What’s better than landing an interview with some of the best private firms and public agencies across the country? Getting an interview with them and doing it from the comfort and familiarity of your school’s campus. McGeorge is excited to host another round of early On-Campus Interviews (OCI) this August, and you can see a full list of participating employers by logging on to McGeorgeCareersOnline and navigating to the OCI tab.

BE AWARE: Application deadlines are less than a month away! Before applying, have the CDO review your application materials by sending them to lawcareers@pacific.edu. To make your bid for an interview, be sure to submit your documents for consideration by the following deadlines:

  • Early OCI Group 1: Monday, July 8
  • Early OCI Group 2: Monday, July 15
  • Early OCI Group 3: Monday, July 29

 

Need additional help with OCI? Email Isabella Hannon at ihannon@pacific.edu.

As many of you know, July 8 is the first deadline to bid for on-campus interviews (OCI) and it is quickly approaching. For those who have checked out the list of employers coming to campus, you might have noticed that both the Office of the Public Defender (PD) and the Office of the District Attorney (DA) will be accepting bids for interviews. If selected for an interview, you will want to give yourself enough time to prepare answers to questions commonly asked by their respective offices. Below are a few questions that you can expect to hear as a student looking to gain summer employment. Although the potential interview may be a month or two away, it never hurts to get a jump on practicing for what you may be asked. Practice makes perfect, and allowing yourself plenty of time to polish your answers will only increase your chances of securing the job.

 

Office of the Public Defender’s Office

 

1: Why do you want to work for the PD’s Office?

This question is asked in almost every interview; it’s an opportunity to show your personality and your passion. Prepare an answer that highlights who you are and why you would be an excellent fit in the PD’s office. If you have previous experiences or personal anecdotes that would relate to your reasons for wanting to interview, incorporate them in your answer which should be polished, personal, and succinct.

 

2: What qualities do you possess that would make you a good fit for the job?

This is another question that allows you to show your personality and passion. Craft a concise and creative answer that will make you stand out. This is the time to weave in past experiences and make personal connections. Try to take it beyond the surface level of: “I am smart as evidenced by my grades so, I will do good work.” Keep in mind that the job includes collaborating with co-workers and your demeanor in the office, in addition to assignments and cases.

 

3: How do you feel about helping defend people accused of serious crimes?

The PD commonly asks this question to determine if you are going to be able to work on cases where people may be accused of very serious offenses. They want to know that you are passionate enough to get through the days where the work may be tough. Think about this question thoroughly before you even apply and be sure to prepare a thoughtful response.

 

Office of the District Attorney’s Office

 

1: Why do you want to work for the DA’s Office?

Like the PD’s office, this is a commonly asked question in DA interviews. Follow the same advice above but know your audience. The answer you would give to the DA should be quite different from the one you prepared for the PD’s office. Especially if you plan on submitting a bid for both offices, make sure this answer is unique for both interviews.

 

2:Are you able to work on cases with situations and documents/pictures that may make you uncomfortable?

Likely if you were to be hired at the DA’s office you would see some pictures and documents that would be unsettling, and the interviewer is trying to determine if you will be able to handle some of the unfortunate realities of the job. Think about this question before stepping foot in the interview room so that you can answer confidently during the interview.

 

3: The DA’s office is known to ask on-the-spot legal hypotheticals.

Although the thought of combining test-like legal analysis and the pressure of an interview is the stuff of nightmares, you got this. Take a breath and allow yourself a few moments to think through the scenario. A quickly delivered but poorly thought out answer will not score you any points. The main purpose behind these types of questions is to see if you are able to think like an attorney and remain calm under pressure. The DA’s office is looking for an answer that is well thought out but also demonstrates a commitment to upholding justice.

 

These questions may seem impossible to answer but with some careful crafting and practice, you will ace the interview. Feel free schedule an appointment for a mock interview or interview coaching with the CDO. We also have sample hypos to help students get some practice before the big interview.

