Class of 2014 First-Year Professional Development Timeline
Check email, the Career Center webpage and the Professional Development
Resource Center (PDRC) for updates at least weekly.
Review and regularly re-assess your personal professional network.
Review legal & business media sources, including market-specific publications,
both for subject matter content and possible points of connection.
Attend and participate in the Career Center’s required first-year curriculum.
Engage with the Law School and broader legal community to:
o Master key laws and current challenges in your practice area of interest;
o Strengthen core skills needed to demonstrate your commitment to
qualification for a career in your desired field; and
o Create advocates invested in your professional success by actively
pursuing intentional relationships.
Prepare your best legal resume, utilizing the guidance and resources provided in
Prepare your “baseline” cover letter for legal positions utilizing the guidance and
resources provided in this Manual.
Attend Foundations of Professional Development presentation to which you are
assigned by LARW section.
o Receive and review your copy of the Class of 2014 Career Planning
o Receive and review the eight-session, required curriculum for all firstyears.
o Receive and review the list of summer opportunities accepted by
members of the Class of 2013 as first-years.
o Receive and review the abbreviated professional biographies of the
Career Center’s dedicated advisors.
Attend Writing Successfully: Resume & Cover Letter workshop to which you are
assigned by LARW section.
o Receive the password to access the Career Center’s online PDRC.
o Sign-up for your initial meeting with a member of the Career Center team.
Refine your resume and baseline cover letter as needed and provide copies to
your career advisor via email twenty-four hours prior to your scheduled session.
Explore practice areas and markets of interest, taking into account your current
professional skills and geographic ties.
Attend initial meeting with your career advisor as scheduled.
Arrange and conduct informational interviews with recognized lawyer-leaders in
your markets/practice areas of interest.
Create and maintain a spreadsheet of all contacts made and track your follow-up.
Join at least one state & local bar association, including a practice-specific
Prepare targeted, personalized cover letters for employers to which you plan to
apply in December.
Prepare for exams.
Mail/send those applications already prepared.
During Winter Break
Prepare targeted, personal cover letters for, and send applications to, all
remaining employers of interest based upon your current research.
o Call contact persons at employers to confirm receipt of materials &
express continued enthusiasm.
o Prepare and regularly update spreadsheet of applications submitted,
principal contact, date and substance of last contact, referrals made to
Identify additional employers in diverse sectors of the legal economy (e.g., large
firm, small firm, government, public interest, judicial internships, in-house
opportunities, faculty research assistants, etc.) and in at least three distinct legal
Create a personalized application schedule to keep track of pertinent deadlines.
Prepare and send your next wave of applications.
Conduct additional informational interviews with local attorneys and/or attorneys
with whom you have a “connection” (e.g., Duke Law alumni, attorneys affiliated
with your undergraduate institution, former employers, etc.)
If possible, arrange to be in your primary markets of interest during the break and
notify prospective employers of your upcoming trip.
Ask at least one Duke Law professor and other targeted individuals to serve as
professional references throughout your 1L job search, and prepare a reference
list following the format in the Manual’s appendices.
Revise your open research memorandum from LARW (or other work that best
demonstrates your skilled analysis and effective communication of a timely legal
topic) to serve as your writing sample in the first-year search.
Prepare your professional wardrobe for the upcoming interview season.
Update resume with grades and other accomplishments.
Send a supplemental letter to all employers with which you have an application
pending, expressing continued interest in the employer/opportunity and including
a copy of your unofficial transcript.
Prepare your personal elevator pitch and practice its delivery.
Review the key elements to successfully interviewing for a legal position, think
carefully about your proposed responses to the most commonly asked questions,
and identify those core attributes you most want to convey as evidence of your
Conduct a Mock Interview and practice incorporating feedback received.
Identify additional networking and mentoring contacts, and reach out using the
method outlined in the Manual.
Arrange and conduct additional informational interviews.
February – May 2012
Follow up with employers (ongoing)
Prepare and send additional waves of targeted, personalized application
materials as needed.
Continue building relationships with professionals in your markets and practice
areas of interest.
Send thank you notes and regular updates to all those with whom you have
spoken to keep the connections alive.
Attend Career Center programming, workshops and other Law School events to
prepare for success “on the job.”
Watch online seminars (see information about PLI in the Manual’s appendices for
further information) on areas of substantive law and day-to-day practice, which
will enhance your ability to add immediate value to the work of your summer
CAREER MANUAL TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. THE CAREER & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CENTER .............................................. 1
A. Career & Professional Development Center Resources ...................................................... 1
B. Career & Professional Development Center Office Hours and Staff .................................... 2
C. Communication Requests from CPDC ................................................................................ 2
II. CAREER PLANNING ............................................................................................................. 3
A. Class 2014 Career Planning Calendar ................................................................................ 3
B. Determine Your Path ........................................................................................................... 4
C. Investigate Your Options – “What Can I Do With a Law Degree?”....................................... 5
D. Investigate Summer Job Opportunities ............................................................................... 5
1. Law Firms or In-House Counsel ..................................................................................... 6
2. Public Interest Organizations & Government Agencies................................................... 7
3. Judicial Internships/Externships ..................................................................................... 7
4. Research Assistantships for Professors ......................................................................... 7
5. Working Abroad...........................................................................................................7-8
6. Alternative Employers..................................................................................................... 8
E. How to Identify and Contact Potential Employers ................................................................ 8
1. Directly Contacting Employers ........................................................................................ 8
2. On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) ...................................................................................... 8
3. Job Postings on Symplicity ............................................................................................. 9
F. CPDC Communications ..................................................................................................... 10
G. Additional Career Search Resources ................................................................................ 10
1. Websites ...................................................................................................................... 10
2. Other Resources .......................................................................................................... 15
H. Presenting Your Best Self: What do Employers Look For?............................................... 14
1. Facebook, Twitter, and Voicemail ................................................................................. 15
2. Blogs .......................................................................................................................15-16
1. Finding Contacts .......................................................................................................... 17
2. Rules for Networking .................................................................................................... 17
3. How to Prepare for a Social Networking Event ........................................................18-19
IV. RESUMES, COVER LETTERS AND OTHER CORRESPONDENCE ................................. 20
A. Drafting Your Resume ....................................................................................................... 20
1. Your Name ................................................................................................................... 21
2. Your Address................................................................................................................ 21
3. Education ..................................................................................................................... 21
4. Honors and Activities .................................................................................................... 22
5. Experience ................................................................................................................... 22
6. Additional Information ................................................................................................... 23
7. A Few Final Tips........................................................................................................... 24
8. Printing Your Resume .................................................................................................. 25
B. Cover Letters..................................................................................................................... 25
1. The Format................................................................................................................... 25
2. Text of the Letter .......................................................................................................... 25
3. Choosing the Recipient of Your Letter .....................................................................25-26
4. The Introduction ........................................................................................................... 26
5. Second Paragraph – Interest in the Employer .............................................................. 26
6. Third Paragraph – What You Bring to the Table ........................................................... 28
7. Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 29
C. Transcripts ........................................................................................................................ 29
D. Writing Samples ................................................................................................................ 29
1. Text of a Writing Sample .............................................................................................. 29
2. Length .......................................................................................................................... 30
3. Final Tips...................................................................................................................... 30
E. References and Reference Lists ....................................................................................... 30
F. Contacting Employers to Obtain a Job .............................................................................. 31
1. How Many Letters Should You Send? .......................................................................... 31
2. Email or Regular Mail ................................................................................................... 31
3. Your Follow-Up After Sending an Application or Networking Letter .............................. 32
G. Other Communications to Employers ................................................................................ 33
1. Thank You Letters ........................................................................................................ 33
2. Correspondence Regarding Offers, Acceptances, and Rejections................................ 34
V. INTERVIEW PREPARATION AND LOGISTICS .................................................................. 35
A. Interview Preparation ........................................................................................................ 35
1. Researching the Employer ........................................................................................... 35
2. Personal Preparation .................................................................................................... 36
3. Prepare to Look Your Best: Dressing for Success ...................................................36-37
B. On-Campus Interviews ...................................................................................................... 38
C. Meeting the Employer ....................................................................................................... 39
D. Following Up After Screening Interviews ........................................................................... 40
E. Call-Back Interviews .......................................................................................................... 41
1. Arranging the Call-Back Interview................................................................................. 42
2. Preparing for the Call-Back Interview ........................................................................... 43
3. When the Call-Back Interview Includes a Meal ............................................................. 43
4. The End of the Call-Back Interview............................................................................... 44
5. After the Call-Back Interview ........................................................................................ 44
F. Expenses and the Reimbursement Process ................................................................44-45
G. The Offer of Employment ................................................................................................. 45
1. How Do I Decline an Offer? .......................................................................................... 45
2. How Long May I Hold on to an Offer?........................................................................... 46
3. Reporting Your Offers to CPDC .................................................................................... 46
A. Career Exploration & Employer Research Resources ..................................................... 47
B. Networking 101: Sample Informational Interviewing Questions ...................................... 52
C. Making Contacts I: Mine Your Existing Resources ......................................................... 59
D. Making Contacts II: Developing New Contacts in Your Field of Interest ......................... 61
E. Sample Resumes............................................................................................................ 63
F. Sample Language for Resumes ...................................................................................... 68
G. List of Action Verbs Commonly Used to Describe Professional Experience .................... 76
H. Effective Cover Letters: A Suggested Framework & Samples ......................................... 79
I. Sample Reference List ................................................................................................................. 86
J. Sample Transcript......................................................................................................................... 88
K. Thank You Letter .......................................................................................................................... 90
L. Sample Acceptance Letter .......................................................................................................... 92
M. Sample Letter Declining an Offer Received ............................................................................. 94
N. Sample Interview Questions ........................................................................................... 96
The Career & Professional Development Center
The Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC) staff invites you to explore the broad
range of career opportunities available to you as a Duke Law School student and graduate. Our
objective in creating this manual is to design a comprehensive resource that will empower you
with the tools you will need to help you achieve your career objectives over the next three years
and beyond. Each year, a current copy of this manual with relevant updates will be posted on
the CPDC website (http://www.law.duke.edu/career). It will be periodically supplemented with
additional resources covering a wide variety of job search and career development topics,
making the CPDC website the first stop in your career planning process.
This manual is broken into four sections:
Resumes, Cover Letters & Other Correspondence
Interview Preparation and Logistics
The appendices to the manual contain sample documents and sample interview
Career & Professional Development Center Resources
Career Counselors are available for one-on-one counseling, including assistance with selfassessment, job searching and decision making related to career and professional decisions.
For example, the Career Counselors can help you:
Explore career opportunities by providing practical information about positions at
international, boutique or regional law firms, public interest and non-profit organizations,
governmental entities and corporations.
Research diverse legal markets, including international markets and those with fewer or
less-publicized legal employers.
Create a job search strategy to optimize your chances of securing the best employment
options for you.
Identify and emphasize the experiences and personal qualities that make you uniquely
attractive to legal employers.
Make a good first impression and avoid missteps by reviewing your resumes, cover
letters and other communications with prospective employers.
Refine your interview and presentation skills through mock interviews and other core
Create an academic and extracurricular curriculum that will build your skills and
employability in your field of interest.
Manage the job search process and determine next steps.
Whether you are just beginning your search, overwhelmed by options or frustrated with your
progress, the Career Center can help you decide where to go from here. Of course, the earlier
you contact us and the more prepared you are for each meeting, the more valuable we can be
to you. So don’t wait! Contact [email protected] to schedule an appointment with
one of our Career Counselors.
Career & Professional Development Center Office Hours and Staff
8:00am -5:00 pm
• Kimberly Ann Bart Assistant Dean for Public Interest & Pro Bono
• Stella Boswell Senior Career Counselor & Public Interest Advisor
• Cassandra Creekman Senior Career Counselor
• Gail Cutter Director of Employer Relations and Student Recruiting
• Alan Dickinson Director of J.D. Advising & Professional Development
• Bruce Elvin Associate Dean for CPDC
• Oleg Kobelev Director of International Career Development and Special Projects and
Career Counselor focusing on international opportunities
• Rob Barton Project & Clerkship Manager
• Kelly Briggs Financial & Information Specialist
• Emily Sharples Career Center Coordinator
*complete bios of our staff may be found at http://www.law.duke.edu/career
Communication Requests from CPDC
During the next three years, we will periodically ask you for information about your professional
plans. Requests will cover topics such as indicating your plans for your 1L and 2L summers,
completing the Online Summer Survey and Offer Report, notifying us of your permanent
employment following law school graduation, and others. One of the ways in which you help
sustain and enhance the Law School community is by responding in a timely fashion to these
requests, as much of the information is used by subsequent classes of students and by the
CPDC to help you achieve your goals. Thus, it is imperative that you respond to requests
for information from us. In fact, the Law School's Rules and Policies require that you
respond to these requests, and failure to do so is considered a violation of the Law
School’s Honor Code. The applicable rules and policies are posted on the Duke Law website.
In law school, the process of applying for jobs begins very early. Taking the time early on, and
throughout your law school experience, to learn about the many available opportunities will
make your career planning easier. Our mission, and that of the entire Law School, is to work
with each of you to help you acquire the tools and skills to take ownership of your own
professional development so that you will be able to find the right job for you, both during and
after law school. To help you do this, we try to help you understand your own goals as well as
where in the professional world they can be fulfilled. We encourage you to view your
professional development as an integral part of your Duke Law School experience.
Employers of all types highly value students who can point to specific experiences they have
that demonstrate the ability to work as a lawyer and that show deep commitment to excelling as
a professional. These experiences can be gained in many ways, such as through pro bono
work; other volunteer opportunities; externships during the semester; part-time legal work;
clinics; writing an article or note; research and writing with a faculty member; capstone projects;
etc. In addition, it is helpful to concentrate over time in one or two areas so that you develop
"pillars of strength" and focus.
Class of 2014 Career Planning Calendar
Identify your personal and professional goals and priorities. Conduct self-assessment.
Speak with others, attend events, and learn about the universe of options. Consider
what you would sacrifice to achieve your goals. Engage in activities outside of the
classroom, such as pro bono projects, student groups or start your own initiative.
Network at every opportunity.
October 2011. The Career Center begins its 1L Career Planning and Development
Curriculum Programming. Attend your required session of the Foundations for your
Professional Development during your LRAW section. Attend the required session the
following week of the Resume and Cover Letter Skills Workshop. Sign up for a meeting
with a member of the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) counseling
staff whose professional background comports with your career interests.
November 1, 2011. Start meeting individually with Career & Professional Development
Center counselors to discuss your goals, summer interests and resumes. NALP rules
require 1Ls to wait until this date. Attend educational sessions sponsored by the Law
Alumni Association, “Timeless Tips for Professional Success: A Conversation with Duke
Law Alumni,” and other CPDC programming to learn about your career options.
December 1, 2011. NALP allows 1Ls to begin contacting employers. Focus on preparing
for your final examinations.
December 2011 – May 2012. Conduct 1L job search for Summer 2012 (write letters, call
friends/family, and interview on-campus).
March – April 2012. Introduction to Fall 2012 2L Job Search.
Summer 2012. 1L summer employment and/or study abroad.
(For additional detail, see the First-Year Professional Development Timeline)
This timeline applies to recent years. There is currently an industry-wide discussion concerning
the nature and timing of 2L interviewing that may result in changes to the below. Of course, the
CPDC will keep you apprised of the latest information as it becomes available.
June 2012 – May 2013. Conduct 2L job search for Summer 2013.
August – September 2012. 2L On-Campus Interviewing for Summer 2013.
October 2012. Equal Justice Public Interest Career Fair.
Spring 2013. Judicial Clerkship Education Series.
Summer 2013. 2L summer employment.
Summer-Fall 2013. Apply for judicial clerkships.
July/August 2013 – Ongoing. Conduct job search for post-graduation (if not returning to
Summer 2013 employer).
May – July 2014. Study for and take Bar Exam.
September 2014. Begin full-time employment.
