By Alyssa J. Devine, McKinney 3L
On Friday, October 19, nine law student members of the IndyBar Law Student Division welcomed four attorneys with diverse careers in business law. The conversation ranged from a variety of topics, but there were a few common themes.
Get work experience.
Interviewers care about your grades, but they also care about your work experience. One speaker even stated an example of when he was impressed by an applicant’s summer job doing pizza deliveries rather than other applicant’s experience participating in a study abroad program. Employers want to see evidence of your work ethic.
Government agencies are a perfect place to start gaining legal experience and these opportunities should not go unnoticed. Peter Elliott of the Indiana Commercial Court described his experience working as a law clerk in the commercial court for Judge Heather Welch. He said it has been an invaluable experience as he gets to watch what attorney actions are effective in court and what sorts of actions are ineffective. He was also exposed to a variety of issues within commercial law and writes legal analyses every day without having to worry about the partisan interests like attorneys who represent parties do.
Network. Network. Network.
Most openings are not advertised and most jobs that attorneys get are obtained through network connections. It is so important for law students to begin building their network as soon as possible.
There are literally hundreds of people that are attending the same classes as you. Your cohort is made up of people you will be interacting with for the next three years. Make friends! By making friends, you are creating a network to form study groups, seek opinions, go to eat with and work with in the future. You are building relationships that would last past the bar exam and well into practice.
Who you work with is just as important as what you do.
If you don’t like who you work with, you are just adding extra and unnecessary stress to your life. The work environment should not be a place of added stress. You should enjoy working with your colleagues and staff members of your firm. It makes practicing law more enjoyable and it makes it easier to balance life.
For example, if you don’t think a firm of seven 65-year-old white men partners is the right fit for you, then don’t take that position. Find a firm and culture that fits with you.
Attorneys are people too.
As one speaker put it, “Attorneys are good for more than just writing briefs.” Remember that there is life outside of the law. Join a recreational team, attend painting classes, or do something else that speaks to your interests. Law school is not and should not be the only thing in your life. This is also true when law students attend interviews. One speaker stated that she would rather hire a whole person than just a legal wiz. Employers want to see that you are engaged with society and are a robust person, beyond any legal skills you have. Remember that hobbies and other activities can help relieve stress as well, something every law student and attorney needs.
Attending an IndyBar “Breakfast with the Bar” event allows law students to speak freely with attorneys in a particular area of practice in a casual environment. If one is interested in participating in the future, make plans to attend IndyBar’s Breakfast with the Bar: Employment Law on November 2!
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