What really happens in law school?  The average first year student is told to spend between two and three hours of studying for every hour spent in the classroom.  Since an average first year class can last an hour and a half, and an average first year day might involve three or four classes, this means a lot of studying each night.  You will be divided into “sections” during your first year (or 1L, as you will come to call it), and you will sit in classes with the members of your section for an entire year.  After 1L, you will get to choose your classes, so there will be a mix of people in the courses you choose to take; but for that first year, you will be in the same room or rooms with these same classmates for the full year.  Law school is very competitive, because you are graded on the curve.  This means that the professors will only give out a certain number of As, Bs, etc.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friends with your classmates – they’re in the same boat you’re in, and it’s helpful to lean on each other for support, encouragement, and class notes!  But it does mean you’re competing with your classmates for class rank – more on that later.

It’s up to the student to manage his time and his efforts – you won’t (necessarily) get in trouble for not doing your reading, but if you get called on in class (and you will!), you are expected be prepared to talk about the issues raised.  For the most part, you will only have one grade per semester, although for at least the first year you will have a midterm grade in the winter and a final grade in the spring.  I remember feeling during college that it would not matter if I got an A or a B in my calculus class, because I knew I was not going to be a mathematician.  However, the truth about law school is that it does matter how well you know Contracts, understand principals of negligence, or whether you can figure out who owns Blackacre (trust me, you’ll understand if you go to law school), because these things apply in the real world of law practice, and in a lot of other fields as well. 

There is undoubtedly a correlation between doing well in law school and doing well professionally.  The harder you work, and higher rank in your class you can secure, and the more likely you are to land interviews for summer associate positions with big, high paying firms.  But the reality is that the majority of students do not fit in the top five percent of their class, and they can be every bit as successful as their higher-ranked classmates.   My law school experience was very rich, even though I was not the number one student in my first year section.  I worked hard, I learned a lot, and I found internships and jobs during law school that allowed me to put my education into real world practice.  I encourage anyone who is interested in going to law school to consider an internship or a job in the legal field to make sure it’s a good fit, and to build up networking skills.  It can only help, and it does make a difference!

For more information about pre-law advising, please contact the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education at 617-573-8480.  One of the counselors would be happy to speak to you about career options for students interested in the field. , or help put you in touch with a member of the faculty experienced in pre-law advising.

-M Isaacs, Suffolk Law Student

The law school experience is like none other.  It is intense, it is scary, it is unknown, and it is completely worth it.  One of the proudest moments of my life was the day I crossed the stage and was handed my diploma.  Another exciting day: the day I received my letter from the Board of Bar Overseers informing me that I was being admitted to practice in Massachusetts after having passed the bar exam.  My excitement doesn’t stem from having a specific goal to become a partner in a law firm, or to work in-house for a major company; in fact, I’m not sure either is the right fit for me.  My excitement comes from having worked extremely hard toward a goal that I accomplished, all while maintaining healthy relationships with the people I love, and with myself.  The point is, it is possible to be a law student, and indeed a lawyer, and still have a life.  It’s also possible, and more common than you might think to go to law school, sit for the bar exam, and then not practice in the kind of law firm setting you see on television, or maybe to not practice at all.  If it’s right for you, it’s up to you to take on the challenge, carve out the right career path, and see how graceful you can remain under pressure.  But the truth is that the education you will get in the process, and the things you will learn about yourself, are invaluable life lessons.

The real message of this piece is that law school seems intimidating, but it’s completely doable.  The first year is scary, no doubt about it, but remember that everyone else in the room is in the same boat that you’re in, and no one really knows the right answers yet.  You learn how to think like a law student, and ultimately, how to think like a lawyer.  You won’t even realize how differently you think until late in your second, or maybe your third year of law school, when suddenly you realize how much easier studying, classes and the whole process seem.  The truth is that nothing has gotten easier – you’ve just gotten stronger, more confident, and more capable.

My story is just one of many, but I encourage you to create your own by considering law school and finding more out about the experience.  Visit http://www.lsac.org for important information about law school admissions and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), which every law school applicant is required to take.  I wish you all the best in your search, and remember: there are a lot of law school graduates out there who didn’t believe they could handle it until they jumped in, tried, and succeeded.  There’s no reason you can’t be one of them!

For more information about pre-law advising, please contact the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education at 617-573-8480.  One of the counselors would be happy to speak to you about career options for students interested in the field. , or help put you in touch with a member of the faculty experienced in pre-law advising.

