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With the month of June comes the traditional flurry of mortarboard tosses, hooding ceremonies and transition to that glorious next phase of a lawyer’s career- studying for the bar! But once they’ve passed, graduates need to get down to the business of finding a practice area or work environment that fits their priorities, interests, skills and personalities. Fortunately, law offers a wide range of practice areas and work environments. Many who choose the big firms are happy and thrive there. Others find happiness working for the public good in government or nonprofits. While others prefer an in-house position with a single client and often more reasonable hours, an option that requires relatively small sacrifice in terms of salary. Along the way, lawyers today often pursue careers that take a number of zigzags through different jobs. The pressures of the many legal career options are myriad: long hours and lack of control over one’s work life at a large firm or an overwhelming caseload at a nonprofit. And some students continue to go to law school simply because they don’t know what else to do with their lives. Accordingly, a common theme at conferences of career professionals is the returning alum -the “boomerang syndrome”- and how the number of these alums has increased dramatically in recent years. Career services professionals, unlike faculty (with the exception of a letter of recommendation here and there), never really say goodbye to our newest alums, who require an increasing share of our counseling hours. Most new lawyers leave their first jobs within 2 to 3 years, leading to one of the most common questions to career professionals: “Where’s the on-campus interview program for folks three years out?” We are tempted to reply: “Remember those workshops we did on networking?” Career services offices do not limit their mission to providing students with job search tools and strategies that expire at graduation. Grads seeking their second or tenth jobs need to reconnect with their law schools’ career website – download those handouts on networking and job searching outside of OCI. Just checking job postings is not a sound strategy. Most career services offices, if not all, provide career counseling and advice for alums until they retire. We help alums brainstorm about opportunities, help them develop their networks and hone their informational interviewing skills. We let them know about websites and other useful resources, and, for alums located in other cities, we help them obtain access to their local law schools’ job postings. We also work with students who graduate with huge debts and without a job. For a number of reasons, the promise of a stellar legal career, either making big bucks or trying to save the world, has not materialized for them. These students, throughout their third year and after, both need and demand our attention. Most likely they did not work for an employer who routinely makes permanent offers or their employer was not a good fit or, in rare instances, the student screwed up. These students often are the most difficult to track down for counseling or for statistical purposes. In those cases, you curse the invention of caller ID. And yet they are largely our raison d’etre. Contrary to the common misconception of many law students, we are not only the organizers of on-campus interview programs, nor are we “only there for the top 10 percent.” We are here to make sure that when the mortarboards drift to the ground that those proud new lawyers have the skills they need to be happy and successful in their first jobs as well as their last. We are here for all students and alums – whether they are headed to a megafirm or a prestigious clerkship or are facing a question mark about their futures. We are here for the second job or for the 10th, right up to retirement. William Chamberlain is assistant dean, law career strategy and advancement, Northwestern University School of Law.

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