A big part of bar-study—and, quite frankly, law practice—is about managing stress and staying balanced.  It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself in the face of the million hours of contracts you’re supposed to be re-learning, but your wellness is actually a key component to passing the bar.  Regular sleep and a little exercise can go a long way towards keeping that energy and focus that you need right now. Here are some tips on how to stay on top of your health and well-being while studying for the bar:

Sleep | First and foremost, make sure that you have an adequate and consistent sleep schedule.  Lack of sleep will directly impact your ability to focus and retain information, and the harder and longer you push yourself studying each day will affect your sleep patterns – creating a vicious cycle of too little sleep at night and too much work the next day.

To keep yourself on schedule, set a hard stop time in the evening at which you’ll put down the study materials. Setting aside even a small amount of time to engage in something other than bar study will allow you to get a restful night’s sleep and wake up energized.

Take a break | Believe it or not, you can, in fact, afford to take 30 minutes or an hour in the middle of the day to eat lunch and not study simultaneously. It will also benefit you to schedule a couple of 15-minute breaks throughout the day to give your brain a short relief. Much like the issues that stem from a lack of sleep, ignoring study breaks during bar prep will quickly overload your brain and make it harder to retain the information you’ve been trying to cram in it.

Spend your breaks doing anything that doesn’t have to do with the bar. You can take a quick power nap (be sure to set an alarm!), grab a snack, watch a short TV show, catch up with friends, or try to get in a quick run or meditation session (which we’ll get into next).

Exercise | Exercise may be a great way to release the built-up stress from bar studying. There have been countless scientific studies between the correlation of exercise and increased serotonin activity in the brain. If you’ve tried working out during times of stress, you know how much better and more confident it can make you feel. Not only does it affect your mood, but recent studies show that serotonin plays a direct role in how quickly the brain learns information and retains it.

If you aren’t one for weight lifting or sweat-dripping cardio, you can also go for a walk or do some yoga and meditation. The same concept applies to reading “for fun.” Pick up your favorite book or find some articles about one of your passions or hobbies. The mental stimulation you get from this type of reading has a similar type of serotonin response as physical exercise.

Eat right & plan your diet | Eating healthy will make the bar study period much more bearable. Loading up on fruits, veggies, and healthy proteins will not only keep you energized and focused on the task at hand, but will also make you feel better.  At least until the exam is over, be sure that you’re getting all the recommended levels of vitamins, carbs, and proteins.

Along with being conscious of your food intake while studying, bar-takers should plan their “day-of” breakfasts. In the rush to make sure you have all of your test-taking materials, get to the testing site on time, and find parking (if necessary), it can be easy to forget or be forced to skip breakfast. Planning what, or where, you’ll eat ahead of time can alleviate some of your stress and get your mind at a functional level faster than if you are frantically shoveling cereal while trying to get dressed and pack your bag, or eating in the car while you drive. If you decide to eat out, pick a place that is within walking-distance of the testing site so that you don’t have to worry about further traffic or parking.

 

We know it can feel like the tips above will detract too much time from your study schedule, but you will be in a better position to pass the bar if you actively take care of your physical and mental well-being.

You got this.

One of the many advantages provided by McGeorge to its students is access to a vast network of legal professionals through alumni events, employer networking events, outside-speaker presentations, and more. Josh White, a 2021 J.D. candidate, has recounted his own path at McGeorge that has led him to a highly-coveted summer position with the Vera Institute of Justice in New York. Josh shared his experience and perspective below – continue on to read it in his own words.

“Finding your first legal internship can be an incredibly daunting experience. Particularly, first-generation law students like myself must navigate a competitive application process for summer internships without the support and connections that come with having proximity to lawyers in our families. Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of some of the services McGeorge offers its students through the Career Development Office. The advisors in this office work ardently to ensure students have the resources they need to present themselves as competent candidates for legal opportunities. My advisor was actually one of my professors. Her help was invaluable, including the time she spent reviewing my application materials. What I found most helpful was the practical advice I was given about which opportunities would best set in motion my personal career goals.

An opportunity that sparked considerable interest was a legal internship at the Vera Institute of Justice. I have followed this organization and the industry-leading work they do in addressing the issue of mass incarceration for the past few years. Just two months after I had applied for a position in their New York City office, I learned that Professor Dajani here at McGeorge invited the President of Vera, Nicholas Turner, to speak on campus. I was excited for the opportunity to hear from an expert who leads the work I hope to contribute to. After his presentation on mass incarceration, some of my peers and I were able to engage President Turner with questions and the opportunity to share some of our own passions. These conversations unexpectedly evolved into a networking opportunity, which led to me interviewing for one of just a few internships that nearly 2,600 students applied for.