MMIsaacs

Posted by: CareerCompass | August 5, 2009

What Good Are Professional Associations?

In a word, VERY!  Participating in a professional or business association can be one of the most valuable things a job searcher can do.  After all, professional associations exist to benefit the professional growth and development of their members.   As a member of an association you can tap into the 2 major ways through which professional growth occurs – continuing learning in your field through the presentations, workshops, and conferences professional groups sponsor, and networking with other practitioners in your field.  In other words, you can take advantage of staying educated and up to date in your field, and tapping into the people resources that are so important for being successful as a professional – all by joining in and participating in a professional association!

Please remember that “participating” is the operative word here!  Just joining an association is not enough.  You need to be active in the association- by attending its meetings, perhaps volunteering to serve on a committee, and joining any online discussion groups it sponsors.  This will increase your visibility in your field, and will also make it easier for you to meet people in the association. 

In terms of networking for your job search, there are very few resources as rich with people to meet as professional associations.  Not only can you meet and network through attending meetings, you can also use the membership directory to which you gain access as soon as you join the association.   And remember, while it may feel awkward at first for you to make connections with professionals in your field through an association (that “why would anyone want to talk to me?” feeling), networking is ABSOLUTELY appropriate within a professional group…after all, that’s one of the main reasons the group exists.  So, jump in and introduce yourself!  You’ll get used to it, and the rewards will be very beneficial.

Two final notes about professional associations-
1) Another great benefit you’ll probably encounter is that most professional groups post job openings for their members;, and
2) Don’t just stay active in an association when you are job searching.  Be an active member throughout your career.  That way, you will always have a built-in network!

For a list of Boston area professional associations, go to http://www.suffolk.edu/campuslife/6805.html!

Posted by: CareerCompass | July 1, 2009

Use The Globe 100 and Globe Growth 50

How can you find out who’s hiring, and which companies are doing well?  This is a question which is of key interest to job seekers in a difficult employment market!  There are lots of ways to get identify potential employers and the savvy job seeker needs to be on the lookout regularly for who might be best to pursue.

Certainly, one of the most important activities to regularly engage in if you want to stay in tune with who is succeeding, and therefore hiring, is to regularly be reading the business pages of the local major newspapers (the Globe in Boston, for example), as well as any local business publications (i.e., the Boston Business Journal).  Community newspapers, more local in focus, are also good resources for this.  Job seekers should pay attention to organizations and companies reporting growing profits or getting new major contracts or landing new business of significance.  These are clues that hiring might be coming!

Also, a fabulous resource to use is the annual “Globe 100″ list of publicly held companies ranked by composite performace, and the “Globe Growth 50″ of companies with the highest average revenue and income growth.  You can see the lists through these links-
www.boston.com/business/globe/globe100/globe_100_2009/gowth50
and
www.boston.com/business/globe/globe100/globe_100_2009/globe100/

Not only can you start to track these companies regularly for jobs that might be posted through their HR offices/websites, but you can also start to use your networking contacts to connect with these companies.

Remember, in a tough market, one of the best job search strategies is to target specific companies with potential and approach them directly.  Resources like the Globe 100 can really help with this!

Posted by: CareerCompass | June 18, 2009

Using the Internet in Your Search

Most job hunters these days spend a significant amount of their time searching internet resources for jobs.   While it is very important to realize that this is not by any means the only way one should be job searching, it is among the job search activities one must engage in.  When using the internet,  just as when doing any job search activity, it is important to use a VARIETY  of resources, not just one or two.   In other words, too many job hunters tend to spend most of their internet time on craigslist.com.  This is not particularly productive for a  number of reasons- most everyone uses craigslist and therefore there will be a lot of people applying to each job, there are a lot of undesireable commission sales jobs “dressed up” as management trainee or advertising positions, and many to most of the jobs posted are either less desireable or extremely selective which means the majority of job hunters either won’t want to apply or will find they can’t meet the specialized requirements of the job.

So, what is a job hunter to do?  Well, it is true that people can still get jobs from craigslist, or other large job listing search engines, so it is not suggested that those sites be ignored!  There are some large, general websites that really are good to check regularly.  Some are familiar, like Monster or CareerBuilder or Hotjobs.  A particularly useful site is Indeed.com, which is a “spider” site- a site that branches out on the web and collects jobs from most of the major sites. 

Once the general websites have been reviewed, however, it’s time to get into websites that list positions for specific career fields or industries.  These websites are great because they are used by many fewer jobseekers (so less competition for each job listed) and many employers like to use them instead of major sites, because they know they are much more likely to get applicants who are focused on a particular career area!

