We strive to meet the special needs of our evening students and to provide evening students with the best services possible to meet those needs. We know that your busy life leaves little, if any, time to make connections with the legal community, but there are still things you can do. Make an appointment to meet with us to find out more.
Evening student questions and answers.
1. How can I get some legal experience on my resume while I am working full-time and going to school and perhaps taking care of a family?
There are many ways you can gain practical legal experience; you need to choose what fits for you and your schedule, and not be pressured into adding yet one more thing to your day simply because people tell you it is best. Creating Legal Experiences for Evening Students has a host of ideas to help you get started thinking about what might work best for your schedule. Then plan a phone conference or meet with the Associate Dean or Director of Career & Professional Development.
2. How can I make any connections with lawyers when I am working all day and going to school all night?
There are many ways you can “network.” By far the best way is to participate in the Career Services Mentor Program. We do our best to match you with a lawyer mentor who shares your interests; you can even state a preference for someone who attended as an evening student. As always, ask Career & Professional Development for help in creating something that works for you. We can connect you with opportunities and people who share your interests.
3. I want to attend some of the CPDC Panels, but can’t make it during the day, and can’t get there by 5 or 5:15 p.m. for the evening panels - how can I get the information and interact with the presenters?
CPDC podcasts or videocasts virtually all of the programs that are offered for students. Podcasts are usually available on the Boley Library website within one or two days after the live program. In addition, if you are interested in talking to any of the presenters, we are happy to make the call to them and help set you up with that person, so you don’t miss out on the “human interaction” part of the experience.
4. When should I start thinking about the transition from my non-legal job to a legal job?
There is no “right time” to start thinking about it. Your best move, if you are even considering such an option, is to make an appointment (either in person or by phone), with an experienced CPDC counselor to find out what your options are, and what types of things you should start exploring while in law school. By talking to a counselor as soon as you start thinking about switching to a legal job, you will allow yourself more time for planning and exploring during law school, when many opportunities are open to you, and will not feel pressure to make a sudden change right after graduation.
5. Do employers consider those who attend the evening program to be in a “second tier” or somehow inferior to day division students?
There are some schools around the country that do admit evening students on a different “tier” than day division students. That is not the case here at Lewis & Clark. Because Lewis & Clark started out as an evening-only school, and has a strong reputation in that regard in the Pacific Northwest, virtually none of the employers in this region consider creating a distinction between the two divisions. If you are concerned about employers outside the Pacific Northwest, or you have encountered an employer who asks you those questions, please feel free to call us so that we can talk with the employer. In addition, we have information on our web site and in print form to give employers who have questions about the school.
6. What kind of age discrimination is out there in the legal world? I am a second-career person and I am worried about finding a legal job as an “older person.”
Our experience has been that our “experienced” (or older!) students have not had any additional difficulty in finding jobs after graduation. Quite the contrary, many lawyers, especially those in small firms, greatly value the maturity and expertise that more experienced, second-career people bring to their firms. The only area where it might be a factor is in very large firms, which traditionally have sought younger students fresh out of law school to “start at the bottom.” For the most part, our second-career students choose not to work in large firms (mainly due to the perception of long hours in the office), and choose small firms, government employers, nonprofits or business, where they are able to have greater freedom of choice as to how they spend their free time, and where they are able to have earlier, more comprehensive contact with clients.
7. Can I participate in On Campus Interviews?
Yes. Evening students enjoy the same privileges as day division students in every regard. Evening students can participate after their first, second and third years, although the vast majority of employers recruiting in the fall who look for summer associates look for evening students who have already completed their second year.
However, there is one thing you need to be aware of. Fall recruiting is primarily limited to large firms and government agencies, or mid-to-small size firms which are seeking a full-time summer commitment from students. The vast majority of these employers are not looking for students who will continue on to work for them in a full-time or part-time capacity after summer is over. This means that in order to apply, you must be willing to take the summer off from your full-time employment, or forgo the experience. It is not permissible to participate in on campus interviews simply to go through the interview experience if you do not have the intention of working for the employer full-time in the summer. Some students have managed to combine vacation time and time off without pay over the 10-week period; others have worked a “split summer” where they have worked 4-5 weeks for the in-house counsel of their company and another 4-5 weeks at a law firm. If you are considering participating in fall on campus interviews, be sure you talk to a CPDC Counselor about your situation before you do so.
8. What are my chances of legal employment after law school if I am not able to get any legal experience on my resume while in law school?
Most evening students working full-time during law school at a non-legal job have quite a number of transferable skills that will carry over into the legal market. For students who absolutely cannot get a single minute of practical legal experience on their resumes, it is critical to establish personal connections in the legal community. If you have completed your first year of law school (or any year for that matter), and are concerned that you will not have time to get any type of legal experience, including a practical skills course, be sure to set up a counseling session with the CPDC so that we can help you most effectively highlight your most marketable transferable skills.
9. What if I don’t want to practice law right away after graduation, but want to keep my job for awhile; will I be at a disadvantage? What if I decide not to take the Bar Exam right away?
As long as you establish and maintain connections in the legal community, you should have no problem if you choose not to actively practice law for the first few years. If you want to keep your options open for going into practice, it is critical that you begin to establish ongoing relationships with practicing attorneys and corporate counsel, get involved in professional legal organizations and activities, and that you participate in pro bono projects at least once a year. On the other hand, there are people who have found that once they graduate and continue with their “old” jobs, they actually have more opportunities in that job now that they have a JD, and there is no reason to move on.
As for taking the bar right after graduation, if you have any desire at all to practice one day, you definitely should take the bar! It is not advisable to wait because you never know when an opportunity may present itself to you for entering into practice, you will not be able to fully participate in any bar or pro bono activities, and it is much more difficult and disruptive later on down the road to find the time and energy to take a Bar exam.
10. How much time off do I need to study for the Bar? Do I really have to take off two months to study?
By the time you graduate from law school, you will have had plenty of experience juggling full-time work with studying for finals. A good rule of thumb for evening students is this: Just think of the Bar Exam as a big long set of finals (mid-year and end-of-year), and double the time you need to study. So, if you begin studying two-and-a-half to three weeks before finals each time, then five to six weeks should be sufficient. We advise that you take no less than two weeks off completely in order to study, and preferably four full weeks. We also advise that you take a bar review course, which you can do in the evening hours so it does not interfere with work.
At least 6 months to a year prior to graduation, depending upon where you work, you should begin talking to your supervisor about the exam (and racking up your vacation time), with the ideal goal of taking six weeks off, but knowing that your boss may allow you less. Although there are people who work full-time and successfully take the bar exam the first time around, they are few and far between. Why spend all that time and money studying, only to risk failure? Better to “bite the bullet” financially and time-wise and get it over with once and for all!