Question & Answer
Top o' the Mourning
November 27, 2012
I graduated from a Tier One law school (in the 35-40 range), albeit not in Massachusetts. I was in the Top 10% of my class, graduating magna cum laude and receiving Order of the Coif honors. I was a Managing Editor on my law review and received a Top Oralist award in Moot Court. I interned at the US Attorney's Office my 2L summer and currently clerk on the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Why can't I get an interview with any firms?
One would think with your nice resume and wonderful honors that firms would be jumping all over to bring you in for an interview. And they would have been back about five or six years ago. But that was then and this is now.
First of all, where are you applying for interviews? Are you sending your resume out to the BigLaw firms in the Boston area? That might be part of the problem. Although I always say that law school graduates with grades and honors such as yours should certainly be applying to the BigLaw firms, there are still some issues that may be preventing the firms from looking at you as a top-tier candidate.
The law schools in the 35-40 range are not always categorized as Tier One in the minds of all of the BigLaw firms (don't kill the messenger here I'm not the one who makes up these rules). The further down the scale you go, the tougher the requirements are that are set up in the BigLaw firms. So, even though you graduated in the top 10% of your class, your specific law school might be categorized at the BigLaw firms as requiring top 5% graduates only. This is only an example of one reason why the Boston firms might not be calling you in for interviews. By the way, had you graduated from, for example, The Law School at Boston College, you might have been looked at more favorably because you went to a local law school.
Another reason you might be having difficulties could be due to the fact that you did not spend your 2L summer at a law firm. The Boston BigLaw firms definitely like to see a summer internship at a law firm. I am surprised that you chose to do otherwise, especially with your grades. I would have thought that you would have had a number of law firms eager to meet with you during the interviewing sessions. What happened? Did you just decide not to work at a law firm during your 2L summer and felt that interning at the US Attorney's Office would provide better litigation experience? Perhaps that might be true depending on where you interned. But perhaps the office in which you spent your summer is not jumping out on your resume as being a show stopper.
My suggestion to you is not dissimilar to what I advise so many job seekers. First of all, contact your law school's career services office and get on their case. Their job is to help you find a position so keep on them. Next, network with anyone and everyone you know. You want to work in a law firm so perhaps you should start applying to mid-size and boutique litigation firms. Also, I know you want to work in Boston but you are limiting yourself to a very small and regional market. I would suggest that you expand your search to outside of the Boston area and perhaps even outside of Massachusetts. By the way, as you are clerking on the Massachusetts Appeals Court, I would think you are coming in contact with amazing networking opportunities including the judges you are dealing with - don't let these prospects slip by. Best wishes!
Ann M. Israel