With so many of my readers sitting for the Bar Exam this week, I wanted to share 5 Things All Law School Graduates need from my own personal experience. I get quite a few emails from law students asking for tips and advice, and wanted to pass these tips along. In addition to law, these tips apply to just about every other profession. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Professional Headshot
After you graduate and take the bar exam, go get a professional headshot. Now that you are a "professional", you have to look the part. You will need a professional headshot for your county's bar association composite, your website (or, your professional profile on your firms' website), LinkedIn, and to send to the newspaper for quotes (true story!).
2. Updated Resume
Graduating law school is a huge accomplishment that you will absolutely want to include on your resume. After you graduate law school, make sure your resume is up-to-date with all of your professional experience and extracurricular activities up to this point. Also, if you ranked highly in your class or served on Law Review, be sure to include that.
Tip: Most firms/companies require a cover letter with your resume. Go ahead and have a standard cover letter on hand and tweak it for each job based on that particular job description, along with that firm's mission. Be sure to check out their website and any online activity, such as published articles. Do your homework and be ready to show off how much you know about the company!
3. Writing Sample
Going along with #2, most firms want a recent writing sample from your law school days to see how well you write, as well as your thought process in analyzing the law and facts. This is true especially for recent grads applying for entry-level associate positions. Read through your writing sample to check for mistakes and other formatting issues before submitting. Even though you may not be applying for a clerkship or some appellate job that requires a ton of research and writing, you still may have to write a lot of client and/or cease and desist letters on behalf of the company, so be ready just in case. Also, some firms will make you write a memo or some kind of timed written response on the spot to see how you perform under pressure, so it may not be a bad idea to hammer out a few practice letters prior to the interview. (Heads up: A lot of government staff attorney positions do this. Try to find out from someone you know ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary anxiety).
4. Business Cards
Whether you go solo or big law, you will need to invest in professional business cards with your basic contact info. You will want to keep them handy at all times because you will go through a ton, especially starting out. It is so important to network as much as possible, but if you don't have a card to give to your prospective client or potential business partner/referral, chances are they will forget you, possibly giving the case to someone else- someone else in their Rolodex that they actually have a business card for.
5. Killer Wardrobe
Now that you are officially a professional, it is time to celebrate by investing in a killer wardrobe. Think Elle Woods. First impressions are everything in this industry, and you need to look nice at all times. I like to shop at Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, and Banana Republic for a lot of my work clothes. Each of these stores has a great selection of professional workwear for the modern young professional, and they run sales all the time (which is when I do most, if not all of my shopping!). Also, I am a huge Ivanka Trump fan and wear her shoes daily (I love these and these- on sale) because they are incredibly fashionable and functional and won't break the bank.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Best of luck to everyone taking the Bar Exam!