Determine Your Path
The first step in your planning is self-assessment. Why is self-assessment important? Unless
you take ownership of your own career, you run the risk of drifting into someone else’s future. If
you are not an active participant in the process of assessing what you want out of your Duke
Law School education and subsequent career, then the path you follow may be based on the
needs and criteria of others. Self-assessment will help you identify what skills, knowledge,
passions, or drives you possess that you can channel into your law career. Self-assessment
consists of determining three basic things:
Who am I? (What are my interests, skills and values?)
What are my priorities? (What do I want out of my educational experience? What do I
want out of my career? What do I want out of my life?)
What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve these goals?
You should ask yourself other questions as well, both now and as you learn about the many
opportunities that are available to you:
Why did I come to law school?
What potential practice areas do I want to pursue?
What geographical locations am I interested in?
What type of employer do I want to work for?
There are a variety of professional opportunities available to students during the two summers
of law school. Law firms, public interest organizations, government agencies, judges, and
professors in need of research assistants all hire law students.
Investigate Your Options—“What Can I Do with a Law Degree?”
There are literally thousands of career possibilities for Duke Law School students and
graduates. The first challenge you face in preparing for your job search is to understand yourself
and to identify your interests and goals. Here are a few examples of some of the types of
employers available to you:
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
State Attorney General
County Attorney’s Office
District Attorney’s Office
Public Defender’s Office
City Attorney’s Office
National think tanks and advocacy groups
Regional and state advocacy groups
Large law firms
Small law firms
Solo-practice law firms
Public interest law firms
Juvenile court judges
Judicial law clerks
Drug court professionals
Plaintiff’s law firms
Defense law firms
School Board attorneys
In-house counsel at businesses
Officers and Directors of businesses
Aids to elected officials
Legislative research commissions
Professors at law schools
Professors at public policy schools
FBI and CIA
Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights
Boutique law firms
And many others ……
Do not forget to take advantage of resources connected to Duke Law School: talk with a career
counselor; reach out to upper class students; talk with faculty; call alumni; and attend Law
School programs. You can also talk to lawyers outside of the Duke Law School circle.
Investigate Summer Job Opportunities
Your 1L Summer: The immediate goal for your 1L summer is simply to do something
that either increases your legal knowledge or that improves upon the skills that you will
use during your career. By the end of the summer, the aim is to be able to articulate
what you have learned and how you are more prepared for a legal career. Your 1L
summer is an ideal opportunity to pursue what interests you. Take the time to learn
about the different experiences offered, and hopefully, find a match to your interests.
Duke Law School and many legal employers adhere to the rules set out by NALP, the
National Association of Legal Career Professionals, which require that first year students
and employers not initiate contact with one another, interview or make offers, prior to
December 1, in order to allow students more time to acclimate to law school. However,
to prevent your job search from interfering with your school work and exam preparation,
you may wish to research employers and prepare your resume and cover letters well
before December 1. If you do not do this well in advance of final exams, then it is best to
wait until you have completed exams. Career counselors are available to review your
cover letters as well as your resumes. In fact, we strongly recommend that you
update your resume and make an appointment with one of our staff in November.
If you are able to send letters in early December, you can potentially take advantage of
the winter break to interview.
Your 2L Summer: The 2L summer should be used to strengthen your base of
experience and build your skills in the direction you may wish to head following
graduation. At the same time, learning during the summer that you do not wish to head
in a certain direction is also valuable. The more clarity you can have about your postgraduation goals, however, the more direct your path might be to achieving them.
Some legal employers expect to hire most of their full-time law graduates from those
who work there over the 2L summer; thus, if this type of employer may be your postgraduation goal, it is important to try to secure a position at such an employer for your 2L
summer. Keep in mind, however, that (i) not all students working at such employers
receive offers of full-time employment so on-going skill development and academic
success remain vital, and (ii) even if you do not get such a position as a 2L, there are
many more opportunities to join these organizations - possibly as a 3L, depending on
your intervening work and skill development - and certainly after a few years in practice.
These types of employers are most often larger law firms and federal government
Other employers view the 2L summer as a way for students to demonstrate an interest
in or commitment to a particular kind of work. For example, many public interest and
government employers look very favorably on graduates who have spent their summers
doing public interest or government work. Similarly, smaller firms or plaintiffs' firms would
like to see your experience as a 2L. The same would hold true for non-legal
business positions, such as management consulting or non-profit management.
In all cases, again, the goal is to identify and secure a meaningful 2L position that will
continue to enhance your skills as a professional, and that will allow you maximum
control over your choices as a 3L preparing to launch your career.
Depending on your career interests, there are several types of employers that hire law students
for the summer.
1. Law Firms or In-House Counsel
Every year, law students obtain positions with law firms or in-house legal departments for
the summer. The primary means of securing such positions is by writing letters to
employers. These employers range in office size and practice groups and generally hire
students much earlier in the year than public interest and government employers.
Whatever you do, don’t resist contacting smaller firms as part of your overall
search strategy. Thousands of lawyers begin and continue their career in smaller law
firms working on highly sophisticated matters, and where they often learn “first chair”
skills earlier than their colleagues at larger firms. What’s more, when the economy
recovers as many lateral moves will be made from small to large firms as are made in the
2. Public Interest Organizations & Government Agencies
Popular organizations for students include: public defender and legal aid offices, the
Department of Justice and other federal government agencies, state attorneys’ general
and district attorneys’ offices, and public interest advocacy organizations such as Natural
Resources Defense Council, ACLU Capital Punishment Project, Lawyer’s Committee for
Civil Rights Under the Law, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A summer internship with a government or public interest organization can provide
opportunities for students to develop practical lawyering skills that are relevant to any
type of law practice. It is important to know, however, that many of these types of
organizations do not advertise summer internships and cannot afford to pay summer
interns. Students interested in finding summer public interest or government internships
should reach out to organizations directly, to inquire about summer internship
The Law School helps fund summer public interest work through Endowed Summer
Public Interest Fellowships, Dean’s Summer Service Grants, and Public Interest Law
Foundation (PILF) fellowships. Endowed Fellowships are available to 1Ls and 2Ls, and
are awarded on a competitive basis based on the strength of a student’s application and
consideration of financial need. Dean’s Summer Service Grants provide a guaranteed
level of funding to any 2L student who secures a public interest or government summer
internship, and also completes 10 hours of pro bono work. PILF grants are awarded to
any student who contributes a minimum number of volunteer hours to PILF’s fundraising
efforts (contact PILF student leaders in order to volunteer).
Finally, Duke Law students may apply to work with an environmental advocacy
organization through the Stanback Fellowship program, administered through the
Nicholas School. For additional information on summer public interest funding programs,
contact the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono or the Career and Professional
3. Judicial Internships/ Externships
A judicial internship can be a great way to gain valuable legal experience, while working
under the supervision of an established and respected jurist. Judicial interns perform
tasks similar to those of law clerks and are given the unique perspective of seeing the
legal process through the eyes of a judge. While unpaid, these positions are excellent
jobs and can be especially useful to students intending to pursue a career in litigation or
to make legal contacts in a community in which they wish to practice.
The American Bar Association provides $1500 to minority and financially disadvantaged
students for internships in ten states under their Judicial Intern Opportunity Program.
Other states have programs where law students can be paid to work as a judicial intern.
North Carolina has such a program for in-state residents.
Many third-year students will apply to clerk for a judge following graduation. While that
application process does not begin until the spring of your second year, an internship can
not only help you decide if a clerkship would interest you, but may help to strengthen your
clerkship application through the experience gained, and valuable contacts made within
4. Research Assistantships for Professors
Several dozen students typically stay in Durham to assist Duke Law School professors
with a variety of projects. Professors often need assistance in updating a casebook or
researching materials for a law review article. In addition to providing you with great
training in legal research and writing, the professor will be able to serve as a reference for
you in the future. This is especially important if you will be seeking a judicial clerkship
after graduation. Watch for announcements about these positions in March and April, or
contact a professor yourself.
5. Working Abroad
For students who are not enrolled in the dual-degree program and who will not attend a
Duke Law School summer institute, most overseas employment opportunities are
obtained through proactive letter writing to organizations of interest, through business or
personal contacts and other means as are typically used to secure domestic summer
employment. The Career Center has resources to help you identify and research
employers with international opportunities. If you are interested in international
opportunities, a great tool to get you started is the database of 300+ international
summer internships available at https://www.law.duke.edu/career/students/llm/internships
(Duke NetID required)
A small number of international organizations expressed interest in specifically receiving
Duke resumes. Please fill out the online survey below to be added to the listserv of
students interested in exploring these opportunities http://tinyurl.com/DLS-Intern-OppListserv.
Lastly, contact Oleg Kobelev, Director of International Career Development,
at [email protected] with any questions. Oleg is available for individual counseling
and has a wealth of additional resources and opportunities that you may find valuable
during your search.
6. Alternative Employers
Each year more and more students have sought and secured exciting employment
opportunities with employers such as hospitals, public relations agencies, investment
banks, commercial banks, real estate firms, accounting firms, and management
consulting firms. If you are interested in pursuing opportunities with organizations such
as these, make an appointment to meet with a career counselor to discuss potential Duke
Law connections in these areas, as well as your personal search strategy.
Most importantly, no matter your interests, attack on a wide front and be both
persistent and creative in your pursuit of opportunities. Do not wait too long to
act, launch too narrow an effort, or let one string of your search play out entirely
before applying to other employer types, as you never want to be one step behind
a great opportunity.
How to Identify and Contact Potential Employers
1. Directly Contacting Employers
Most Duke students find positions for summer employment by pro-actively writing letters
to organizations of interest, responding to job postings, contacting family and friends,
and making a concerted and creative effort. First-year law students begin as early as
December 1, sending or emailing letters to employers, whereas, second-year students
may begin sending letters and contact employers during their 1L summer before they
return to campus as a 2L.
After working with the Career Center and using the resources described in this manual
to identify potential employers, contact those employers by sending an email or letter to
the employer’s hiring partner or recruiting manager, including your cover letter, resume,
reference list and, if available, a writing sample. In the case of smaller firms or other
employers that do not identify a hiring partner or recruiting manager on their website or
in other available materials, pick up the phone and inquire to whom your materials
should be sent. If all else fails, write the senior partner or the most senior person within
the organization who attended Duke Law.
Remember to label your attached files with the recipient in mind. Instead of
“myresume.doc” call is “Smith John Resume.doc.” Finally, be sure that all attachments
and other electronic submissions are either in PDF or Word 2003. Most legal employers
still use Word 2003 on XP and some won’t have the conversion patch. In those cases, a
Word 2007 resume may not open at all, or may lose some important formatting details.
If you have not heard from an employer, it is important to follow-up, especially if you can
provide additional facts such as an updated transcript or resume or notify them that you
will be in their area and available for an interview.
See Section II (and Appendix B) of this manual and attend the Resume and Cover
Letter Skills Workshop for additional guidance on directly contacting employers
and drafting your resume, cover letter and other materials.
2. On-Campus Interviewing (OCI)
Each year, employers participate in the On-Campus Interview (OCI) program hosted by
CPDC. You should not rely on OCI, however, to secure your summer opportunity but
rather utilize the myriad of resources available through the CPDC, the Office of Public
Interest & Pro Bono and elsewhere in order to maximize your career opportunities.
1L Spring OCI: A small number of employers interested in hiring first-years
interview on campus in February. Typically, 15-20 legal employers come to
campus. Others will send information soliciting resumes directly to CPDC.
However, these organizations represent only a small subset of the legal
employers nationwide that may be looking for first-year summer associates.
2L Fall OCI: This is a much larger program conducted in the fall for 2L and 3L
students, most recently involving more than 250 schedules of interviews.
Although extensive, we strongly encourage students not to rely solely on OCI as:
(1) it can be very limiting - there are many legal employers who do not participate
in OCI and (2) some students that participate in OCI do not receive offers
through the OCI process.
3. Job Postings on Symplicity
In addition to OCI, both public and private sector employers solicit resumes from law
students for summer jobs through our office; these postings are generally on our
Symplicity site which can be accessed through our website or through the Symplicity site
at https://law-duke-csm.symplicity.com/students. It is worth noting that there are many,
many employers who do not post positions but who do hire law students. So, as with
OCI, it is a mistake to rely solely on posted jobs through Symplicity or elsewhere.
Positions with law professors will be listed on Symplicity in the spring as well, though you
should also approach professors directly if you are interested in working with them
Regardless of how you choose to contact prospective employers, your career search will
inevitably consume a significant amount of your time and energy. Keep yourself organized
and optimize your efforts by maintaining a spreadsheet or other record including:
The name and location of the prospective employer;
The name and contact information of the individual(s) to whom you sent your materials
and/or made your initial contact;
A brief note to yourself to help you distinguish that employer from others to which you
are also applying; and
Periodic updates describing every communication you send or receive from that
employer (including follow-up calls or emails, rejections, callback invitations, etc.),
including the date of the communication.
Bringing this record with you to each meeting with a Career Counselor will enable the
Career Center to help you focus, prioritize or expand your search.
The CPDC provides many resources to law students who are conducting job searches through
Read our "Monday Mail" email every
week for important career information.
Check our website
has career links, our CPDC Calendar of
Events, and guides.
Review our events calendar and attend
job fairs and programs.
Come by the CPDC’s “One Quick
Question” Table in Star Commons or
outside the library throughout the year.
Review the CPDC maintained list of the
previous summer employers of upper
Talk to upper class students about their
summer experiences and best research
Talk to Duke Law School Faculty and
alumni. If you know of a faculty member
who teaches a class related to a practice
area you are interested in, make an
appointment to meet with him/her to get
advice and discuss job opportunities.
Many alumni are willing to discuss their
practice area, city and organization. You
can search the alumni directory to
identify potential contacts. It is available
through the Duke Law School website,
under the Alumni section. The Duke Law
user name to access this directory is
“staff” and the password is “devils”.
G. Additional Career Search Resources
The following is a list of websites that might be helpful to you. There are many others out
there, a number of which are included in the following pages and appendices. Some are
helpful to identify employers, some to seek networking opportunities, and others actually
list either summer jobs, permanent jobs or both.
Law Firm Directories
Martindale-Hubbell Directory. The Martindale-Hubbell Directory is one of the most
comprehensive resources for information on law firms of all sizes and on individual
lawyers. Available online at http://www.martindale.com, this Directory provides
information about the educational backgrounds, professional affiliations, and
sometimes practice specialties of individual lawyers at different legal employers. You
can do an advanced search to identify law firms in a particular city by size, practice
area and more. This is one of the more comprehensive listings of lawyers, law firms
and legal employers. However, it does not contain job postings or information on
whether a particular employer hires students in the summers. You can also link
directly to a firm or legal employer's website from the Martindale-Hubbell Directory.
NALP Directory. This large book and website http://www.nalpdirectory.com profiles
hundreds of law firms, large non-profit and governmental organizations. The online
version allows for mail merging, searching, and offers other useful tools. This
directory is a smaller subset of the employers listed in the Martindale-Hubbell
Directory, so it should not be considered an inclusive listing of all employers in a
Chambers USA and Chambers Global. These publications, available in book form
in the Career Center and online at http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA
and http://www.chambersandpartners.com/Global, rank law firms and individual
attorneys by state and practice area from a client’s perspective. As with any
rankings, you should not give too much credence to the order in which the firms are
listed and certainly should not dismiss a firm simply because it is not included.
However, these resources can help you discover potential employers, including
prominent boutique firms, with strengths in your practice area and region of interest.
Chambers is also a good resource to research firms with which you are interviewing,
including unearthing the strengths of a particular branch office and identifying the
most prominent partners or firm leaders. Finally, use the “Practice Area Definitions”
section to help you understand your practice options and to ensure that use industry
terms correctly during interviews.
US News. Like Chambers, US News and World Report provides a searchable
ranking of select law firms by practice area and location (including by city)
at http://bestlawfirms.usnews.com. While this website does not contain extensive firm
profiles, and you should always be cautious with respect to rankings, this resource
can serve as one starting point for finding firms in your city and practice area of
General Legal Search:
The American Bar Association (http://www.new.abanet.org/careercenter) provides
career advice and resources. The Job Board contains on-line job listings, although
many of the posted jobs require experience.
