Journey to Attorney, Part 2

In the first portion of my Journey to Attorney, I talked about my 1L year. I did my best to not tell every scary story that happened because it would have made the post too long, and I’m not trying to scare anyone. LOL! I did enjoy 1L year and despite any ups or downs along the way, looking back I can only laugh at the pitfalls and smile at the good times.

To wrap up the first post, the first year of law school is where you gain a new language, new way of thinking, and you begin the process of learning legal writing. The second year of law school…well that’s the hardest year, in my opinion.

I think the second year is the hardest year because you begin to make more choices about the types of courses you want and need to take and you are also starting to think much more seriously about what you want to do after law school. Law school isn’t like medical school or other professional schools. You can take courses throughout law school and never have a “specialty.” In fact, people will start asking you, what type of law will you practice. If you answer honestly, you may not really know. LOL! Some people do know what they want to do after law school and that’s great however if you are still figuring it out, I’m here to say that is more than ok.

Interviewing is another important part of the second year. On campus interviews, or OCI, start before or during the first semester of the second year. Firms tend to look for requirements like: a certain class ranking, law review, and/or moot court/mock trial experience. Law schools are different, so it is best to do some research if you are interested in working for a firm that wants someone who is on law review and who has moot court/mock trial experience. Figure out what you need to do to apply to law review or moot court/mock trial.

During my second year, I volunteered at the National Pre-Black law conference, joined Phi Alpha Delta legal society, was active in the Black Law Student’s Association or (BLSA), and I focused on getting an internship in Washington D.C. because I wanted to work for Congress. I also managed to take several courses that required a lot of studying and focus. Honestly, I might be forgetting something, but I did my best to network and participate in activities that would help me reach my goals. Hard work and consistency is important during the second year!

The highlight of my 2L year was working in Washington D.C. for the committee on Education and Labor with the U.S. House of Representatives. Initially, I was told “No” for a summer internship and later received a phone call that their first choice couldn’t commit to the entire summer so they wanted to know if I was still interested, since I was the second runner-up. I was definitely interested and so excited for the opportunity! I still remember calling my dad when I went to work my first day and having tears in my eyes because I reached a major goal. The opportunity taught me a lot about never giving up.

No matter your plans for the 2L year…I have a couple of suggestions:

  1. Hone in on your study style- This is critical because grades during the 2L year are important. While grades aren’t everything, they are important to large firms who have class rank requirements for OCI interviews. Additionally, since most people don’t have an abundance of legal work experience during law school, grades are the only tool that employers can use to measure a student’s ability
  2. Network, network, network- Talk with career services on a regular basis, take an alumni of the law school out for coffee and pick their brain, and volunteer. Networking is more than just attending a Happy Hour. Networking is about building RELATIONSHIPS. I was always told that once you need a relationship, it is too late to build one. Cultivate strong relationships in law school, and you will find yourself reaping the benefits years later.
  3. Update your resume- After your first year, it is time to update your resume with grades/class rank, job experience, or other information that might be of use to potential employers. Be wise about updating information on your resume. If your GPA is good but your class rank is average, display what is most helpful. Career Services should be able to assist with this task as well.
  4. Research firms, companies, or other entities you want to work for- It is important to know exactly what employers are looking for so you don’t miss opportunities to apply for law review, moot court/mock trial, or take on other opportunities that could help you land a summer internship after your 2L year.
  5. Be flexible and open- The economy and other factors can affect the abundance, or lack of opportunities available to second year students. The more open and available you are to opportunities, the more successful you will be. A good attitude and a great work ethic will ensure success.