Decisions, decisions.

November 2, 2007

S.M., 3L

This past week was “flyback week,” a funny euphemism for Fall Break. The idea is that 2Ls who are interviewing with law firms can have the week off to fly around the country and interview for summer jobs (which, presumably, lead to permanent positions), while the 1Ls and 3Ls can catch up on our reading.

Well, I’m a 3L whose 2L summer job didn’t lead to a permanent position. (I did get an offer, but for various reasons, I’m probably not going to accept.) So I’ve been sending out resumes for the past couple of weeks, and this past week scheduled a few job interviews in my home city.

A few random thoughts on the 3L job search process. I’ve done a good job of getting my foot in the door, scoring a number of interviews for positions that explicitly state that they’re looking for attorneys with two years of experience. This is not because I go to Yale, and so hiring attorneys think I must be automatically smart or a quick learner or something like that; rather, this is because I go to Yale, with its fabulous clinical offerings that I’ve been taking full advantage of, and so as a 3L I already have two years of litigation experience. YLS is the only law school in the nation where second-semester 1Ls can start getting involved in clinics, and litigate cases in state court (and in front of many state and federal administrative bodies, such as federal Immigration Court). So, as a 3L, I’ve already represented clients in all stages of their cases in front of state judges; federal district court judges; Immigration Judges in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Texas; and state administrative bodies like the Freedom of Information commission. I’m involved in litigation around cutting-edge legal issues like the powers of local police to enforce federal immigration law. I’ve been in the newspapers and on TV, talking about my cases. I think this experience shines through in my resume and cover letters, and it’s gotten me interviews for positions where I’m probably the only not-yet-a-lawyer that they’re interviewing.

Also, and of critical importance: I can look for jobs without having to worry about the numbers, because if I’m not making enough money to pay off my loans, Mother Yale will pick up the tab. I’m talking about COAP, in case you don’t know, which is Yale’s outstanding loan repayment program. COAP was a big factor in my decision to come to Yale in the first place. I’d been awarded a full scholarship to an excellent law school in New York, and was strongly considering taking the money and going there. But crunching the numbers, I realized that the difference in value between a full scholarship (which didn’t include any money for living expenses) and COAP’s loan repayment assistance was actually a lot less than it appeared at first glance. With COAP, law school debt is not a hindrance to taking the public interest job of your dreams. (So there’s no excuse.)

Anyway, flyback week was a success. I got two good job offers, which I can now use to go back to a few other places I’ve applied and press them to speed up their process. As of right now, I’m still not sure where I’ll end up, but I’m leaning towards a small civil rights private practice that often partners with the ACLU and spends a lot of time in court. (But before I can do that, I have to actually pass the bar exam…)