Building a Better Legal Profession (http://www.betterlegalprofession.org) is a
national grassroots movement that seeks market-based workplace reforms in large
private law firms. By publicizing firms’ self-reported data on billable hours, pro bono
participation, and demographic diversity, this site draws attention to the differences
between these employers.
Careeronestop (http://www.careeronestop.org) is sponsored by the United States
Department of Labor and provides job search advice, career information and links to
state and private job bank sites. Job openings are from all over the nation and
represent all types of work. This is NOT a legal-specific site.
Counsel.Net Attorney Job Center (http://www.counsel.net) contains job postings
by geographic area, including some international. You can sign up to have job
postings emailed to you as they become available online. The site also has chat
EmplawyerNet (http://www.emplawyernet.com) provides, through its premiere
membership, access to a job database with thousands of listings. Also, job
information matching your search criteria is sent via email so you do not have to
search the database every day. The fee for this service is $7.95 per month for law
Hieros Gamos The Comprehensive Legal and Government Portal
(http://www.hg.org) contains information for students and practicing lawyers on
everything from the bar exam, to bar associations and legal resources to descriptions
of over 70 practice areas. It also has a job search section and resume posting
Internships-USA (http://www.internships-usa.com) lists more than 3000
organizations offering internships for college and law students, but requires a user
name and password. One can be obtained from the Career Center.
Law Forum Employment Opportunities (http://www.lawforum.net) is a directory of
law-related websites, including an employment section.
NationJob Network (http://www.nationjob.com) is a general job search site with a
section for a legal job search.
National Lawyers Guild (http://www.nlg.org) a home for lawyers interested in social
justice, this site has fellowship postings as well as information on Public Interest,
Non-Governmental Organizations and Human Rights organizations.
The NAWL Career Center (http://careers.nawl.org) offers employers targeted
access to quality women professionals, along with quick and easy job posting and
online job activity reports.
United States Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov) has a section
for job announcements at the PTO under the pull down menu. The site also provides
general information about the PTO. This is NOT a legal-specific site.
Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database (http://extranet.vault.com/lawdiversity)
has job postings, statistics and other information on diversity in law firms.
Many State Bars or State Bar Associations have job listings and information for
networking contacts. You can access many of these through the Career Services
Website at Career Links.
There are some websites that list legal jobs that require payment of a fee to use the
site. Some of these sites may list summer jobs, but you are encouraged to confirm
this before signing up. They include: http://www.emplawyernet.com
Other websites with legal job postings include (many of these list permanent jobs but not
http://jobs.lawbulletin.com (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin)
http://www.lawcareers.net (British site)
http://www.lex.net (British site)
http://www.usajobs.opm.gov (Federal jobs)
http://www.chronicle.com/jobs (online job site for the Chronicle of Higher Education)
http://www.CollegeGrad.com (claims to be the "#1 entry level job site for college
students and recent grads." It does have quite a few attorney postings, but only a
few intern positions.)
Public Interest, Government, Non-Profit and Environmental:
The Advancement Project (http://www.advancementproject.org) lists legal and nonlegal public interest openings under the Community Justice Resource Center link.
Alliance for Justice (http://www.afj.org) is a national association of environmental,
civil rights, mental health, women's, children's and consumer advocacy
organizations. The site has information, internship and job announcements for the
Alliance and links to its members’ websites.
American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan
public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties
of all Americans and extending them to groups that have traditionally been denied
them. The site has information and job announcements as well as summer programs
for the Union.
Derechos Human Rights (http://www.derechos.org) and its sister group, Equip
Nizkor, are international organizations working for the respect and promotion of
human rights all over the world. Under the Communications Links heading, there is a
directory of web sites as well as names and information on international
organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations.
The Department of Justice (http://www.usdoj.gov/oarm) lists openings including
summer jobs and jobs under the Honors Program.
Ecomall (http://www.ecomall.com) provides extensive directories of grassroots
environmental organizations under the heading In House Resources Non Profit
Environlink (http://www.envirolink.org) is a directory of environmental organizations
and also lists job and internship postings.
Federal law clerk information (https://oscar.uscourts.gov) is an online database
that allows prospective applicants to search a national database of federal law clerk
The Idealist (www.idealist.org) has listings of domestic and international nonprofit
organizations, including postings for internships and jobs.
NALP 2011-2012 Federal Legal Employment Opportunities Guide is now
available through the NALP website in PDF format
at http://www.pslawnet.org/uploads/2011_12_FLEOG.pdf. The Federal Legal
Employment Opportunities Guide is a publication of NALP/PSLawNet with important
contributions from the Partnership for Public Service. This guide is a comprehensive
source of information on federal departments and agencies as well as the federal
government hiring process. The guide includes profiles of government attorneys and
additional tip for success in the federal government job search.
National Center for Adoption Law & Policy
(http://www.adoptionchildwelfarejobsite.org) has a one-stop job matching program
that connects law and graduate social work students to adoption and child welfare
employers across the country. This program is a free service.
National Center For State Courts (http://www.ncsconline.org) links to numerous
state, federal and international court sites. There is a section on jobs in state court
systems across the country.
National Legal Aid and Defender Association (http://www.nlada.org/Jobs)
provides legislative updates, information on civil legal and public defender related
legislation and NLADA conferences. Job listings can be found by clicking on Job
Opportunities and are organized by region. Jobs are posted by civil legal services,
defender organizations, public interest organizations and academic institutions.
PSLAWNET.ORG (www.PSLawnet.org) lists summer jobs, career fairs, places to
apply for funding for a public interest job and more. It also contains links to many
other resources for finding jobs with a more particular focus (Federal and State
Government, Environmental, Civil Rights, Native American Issues, Women’s Issues,
University of Arizona Law School’s Government Honors and Internship
Handbook (http://www.law.arizona.edu/career/honorshandbook.cfm) provides a
comprehensive and up-to-the minute source for federal government hiring
information. Use the username/password: snicker/doodle. Used in conjunction with
the NALP Federal Legal Employment Guide, it provides students and graduates
valuable and current information on federal government employment opportunities.
This website should be used as a supplement to, and not a replacement for,
checking individual agency websites for opportunities.
USAJobs (http://www.usajobs.gov) is the official job site of the U.S. federal
government and includes both legal and non-legal openings.
Look on-line, or call directly, State Attorney Generals’ Offices, local District Attorneys’
offices, and state or local Public Defenders’ Offices. Some list summer jobs on their
websites, others can tell you if you call them directly. These jobs may or may not
pay summer associates (in which case alternate funding may be available
Duke Law’s Searchable Database of International Opportunities
The Hague Justice Portal (click on vacancies):
ABA List of Internships with International Law Firms, Summer 2011
Internship opportunities at the United
Eurobrussels (a comprehensive website listing vacancies within EU institutions and
international organizations, as well as some EU law
PSLawNet Guides to Finding International Public Service Opportunities
Above The Law (http://www.abovethelaw.com) is a popular legal tabloid frequented
by both lawyers and law students.
Law Shucks (http://www.lawshucks.com) is a popular legal blog which covers the
business of law and has tracked recent layoffs and staffing changes at major legal
JDSnub Blog (http://www.jdsnub.typepad.com) contains stories from people who
graduated from law school but decided to pursue other careers.
2. Other Resources
The CPDC print library has a number of books that are helpful in every part of your
journey from self-assessment through relocation information. Check out the full list of our
print titles in our office.
Leadership Directories (Yellow Books). The Yellow Books are a collection of legal
directories, divided by type of organization, which list attorneys, firms, judges, and
their contact information. The Federal and State books are an especially helpful
resource, providing valuable current addresses and phone numbers. Corporations
and International books may also prove helpful for locating in-house counsel and
foreign law firms. Other directories identify employers in the Non-profit Sector.
Finally, Judicial books will be helpful in learning about state and federal judges.
These guides are available on-line (www.leadershipdirectories.com). You can search
to find contact information or by undergraduate or law school affiliation. This
resource does not have job postings but is extremely comprehensive.
Serving the Public: A Job Search Guide. A joint publication between Harvard Law
School and Yale Law School for students and lawyers seeking public service work,
this guide contains in-depth public service job search advice, highlights diverse types
of public interest advocacy and offers specific strategies for the job search, from
developing a visually powerful resume, to writing sophisticated cover letters, to
establishing networks within the public service community. Volume I focuses on
opportunities within the United States. Volume II covers the public international job
CPDC Computers. CPDC has multiple computer terminals on which you can
perform career-related research or simply print a resume or cover letter. You will find
your Lexis and Westlaw computer software training to be helpful for career research
and thorough interview preparation.
Presenting Your Best Self: What Employers Look For
As you embark on your job search and prepare for interviews, now is a good time to do a search
of your name on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and some of the other online communities that you
may participate in. Take a look at what is posted and ask yourself, "Would I want an employer to
see this?" With the increasing availability of technology, employers are using the
aforementioned resources to aid them in their hiring decisions. Note that pictures and
statements need not be of or made by you in order to impact a prospective employer’s hiring
decision. Consider the professional impact of not only your own posts, but everything that is
visible or can be linked to from your page. It is important that you protect your reputation as
it is the most valuable asset you will have in your career.
1. Facebook, Twitter, and Voicemail
Many employers subscribe to Facebook, Twitter and similar websites as a way to
conduct background research on job candidates. In the same vein, we encourage you to
be mindful of your voicemail greeting and any signature quotes that you may have on
your email account. Be sure that these and other personal stamps present you in a
polished and professional manner.
Many students incorrectly assume anonymity when participating in blogs on-line.
However, an alias is often traceable and many employers check blogs or are “informed”
by your peers about postings on various sites. Your postings may not only harm your
chances of obtaining an opportunity but may also reflect poorly on your classmates and
If you have specific concerns about your background, please speak with a Career Counselor to
learn how to present yourself in the best possible light. Being prepared to deal with an issue
directly is the most successful path to a rewarding job search.
Networking a crucial part of any job search—and indeed, it will play an on-going and invaluable
role in your career. Networking includes contacting people you already know, as well as finding
new contacts who may be able to help you locate jobs that are part of the "hidden job market" jobs that are not advertised or openings that may be about to occur. In addition, contacts are
invaluable as you seek to further define your long-term career interests and map out a plan to
achieve those goals through informational interviews. Finally, if meaningful relationships are
formed, contacts can become emotionally invested in your professional success and take it
upon themselves to serve as your personal advocates.
Appendix B includes a list of questions for conducting networking meetings or
informational interviews to gather data on a potential career path; Appendices C and D
include resources to help you brainstorm potential career contacts you already have, and
proven methods to identify and connect with new leads.
A. Finding Contacts
Make a list of people you know who may have valuable information about careers or
contacts to potential employers. Examples include family and friends of family, current
and previous work contacts, acquaintances from social groups, churches, or activities,
alumni you know from undergraduate or law school, Duke Law alumni, and current or
former professors. Ask the people you contact for further referrals.
B. Rules for Networking
• Ask contacts for information, not a job.
Contacts are most helpful when you can ask them something to which they can
say, "Yes." For example, ask for advice, resources about a particular field or
practice area, information about career opportunities, or a critique of your
resume. If contacts are impressed with you, they will inform you about potential
When you meet contacts, focus on them, not yourself or your own needs. Ask
them about their day-to-day work activities, what they like and dislike most about
their job, what led them to choose the career path they have chosen, what they
would do if they were in your position, etc.
Although you are not asking the contact for a job, treat all interactions with the
same professionalism and courtesy you would an interview.
Make sure your contacts have all the relevant information about you. You may
provide them with a resume and update it when necessary. Don’t expect the
contact, however, to do the heavy lifting. You should follow up with the
appropriate HR contact. It is your job search and should always remain in your
control – unless your contact requests otherwise.
You can ask contacts to refer you further, for example, by asking, "Given my
interests and background, is there anyone else to whom you suggest I speak?"
Give positive feedback. Thank contacts for their time in person and in writing.
Let them know specifically how you’ve acted upon their advice.
Keep good records of whom you spoke with and what you discussed.
C. How to Prepare for a Social Networking Event
Receptions, parties, conferences, etc. are great opportunities to gather information from
people who may have knowledge and experience in a geographic area or practice area
of interest to you.
Before the Event:
• Study any list you can get of people attending. Decide in advance whom you will
try to meet.
Research those who will be in attendance and those you hope to meet. Knowing
such information as where they attended college, law school, whether they
clerked, and in what area of law they specialize may help you find some points of
Make sure you dress appropriately. When trying to impress someone, it helps to
wear a suit and polished shoes and have a good haircut, etc.
Resolve to be brave. It's very tempting to spend your time in a social setting with
fellow students or people you know, but the potential benefit of meeting and
mingling with prospective employers is invaluable.
Be well-rested and well-fed before the event. To be able to meet and talk with
new people at the event, you will need to be energetic, and you won't have much
time to eat.
At the Event:
• To stay in top form, limit alcohol consumption and avoid messy foods.
Approach strangers and introduce yourself with a smile and a handshake. State
your name clearly. Shake hands -- you should give a firm, but not-too-strong,
Try to use an opening line based on the current setting, and try to end your
opener with a question. That way you immediately have something in common to
talk about, and you give the other person the opportunity to talk. For example,
"Isn't it great that Duke Law and Wachtell sponsored this reception?" Or, "What is
your area of practice?”
Maintain eye contact when talking. Eye contact communicates sincerity and
Be careful about telling jokes. Do not tell ethnic, religious, sexual, or gender
jokes. (Also be careful of political jokes.) Avoid these areas as topics of
Don't take it personally if you try to talk to someone, and he or she does not
engage with you after you have given it a good try. Move on and talk to someone
Remember that you are trying to achieve quality of contacts rather than quantity
of contacts. Try to learn as much as you can about each person's firm, practice,
and interests. Try to impart similar information about yourself. In the end, you
should each be able to remember something distinctive about the other person.
Wait for an appropriate opportunity or the end of the conversation to ask for a
business card or to offer your own. Don't be offended if someone quickly puts
your business card away or even writes on it.
If appropriate, ask for an opportunity for further conversation and further advice.
Do not ask directly for a job. Do ask for referrals to other contacts.
After the Event:
• Review any business cards you receive and make notes about the people you
spoke with and what you talked about.
Follow up by e-mail or letter to any person with whom you made a connection, if
appropriate. Reference the setting at which you met and something you
Think about how you can utilize these contacts for the future.
IV. Resumes, Cover Letters and Other Correspondence
When contacting employers to request an interview or informational meeting, you should create
and gather the following materials which are typically requested by employers. These are the
tools you will need to market yourself:
1. A current resume
2. A cover letter
3. An official or unofficial transcript
4. A writing sample
5. A list of professional and/or academic references (preferably 3)
In this section, you will learn how to create a resume that highlights your skills and abilities that
will bring value to employers, and a cover letter that will explain your reasons for contacting the
employer. This section also provides guidelines for transcripts, writing samples and reference
Drafting Your Resume
Before you begin drafting your resume, consider how to best "sell" your experience and
credentials. Achievements in school, research and writing, public service, work experience, the
arts or sports, or languages are all of great interest to potential employers. Whether you have
worked for many years or recently graduated from college, your presence at Duke Law School
means you have great achievements to include on your resume. Ultimately, your resume will be
impressive enough to motivate a complete stranger to want to meet you, and later to hire you.
You should assume that a reader will spend no more than 30 seconds on the initial scan
of your resume; thus, it should be neat, error-free and extremely easy to read.
How Your Resume Works for You:
Gives you the opportunity to paint a self-portrait highlighting your
accomplishments and unique attributes.
Gives you your first opportunity to make a favorable impression on a prospective
Format of a Great Resume:
Your resume should fit on one page. If you have extensive pre-law school
experience and/or are applying to public interest and government positions,
discuss your resume length with a Career Counselor.
Your resume should present materials succinctly.
The formatting of your resume should be easy to read and consistently applied
throughout. The Career Center strongly recommends using the format shown in
the Form Resume attached as Appendix D.
(Sample resumes are in Appendix D to this manual. Additional examples of “Experience”
descriptions can be found in Appendix E and a list of helpful action verbs and legal
descriptions is in Appendix F.)
