuqLawConnect/Symplicity), and on www.usajobs.gov. If unpaid, apply for the position and for a Summer Public Interest Fellowship or Summer Public Service Fellowship through the Law School, or for a SummerCorps fellowship through Equal Justice Works (www.equaljusticeworks.org). If you want to work in government or public interest, often you need to volunteer or work for low pay to make contacts, gain experience, and demonstrate your commitment.

*Create a Job Folder and Networking Log. If you are working during the break, keep track of your assignments: drafting pleadings and 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. If you are networking during break, create a spreadsheet or journal noting the contacts you have made, meetings you have had and follow-up needed to be done. You can find a sample networking log at the end of the “Fundamentals of Job Searching” chapter in the CSO Handbook.

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Filed under Networking, Resources

Business Cards Available

The Career Services Office will provide law students with business cards to use for networking purposes now or during the semester break. If you would like to receive 30 complimentary business cards, please send the following information to comas@duq.edu by Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at 12 noon:

Name as you would like it to appear on the cards
Anticipated Graduation Date (ie, June 2013)
Address
Phone Number
Email Address

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