I was offered a position working at Vera’s Center on Youth Justice, where I support the project, Initiative to End Girls’ Incarceration. The team I work with is doing incredible work to transition girls out of prison and impede the pipeline funneling them there. My assignments consist of reviewing the agency regulations and statutory requirements of some of the solutions Vera is working to support. I work with a cohort of interns who have varying academic backgrounds and support different centers across Vera. In addition to our individual assignments, Vera has curated programming for our group that includes hearing from Vera’s leadership, partners such as ACLU leadership, court visits, etc. I also have the opportunity to engage teams who do incredible work around areas in which I have a personal interest, such as policing and prosecution reform.

Not only is the work I am doing relevant to my personal career goals, but it is also the experience of a lifetime. Acquiring this opportunity would not have been possible without the diligent efforts of McGeorge faculty and staff who support student internship readiness and organize meaningful networking opportunities that take place throughout the year.”

Congratulations, Josh! We look forward to having you back on campus this fall and know that your experience this summer will have you well-prepared to excel as you continue your education here.

 

We are proud to announce that 6 rising 2L McGeorge students have secured a Diversity Fellowship through the Sacramento County Bar Association. Patricia Castillo, Arvinder Kaur, Erika Munoz, Cheyanne Martin, Ronald Ussery, and Jules Jallab will join students from UC Davis Law School in working at some of the most prestigious private law firms in Sacramento. Not only will the students gain invaluable professional skills, but they will also have the opportunity, through weekly events and programs, to tour different law firms, meet local judges, and network with prominent local attorneys.

 

If you’re studying for the July 2019 California Bar Exam, the CDO team is here to support you. To offset the daily grind of bar-study classes and the hours of at-home studying, we have planned a few pick-me-ups to keep you energized and focused over the next couple months. Make sure to check out the schedule below or sync your calendar with our events page to get automatic updates and reminders.

  • Thursday, May 23: Starbucks coffee and specialty creamers (CDO Lobby)
  • Thursday, May 30: Bar-Study Survival Kits (outside of Classroom D)
  • Thursday, June 13: Power Up Breakfast (Fruits & Bagels in the CDO Lobby)
  • Thursday, June 27: Chair Massages (S-3 in the Lecture Hall)

Since you’re already on campus for the prep classes, why not recharge and take advantage of these FREE goodies? Watch your email for more details about each of the above events, and we look forward to celebrating with you at the Post-Bar Reception in July!

The most nerve-racking part of a job search is often the interview. While top grades and stats that look good on paper may get you past an initial screening, it’s what you do before, during and after an interview that determines whether or not you receive that elusive job offer. From an employer’s perspective, doing well in law school is no guarantee that an applicant will do well in the office. Looking specifically at how candidates can distinguish themselves during an interview, you need to show that you are not just another statistic – you are an individual with passion, skills, and above all, a genuine personality.

 

“The first [thing I look for] is the ability to be empathetic and interact with people. Secondly, being able to clearly articulate what you’re thinking and why, in a succinct way. Both in writing and when you’re arguing in court – that’s probably the most important thing, honestly. Lastly, you just need to be really passionate about what you’re doing because if you’re not, it’s going to come through in your work and it will suffer.”

– Molly Campera, King County Public Defender. Northeastern University School of Law, 2015.

“[When hiring new attorneys, I look for] somebody who has a good work ethic because I think that transcends knowledge in a specific practice area. Someone who has interest in the practice area that you’re in because places spend a lot of time training people and investing in their development, so ideally you’d have someone who’s going to stick around for a while. They should have a genuine passion for the subject rather than [this] simply being one among hundreds of their job applications.”

– Amanda Uphaus, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. University of Washington School of Law, 2010.

“The firm tends to look at some other life experiences these days. I think we are much more likely to hire someone who did not go straight from college to law school, which is an interesting phenomenon that I would suggest is a bit more recent of a trend. Also, a little bit of humility and humanity goes a long way. A bit of humor helps, too. If you can be a little “human” in the interview, that’s really compelling because you’re talking about picking someone you’ll probably spend a lot of time with, and there’s not a lot of time during the interview process to distinguish folks.”