Keeping these principles in mind, let's work our way from the top of your resume to the bottom:
1. Your Name
Center your name at the top of the page. While the substance of your resume should be
between 10 to 12 pt. fonts, you may make your name slightly larger, but no larger than
size 14. If you go by your middle name, you should use an initial for your first name. For
example, if your name is Eva Maria Gabrielsson and you go by Maria, you should
consider using "E. Maria Gabrielsson." While you should not use a nickname such as
Dave, if you go by a name that is very different from your full name, you may wish to
include it on your resume. If you have a gender neutral name, or an unusual name from
which it is difficult to ascertain gender, include your middle name if this makes it obvious
or add "Mr." or "Ms." to your headings. Recruiters appreciate such an effort.
2. Your Address
Your local address should be centered beneath your name. If you decide to include both
a local address as well as a permanent address, position the local address flush with the
left margin and your permanent address at the right margin. A permanent address is
recommended if you are attempting to establish a geographic connection to an area. If
you do not wish to return to your home state, and if you can readily be reached at your
school address, you should not include your home address, as employers will assume
that you still consider it a viable geographic location for employment. Be sure to include
your primary telephone number and email address. Use your Duke email address; do
not use an email address that is unprofessional (e.g. [email protected]).
The heading for this section, "Education", should be flush with the left margin and the
schools should be in BOLD, followed by the city and state. This section, as with the rest
of your resume, should be in reverse chronological order. Beginning with law school, list
your law, graduate and undergraduate schools, city and state, expected or actual year
and month of graduation, degree(s), honors and activities, and grade point average
rounded to the nearest hundredth (e.g. 3.22). Please see Section 7 below for further
discussion of grades.
If you are a joint degree student, you may include this along with your law degree (e.g.,
“Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in English expected, May 2014”). Alternatively, you can list
the school(s) separately. If you attended more than one graduate or undergraduate
school, identify each as well as the years attended. You may also include fellowships,
research projects, and study abroad programs here. If relevant, you may briefly describe
your thesis or research projects.
If you are a transfer student, you must include your original law school after your Duke
University School of Law education section and include the dates you attended and your
GPA, class rank and honors if applicable. See Appendix J for formatting guidance.
What about your secondary (high school) education? While this is not usually
included, you may arguably mention this only under one of the following scenarios:
You were class valedictorian (make sure you also mention this fact on the
You attended a well-known or prestigious secondary school from which a
member of an organization to which you are applying also graduated;
You want to establish roots in a community that are not otherwise apparent.
If you choose to include information about your secondary education, locate it under
Additional Information at the bottom of your resume, not as stand-alone entry under the
“Education” heading. For example:
Member, Phillips Exeter Alumni Association
DO NOT include your LSAT or other standardized test score. The Law School
Admission Council has issued a statement declaring this inappropriate. Also, do not
include college scholarships awarded based on high school performance on a
4. Honors and Activities
"Honors and Activities" should be listed under the respective academic institutions at
which you received them. If your honors and activities are extensive, you may choose to
create a separate "Honors" and "Activities" category under the appropriate academic
institution. Similarly, if you are applying for a specific type of job (public interest or
international, for example), you may want to group your honors and activities
accordingly. For example, you may list Honors under your respective educational
headings, but also create a Public Service Activities category as well.
No matter how you arrange them, be certain to include any honors that indicate a high
level of academic performance, and explain their significance if necessary. Be sure to
include any nationally recognized honors. Scholarships should also be included; if you
received a scholarship or grant to pursue your law degree, be sure to include that under
Duke University School of Law.
Finally, don't forget to include any significant college or professional activities, such as
sports teams or the arts, in which you participated, as employers view this as an
indication of your ability to cooperate and achieve a common goal. Do not underestimate
an accomplishment's value simply because it does not seem "legal" or business related.
Likewise, if you held any positions of leadership in university or community
organizations, these should also be listed.
The next category is "Experience." If everything included in this section is a paid job, you
can call the section "Work Experience," but if you have included internships and
volunteer positions, you should simply call it "Experience." If this section on your resume
is not particularly lengthy, you may be creative and expand upon relevant unpaid
experience here, including teaching and research assistant positions, school-year
internships, or significant community service endeavors.
Begin with the most current or recent position you have held and work backwards
chronologically from there. Do not leave large gaps of time unaccounted for, as you will
waste precious interview time explaining these gaps. Much as your academic entries
were listed, typically the name of the employer and location should be on the first line,
with the positions held and the relevant dates on the second. As shown below, this style
will also allow you to list multiple positions at the same place of employment if
Andrews & Kurth LLP, New York, NY
Paralegal, May 2007 - July 2008
File Clerk, January - May 2007
Following these two lines, you should include a brief job description. When writing a job
description, be succinct and use action words. (A list of frequently used action verbs
can be found in Appendix G to this manual.) Complete sentences are not necessary,
though phrases or bulleted points that function as a sentence, rather than as a listing of
items, should always end with a period. Job descriptions end with a period, but listings in
the academic section and listings of personal interests do not, unless they function as a
sentence. Independent phrases should be separated by semicolons or periods, or, if
space permits, on their own lines with or without a bullet.
The text should be in telegraphic style, which means that you should not include
unnecessary articles such as: "the," "a," or "an." This will make your description read
more crisply. You should also avoid the use of personal pronouns, like "my" or "I." Avoid
using phrases such as, "My responsibilities included writing...reading... researching..."
Instead, try to use "drafted ... read ... researched..." and other action words. Use the
present tense only if you are currently doing the job. Otherwise, all verbs should be in
the past tense.
Your descriptions of previous experiences can make your resume stand apart from the
hundreds of other resumes reviewed by your prospective employer. They should be
specific and interesting, detailing projects you completed and how your work added
value to your employer. To the extent you can quantify your successes, do so.
Remember that the more specific information you include, the more interesting questions
employers can ask you in an interview! Your goal is to describe what you did, that you
did it well, and how it qualifies you for the position to which you are applying – all in a
few lines. As such, drafting a compelling resume it is an art that requires time, practice
and feedback. Make an appointment with a Career Counselor to revise your resume well
in advance of submitting applications.
(Sample language for the Experience portion of your resume can be found in
Appendix F to this manual.)
6. Additional Information
Following the Experience category, you may wish to include an Additional Information
sectional. If you have a particular language ability, you should include a "Languages"
category. Indicate the level of competence, either “native,” “fluent,” "proficient," or
“knowledge of.” Be prepared to be interviewed in that language if you state that you are
If you have any particular skills that you think are interesting and might provoke a
conversation in an interview, include these under Additional Information, e.g. “Interests
include…” In this section you might list SCUBA certification, a Black Belt in Karate, or
other certified activities. Basic word processing and Microsoft Office proficiency and/or
experience with Lexis and Westlaw should not be included, nor should a passive hobby
such as reading or watching movies. You want to demonstrate your discipline,
confidence, dedication, attention to detail or leadership ability – characteristics relevant
to successful lawyers.
7. A Few Final Tips
Sensitive Issues: Keep those activities that might portray you as a "party animal" or
non-academic type, to a minimum. That does not mean that you should always leave off
things like membership in a fraternity or sorority. Rather, you should consider carefully
what value including your membership might add. If you had a leadership position within
your fraternity, this might demonstrate leadership skills, commitment etc. Likewise, take
care not to overstate your political allegiances or membership in politically sensitive
organizations unless you have extraordinary experience or interest in these groups.
Remember, you have no idea of the personal likes and dislikes of the readers of your
resume. Anything on your resume that may rub someone even a little bit the wrong way
is probably enough reason to reject your application. A resume is not the vehicle for
espousing your personal causes unless you are sure your views will be welcomed by
your audience, or unless you would not be interested in working for the employer if he or
she does not agree with your views.
Grades: A very good question is whether to include college and law school grades on
resumes. There is no absolute answer to this question. It is clear, however, that
employers are almost always interested in your academic record, and if you do not
include your GPA on your resume, most will ask for a copy of your transcript before
extending an offer. Some employers express frustration when students submit resumes
without grades, and may assume that you are unhappy with your performance. On the
other hand, your resume is the opportunity for you to sell yourself. If your grades do not
positively reflect your abilities, you may want to omit them. In this situation, you would
hope to make a positive impression on the employer before he or she asks for your
grades; students do have success with this method. As a general rule, if your GPA starts
with a "3", include it. You might want to include it in other cases as well. If you do include
your GPA, remember to round it to the hundredths (e.g., 3.22), not to the tenths. When
in doubt, discuss this important issue with your CPDC counselor.
8. Printing Your Resume
You should produce a professional resume. Variable font sizes and styles can be used
to help you include more information (ideally, your font should be at 11 or 12 point for
ease of reading), and the use of bold and italicized fonts will help you emphasize certain
items. See Appendix A for formatting guidance.
Paper Quality: If submitting a hard copy, your resume should be printed on white or a
neutral color (ecru, very light beige) bond paper (24 lb. is very good). Be sure to
purchase sufficient quantities of matching plain paper and matching envelopes for your
cover letters, resumes and references. If you produce an original resume on regular
copy paper and take it to print shops such as Kinko's, they can darken it a bit and print it
directly onto your quality paper. Kinko’s-quality resume paper is perfectly adequate. You
need not invest a small fortune in more expensive alternatives.
PDF: If submitting your resume electronically, attach it to your email in .pdf form to
ensure that the recipient’s word processing settings don’t modify your carefully
constructed format or inadvertently show edits.
Edit: Perhaps most importantly of all, your resume must be error-free and consistent.
Read and re-read it. Have someone else read it for you. One misspelled word can spoil
your chances of landing an interview.
Law students must avail themselves of every possible opportunity to distinguish their
credentials, attributes and experience. In today's highly competitive job market, a creative,
thoughtfully composed, well-written cover letter can make a significant impact on a hiring
manager to move your resume from the tottering stack of many to the well-balanced stack of a
few. The cover letter is, in fact, your first writing sample read by a potential employer. Therefore,
as with any writing sample, your cover letter should be all of the following:
The desired effects of your cover letter are two-fold: first, to provide the reader with information
regarding your career-related intentions; and secondly, to identify and attract attention to
something about you which is unique, interesting, and desirable in the context of potential
employment as an attorney.
1. The Format
Most importantly, your cover letter should be absolutely perfect, with no typographical
errors or misspellings. Your cover letter should be written in the style of a business letter.
It is now preferable in most cases to email a cover letter and resume. If you do mail,
each letter should be a signed original, printed on bond paper by a letter quality printer.
The color of your cover letter (e.g., white, ivory, and bone...never a color of the rainbow)
should match the color of your resume and envelope. At this stage of your career, your
cover letter should not exceed one page.
2. Text of the Letter
We encourage every student to write to potential employers until he or she secures a
position of interest. This can be a time-consuming and laborious endeavor, but is wellworth it if it leads to securing the optimal position for you. You should develop one or
several standard but flexible letters, which can be adjusted to suit the particular
employer and the particular city or geographic region. You may also need to stress
certain skills or qualifications that you feel will benefit a specific employer. It is likely that
you will need to develop multiple cover letters. Generally speaking, an effective cover
letter needs to establish the following five basic points in three or four paragraphs:
The reason you are contacting a particular employer;
The interest you have in the geographical location of the employer;
The reasons for your interest in the legal practice of the particular employer;
The strengths, attributes, and skills you will contribute to the position for which
you are applying; and
5. Your availability for a personal interview.
3. Choosing the Recipient of Your Letter
You should never write a letter addressed to "To Whom It May Concern," but rather
should direct your letter to a specific person. The salutation should read: "Dear Mr. or
Ms. Jones:". For a judge, the address should read, The Honorable William K. Smith, and
the salutation should read, “Dear Judge Smith:.” Unless given a specific contact person
to whom correspondence is directed, you should send your letters to the recruiting
coordinator at a particular employer. However, depending on the situation, you might
instead address your letter to a Duke alumnus, the head of a particular department, a
hiring partner or manager, or even the former tennis partner of an attorney who is a
family friend. While it is best to consult with CPDC to determine to whom you should
apply, regardless of the primary recipient, it is also wise to "cc" or send a copy of your
letter to the employer's recruiting coordinator. This person will ensure that your
application receives prompt attention.
The NALP Directory will identify the hiring partner or recruitment professional for a
particular firm, but only for NALP member employers. For non-NALP employers, you
may need to check the employer's website or pick up the telephone and inquire. Don't
forget to verify the spelling of the individual's name, and the gender, if necessary.
4. The Introduction
Your first paragraph serves as your introduction. Do not start the letter with "My name is
Mary Powaga," but rather, give a solid indication of your educational status ("I am a firstyear student at Duke University School of Law...") and explain briefly why you are writing
(....and am interested in being considered for a summer associate position for the
summer of 2012.") If you have a particular contact with the employer, this should be
noted here, saying, "Stephanie Wormser, an attorney in your Charlotte office, suggested
that I write to you." The last sentence of this paragraph should serve as your thesis
sentence for the remainder of the letter, possibly identifying 2-3 traits or interests you will
discuss in the body of the letter.
There is not a lot of room for creativity here (especially for 1L's and 2L's). However, the
first paragraph should be a real attention getter since many who will read your letter and
who may view the cover letter as a "mere formality" may not get past the first paragraph.
Thus, if you have a way of creating an immediate and positive first impression (e.g.,
"having decided to attend Duke Law School following my receipt of the Nobel Peace
Prize, I am..."), you might consider this approach.
5. Second Paragraph - Interest in the Employer
Why are you interested in this employer? The following two points must be conveyed:
(1) The employer is in a city or geographic area that appeals to you, and
(2) The employer offers an employment opportunity that is compatible with your career
Let's look at each of these factors:
Geography/Regional Ties: If you have a tie to a particular market, no matter how
tenuous, emphasize it to enhance your credibility. Identify your connection to an area or
a city through your own roots, family ties, college, previous work experience or previous
travel to the city. Some locations are melting pots and employers are not as concerned
with your prior ties to the community (e.g. New York City, D.C., Los Angeles) while
employers in other cities may favor law students with a demonstrable link to the city or
region (e.g. Raleigh, Seattle, Minneapolis, Boston, Texas). If you have no ties to a city,
you will need to establish somewhat convincingly your commitment to living and working
in that city - however this can be readily accomplished. Please speak with one of us in
CPDC if you have questions in this regard.
One way to show your interest in a particular geographic area is by making an effort to
travel to that city. The reason employers may focus on geography is that it typically takes
several years for them to earn back their investment in a new lawyer, so they want to
ensure that you are both committed to starting your career in their city, and that you will
in fact enjoy living in their city. The following are examples of language helpful in
establishing your ties or your interest in a particular city or region.
"Having been raised in Seattle, I intend to return to the Northwest to practice law
following my graduation from Duke."
"I spent four years as an undergraduate at Georgetown and I intend to practice law in
Washington, DC following my graduation from Duke."
"I have enjoyed my many visits to Atlanta and am attracted to both the professional and
personal opportunities that your city offers. I intend to relocate to Atlanta following my
graduation from Duke."
Note: Be careful of using the passive voice in your cover letter. The language of
your cover letter should be engaging, and demonstrate action and intent.
Practice of the Employer: This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are an
informed consumer. In no more than two sentences, explain what it is about the
employer that generated your interest (practice areas, reputation, its commitment to a
specific cause, a recent matter handled by the organization, acquaintance with members
of the organization). Ambivalence, indecision, or a willingness to “do anything” sends the
negative message that you lack focus and just want a job, any job. The challenge is
picking a practice area (a) that fits your interests/skills and (b) in which ample
opportunity may exist. While the selections should be employer-specific, that may mean
dispensing with practice areas which are too small, too “cold” in the current legal
economy, or too selective to be a realistic target. Express your interest with some
enthusiasm. An employer must feel that you devoted some thought to your selection
process. CPDC counselors are more than happy to meet with you regarding your
personal interests and to help you discover the practice area(s) that may be right for you.
