Legal Education Blogs

Posts from Law Students, Professors, and Attorneys

Becoming a Lawyer

So your first year of law school is complete and this means you can relax this summer, right? Wrong! As a law student, it is highly recommended that you use those coveted summer days to get some practical experience. Although this means less beach days and Netflix, it will pay major dividends in the long-run; employers desire law school graduates who can hit the ground running and are as close to “practice-ready” as possible. The summer after your first year will also give you the opportunity to test out different areas of law and develop your interests. That being said, here are some tips on how to maximize your first summer internship experience:

 

  1. Start the internship search early.

Each placement will start accepting applications at different times. For example, many large law firms start recruitment in the fall, whereas state government internships often review applications in the late winter. Consult your Career Services office for help in making connections and when to apply. The earlier you start, the more likely it will be that you get the perfect internship that’s right for you.

 

  1. Take a break!

Once you have secured that great internship, arrange a break between the end of finals and the start of work. It does you and your employer no good if you are burnt out; you’ll regret not having the extra time and your work product might suffer.

 

  1. Talk to your supervisor about the “end-game.”

What are your goals for the internship? Where are you now, and where would you like to be? How can you get there? Ask these questions and others as you and your supervisor actively develop a plan to expedite your development as a future lawyer.

 

  1. Frequently ask for feedback.

This one is particularly important. By constantly evaluating yourself and encouraging your supervisor to give feedback, you show your employer that you care about the job you are doing, and that you are proactively taking charge of your development. Don’t rest on your laurels and simply clock in and clock out every day; ask your supervisor how you can improve and how you can better help your employer. It often results in an impressed supervisor and a more quality experience at your placement.

 

  1. Review your resume with your supervisor.

At the end of the internship, review your summer with the supervisor and ensure that both of you are in agreement as to the contents of that entry on your resume. If you ever want to use that supervisor as a reference, it’s wise to make sure you both are on the same page about what you accomplished that summer.

Legal Education @ WK

On November 14, Wolters Kluwer Legal Education hosted the first ever invitation-only Leading Edge summit for Law Students. Inspired by our productive Leading Edge conference for Law Faculty in July, Leading Edge: Law Student was an attendee-driven forum for brainstorming what the future of legal education should look like from a student's perspective. We had much curiosity heading into the conference: how different would the students' perspective on the future of legal education look from that of the faculty?

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As it turned out, that was the wrong question. The students, in their rich and probing discussions, differed from faculty not so much in what they agreed as future goals — stronger practical education, smoother paths to employability, greater diversity, all of which both groups spoke about intensively — but in what they considered the how of how to get there.

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There was extensive discussion by students, for example, of the intricacies of how financial aid works, specifically the risks of their being pushed out of financial aid as a result of a poor first semester. It's clear that financial anxieties can so dominate many students' lives that money — rather than lack of access to clinics or externships — is viewed often as the primary hurdle to employability.

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Balance was raised often as well. It's clear that many law students, while enthusiastic about all of the options that their law schools offer — clinics, moot court, law review, advanced electives and more — are also deeply uncertain which choices to make to best position themselves for a successful career, and are perennially anxious that whatever choices they make leave them vulnerable when compared with students who make different ones.

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Two examples of how the same topics (employability, experiential education), motivated by the same underlying concerns (successful life outcomes for law students) suggest markedly different challenges to faculty (how do we expand the number of clinics and externships? how can we expand financial aid?) than to students.

There was also fruitful discussion on ways to better integrate digital solutions into the classroom (in which there was essentially unanimous interest), how to better connect with and leverage alumni, and how to work with administrators to drive more kinds of diversity among the student body (for example, greater diversity of sexualities).

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The format of the conference, similar to that of the summer's Leading Edge faculty conference, was unconference. The attendees were presented with an empty white board containing 27 meeting slots over two days. Students collaborated to brainstorm session ideas, volunteered to lead discussions, and penciled in their session idea on the board. (picture) Then the attendees built a meeting schedule for themselves based on their interests and the conference began, run entirely by law students. Attendees came from 19 different law schools from every region of the country.

The discussion was extremely stimulating, and the group enjoyed building lasting connections, not least over bowling at Legacy Place.

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For us at Wolters Kluwer, as "flies on the wall", the event was extremely informative, and is certain to become a recurring event.