January 13, 2022
Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #40: Mapping a Southwestern Student’s Route to Big Law Part 3 - Finding Placement through the Career Services Office
Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Mapping a Southwestern Student’s Route to Big Law Part 3 - Finding Placement through the Career Services Office
Are Southwestern students’ competitive applicants for big law firms? Many of our students fear that, competing with the rankings of neighboring law schools, we are not. However, this four part blog series serves to debunk that idea as four Dean’s Fellows share their journey to receiving big law placements, each one touching on different routes and helpful tips that you, the reader, should know if pursuing a career in big law.
When One Door Closes, Another Opens
Everyone’s journey to big law is different. Mine came about unexpectedly. Like Meagan (refer to Part 1), I decided to switch to a big law focus rather late in the recruiting season. This meant that I was behind in the process, as most firms were already filling up their recruiting classes, making spots extremely limited. While it is always extremely competitive, it can be even more challenging when firms don’t have many spots left.
My journey to big law started with a “no.” With a “we love you and think you would be a perfect fit, but unfortunately, we just don’t have a spot for you.” Being told no is always hard, but it was even harder when I was told I did everything right, they would love to have me, but they just don’t have a spot.
I felt defeated. Every time I logged into LinkedIn, I was haunted by friends posting their amazing big law offers. I agonized over no offers, while other friends contemplated between three or four offers.
Unsure of what my future would hold, I decided to shoot my shot. I decided that if this is what I wanted, I was going to fight for it. With OCI season essentially over, I reached out to the CSO Associate Dean, Shar Poormosleh, for advice. Shar was incredibly supportive. She brainstormed with me and put me in contact with alumni at several firms. She went above and beyond. So much so that one firm reached out to me before I ever reached out to them and invited me for a full round of interviews without conducting a screener interview.
This interview experience showed me what I wanted most: a firm that wanted me for who I am. Each attorney I met was so engaging, so supportive of me as an individual. Instead of me selling myself to them, each attorney was selling the firm to me. I truly felt at home. I couldn’t stop smiling. And my smiling only continued because they called me the very next day to offer me a 2022 summer associate position.
My journey to big law was not the “traditional” route. It was a mix of OCI disappointment and networking successes. And while I can say I would not want to re-live the stress and anxiety, this experience taught me the important lesson that when one door closes, another opens.
*About the Author:
Alex is a SCALE II student who graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration.
At Southwestern, in addition to being a Dean's Fellow, Alex is a Senior Advocate for the Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP), on the Board of Governors for TAHP serving as the Academics Chair, a Tort Law, Evidence Law, and Criminal Law Teaching Assistant, a student leader for the Small Claims Court Clinic, and a member of the Women's Law Association and the Criminal Law Society. During her time at Southwestern, Alex served as a full-time legal extern for the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California in the Criminal Division. Alex is working towards a concentration in Criminal Law and Advocacy with a goal of becoming a Deputy District Attorney upon graduation and passage of the bar.
Outside of law school, Alex enjoys spending time with her husband and one year-old daughter and she loves to bake. Alex looks forward to working with you and helping you succeed during your time at Southwestern!
Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.
Please click HERE to make an appointment with a Dean's Fellow.