Expressing your interest in and passion for the work of the employer is especially
important if you are applying for public interest and government jobs. For public interest
and government jobs, the cover letter is often a much more critical part of your full
Here are a few examples of how others have expressed their interest in a particular
"My immediate goal is to obtain a summer associate position in a firm with an outstanding
reputation for its litigation practice, and I am particularly drawn to your firm for its
prominent role in cases such as Smith v. Johnson."
"I have decided to pursue a legal career in an organization which will offer me an
opportunity to work in the areas of employment discrimination and civil rights."
"Given my background in accounting and finance, including three years in auditing with a
Big Four accounting firm, I believe I could make a contribution to your firm’s premier
transactional or tax practice."
"My goal is to work in a firm which has a reputation for good work-life balance. My
involvement with various charitable events require a significant time commitment."
"I am interested in your firm because of the training it can provide me in the area of
entertainment law. I expect to become a Hollywood agent in a couple of years."
“I am seeking an organization that will serve as an effective feeder to government
Moreover, while it is important to highlight particular attributes of the employer that attract
you ("I am particularly interested in your newly established intellectual property group"),
do not waste time with puffery about the employer’s overall strength, prestige, or size.
Attorneys know their organizations are attractive to law students for these reasons, and
these overt compliments are unimpressive.
6. Third Paragraph - What You Bring to the Table
Your goal here should not be to reiterate facts obvious from your resume but rather to:
establish those traits which an employer expects from an employable law
student, such as excellent legal writing and research skills; and
set forth something about you which, in the eyes of the reader, separates you
from the masses in a very positive way.
Such a unique qualification may be derived from a practical work experience, an
academic experience as an undergraduate or in another graduate school or from an
extracurricular activity. Whatever the experience has been, it should portray a personal
attribute that is highly desirable in a young lawyer. You may demonstrate your
dedication, diligence, creativity, energy, perseverance, commitment, attention to detail,
ability to assume responsibility, or work ethic through a very personal experience. If
possible, be compelling, show some passion, and put a part of yourself on the page.
Compose something that the reader will remember one hour later.
Do not be discouraged if you feel you do not have a particular experience that jumps off
the page. Although you may not have played at Carnegie Hall, been a military officer,
run a marathon or written a play, you attend Duke Law School because you are a
talented individual. Here is another chance to show it. So invest some time in this
process. It is worth it. Make sure to apply your skills or accomplishments to the practice
of law. For example, if you have worked in retail, you might say that your "customer
service experience has prepared you for the challenge of dealing with attorneys and
clients with diverse backgrounds and goals." After you have completed this paragraph,
test it out on a friend or bring it to the CPDC.
State your interest in a personal interview. If you plan on being in the employer's city on
a certain date, you should indicate this fact. Offer to provide any additional information
and express your thanks for his or her consideration. (Sample cover letters are located
in Appendix H to this manual.)
If the employer requests a copy of your transcript, you should ask whether they would prefer an
official transcript or if an unofficial transcript is sufficient. Official transcripts are available only
from the Duke University registrar on the main campus (the law school Registrar cannot
provide you with an official transcript). You may create an unofficial transcript by cutting and
pasting from ACES into a Word document and clearly indicating that it in an unofficial transcript
on the final document.
(A sample transcript is located in Appendix J to this manual.)
While your cover letters and resumes are obvious writing samples, you should be prepared to
submit a formal legal writing sample as well. While a writing sample alone will not get you a job,
it clearly can be your undoing if you submit something inappropriate.
1. Text of a Writing Sample
• A writing sample must be entirely your own work. Do not plagiarize. Your writing
sample should be substantially unedited by anyone else. If significant parts of the
sample were not edited, you may indicate those parts on the document. If you
have an unedited sample that might appear to have been edited, it is acceptable
to attach a cover sheet with a brief explanation saying, "The following is an
unedited memorandum I wrote as a paralegal at Arnold & Porter. I have been
given express permission to use it as a writing sample."
A writing sample should demonstrate your ability to analyze a legal issue.
Consequently, the sample should contain a set of facts, a discussion of the
relevant case or statutory law, and a conclusion drawn from the application of the
law to the facts. Many first year students use the memorandum they prepared
for their legal writing course in the fall. Feel free to make additional edits – your
own edits – so it is the best work product it can be.
Additional writing samples could include: a book review, a portion of a university
thesis, or paper for a law school seminar based on a more jurisprudential topic. If
you have written something that has been published, you might offer this as a
secondary sample if asked.
If you select a document originally prepared for an employer, you must also be careful
not to breach any confidences or attorney-client privileges. You must obtain permission
from your employer before using such a sample and, as addressed above, you should
indicate that permission has been granted on an attached cover sheet. If you need to
redact confidential information such as a client name, it is preferable to rename the client
generically and to inform the reader of this change on a cover sheet or in a footnote
(e.g., ABC Corporation).
As a general rule, a 5-10 page document is ideal. You may use a section of a larger
work, but if you do, be sure to preface the sample with an explanatory note that (1)
explains the larger task and the selected issue(s), and (2) offers any facts necessary to a
full understanding of the excerpted analysis.
If you redact internal sections of a document in order to shorten it, make this clear to the
reader so that if it is a legal area they are familiar with they do not assume that you left
out an important argument. For example, if you are using a memorandum or brief that
has separate sections, you could redact one section but leave its title.
3. Final Tips
• Proofread. Your goal is to submit a document that is free from errors in spelling,
grammar and punctuation, as it will be checked for errors, even in citation form.
Candidates routinely lose potential jobs due to sloppy writing samples.
Your writing sample may be submitted on regular, photocopy quality paper. It should
be stapled in the upper left-hand corner. Make sure each copy is clean and neat.
You do not need to submit a writing sample to an employer until it has been
requested. However, you should bring copies of your writing sample to all interviews.
References and Reference Lists
References should not be listed directly on your resume. They should be on a separate
sheet of paper.
A good sign that a potential employer is seriously considering you for a position is a request for
your references. Usually the employer will want the names of two or three people who can
recommend you for employment based on their personal experience with you either as a law
student or as an employee (preferably as a law clerk, research assistant or from a prior work
When providing references:
Before you give the name of any reference to a potential employer, you should
obtain permission from your reference to pass along his or her name. Further, you
should give a copy of your resume to your reference so he or she can become
familiar with your background before the reference check.
Use a sheet of stationary matching your resume to list each reference's name,
address, professional affiliation, position, telephone number and email address.
If it is not otherwise clear from your resume, you should identify each reference as to
his or her connection to you, i.e., "Former Employer" or "Torts Professor."
Put your name, address and telephone number at the top of the page in a manner
that is identical to the heading on your resume.
If one of your references has a connection to the prospective employer, you may
wish to mention this fact in your cover letter.
DO NOT include on your resume, "References available upon request." because that is
(A sample reference list is in Appendix I to this manual.)
Contacting Employers to Obtain a Job
After meeting with a career counselor and taking advantage of other available resources
including faculty, alumni, internet and print materials, you will hopefully have a sense of the type
of position that you would like to pursue. Now that you are ready to send those resumes out the
door, here are some tips to help you organize your outreach efforts.
1. How Many Letters Should You Send?
While no one knows this magic number, we do know that you should not send so many
that they cannot be personalized. Employers are disinclined to interview those who have
clearly sent generic letters as a result of a mass mailing. It is better to write personal
letters to employers you have researched thoroughly than to send a less thoughtful
mass mailing. Remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression – if
you submit a generic application to an employer, you will not have the opportunity to reapply with a better application after you discover that the employer is a perfect match for
Therefore, you should apply to as many employers as you reasonably can, while still
crafting the applications to the needs and strengths of each particular employer. Some
employers will lend themselves to more personalization than others, but you should
always add at least one or two individualized points for each employer.
2. Email or Regular Mail
Regular mail is the traditional method of sending your cover letter, resume and other
correspondence to a potential employer. However, emailing correspondence is now
common and preferred by most employers.
Note that when using email, it is imperative that cover letters, resumes, and all other
"formal letters" be sent as individual attachments written and appearing as if you were
mailing it. Do not write your full letter in the body of the email; instead attach each
document as a PDF. This format is important because your materials will likely be
printed out at some point and they should appear as formal documents. Remember that
using PDF format provides you with more control over the way prospective employers
will view your final documents than does attaching documents in Word or equivalent
The subject line of your email should indicate the purpose of your contact, such as
"Duke Law School Student Seeking Summer Internship". In the body of your email, you
may want to insert a modified version of the first paragraph of your cover letter so the
recipient has an idea why you are contacting him or her.
You do not need to include your mailing address and the date in the body of your email.
You can begin with "Dear Ms. Smith:."
Since it is easy to make mistakes when sending emails, here are a few suggestions to
ensure that you send what you intend:
Do not put in the address of the recipient until you are ready to send.
Open attached files to confirm that you are sending the correct version of your cover
letter and resume.
Send a blind copy to yourself to confirm what was sent and make it easy to resend it
It is critical that resumes and cover letters be sent in a format where the recipient
cannot see various edits you have made to the document. If you cannot send your
document in PDF, view it "showing markups" to confirm that they will only get a clean
TO: [email protected]
FROM: [email protected]
BC: [email protected]
DATE: December 1, 2011
SUBJECT: Duke Law Student Seeking Summer Employment
Dear Ms. Smith:
I am a first-year student at Duke University School of Law and am interested in obtaining a position
with your firm for the Summer of 2012. I have attached a copy of my cover letter and resume.
I will be in the Bay Area over the winter break visiting family and friends (December 19 – 30), and I
would welcome the opportunity to meet with representatives of your firm at that time.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you.
Very truly yours,
3. Your Follow-Up After Sending an Application or Networking Letter
The most important step in writing letters is not the writing - but the follow-up. Calling
and/or emailing to confirm receipt of your materials and then to remind the employer that
you will be in his or her town on a given future date is an excellent way to have your
information pulled from the file and acted upon. It doesn't always lead to immediate
results, but this additional contact can increase your chances significantly. Such a call is
appropriate 7-10 days after sending.
G. Other Communications to Employers
In addition to your resume, cover letter, and writing sample, there is other correspondence for
which you will be responsible during your job quest. Thank you letters, reimbursement requests,
and acceptance/rejection letters provide you with opportunities to further interact with an
employer, as well as to provide them with important information.
1. Thank You Letters
Screening Interviews. While not all employers expect thank you letters after an initial
on-campus or screening interview, others incorporate thank you notes into their selection
process. Since sending a brief “thank you” email to your interviewer(s) never hurts, we
recommend doing so within 24 hours of a screening interview. Remember to keep it brief
and to the point and try to mention something specific that you discussed during your
interview. While a typed or handwritten letter is more traditional, the speed of email is
especially advantageous with respect to screening interviews since decisions to make
callbacks are often made within hours or days of the initial contact. If you choose to use
email, the subject line should simply be "Thank You.”
Callbacks. Send a thank you letter (or letters) immediately following your return from
an interview at the employer's office. In this context, you can either e-mail or mail your
letter. E-mail is quicker and a mailed letter is more traditional, so obviously there are
advantages and disadvantages to both options. The general purpose of such a letter is
Express your appreciation to the interviewers for their interest in you as well as
their hospitality during your visit.
Remind the interviewer who you are by highlighting something that occurred
during the interview which you believe the interviewer should recall.
Indicate that you remain extremely interested in the employer.
A Form Thank You Letter is a Waste of Time: Each thank you letter must be
customized to the individual receiving the letter. The best way to personalize the letter is
to mention a particular detail that made a favorable impression on you during the
interview. To do this, take notes on your interviews as soon as possible after leaving the
To Whom Should You Write? Unless you can write a very distinct note to each person
with whom you met, write one letter to either the recruiting coordinator or the hiring
partner and ask the coordinator to pass along your appreciation to the others with whom
you met. You will need to include the names of everyone with whom you interviewed, so
be sure to note each interviewer’s name. If there is an additional person with whom you
really connected, you could write that person as well. Note that if you interviewed with a
small employer and only met two or three people, you should try to write personalized
letters to each. However, one really good letter is better than a number of not-so-good
letters or letters that are repetitive.
Proofread! While a carefully written thank you letter is unlikely to independently secure
a position, a thank you letter with one misspelling, grammatical error, too-casual tone or
lack of personalization can (and has) derail students’ otherwise strong prospects of
receiving callbacks or offers. The thank you letter is really just another writing sample
that you are providing to the employer; be sure to treat it as such.
(A sample thank you letter is in Appendix K to this manual.)
2. Correspondence Regarding Offers, Acceptances and Rejections
Receiving and Accepting an Offer
You should acknowledge an offer of employment within 24 hours of receiving it. You
should be prepared to either accept, decline or request more time to decide. Do not
accept an offer unless you are fully prepared to work for that employer. When
accepting an offer, it is important that you proceed in a professional manner. As soon
as you have decided to accept an offer, you should telephone either the individual
who extended the offer or the recruitment department of the employer and inform
them of your decision. Upon completing your telephone call, you should write the
employer as soon as possible confirming your decision. Again in a very professional
manner, you will express your gratitude at receiving the offer and state that you
enjoyed both your visit to the employer and the opportunity to meet with several of
the employer’s lawyers. Under the NALP rules, employers should hold offers for first
year students open for at least two weeks. Offers for second and third year law
students that are made during the fall recruiting season have separate deadlines set
by NALP. The CPDC or NALP websites will have the time lines for subsequent
years. (A sample acceptance letter is in Appendix L to this manual.)
Declining an Offer
It is perhaps even more critical to decline offers in a timely and professional manner,
as these may be the first employers you contact should you seek other opportunities
as a 2L, 3L, or after graduation. As soon as you have decided to reject an offer, you
should telephone either the individual who made you the offer or the recruitment
office and inform them of your decision. Your decision will usually free up an offer,
which may then be extended to another law student. If you are only able to reach an
employer's voicemail during their regular business hours, leave a message declining
the offer. Your promptness will be most appreciated and will contribute to the overall
efficiency of the recruiting season.
Upon completing your telephone call, you should write the employer as soon as
possible confirming your decision. In a professional manner, express gratitude at
receiving the offer and state that you enjoyed both your visit and the opportunity to
meet with several of the employer's lawyers. You should also express your regrets in
reaching the decision to decline the offer. Be sure to copy the contact in the
recruiting department, if applicable. This letter will be placed in your file. If you
contact the employer for a position in the future, there is a good chance it will still
have this file and will refer to its contents in deciding whether to consider you for a
position. A courteous letter may inure to your benefit. (A sample decline letter is in
Appendix M to this manual.)
Interview Preparation and Logistics
Screening interviews may take place on campus (OCI), via telephone, at a job fair and in
various other formal and informal settings. The typical screening interview is a 20 to 30 minute
meeting with 1 or 2 interviewers. Public sector employers sometimes conduct only one round of
interviews; therefore, be aware that your initial interview may be your only meeting before the
employer makes a decision.
Almost all legal employers will require one or more rounds of interviews, either in person or over
the phone, before offering you a position for the summer. As a result, the interviewing stage is
critical in the hiring process. While some students may feel more self-conscious than others
about the prospect of talking with prospective employers, all students can master the art of the
interview with proper preparation
A. Interview Preparation
There are two distinct levels to the process of preparing for an interview: (1) conducting
research on the prospective employer and (2) conducting research on you. It is only after you
have researched the employer and its practice, hiring requirements and environment, AND
identified your own goals, interests, and abilities, and connected the two, so that you can
articulate (a) your specific interest in that employer and (b) your specific “value add” for that
particular employer based upon your unique background, skills, and interests—you are fully
prepared for the interview.
Part of your preparation should include learning to be an "active" interviewee. While a passive
interviewee may provide sound responses to interviewers' questions, he or she is foregoing a
valuable opportunity to make important points. Taking charge of an interview means being
responsive to the interviewer, while also making your most important three or four points
in every interview, irrespective of the interviewer and the questions asked of you.
Think of these three or four points as “headlines” about yourself – the attributes of your
experience or personality that make you unique – and endeavor to work them into the
conversation by use of anecdotes which illustrate these positive traits (i.e. leadership
ability, grace under pressure, business savvy, discipline, etc.).
1. Researching the Employer
You should conduct extensive research into the employer, its attorneys, and its clients.
