The time has come—or it’s almost here—for 1Ls seeking summer associate positions and 2Ls looking for associate positions to bid on interview spots in their schools’ fall interview programs. With a large list of names staring back at students, it can be difficult to know where to start or even how these firms differ from each other. Below are some tips to get you started on a successful bidding process. Good luck!
1.Figure Out Your Career Priorities.
You’ve barely finished 1L year, and you’re already being asked to pick the firm you see as your future employer. It’s daunting to figure out where you will want to build your career two years from now, and that is exactly why you should take the process seriously. Before you begin checking off firms by prestige alone or picking out of a hat, sit down and really think about what is important to you in your career: prestige, location, practice area specialty, international reach, practice rotation program, quality of life, diversity, pro bono commitment, assignment system, partnership prospects, mentoring, etc. If you can’t figure out what you value most, make an appointment with your career services office—they understand the process and are there to help.
2.Weigh Your Priorities.
Once you have determined which elements are most important to your future law firm career, rank them. Consider your future goals and which of your priorities will best help you reach those goals. Then, narrow down the list to those that are absolute deal breakers, and focus your firm search on those. You can use the less important factors as tie-breakers.
Thought you could take the summer off from research? Think again. The only way to figure out which firms are in line with your top priorities is to dig deep into the firms. That doesn’t mean merely glancing at a firm’s homepage. You should, of course, look at the firm’s website, but you should also look beyond to first-hand resources, news coverage on the firm (including recent cases and initiatives) and third-party research on law firms. Find out which firms rank at the top in those areas that you value most, and learn what current associates and the legal community as a whole think about the firm (networking tip: try reaching out to alumni from your law school). You should also look into what the firm is really doing in practice, including its recent cases, clients, pro bono matters, diversity initiatives, associate development and other projects, depending on your priorities.
4.Look Beyond the Glitter.
Glossy brochures, hi-tech websites and swag are all fun. There is nothing wrong with a firm having an attractive presentation. In fact, some may view polished, striking materials as professional. But don’t forget to take your eyes off the sparkle and fully research the firm’s strengths, weaknesses, focuses, and accomplishments and how those meld with your own requirements.
Fall interviewing (OCI, EIP, EIW, etc.) may seem far away, and it’s much easier to research, move on and enjoy your summer. But there is no point in doing your research twice. Keep track of the information that you find out about each firm and how that information meshes with your priorities. Keep a spreadsheet log of the firms, insert notes as you research and indicate how many of your priorities each firm meets.
6.Take Advantage of the Career Services Office
Make an appointment with your career services counselor. Even if your school doesn’t require you to meet with the career services office during bidding season, it will benefit you to sit down with a counselor and discuss your choices. But don’t expect the career counselor to do all of the dirty work and select your firms for you. Instead, use the session as an opportunity to tell the counselor about your goals and interests. The counselor can provide guidance on which firms may be worth considering and input on firms you’ve already selected. Take advantage of the career counselors’ expertise.
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