SWLAW Blog | Dean's Fellow Digest

Image - Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #41

January 14, 2022

Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #41: Mapping a Southwestern Student’s Route to Big Law Part 4 - A Non-Traditional Yet Classic Route to Big Law: Networking

Issue: 2022-01-18

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. 


  • Mapping a Southwestern Student’s Route to Big Law Part 4: A Non-Traditional Yet Classic Route to Big Law - Networking

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. 

Image - Mapping a Southwestern Student’s Route to Big Law Part 4: A Non-Traditional Yet Classic Route to Big Law - Networking by David Kim

My journey to big law was non-traditional, to say the least. Having some previous work experience in labor and employment law, I knew I wanted to shoot my shot at big law because I wanted to go into defense.

Big law is competitive, and I had no luck with the OCI process. In addition to the applications I submitted through Southwestern’s OCI process, I submitted over 20 applications to Vault 100 firms. However, all I received in my inbox were rejection emails.

On a late Friday night, I received a notification from LinkedIn that a firm I was interested in was still hiring for summer associate positions. This time, I decided to take a different approach. I went to the firm’s website and looked for attorneys who were alumni of Southwestern. Then, I drafted an email to one of the partners (a Southwestern alumnus) expressing my interest in the firm and the position along with my resume and transcript.

Throughout the week, I patiently waited for a response. On the following Friday, when I started to feel like giving up, I received an email from the partner saying that he wanted to set up an interview with me. During my two interview rounds with the firm, I got to meet the partner who offered me the interview. Our conversation was fun and genuine, and it made me comfortable because we were able to talk about some of the same professors that taught our classes.

Overall, everyone’s career journey is unique. Do your best to keep an open mind when you feel like you’ve hit a dead end. Don’t be afraid to reach out with cold emails, and if you know someone already, stay in touch! We will all be working in the same profession, and it will only help if you get to know more people. After all, you never know what a random email to a Southwestern alum will do for your career!

*About the Author:


Image - David KimDavid is a SCALE II student who graduated from University of California, San Diego with a degree in human biology. At Southwestern, in addition to being a Dean's Fellow, David is a member of APALSA and will serve as a Teaching Assistant for Torts, Evidence, and Civil Litigation. Currently, David is working as a summer associate at a plaintiff's labor and employment firm.




Southwestern Law School Dean's Fellows | Scheduling and Booking Website

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.