– Chuck Morton, Jr., Partner at Venable LLP and Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University. University of Maryland School of Law, 1990.

 “They have to be able to effectively communicate. Talking to the client and listening – communication both ways. Also, they have to show a willingness to admit when they don’t know something on the job. That was hard for me. I didn’t want to go to others for advice because I felt like I should be able to figure it out on my own. Lastly, they need to have a positive personality because the legal field can be so draining.”

– Anna Othman, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. Seattle University School of Law, 2011.

Passion is universally the most important characteristic in a job candidate, no matter the career path. Without a genuine interest in the field, everything will suffer: work performance, mental health, personal life, the organization’s performance, etc. As several of our experts noted, agencies spend a lot of time and money onboarding new employees, and that type of investment is expected to pay dividends in the form of long-term commitment and high-quality work contributions. Go to conferences, join associations, and participate in relevant volunteer opportunities while at McGeorge. The CDO offers each McGeorge student up to $150 per academic year in conference and job fair reimbursements, which makes attending those types of events much more financially feasible for law students. There are also several Registered Student Organizations (“RSOs”) at McGeorge for students interested in various practice areas including IP, Cannabis, Employment and Labor, Environmental, Family, and Sports, among many others. Getting involved in organizations such as these will show a future employer that you are serious and passionate about your field.

As we’ve noted in a several posts, interviews are not used simply to determine a candidate’s technical skills but also to see how they will fit within an organization’s culture. Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to put some personality behind your answers and the way you present yourself. As a lawyer, you’ll spend the vast majority of your waking hours in the office, in court, and with your clients. Employers will want to see that aside from your knowledge of law and ability to apply it in various situations, you have a level of humanity that will make you an effective lawyer and help you better serve their clients. Empathy to connect with clients and humility to admit when you don’t have all the answers will go a long way in showing employers that you are self-aware and mature, and that you’re well-suited to fight for their clients.

All of the aforementioned characteristics include the ability to communicate effectively and succinctly. You need to show interviewers that you are able to relay information to a client in an easy-to-understand manner, and provide relevant information to judges concisely. Can you write a 5-page motion for a judge, or do you author a short novel? Communication is key for lawyers, and anyone who has trouble getting to the point is not going to be seen as an asset during an interview.

For students and alumni who would like to sharpen their interview skills or prepare for an upcoming interview, you can schedule an interview coaching appointment with the CDO by emailing lawcareers@pacific.edu or attend one of our mock interview programs, typically held in January or February each year.

Full interview transcripts of the above excerpts can be found here.

Congratulations to all our students and soon-to-be graduates! As the 2018–2019 academic year comes to a close, we want to wish everyone luck on their remaining finals.

To the class of 2019 – congratulations on this milestone! All of your hard work and sleepless nights have brought you to this momentous occasion; we’re so proud of what you have, and will, accomplish.

For those of you returning after this semester, we hope you enjoy your summer plans and come back ready to learn! We have a lot of exciting programs planned for the coming year and can’t wait to share them with you.

The CDO will remain open to all of our students and grads over the summer, so consider taking some time to come by for a career advising and planning appointment, application review, or any other career development needs as we enter this calmer period. Don’t forget to apply for our Early OCI program happening this July and August, and reach out to Isabella Hannon with any questions about how to apply. Keep an eye on your emails for more details about participating employers – you won’t want to miss this opportunity!

Shakira Pleasant is a 2004 McGeorge alumna who is now a Professor of Legal Writing & Lecturer in Law at the University of Miami School of Law. She began this career following several years at other academic institutions and as a litigator with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. “I enjoyed the competitive nature of litigating,” says Shakira, “but over time I found that I got more joy out of teaching.” Having participated in BLSA and SBA while at McGeorge, Shakira now serves on McGeorge’s Alumni Association Board and shared her experience as a law student, imparting a few words of wisdom for current students. Among the topics of discussion were what students can do when looking to follow a similar career path and the importance of mentors.

