Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Today’s law school career services office is dedicated to helping students take responsibility for their careers and honing the necessary skills to do so. We career counselors are their guides and purveyors of the latest market information. We reach out to alumni and other potential employers, create opportunities and assist them explore their options. We offer support while balancing expectations against the realities of a job search. We teach the basic job search skills of networking, resume and cover letter writing, and help them develop strategic plans for getting desired jobs and developing possible career paths. In short, we encourage students to take the long view-beyond the first job. Yet the name “placement office” still hangs out there like the ghost of Christmas past. We do not literally “place” students in jobs-nor would we, if we could. The concept most often appears in reference to “placement statistics.” Prospective students often focus on placement statistics when choosing law schools, believing that a law degree from a school with good numbers is a guaranteed ticket to the high-paying job of their dreams. Law students, of course, deserve the best customer service from their career centers, but not jobs handed to them-even if that were possible. Many of today’s millennial generation students think that they need only click on the OCI software and the job of their dreams is but a few hours and a suit away. Job searching is tough and stressful, but also highly valuable and rewarding. Students learn how to prioritize and learn to articulate their skills and interests. They gain confidence. As children, many of today’s students were told how special they are at every turn. Unless they have had work experience between undergraduate school and law school, they face a harsh introduction to a much higher level of GPA-ism than they ever experienced before. After all, every other law student also was a successful undergraduate student. I was once asked in a job interview whether I believed in “coddling students.” The word choice made the interviewer’s attitude clear. My answer was a qualified “no.” I support and even cheerlead for our students. But I also let them know the consequences of missing an interview or a deadline, of acting unprofessionally. We work hard to help our students determine their own career paths, whether they obtain jobs through the OCI process or by networking and sending out resumes. There are always third-year students who comment that they would have visited us earlier had they realized that we did more than coordinate OCI. Our goal is for those students to leave our offices with a plan: a series of steps they can follow, even at that late date, to find jobs. It is gratifying to see the wonder that 2Ls or 3Ls walk away with when they learn how helpful we can be outside of OCI. The joy of greeting a new 1L class-we joke that they will do whatever we tell them-is matched by a sense of fulfillment when we meet with the 2Ls and 3Ls in the market after OCI. This group includes not only those who were unsuccessful but those interested in non-profit work who bypassed the process altogether. This is where we earn our keep and also why we do our jobs. We counsel and support and develop strategies for these students – and they are SO appreciative. While we would gladly purge the word “placement” from all we do, we all, of course, want our “placement” numbers to improve. Beyond the numbers, though, we work to provide students with the necessary tools to succeed and to “own” their job searches. We take it personally when they do not end up in satisfying jobs, and it makes our day when they do. William A. Chamberlain is assistant dean, Law Career Strategy and Advancement, Northwestern University School of Law.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.