In particular, if you have the names of the lawyers with whom you will be interviewing,
you should determine what their practice areas are and whether they have been
involved in anything significant recently. Reading the employer's website is an obvious
first step, though it should be only one of several sources of information. News about the
employer's growth, major transactions or legal victories, and other noteworthy events
provides substantive issues to discuss during your interview. Google, Lexis and Westlaw
research is critical to obtain this type of information. In addition to printed resources,
family members, friends, fellow students, alumni, and members of the law school
administration and faculty who have worked at the employer or elsewhere in the same
city are excellent resources for learning about employers. By mentioning conversations
you have had with any of these individuals during your interview, you demonstrate to
interviewers that you are both invested in learning about their organization and that you
are a person who takes initiative. Some students also read material on employers on
websites like Vault.com while others review publicly available financial information.
This research will allow you to prepare thoughtful questions that will make you stand out.
Unique questions not only demonstrate your ability to interview, but also your positive
commitment to and interest in the firm. Make sure you prepare questions before you
have the interview. A list of suggested questions to ask employers, as well as those
that you should expect to be asked of you, can be found in the Appendix N to this
2. Personal Preparation
Interviewers will assess your questions and responses, not only in terms of their
informational content, but also in the manner in which they are asked and answered.
Your energy, sincerity, enthusiasm, candor, humor, precision, and style are among the
many aspects that will affect the impression you make. Employers look for people with
both sound academic and interpersonal skills. As such, you should be courteous, make
good eye contact and remain calm. Likewise, watch your interviewers' body language,
as it could reveal important things about their beliefs about their employer and their
reaction to you.
Whatever your academic qualifications, before your interview even begins you need to
assess your positive qualities. It may be your experience, writing ability, or personality. If
you cannot convince yourself that you have something to offer, it will be impossible to
convince an interviewer. Please arrange a meeting with one of us in CPDC to help
review and highlight your personal strengths.
Use tact to answer questions directly and honestly; your self-confidence says more
about you than almost everything else. Never apologize for shortcomings; instead,
anticipate confident responses to potentially uncomfortable questions. This point
is critical. In addition, you may consider raising your weaknesses and addressing them
with confident responses. This technique allows you to resolve concerns that the
interviewer may well have but may not be asking. Otherwise, the interviewer will draw
his or her own conclusions after the interview. You will find a list of questions you can
expect to be asked, as well as those you might want to ask, in Appendix N to this
Read these questions carefully and verbally answer them (do it with a friend if it will
make you more comfortable) in preparation for your interviews. You may want to start by
writing out answers. The best way to assess your interviewing skills and determine what
aspects you need to improve is to participate in a mock interview. CPDC counselors
are happy to conduct mock interviews for you at any time during the year. CPDC
will host a formal mock interview program for first-year students early in the spring
3. Prepare to Look Your Best: Dressing for Success
Before you go into an interview, remember that how you dress is important. Your attire
should reflect your professionalism and contribute to your confidence level. You want to
be remembered for the content of the interview, not for what you were wearing. In all
respects, your attire should be crisp, clean, professional and “memorably unmemorable.”
It should fit well and be comfortable, so that you can concentrate on substance. IF YOU
SMOKE, DO NOT SMOKE IN YOUR INTERVIEW SUIT.
• Pant suits are more acceptable nationwide, but choose the most comfortable option
for you. A suit with a skirt is more conservative, and some legal employers are more
"traditional" places. Appropriate attire may vary by region. Discuss this with your
Career Counselor if you are unsure.
Skirts should not be tight and should be NO shorter than two inches above your
knee. Your suit jacket and skirt should fit comfortably so that you can raise your arms
above your head, sit, stand, move around—be comfortable and professional from all
angles, seated and standing.
Suits should be a dark, neutral color (black, navy, brown or tan); blouses are a good
way to bring color into your outfit. Keep makeup understated; keep nails trimmed and
if polished, the polish should be in a clear or pale shade.
Like makeup, jewelry should be simple. Forego multiple earrings, rings or necklaces.
Choose simple (studs, not dangling) earrings.
Hair should be neat; if it is long, keep it controlled.
Shoes should be appropriately professional, closed-toe pumps; stilettos, boots,
mules, and sandals are not suggested.
If you wear a skirt, wear sheer hose in the same color as your suit or in a neutral
You may carry a professional brief bag, or portfolio. Do not carry a backpack
Forgo strong cologne or perfume for the day.
• Your suit should be a dark, neutral color, with or without a faint pinstripe.
Your tie should be conservative; for example, silk in a simple stripe.
Men should wear black, cordovan, or brown leather shoes, polished and with unworn heels; wing tip and plain lace up shoes are best.
Socks should be over-the-calf and should match your pants - no white gym socks.
White shirts are your best bet, although you may choose other appropriately
Your complete ensemble should be clean and pressed - especially your shirt.
We recommend that your hair, beard, or mustache be appropriately short and neatly
trimmed. Make sure your nails are clean and trimmed. If you wear an earring, stud or
other jewelry, do not wear it during interviews.
You may carry a briefcase or portfolio, but do not carry a backpack.
Forego cologne for the day.
B. On-Campus Interviews
The following are frequently asked questions about on-campus interview schedules:
When is my interview? Your interview date or time may change based on
adjustments to the employer’s schedule. Remember to confirm the date and time
for each interview by checking Symplicity on a regular basis throughout the
interview season—including checking that morning for any changes to your
interview schedule or location that may be occasioned by an interviewer’s
schedule or weather emergency. Each year a few students inadvertently write
down a wrong date or time and miss an important interview.
How long are on-campus interviews? On-campus interviews are typically
twenty minutes. Some employers choose to conduct thirty minute interviews.
What do I take to an interview?
(1) Updated resume. This should be printed on bond paper. Bring plenty of
copies. There is no need to provide them in a folder or expensive portfolio.
Plan to bring one clean, pristine copy of your resume on cream or ecru bond
paper for each on campus interview, plus a handful of extras (you may have
(2) Writing sample. You may use your memo from your legal writing class. Feel
free to update or edit the document as you see fit. We suggest no more than
5-10 pages. Your writing sample can be printed on regular paper.
(3) Law School Transcripts (Official or Unofficial). You may use an official or
unofficial (downloaded from ACES) version of your transcript. You may
obtain a transcript via the University Registrar’s website
at www.registrar.duke.edu or via ACES under Academics/Transcript
Requests. (Be sure to make several copies of your transcript to bring with
you to each interview.) See the Appendices to this manual for a sample
(4) List of references. Provide contact information for two to three people who
can recommend you for employment based on their personal experience with
you as a student or employee.
What should I do at the time of my interview? Plan to arrive at the interview
room at least five minutes early. Knock once on the door at the scheduled time to
announce your arrival, and every two minutes thereafter – this is very important
as it helps the interviewers stay on schedule. Wait until your interviewer comes
out to greet you before entering the room, unless you are invited to enter.
Can I miss class for an on-campus interview? Students should not miss class
for on-campus interviews. As a condition of participating in the on-campus
interview program, each student must enter his or her entire class schedule as
"unavailable times" when “bidding” for interviews and must keep the “unavailable
times” schedule current as the student’s class schedule changes during the
drop/add period at the beginning of the semester.
The Career Center is authorized to suspend bidding and interviewing
privileges for students who do not properly enter their class schedule as
“unavailable times” until such schedule
is properly entered. Missing a class
for an on-campus interview will be treated under Rule 3.8 in the same manner
as missing class for any other reason.
What happens if my class schedule changes and I suddenly have an
interview conflict? If a last-minute change in your class schedule results in a
conflict, update your unavailable times in Symplicity and contact Gail Cutter in
the CPDC at [email protected] as soon as possible. Given enough notice, we will
try to change the time of your interview.
Can I drop an interview once schedules are final? Once schedules are final,
there are only three qualifying “Excused Absences.” These are:
Extreme illness or death in the family
Acceptance of an offer of employment and notification to the Career
Center prior to the time of the interview. Accepting an offer of employment
will result in cancellation of all remaining interviews.
Notification to the Career Center in accordance with its “Advance
Cancellation Policy” (which will be distributed in a future addendum to this
In all case, please notify Gail Cutter, Director of Employer Relations,
at [email protected] at soon as practical, of your specific situation and
the specific date, time and employer interview at issue.
C. Meeting the Employer
The first few minutes of the interview are very important. Some interviewers talk about the "halo
effect" of the first four minutes, which sets the tone of the interview and has a major impact on
how the recruiter views the applicant. When you go into the interview room, shake your
interviewer's hand firmly, make good eye contact, and smile. It creates a strong impression to
remember the interviewer's name and to say, as you shake hands, "It is nice to meet you, Ms.
So-and-so." Do not use the interviewer's first name unless he or she instructs you to do so.
Wait until the interviewer indicates that you should sit down, and when you do, sit up attentively;
slouching and sprawling are indicative of sloppiness. Place your hand on the arms of the chair
or in your lap. Do not engage in nervous habits, including playing with your hands, your watch or
jewelry. If you have a transcript or a writing sample, put them in a portfolio and bring them out
when necessary. If you take a portfolio with you, set it on the floor next to your chair.
As a rule, you should not take notes during the interview. With only 20 minutes to make a
positive impression, this time is better spent concentrating on the interviewer and his or her
questions. However, after your interview (when you’ve left the room), take a few moments to
make some notes about the interview, your reaction to it, what was said, and your impression of
the interviewer(s) and the firm. These notes will help prepare you if you are invited for a second
visit or to write a thank you note. Try to remember to ask for every interviewer's business card
so that you will have the correct spelling of his or her name. For all interviews, you are wise to
have some specific questions prepared. (A list of suggested questions to ask employers, as
well as those that you should expect to be asked of you, can be found in the Appendix N
to this manual.) Although not typical, some interviewers may choose not to ask any questions
about you, preferring to spend the entire interview asking you what questions you have about
D. Following Up After Screening Interviews
The following are frequently asked questions about the next steps after your screening
• Do I need to write a thank you note after a screening interview? While it is
not necessary to write a thank you letter after an initial on-campus or screening
interview (as the employer will usually have made a decision about you before
your letter arrives), sending a brief “thank you” email to your interviewer(s) never
hurts, and may help you secure further interviews if you are “on the bubble.” We
do recommend that you write a thank you note after a callback interview (A
sample thank you letter is in the Appendix K to this manual).
When will I hear from the employer? While employer response times vary, if
you have not heard from an employer of interest within two to three weeks, we
encourage you to follow up on the status of your application. Follow up with the
interviewer with whom you spoke, and also reach out to Duke classmates who
have spent the summer at the firm, alumni at the firm, or other contacts. Speak to
your CPDC Career Counselor about how to conduct appropriate, professional
outreach to reiterate your interest in an employer. If you would, in fact, accept the
offer of a particular employer if it were extended to you, it is appropriate to
express your (genuine and specific) enthusiasm to one employer. Again, seek
CPDC assistance on the most strategy way to go about this.
What happens if an interviewer behaves inappropriately during my
interview? While most interviewers strive to maintain a professional and
sensitive attitude during interviews, occasionally a student may have a complaint
about offensive or discriminatory behavior on the part of an interviewer.
If you have a complaint about inappropriate behavior during an on-campus,
screening or call-back interview, please view our Anti-Discrimination Policy
on CPDC website (http://www.law.duke.edu/career/students/policy) and come
to CPDC to file a complaint.
What happens after the first round of interviews? Public interest and
government employers vary in the next phase of the interview process. Some of
them will make hiring decisions after the first interview, others will conduct a
second interview over the telephone, and still others will require that the student
meet with them on-site for a “callback” interview. Please be mindful that you may
be responsible for travel expenses when visiting a public interest or government
employer for an interview. However, private sector employers typically invite
students to visit the employer for a callback interview. Private sector employers
will usually pay for your travel expenses.
The process for a typical callback interview is described in detail below.
You will receive additional information regarding the callback process in the Fall
On Campus Recruiting Manual, provided to you in June of 2012, and available at
that time on the CPDC website at our password-protected link. Much of what
follows is equally applicable to public interest, government and private sector
E. Callback Interviews
The callback interview is an opportunity for both you and the employer to further explore
whether there is a mutual interest in an employment relationship. The callback interview
ordinarily lasts three to five hours, and is the equivalent of about four to six on-campus
interviews in a row. During a law firm callback interview, you will typically interview with a series
of lawyers in the firm, partners as well as associates. The interview may also include a meal.
Since the employer has invited you for a callback interview, the interviewers will probably
assume that you are able to do the work. Your evaluation by each interviewer will be primarily
subjective – how you will fit into the employer’s culture, your energy level, and your enthusiasm
for the employer. The most important thing is for the people with whom you meet to like you as
The callback interview is a big expense for employers and should not be taken lightly. You
should only accept a callback interview with employers in which you have a genuine interest.
Do not accept a callback in a city so that you can visit friends or have a “free” trip home. Do not
accept a callback interview with an employer just to see if you will get an offer if you are no
longer interested in the employer. Carefully consider how many callback interviews you should
accept and remember that:
Callback interviews may require missing one or more days of class.
Employers offer a limited number of callback interviews – each time you accept a
callback interview, you might be taking an opportunity away from another Duke
student who wants to work for the employer.
Please see Duke University School of Law Policies 6-2 and 6-3 online
(http://www.law.duke.edu/about/community/rules/index), for additional information on this topic.
How do I respond to an employer who has contacted me for a callback
interview? During the on-campus interview season, you should check your
voicemail and email regularly. It is critical that you respond to employers within
24 hours of receiving a message. You are not expected to accept or reject a
callback interview within 24 hours, but you must respond immediately and
professionally. It is perfectly acceptable to call the employer, express your
enthusiasm about the opportunity, and say that you will get back to them in a few
days. Then be sure that you do follow up in a timely way as promised.
How likely is it that a callback invitation will result in an offer? In prior years,
according to NALP, about 60% of callback interviews nationwide resulted in an
offer being extended. Statistics for this year, however, have yet to be released
and are expected to be significantly lower. Please keep in mind that many factors
impact offer decisions, such as the student’s interviewing skills, personality, work
experience, grades, extracurricular activities, ties to a particular geographic
region, perceived “fit” with the employer, etc.
1. Arranging the Callback Interview
When should I schedule my callback interview? Am I allowed to miss
class? Missing class for callback interviews is discouraged. Some 2Ls have tried
to leave a day in the week during the Fall semester without classes so they can
visit employers. You should endeavor to schedule your callback interviews on
one of the first dates offered by the employer, taking your classes and other
commitments into account.
While scheduling is not always within your control, employers report that it is
often advantageous to schedule callback interviews as early as possible as offer
decisions are made on a rolling basis.
Under some circumstances, missing class for a callback interview may be
unavoidable. If you must miss a class, speak with your professor first and ask his
or her permission. You may wish to consult a CPDC counselor if you need
assistance making a decision.
How do I arrange for my travel and accommodations? Some employers will
make all the arrangements for you and send your tickets and itinerary to you.
Others will ask you to make the travel and hotel arrangements yourself and they
will reimburse you following your interview. If appropriate, ask the recruiting
coordinator if the employer has a travel service or a preferred hotel with a student
rate. Also, be certain to ask if the employer participates, or would like to
participate, in the PILF CAPITAL Program where money is donated to PILF if you
choose to stay with a friend or relative and forego the hotel. Information about
employers participating in the CAPITAL Program is available
It is always wise to arrive in the city the day before a morning callback interview
to account for potential flight delays. If you arrange for multiple callback
interviews to the same city at the same time, the interviewing employers will
share the expense of your trip. Typically, one employer will receive your receipts,
reimburse you and bill the other.
Is it acceptable to meet other employers for a screening interview while I
am in a city on a callback interview? Yes, it is fine to have a first round
interview with another employer, including public interest and government
employers, in the city as long as you inform the employer that is paying for your
travel of your plans.
How long does the interview last? Will it involve lunch or dinner? Many
employers have two callback interview times, and you may be able to choose
your time depending on your preferences and employer availability. Some
employers begin around 9:30 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m., with lunch included.
Others will have you arrive in the mid-afternoon and stay until around 6:00 p.m.