Here are a couple of ways to find these sites.   First, if one is a member of a professional association related to a specific career field,  the website for that association probably lists positions in the field. (we’ll have an upcoming post related to the value of professional associations soon).  Second, the Suffolk website provides a list of both general and specific websites.  Just go to www.suffolk.edu/careers and click on Useful Links in the left hand index.  Finally, the Riley Guide is the most comprehensive collection of job and career websites that exists.  It’s a fabulous web resource which can lead you to specific websites with information on almost any job concern.    Go to www.rileyguide.com and click on Sites with Job Listings.  This will take you to a huge collection of both general and career/industry specific websites one can use to find jobs targeted to a particular career area!

Posted by: CareerCompass | May 20, 2009

Some tips for recession job hunting

While many 2009 graduates have found jobs or are looking forward to graduate school, many are in the midst of a challenging job search.  While it is definitely true that the market is the toughest it’s been in years, it is not true that finding a position is an impossible task.  However, expecting to find a job by spending one’s time searching the listings on Craig’s List is very likely NOT going to lead to success.  These times call for coming out from behind the computer screen and getting proactive!

Visiting the Career Services office or calling to schedule an appointment with a counselor should be high on the to do list of any job seeker.  The counselor can review cover letters and resumes and suggest any important revisions, can assist with interviewing preparation and presentation, and can make sure individual candidates are tailoring their job search strategies effectively by helping to identify targeted and specialized job and networking resources.

For example, any graduate who has not registered with eRecruiting, where jobs are posted which have been sent to Career Services by employers seeking candidates from Suffolk, is definitely missing a good place to start.  Call the office and get the information for how to register online for this. 

Additionally, there are websites specific to certain job fields and industries that job seekers should be tapping into.  There are alumni to connect with for networking, and professional associations in which to become involved.  There is research to be done to identify both the industries which are growing and the individual contact information for the companies and organizations within those industries.  None of these things can be done by sitting at home behind your laptop.

In the coming posts, we’ll look at each of these strategies, so stay tuned!!

Posted by: CareerCompass | October 20, 2008

LSAC Forum

Recently I attended the Law School forum held by LSAC at the Marriott Copley Place in Boston.

It is a must attend for those considering law school. One of the best ways to learn about individual law schools is to meet their students and admission deans. One really gets the feel for each school. Researching on the internet is helpful but you learn so much more in person. Many law schools won’t give an interview; they mostly rely on the application process. But meeting the deans in person and not having an adequate amount of time to get all of your questions answered can be quite a benefit. As each handed me their business card it was simultaneously being given with an invitation to come see them. I was invited to meet with some of the deans and I will definitely take these invitations seriously. I have already sent out thank you emails and followed up with a confirmation request for these appointments.

 

The LSAC forum had seminars such as, “What do lawyers do.?” This diversified panel was made up of 5 practicing attorneys.  One attorney with Mintz, Levin whose name is Bill,  kept my interest immediately because his journey to law school is somewhat similar to mine. Both of us took the non-traditional path. (For your info ladies, Mintz has a great reputation for working Moms.)

 Another panelist was a graduate of Suffolk University Law School. She graduated from Suffolk approximately 4 years ago. She worked in the DA’s office for 3 years and has now moved on to the AG’s office. The other three were mixed as well, as memory serves me; one is a venture capitalist, the other two are employed at another well known law firm and are recent grads of Boston College Law School. Being afforded the opportunity to ask many questions about the profession and listening to each of their personal histories and current experiences was quite an education in itself.

The additional seminars on how to finance a law school education, the LSAT, and the application process was both interesting and informative. I am glad I attended each of them. Another exciting part of the day was meeting the person who has been advising me for a long time. We have spoken on the telephone many times and sometimes at length. As I approached his table, I extended my hand to him and said, “Hi  —–, I am, and he said, you are—-.” And we laughed. It was nice to finally put a face to someone who has been so kind and helpful to me.

Something else I noticed yesterday as well. Many law school representative’s handed out an application fee waiver. Just that alone will save me a lot of money!! Oh, by the way, did I mention this forum is free and takes place many times during the year. See the schedule on line at www.LSAC.org.   

Future grad

 

Posted by: CareerCompass | September 15, 2008

December 2008 grad

Usually at this time of the year I know where things stand. I’ll work toward finishing this current semester and look forward to the winter break. The break usually flies by and then I’ll come back to Suffolk for the spring term. Well not so this time around. It’s graduation time!! At the end of this term many new doors of opportunities open for me and decisions need to be made.

