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Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘law school

Should Applicants Always Go to the Best Law School They Get Into?

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that you should always go to the best, most elite law school you get into. Or is it?

Good grades lead to higher paying law jobsIn a recent study, law school professors Richard Sander and Jane Yakowitz discovered that the salary boost from earning stellar grades outweighs the boost from attending an elite law school. Moreover, if you graduate with a low-low GPA, turns out you’ll “feel the least secure about your jobs.” (Read more about the summary on the WSJ Law Blog, which links to the PDF.)

In the words of Above the Law’s Elie Mystal, “I’m sorry, did anybody’s worldview just get blown up?”

“Higher performance produces a much larger dividend than eliteness does,” says Sander and Yakowitz’s paper. And they suggest that you choose the school where you will perform the best, regardless of rank. They write:

As an illustrative hypothetical, imagine an average student (GPA 3.25‐3.5) at 47th ranked University of Florida. Using the fifth column from Table 11 (AJD regressions on salary), we can predict how her earnings would be affected under various counterfactuals. If she had attended 20th ranked George Washington University, her grades likely would have slipped to the 2.75‐3.0 range, and her salary would drop considerably (by 22%, all other factors held constant.) Even if she had managed to get a spot at 7th ranked UC Berkeley, where the tier premiums are highest, her grades likely would have fallen into the 2.5‐2.75 range, and her salary would be 7% lower. On the other hand, if she had attended 80th ranked Rutgers, she probably could have improved her grades to land in the 3.5‐3.75 range, and earned a 13% higher salary.

But what happens when you get below the top 100? Does their argument still hold true? I suspect not. Moreover, since law firms are dealing with smaller recruiting budgets, many have had to limit the number of campuses they visit and they have not been visiting second or third tier schools at which they recruited in the past. On-campus recruiting is one of the most common ways JDs get jobs, and without a recruiter from Firm A on campus, it gets much harder to secure a job at Firm A, regardless of your GPA.

Law student studying hardThat said, Sander and Yakowitz’s argument almost definitely holds true when it comes to location. If you want to practice law in Alabama, for example, the absolute best way to do so is to attend the University of Alabama School of Law. As our 2010 Law Firm Associate Survey showed, attending a lower-ranked school near where you want to practice is often a better choice than attending a more elite school across the country. And if you get a 4.0 GPA at that local school, you are a shoo-in for a high-paying law firm associate position–as long as you don’t screw up the interview. To find out which schools are the best for getting a job in major U.S. cities and regions, check out Vault’s Top 5 Law Schools by Employment: The Best Program for Where You Live.

–Posted by Carolyn Wise, Admit One:  Vault’s MBA, Law School and College Blog

Four Tips to Get Your First Job Ever

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Hopefully if you’re graduating from college, you have at least one internship stint under your belt. But what if you don’t have any work experience at all? You spent your summers on an anthropological dig in Boudreaux, for example. It’s unlikely that your skills dusting ancient bones will translate easily to the corporate world. So I’m not going to lie: it’s going to be an uphill battle convincing employers that you have what it takes to hack it at their organization. But it’s not impossible.

College student applying for first job with student resume I asked Connie Thanasoulis, former recruiter, co-founder of SixFigureStart and esteemed Vault blogger about how to find a new job if you don’t already have one–in fact, have never had one. “Recruiters and hiring managers always feel that a person with a job has more posture,” Thanasoulis says. “With that said, you could learn to have more posture. I once coached an employment lawyer who had never had to look for a job before. His wife did well in her job so income was not a problem. But he said that he lost all his posture and confidence. I had to talk him down from the ledge!”

While the job search of an employment lawyer is quite different from someone straight out of college, the same “posture and confidence”-building techniques are the same. Here are four tips recent grads and other inexperienced job searchers need to understand:

Four Tips to Get Your First Job Ever

  1. “You have skills that are necessary in the marketplace,” says Thanasoulis. No matter where you are in your career. “Make a list of your top 10 skills and quantify them–give an example of each skill in five or six bullet points.”
  2. “You have significant and measureable accomplishments” as a college graduate. Think of your academic experience in terms of accomplishments and make a list of your top five: Did you start a new club? Did you volunteer in an interesting way? Were you a research assistant on a professor’s project? These are real, quantifiable accomplishments that will look good on your resume.
  3. “You will find a job.” Even if it’s not your ideal job, it’s a valuable step in your career. Says Thanasoulis: “The first job is so key because you learn so much. Then you can take your skills to the next level.”
  4. “It’s just going to take some time…but you will get there!”

So chin up. Figure out exactly what your accomplishments and skills are–you probably have more than you think. Good luck!

–Posted by Carolyn C. Wise Admit One,

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