“Call back days” which include social activities and meals, are a growing trend in
some regions. If necessary, you can do two half-day callback interviews in one
day, but it is not recommended, as callback interviews can be very tiring and
traffic or scheduling delays at the first employer could prevent you from reaching
your second interview on time. If you do interview with two employers in one day,
schedule the interview with your preferred employer in the morning when you are
likely to be the most alert.
2. Preparing for the Callback Interview
The following are some tips to enhance your callback interviewing experience:
• Contact the recruiting coordinator ahead of time to find out the names of the
attorneys with whom you will interview. Take a look at the attorneys’ profiles on
the employer’s website and find out if you have something in common with your
interviewers – this may help you to develop questions to ask or talking points to
raise during the interview. It is common not to receive your interview schedule
until 24 hours prior to your interview. Conduct research on the firm as a whole,
and save the specific research on your interviewing attorneys for the last day.
(After all, last-minute substitutes are inevitable in the hectic schedules of busy
attorneys, and you should be gracious and flexible if a change in your schedule
Plan to arrive at the employer’s office fifteen minutes early; you will inevitably run
into transportation problems. If you are early, you can always wait in the
reception area, review your notes, read the Wall Street Journal or National Law
Journal to review the day’s events. It can be interesting to observe clients,
attorneys and staff interact in the reception area. Make sure you are unfailingly
polite to everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the senior partner (and
especially the receptionist and recruiting staff). Rudeness or discourtesy
expressed to any employee (or for that matter, your fellow interviewees) will
certainly be brought to the attention of the hiring committee. The interview begins
the moment you step into the employer’s building, if not before.
Bring extra resumes, transcripts and writing samples to the interview in a
portfolio. Do not produce them except on request, unless you have made
changes to your resume. Do not carry a knapsack or book bag
Be attentive to your surroundings. You can often break the ice by commenting
positively or with interest on some decoration in the interviewer’s office. Thank
them for making the time to meet with you; if there is a specific reason you have
been looking forward to meeting this person or visiting this organization, say it. It
is your responsibility in an interview to do the heavy lifting. You must win over
the interviewer and turn him or her into your ambassador—the person who will
make your case to join the organization
Research the employer thoroughly before you arrive. This is absolutely critical if
you wish to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack. A well-prepared
interviewee who expresses real interest in working for the employer can increase
his or her likelihood of receiving an offer. But resist the temptation to appear
obsessive about the employer. Review your answers to the questions you are
likely to be asked.
Be sure to ask each interviewer for a business card before you leave his or her
Be confident, yet humble.
3. When the Callback Interview Includes a Meal
The interview lunch or dinner is part of the interview. Avoid being too chummy, too
casual, or otherwise developing a false sense of security with the attorneys hosting the
lunch or dinner. Remember that the entire meal is part of the interview even if it feels
more casual. These attorneys will also complete evaluation forms about your candidacy.
Do not drink alcohol, even if encouraged by your hosts who are often first or secondyear associates. Don’t order the most elaborate or expensive thing on the menu, or try
something you’ve never eaten before. The emphasis should be on the substance of the
conversation—not showing off your knowledge of wine or exotic fare. Keep it light; that
will allow you to focus on conversation; you should be doing most of the talking. It is fine
to move beyond “talking shop;” the interviewers want to see if you’d fit in at a client
event, a closing dinner, a partner’s home—think of these events as your professional
goal, not a casual outing.
4. The End of the Callback Interview
The end of the interview is usually spent with a member of the recruiting staff. Thank the
person who shows you to the door for their hospitality and inquire when you may expect
to hear from them. Immediately after the interview, jot down some notes about each of
your interviews that day that will help jog your memory once you return home.
5. After the Callback Interview
Should I write a thank you letter after a callback interview; if so, to whom
should I send it? Yes, but unless you can write a very personalized note to each
person with whom you met, you should write one letter to the recruiting
coordinator or the hiring partner and ask them to pass along your appreciation to
the attorneys who interviewed you. If there is a particular person with whom you
really connected, you could write an individual note to that person as well.
Remember, however, that one good letter is better than several not-so-good
letters or letters that are generic. You can e-mail, handwrite, or type your letter. It
is critical that you proofread your thank you letters carefully as a misspelled word
or grammatical error can influence the reader’s opinion of you. One mistake in a
thank you letter – in a profession characterized by its attention to detail – can
cost you a job offer.
When will the employer notify me of their decision? The answer to this
question varies. Some employers will get back to you within one week. Others
will take more than one month. It may depend on how the employer’s hiring
committee is organized. A telephone call to the employer inquiring about your
status is appropriate two weeks after your callback interview, not before (unless
an emergency arises). Repeated calls to the recruiting department can make a
negative impression, reflecting desperation rather than enthusiasm. Speak to
your CPDC counselor to develop an effective follow-up strategy.
F. Expenses and the Reimbursement Process
What are reasonable interview expenses? There is not a comprehensive list of
acceptable expenses. The following is a list of items that typically qualify for
reimbursement by the employer, and items that you should not expect the
employer to pay for:
Airport Parking Fees
Meals (within reason)
Do not expect the employer to pay for the following expenses:
Hotel internet access fees
Hotel dry-cleaning bill
Mini bar purchases
Cocktails at a bar
Flowers sent to a spouse back home
Long distance phone calls
Weekly health club fee
Weekend hotel stay in connection with a Friday/Monday interview
Limousine to and from the hotel
If you have a question about what constitutes an acceptable expense, please
check with the recruiting department of the employer or with your CPDC
How does the reimbursement process work if I visit more than one
employer on a callback trip? You should select one employer to be your “host”
and communicate this to all of the employers with which you are interviewing on
the trip. You will send all of your receipts to the “host” employer and they will bill
the other employers for their portion of your expenses. It does not matter which
employer you select to be your “host” and you should not worry about asking
employers to do this. Splitting costs is a common practice and employers
appreciate it because it saves them money.
How do I get reimbursed for my expenses? After your trip, complete a NALP
Travel Expense Reimbursement Form. The form is available on NALP’s website
at http://www.nalp.org/uploads/2011_Fillable_Travel_Expense_From.pdf and in
the CPDC. Send the completed form and your receipts to the recruiting
coordinator of your host employer. Remember to keep a copy of the form and the
receipts for your records.
The Offer of Employment
You should acknowledge an offer of employment within 24 hours of receiving it. In your initial
response to the employer, be prepared to either accept the offer, decline the offer, or to tell the
employer that you need more time to decide. Do not be intimidated into accepting an offer. You
should only accept if you are fully prepared to work for that employer. If you are undecided, the
best response is to thank the employer for their offer, express how pleased you are, let them
know you need a little more time to think about it, and verify how long this offer will remain open
(review the offer timing rules below). Do not be afraid to stand your ground here. No employer
has ever revoked an offer because of a student’s failure to accept on the spot. (For sample
acceptance and decline employment letters, see Appendices L and M to this manual.)
1. How do I decline an offer?
You should decline an offer as soon as you know that you are not going to work for a
particular employer. The employer might then offer the position to another candidate,
hopefully to another Duke student, so the sooner you can let them know, the better. You
should call the person who extended the offer or the recruiting coordinator to decline the
offer and follow up in writing. Do not be worried about declining an offer. While they may
be disappointed, recruiting coordinators are generally friendly and understanding when
you decline an offer. Try not to burn any bridges or create hard feelings, as you may
want to work for the employer at some point in the future. The legal profession is a
surprisingly small world!
Upon completing your telephone call, you should write a professional letter to the
employer to confirm your decision, and to express your gratitude for receiving the offer.
You may want to let the employer know that you enjoyed your on-site visit and the
opportunity to meet with several of the employer’s lawyers. It may also be appropriate to
express your difficulty in reaching the decision to decline the employer’s offer.
Remember that your letter may be placed in a permanent file, and you want to leave a
good impression in case you should decide to apply for another position with the
employer in the future.
2. How Long May I Hold on to an Offer?
Duke adheres to the NALP timing guidelines for managing job offers for all public and
private sector employers. The guidelines include benchmarks for how many offers you
may hold open, and for how long. Use our Offer Calculator
at http://www.law.duke.edu/career/offer-calculator.xls to track your deadlines.
If you have an open offer, you must reconfirm your interest every 30 days with the
The Law School strongly urges all students to make decisions regarding
offers as soon as possible. While permitted by NALP, there is no reason to
have more than three (3) offers outstanding at any one time. The sooner
you accept or decline your offers, the better—for you, the employer, and
your classmates. This point cannot be over-emphasized.
3. Reporting Your Offers to CPDC
The Law School Rules and Policies require that you report your job offers to CPDC
promptly throughout the interviewing season. This information is important whether the
offer arose as a result of OCI, writing letters, personal contacts or other means.
Students must report offers on Symplicity as they are received so that our information is
always current. Real-time reporting also makes it easier for you to enter your data when
it is fresh in your mind. As always, the data you provide will be kept confidential.
To report offers, log onto Symplicity and select “profile” then the “employment” tab. Click
on the “add new” button at the bottom of the page and enter each offer received and
CPDC will ultimately incorporate this information into the Offer Report for use by next
year’s students. The report for this year will not be created until Spring 2013, after the
on-campus interview process and the majority of other hiring has been completed. By
reporting your callback interviews and offers in the system, you will help insure complete
and accurate data for next year’s students. Rest assured that all information is handled
with the utmost confidentiality.
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Recommended Reading List
When asked what distinguishes their preferred candidates, employers inevitably often passion, interest and
knowledge. Whether expressed about a type of law, a community, current legal developments or the firm itself,
awareness of the important issues facing your future colleagues is a key networking and interviewing skill.
Visit some or all of the websites below regularly to show employers that you can talk the talk!
Several well-respected websites provide summaries and articles about current legal events, from hiring practices
and firm mergers to recent legal developments and well-publicized deals or cases, including: www.Law.com;
www.AmericanLawyer.com; www.TheLawyer.com (UK-based).
You should read one or more newspapers daily, with an eye toward your intended field of practice. Consider
www.LATimes.com, www.NYTimes.com, www.WSJ.com and/or a local paper in your chosen jurisdiction(s).
Wall Street Journal Blogs. http://blogs.wsj.com
The Law Blog covers a wide range of topics, including appellate decisions, high-profile cases and legal
The Wall Street Journal has many other blogs of interest to attorneys, including Corruption Currents
(prosecution of money laundering, terrorism finance), Deal Journal (transactional work, including M&A),
Developments (real estate), Private Equity Beat, Real Time China, Real Time Brussels (European Union
news) Venture Capital Dispatch and Washington Wire (politics).
Above the Law. www.abovethelaw.com
In addition to coverage of big law and law school gossip, this website contains blogs with advice for
students and associates, divided into Big Law, Small Law Firm and In-House Counsel.
The Career Center page links to firm profiles provided by LateralLink.
Ms. JD. www.ms-jd.org
This website contains advice on law school, passing the bar exam, career advancement, professional
development and work-life issues. Many of the posts are equally applicable to men and women.
Frank Kimball’s blog on the site contains advice on how to succeed in the workplace.
Caroline Dowd Higgins at the Huffington Post. www.HuffingtonPost.com
Written by the Director of Career and Professional Development at Indiana University School of Law,
this blog provides career advice applicable to lawyers and other professionals.
My Shingle. www.MyShingle.com
This blog provides information for attorneys interested in solo practice and provides valuable insights if
you plan to ―hang a shingle‖ or apply to small law firms.
Many other blogs and websites are directed at a specific audience or a particular type of practice, including
www.LeiterLawSchool.typepad.com, www.85Broads.com and www.law.umich.edu/connection/a2z. See the
Career Manual or talk to your Career Counselor if you would like additional references.
Researching Prospective Employers - Websites & Other Resources
Vault Career Insider (http://careerinsider.vault.com/wps/portal/careerinsider?parrefer=627)
Chambers & Partners USA and Chambers Associate
The Government Honors & Internship Handbook (user: ―snicker‖ password: ―doodle‖)
The Public Policy Handbook (user: ―world‖ password: ―peace‖)
Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) (Use the ―Advanced Search‖ and ―Keyword‖
functions for additional organizations to explore)
Employers < 50 Lawyers
Researching smaller organizations often requires students to consider:
Speeches and Conferences (for both participation and sponsorship)
Articles and Texts (for both authors and contributors)
New York Times, Wall Street Journal (including WSJ Legal Blog), American
Lawyer, Law.com, National Law Journal, Lawyers Weekly, Trial Lawyer,
Business Journal, Local Newspapers and Local Legal Publications (e.g., Legal
Times (DC), The Recorder (CA), Legal Intelligencer (PHL))
State/Local Bar Associations, including section chairs and members (e.g., The
Association of the Bar of the City of New York (www.abcny.org))
Clients/Businesses who can ―light the way‖
Guides Available on “Vault Career Insider”
Vault Guide to the Case Interview
Vault Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews
Vault Guide to Law Resumes
Vault Guide to Finance Interviews
View from the Top: Technology and New Media Gurus
Vault Guide to Management and Leadership Development Programs
View from the Top: Advice from Finance Professionals
View from the Top: Advice from Top Minority Executives
View from the Top: Q&A with Legal Women Leaders
View from the Top: Q & A with Law Firm Leaders
Vault Guide to Starting Your Own Business
Vault Guide to Conquering Corporate America for Women and Minorities
Vault Guide to Schmoozing
Vault Career Guide to Venture Capital, 4th Edition
Vault Guide to Tax Law Careers
Vault Guide to Corporate Law Careers
Vault Guide to Bankruptcy Law Careers
Vault Guide to Careers in Labor and Employment Law
Vault Career Guide to Private Equity
Vault Guide to Litigation Law Careers
Vault Career Guide to Investment Banking
Vault Career Guide to Consulting
Vault/INROADS Guide to Corporate Diversity Programs
Vault Guide to the Top Mid‐Atlantic Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Northwest & Great Plains Law Firms
The Vault Guide to Engineering Diversity Programs
Vault Guide to Law Firm Pro Bono Programs
Vault Guide to the Top New York Law Firms
Vault/SEO Guide to Financial Services Diversity Programs
Vault Guide to the Top Northern California Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Southern California Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Washington, DC Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Financial Services Employers
Vault Guide to the Top Government and Non‐Profit Legal Employers
Vault Guide to the Top Boston & Northeast Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Southeastern Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Texas & Southwest Law Firms
Vault Guide to the Top Chicago & Midwest Law Firms
Vault/MCCA Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs
Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms
View From The Top: Advice from Leaders in Law, UK Edition
Vault Guide to the Top Asia Pacific Employers
Vault Guide to the Top 50 UK Law Firms
PLI Law Student Scholarship Application
www.pli.edu Practising Law Institute
PLI awards scholarships covering the full or partial tuition cost for attending its educational seminars. Law
students generally receive full scholarships to most programs, except for a $25 application fee (below).
Faculty usually receive 75% scholarships to most programs. Scholarships are also available to legal aid and
government attorneys, judges, judicial clerks, and employees of nonprofit organizations.
1. Scholarships apply only to tuition for the seminar. (Individuals receiving scholarships are responsible for
the other costs of attending a seminar – e.g., travel and accommodations, if necessary.)
2. A completed Scholarship Application generally must be received by PLI no later than four (4) weeks
prior to the start of the seminar. Scholarships will not be granted retroactively or at the time of the
3. Law students must complete the application below and attach a legible copy of their student ID for the
current term (or similar proof of current enrollment). (Law faculty must forward a request for a
scholarship, naming the particular program, on school letterhead.)
4. All scholarship applications must be accompanied by payment of a $25 application fee. You will not be
charged this fee unless you are granted a scholarship.
Full scholarships are not available for telephone briefings or our patent bar review courses, and are restricted
for a few other courses.