 

Will I go right into law school, which has been my goal form the beginning, or will I start Suffolk’s Executive MBA program first, and of course what about a job? Soon I will need to make an appointment at Coop and Career Services. This will be one of my most important stops. Hopefully it will be one of yours as well.

In addition to the career center I’ve heard many students talk about leads and tips they get from their professors. It’s amazing how we as students don’t consider them an outstanding resource as well.

Happy searching!

 

Future Suffolk grad

Posted by: CareerCompass | April 1, 2008

Get started!

There’s been a flurry of activity at the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education over the past month. The co-op counselors’ schedules were filled with students looking for leads on summer co-ops, employers conducted on-site mock interviews, and the office hosted our series of 30 minute career workouts. The annual Connections job fair was a resounding success for both students and employers. Overall, I’ve been impressed by the amount of students who are putting in serious time preparing for their future careers.

I’m not due to graduate myself from my MA program for another year, but I can’t help but reflect on my own career choices after I finished my undergraduate degree. I’m not sure whether it was Generation X apathy, lack of ambition, fear of the future, or old-fashioned laziness, but after graduation I found myself back in my little boy bed in my family home. My mom was doing my laundry and I was working at a retail job that I could have held in high school. Things eventually got better, but it was not an auspicious beginning to my professional career.

I’m determined not to make the same mistakes again, but it’s easy to fall into old habits. I’m working in the office with co-op employment counselors, scheduling appointments for students, and encouraging them to act soon. Yet, I practically had to be forced by the graduate student career counselor to make an appointment for myself. Slightly embarrassed, I penciled myself in for an appointment with one of our co-op counselors. The day of our meeting, my counselor asked about my career goals and pointed out several summer co-ops that would look great on my resume and provide valuable experience for my career after graduation. I thanked him, took the information, and it’s been on the floor near my desk at home for over a week. “Have you applied to any of those jobs yet?” he asked the other day. “Not yet,” I replied sheepishly, pretending to be concentrating on some important office task.

The moral of this story is to get started on your career plans now. I could throw a bunch of clichés at you: early bird gets the worm, etc. but I’m offering myself up as an example instead. Procrastination will get you nowhere. Get started and hit the ground running. Take it from me, I’m a graduate student and I’m 104 years old. (Some elements of this story have been fictionalized for dramatic effect).

Posted by: CareerCompass | January 4, 2008

Job Hunting is Hard Work

We’ve heard from a few December graduates lamenting the slow pace of their job searches.   One thing that often is surprising to those seeking their first post-graduate professional position is that the job search is a more drawn out process than they might have encountered in the past.  AND, it is a process that requires a lot of effort.  There’s a well-known job hunting quote that goes something like this: “Finding a job is like a full-time job in itself!”

Why is this so?  Well, for one thing, as we’ve mentioned before, networking is a must for any successful job search.  In addition to what you know (reflected in your resume detailing your skills, knowledge and experience), it is WHO you know that can open the door to the employer you’ve targeted.  But the thing about networking is that it takes a lot of  energy and time.  First you must identify people to meet and connect with, then you must introduce yourself to them, then you must set up a time to meet with them, then you must prepare for your conversation and actually meet them, then you must write a thank you letter, and finally you must regularly follow-up with them so they will keep you in mind for possible openings.  That’s a lot of  “you musts” and a lot of time involved if you are trying to meet with 2-3 people per week!  Most surveys of successful job hunters indicate that greater than 50% found their jobs through networking.  So it is not something you should choose to ignore if you want to find a great job. And networking is just ONE aspect of your job search! 

The hiring process for professional positions is generally slower than it is for part-time, internship or co-op positions.  It is not unusual for an employer to take 2-3 months to hire someone.  So, another very practical reason why your search may seem slow is that employers will just take much longer to get back to you after you’ve applied.  By and large, you can expect that 10-15%  of the applications you make will result in interviews.  Don’t get discouraged if you have only applied to 5 or 6 jobs and not heard back from anyone.  Instead, realize that through networking and using other job resources, you need to be applying to several jobs per week so that you can generate the interviews that will lead to a job.

 So, you can see that job hunting is not something that you can just do successfully in your spare few hours each week.  It requires a lot of dedication and persistence over a prolonged period of time.  Don’t get discouraged if you’ve just started –  you’re only in the first few miles of the marathon!  And, remember to come to Career Services if you need some help and support as you search.

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