It’s been noted by several lawyers in our blogs, but it bears stating once again that a career in law is not linear. Like Shakira, you may start in litigation and find more enjoyment in another field. The important thing is to be comfortable with your decision and confident in your ability to learn a new field or profession. When asked about her own transition from litigation to academia, Shakira said, “Honestly, I’m still sorting out how to guide people through that process; in particular, people of color because in the legal writing community, we need to do more to increase the representation of diverse individuals. If a student is interested in getting into academia – I think it’s important to note that the requirements are very different from practicing law.” Practicing law puts an emphasis on the results and satisfying your clients’ needs; a switch to any other law-related career may be more philosophically-oriented, such as education. Shakira continues, “Having a mentor to say, ‘Look, here are the things you’re going to have to do,’ is beneficial and it is great to have that kind of awareness.”

While it’s important to have confidence in yourself and your abilities, you should also be aware that it’s rare for a successful lawyer to get to where they are without any help. Surround yourself with a bunch of great mentors,” Shakira says. “And I say ‘mentors’ with an emphasis on it being plural because I don’t think I received everything from just one person.” The resources available to students at McGeorge will not only aid in the technical preparation and knowledge required of new lawyers, but can also be the foundation of a support network. Mentors have already survived law school and experienced the anxiety that can accompany early career decisions. If law school has you feeling overwhelmed, a mentor who has been where you are may be exactly what you need to make it through.

The mental toughness necessary to succeed in the legal field can’t be learned simply through “determination”; you need to have someone with experience to guide you and explain where you might improve. It is invaluable “to know that there is someone to support you when asking, ‘what are the steps [I] need to take? What are the things [I] need to do? How do [I] need to prepare to position [myself] to be successful?’” says Shakira. If you’re unsure where to look for a mentor (or find additional ones), make an appointment with one of the CDO advisors so we can connect you with the right people, or at least point you in the right direction.

With shout-outs throughout the interview to mentors like Elizabeth Berenguer, Wanda Rouzan, Ana-Maria Martel, Dr. Shiela Harmon Martin, Dean Mary-Beth Moylan, , and Professors Christine Jones, Fred Galves, and Thomas Main, Shakira shows that the impact of mentorship can last far beyond law school and a first job. How did the aforementioned individuals’ leave such strong impressions? Shakira explains, “What was helpful and what I needed them to say (which they did) was, ‘OK, Shakira. Here is where you can have some freedom, but here is where I need you to have some structure and this is what it could look like.’ Those are the most important things I’d say to someone if they want to follow a similar path to what I’ve done.” You need to find mentors who are not only capable of guiding you, but actively want to aid in your development. Mentors can be found in your current workplace, law school, or at the agency/firm you want to eventually work. An easy way for McGeorge students to find such role models is through the Alumni Advisor Network, a group of hundreds of McGeorge alumni who have volunteered to share their time and knowledge to give students informal advice and aid in their professional development.

At the end of the day, you reap what you sow. If you put in the effort, seek out and develop relationships with experts in the field, and have confidence in your decisions you’ll be more likely to succeed as a lawyer. Ask for help if you need it – that’s a sign of maturity and self-awareness, not weakness, and both traits are necessary to be successful in any career path you choose.

The McGeorge CDO team recently participated in the NALP Annual Education Conference in San Diego from April 9 – 12. The conference brought together law school and legal employer career professionals from around the country for four days of educational programs. Topics included career counseling, recruiting, professional development for lawyers and law students, diversity and inclusion, and more. The event also provided opportunities for networking and broadening knowledge of career development best practices, allowing the McGeorge team to share and learn how we can best serve our students.

On the third day, our own Molly Stafford presented on how law school and law firm professionals can become effective Diversity and Inclusion advocates, particularly when non-diverse, or perceived as non-diverse.  She was joined by Dana Gray, Manager of Professional Development at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP; Meredith O’Keefe, Director of Career Planning at University of Connecticut School of Law; and Nicole Netkin-Collins, Director of Law Firms at University of Colorado Law School.  Molly co-wrote an article on the same topic, which will be appearing in the next edition of the NALP Bulletin.

It was a fun and informative conference for all, and we are excited to implement all that we have learned to better support the McGeorge community!