Please mail applications to: Mark Dighton; PLI; 810 7th Ave.; NY, NY 10019
or fax to: 888-560-4852
Contact Mark Dighton, Director of Law School Relations,
at (212)824-5841 or [email protected]
SCHOOL, YEAR OF GRADUATION__________________________________________________
Full-time Part-time / JD Candidate LLM Candidate (Bar ID #____)
HOME ADDRESS _______________________________________________________________
PHONE: ___________________________ E-MAIL: _________________________________
FIRM AFFILIATION (if any)___________________________________________________
DATES (or ‘archive’): ____________________ CITY (or ‘web’): _________________
$25 PROCESSING FEE:
Credit Card (circle one)
AmEx Diner’s Club
FOR OFFICE USE ONLY
SEMINAR #: ___________________
REP INITIAL: _________________
PRICE CODE: _____________
Networking 101: Six Steps to Connecting with Prospective Employers
1. Have a Clear Goal
Be able to articulate what you hope to learn from this particular individual in one or two
sentences. Think about these things when attempting to connect:
Acquiring new information
Building new relationships
Use those goals as the basis of your initial contact, and focus of the interview itself.
2. Perfect Your Focus
Know who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer.
Practice explaining it with precision.
3. Send An Introductory Note
Brief, clear and easy-to-read.
Lays the foundation for a future call.
Your note/email should tell the person:
Who you are (including any ―common ground‖)
Where you got their name
Knowledge or information you seek
The note should also:
Ask for 15 minutes of their time
Explain how best they can reach you, or when you will call
3-7 days later
Express your thanks for their time
4. Call & Discuss
Use a landline whenever possible.
Make sure you are prepared to deal with additional issues like:
The person who answers the phone
Explaining your request
Leaving a message
What to say to someone who is busy or brusque
Prepare scenarios/talking points in advance.
Be concise, both introducing yourself and stating your request.
5. Purposefully Execute
Do your homework on the person & industry.
Keep the conversation focused on the interviewees’ professional experiences and career field.
Be respectful of their time.
Ask ―The Closer‖: ―Is there anyone else with whom I should to be speaking?‖
6. Follow Up & Follow Through
Send thank you notes.
Track and analyze.
Figure out how to stay in touch.
Networking 101: The Keys to a Successful Informational Interview
Networking contacts, particularly Duke Alumni, are generally happy to help, but you
must be unfailingly prepared, professional and polite.
You won’t earn a networking contact for the future—or potential ambassador for a future
job opportunity—if you don’t impress from the very first encounter.
Provide your resume and a brief ―elevator pitch‖ email describing your background and
interests—who has referred you and why you are reaching out to this individual—and
be sure your email and resume are flawless—no grammatical or typographical errors.
When conducting an Informational Interview, it is your responsibility to be prepared with
Research the attorney’s background and ask questions appropriate to the attorney’s level
(associate, counsel, partner), demonstrating your preparation.
Familiarize yourself with the attorney’s practice area so that your questions about
exploring the field (through coursework, PLI and other outside CLE research) are
informed and intelligent.
Follow up every informational interview with a prompt, professional thank-you note,
indicating that you have taken the attorney’s specific advice on learning more about the
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS OR QUERIES
General questions about the interviewee’s practice area:
In what ways is this practice area evolving? Is the practice growing? Do you see it continuing to
change in the years ahead?
Are there certain parts of the country which offer the best opportunities in this practice?
What do you find unique about your practice?
What are the most rewarding aspects of a career in this practice area?
What skills or characteristics do you feel contribute most to a lawyer’s success in this practice
What sacrifices have you had to make to succeed in this practice, and, do you feel the sacrifices
were worth it?
What kinds of 1l/2L summer opportunities lay a solid foundation for a career in this practice
Are there current or expected trends in this practice area of which I ought to be aware as I begin
to develop an intentional plan to launch my practice in this field upon graduation?
Are there certain kinds of people that tend to experience the greatest success as lawyers in this
area? What core qualities do they possess?
What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter practice should know?
Questions about the interviewee’s position:
What precisely do you do? What are the duties/functions/responsibilities of your job?
Is your day-to-day practice as you expected it would be when you first started?
What kinds of problems do you deal with?
What kinds of decisions do you make?
Are there busy and slow times of the year, or is the work activity fairly constant?
Is your work primarily individual or predominately in teams? If teams, how are they organized?
Will you tell me about a recent project on which you have worked?
What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?
How did you learn these skills?
If you could change anything about your professional work, what would it be?
What creates the most stress?
Preparing for a career in this practice area:
What courses have proven to be the most valuable to you in your work?
How did you prepare for this work?
If you were entering this career today, would you change your preparation in any way?
How can I network in this area—what professional organizations, bar association committees or
other groups would enable me to meet more practitioners and position myself for a career in this
What professional publications or resources do you turn to regularly in your field? Are there
articles, blogs or other resources you think might be helpful in learning more about this area?
About the interviewee’s career path:
How did you get started?
What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
Which aspects of your background have been most helpful?
What were the keys to your career advancement?
If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why?
About the culture of the interviewee’s firm or organization:
Why did you decide to work for this firm/employer?
What do you like most about working at this firm/employer?
What does the firm/employer do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
Are there people within or outside the organization that the firm/employer holds up as heroes?
During your tenure at __________, in what ways has the firm/employer fostered innovation and
creativity in this practice area?
Seeking advice if you are a “career changer”:
My former career is ________________________. How easy or difficult do you think it might
be to make a transition from that career to a career in your practice area?
The skills I use the most in my former career are ________________. To what extent, and in
what ways, do you believe those skills are transferable to work as a lawyer in this practice area?
Seeking general advice and referrals from your interviewee:
What are the skills that are most important to your practice?
What courses should I be taking to prepare for a career in this practice area?
How can I assess whether or not I have the skills needed for a position such as yours?
What is your best advice for a student seeking to enter this practice?
What kinds of professional experiences, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for those pursuing
a career in this practice area?
Do you have any special word of warning for students like me as a result of your experience?
What would be the best way to learn of job opportunities in this city?
If you were conducting a job search today, how would you go about it? As I continue to learn
more about _________ and prepare for a career in this area of law, might you be willing to speak
with me further so that I might seek your insight and expertise on a few other matters?
Networking 101: Introductory Letter Examples
An introductory letter or email to a networking contact should be relatively brief. In it, you will concisely
introduce yourself, describe why you are contacting the person and ask politely for a few moments of the
person’s time. Your contact should understand from a glance what you are asking of him or her, as well
as why you believe he or she can provide it. If writing a letter, use correct business letter formatting as
shown in the Career Manual. If writing an email, maintain a formal style and be sure to include your
contact information in the signature.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dear Mr. Jones,
I am a rising second year law student at Duke University with a developing interest in commercial
real estate law. In reading the July 1, 2011 edition of the Triangle Business Journal, I noticed that your
firm represents Triangle Developers Inc. in its plans to build a luxury condominium and retail complex in
northern Durham County. I would be interested to learn more about this transaction, as well as your other
experiences in the field. Would you be available to meet, in person or by telephone, to discuss your
practice and any advice you might have on how to break into and succeed in commercial real estate?
Thank you very much for your time and I hope to speak with you soon.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dear Ms. Kim,
I am a rising second year law student at Duke University hoping to practice appellate law after I
graduate. Professor James, my civil procedure professor, suggested that I contact you to learn more about
the field, and specifically your Washington D.C. practice. Would you be willing to speak with me by
telephone for no more than 20 minutes at a mutually convenient time? Thank you very much for your
time and I look forward to speaking with you.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dear Mr. Rodriguez,
I am a rising second year law student at Duke University with a background in environmental
activism. I intend to focus my post-graduation practice on the protection of wetlands and would be very
interested to learn more about your work at the Everglades Project. I will be visiting southern Florida the
first week of August and would love to meet you for coffee near your office if you are available. If that is
not convenient for you, would you be able to speak by telephone sometime this summer? Thank you very
much for your time and I hope to meet you soon.
Networking 101: YOUR CORE “ELEVATOR PITCH”
Imagine yourself at a networking reception in the lobby of a fancy hotel. While waiting in line for a
shrimp cocktail, you spot a key decision-maker at your dream employer.
What would you do? You have 90 seconds to get her attention…
Who are you?
Brief introduction including relevant
autobiographical details which explain
why you are approaching this person.
Make sure to include one or two core
attributes or achievements that would
make you an attractive candidate for
What do you want?
What is your immediate goal in
approaching this person? Why did you
pick this particular employer, i.e. what
is it about the work that they do, their
mission and/or their style that makes
them uniquely attractive to you as a
Why should she give it to
What makes you stand out?
Passion and commitment?
Indicators of success on the job
(grades, externships, extracurricular activities, mentorship of
professors, external validators,
Are you a good fit?
What value will you add?
Making Contacts I
Making Contact I: Mine Your Existing Resources
Where do you have existing professional good will?
College/Graduate School Faculty:
College/Graduate School Classmates:
References for your Law School Applications:
Duke Law School Classmates (JD & LLM):
Relatives (Clients of Lawyers):
Neighbors (Clients of Lawyers):
Duke Law School Faculty:
Duke Law School Alumni:
Other Duke University Acquaintances:
Clergy/Members of your Spiritual/Religious Community:
Contacts from Civic/Volunteer/Political Organizations:
Leaders of Organizations to Which You Contribute Time/Resources Regularly:
Other Lawyer Acquaintances:
Other Non-Lawyer Acquaintances:
Making Contacts II
Making Contacts II: Develop New Contacts in Your Field of Interest
Job Goal #1:
Practice Area:________________ Location: ____________________________
Leading Employers in this Field:
Top Professional Associations in this Field (Bar Associations, Affinity Groups, Networking Groups,
Think Tanks etc.):
Top Resources, Blogs, Treatises, etc. Every Practitioner in this Field must Have:
Most Recent Developments in this Field Every Practitioner Must Know About:
Duke Law School Faculty in Your Area of Interest:
Duke U Faculty in Your Area of Interest:
Duke Law Alumni in Your Area of Interest:
Duke U Alumni In Your Area of Interest:
College/Graduate School Classmates:
Your ―Wish List‖ of the Practitioners in this Field (If you could Interview Anyone) and who in the Duke
Law School Community might have a connection to Them:
Required Duke Resume Format
You are studying for a
―Juris Doctor‖ not a
Note you are at Duke
University School of
Law, not ―College of
Law‖ or ―Duke Law
Durham, North Carolina 27707
Use your primary telephone number and Duke
email address. If you are applying to a job in
your home town or region, put your local
address on the left margin and your permanent
address on the right margin. If applying to jobs
in multiple areas, have two resumes – one with
your permanent address for local jobs and one
without for everywhere else.
Be consistent; if you use NC here,
use state abbreviations throughout.
Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina
Juris Doctor expected, May 2014
As a general rule, if your GPA starts with a
―3,‖ include it. Round to the hundredth, not
If you are applying for
the tenth. If you are applying before you
a public interest job or
Scholarships (description of criteria if not well-known) to
receive your 1L fall semester grades, you
your job experience is
Awards (description of criteria if not well-known)
will not include a GPA section here.
Student Groups, position or office
moving key activities
Athletic, Artistic or Other Organizations, position or office
category and include a
Pro Bono or Community Activities, position or office
if the topic
n to which
Undergraduate Institution, City, State
Full Name of Degree in Major, latin honors, Month and Year of Graduation
Title of Thesis
Study Abroad: Name of Program, City and Country, Date
Scholarships — description of criteria if not well-known
Awards — description of criteria if not well-known
Student Groups, position or office
Athletic, Artistic or Other Organizations, position or office
Pro Bono or Community Activities, position or office
point for an
that does not
rise to the
If you have already received 1L fall semester
grades and choose not to include your Duke
GPA, discuss with your CPDC counselor
whether to include your undergraduate GPA.
Include activities that make you
appealing to employers by
demonstrating (for example)
leadership, engagement with legal
or other relevant subject matter or
communities, experience working
with diverse individuals, a strong
work ethic or unusual skills.
Note: Bullet format with a period at the end
of each clause. If you need more space, use
fewer bullets or left justify instead of using
bullets (see Sample 2L Resume).
Employer, City, State
Note that public
Title, Month Year – Month Year
resumes can exceed 1
Describe job functions using strong action verbs. Use past tense (unless you are currently
page if your
employed in the position) and active voice.
If an organization is unfamiliar, incorporate a description to give it context.
Be succinct, but use enough detail to distinguish your experiences and achievements.
Describe large or important projects and focus on any industry sectors, client/customer groups, or
skills that are relevant to your prospective employer. Focus on results – how did you add value?
Employer, City, State
Title, Month Year – Month Year
Use your descriptions to show that you have the skills employers value, including communication
(written and oral), problem solving, organization, perseverance, judgment, research ability,
negotiation, client management, efficiency, team work, commitment, and an ability to work under
Make your experience sound interesting so the employer wants to meet you and learn more.
Demonstrate how you added value to a project, company or organization.
Do NOT include ―References available upon request,‖ because that is assumed.
Native/Fluent/Proficient/Knowledge of Foreign Language. Describe special skills or interests.
Be prepared to be interviewed in the language you
list if you state that you are fluent or conversant.
Include unusual skills, relevant certifications, hobbies and/or a brief description of jobs or unique
experiences not found elsewhere on your resume. Avoid potentially controversial activities, including
any related to alcohol or gambling. Focus on interests or activities which demonstrate discipline,
teamwork, leadership, initiative, confidence or dedication—traits of successful lawyers. Avoid very
general activities that are unlikely to spark conversation.
Duke Class of 2014 Resume
HENRY S. JAMES
224 Brandywine Boulevard
Durham, NC 27707
13 Main Street
San Diego, CA 23232
Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC
Juris Doctor expected, May 2014
Environmental Law Society
Health Law Society
Duke University Stanford Institute of Public Policy, Durham, NC
Master of Public Policy expected, May 2014
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, May 2011
The Role of Technology in Late Twentieth Century American Espionage
Senior Thesis Award — awarded by Political Science Department for best thesis
Working Student Scholarship
Stanford Debate Society, Member
Club Ice Hockey, Team Capitan
Habitat for Humanity East Bay, Oakland, CA
Volunteer/Team Captain, May 2008 – May 2009
Coordinated teams of volunteers and worked with residents to construct affordable homes for
Developed and implemented strategy for semi-annual fundraising drives. Led volunteer
committee and collaborated with permanent staff to identify and market budgetary priorities.
Maintained prospective donor database and planned events, including sponsorship breakfast.
Managed projects at demolition and rehabilitation sites to salvage building materials for use in
Habitat projects and for resale in the Habitat ReStore, raising funds and diverting refuse from
Camp Foxwood, Portland, ME
Counselor, Summers 2005 & 2006
Supervised groups of boys between the ages of nine and twelve at this nature-themed overnight
camp for four two-week sessions each summer.
Encouraged the development of campers’ leadership, teamwork and communication skills
thorough sports, arts and other activities. Created and taught classes on first aid and wildlife
Selected by campers as ―Foxwood’s Favorite Counselor‖ on more occasions than any other
member of the counseling staff.
Proficient in Spanish and French. Completed three-month camping and mountain climbing trip in
Alaska, including successful summit of Denali. Worked over 30 hours per week at one of Palo Alto’s
busiest night spots to help finance undergraduate education (Smitty’s Downtown Pub, September 2006 –
Duke Class of 2013 Resume Format
NILA L. ADAMS
111 River Bend Way
Durham, North Carolina 27705
12 Fish Road
Bozeman, Montana 12342
Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC
Juris Doctor expected, May 2013
Moot Court, Board Member and Hardt Cup Finalist
Duke Bar Association, Alumni and Development Committee 2L Representative
Black Law Students Association, Programming Chair
Business Law Society, Member
Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law, Geneva, Switzerland
International Business Transactions, International Intellectual Property and Recourse to Force
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Literature, May 2009
Study Abroad: Oxford University, England, Fall 2007
Community and Peer Health Educator
Berkeley Daily News, Staff Editor
Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Missoula, MT
Summer Associate, July – August 2011
Conducted due diligence review and identified business and legal risks regarding the acquisition of a software
company. Drafted Stock Purchase Agreement, closing certificates and board and stockholder resolutions for venture
financing transactions. Researched various securities law and corporate law topics and wrote memorandum, which
was referenced by client’s board of directors in making governance decisions. Attended meetings with city
government planning commission regarding water use and financing.
The Honorable Ronald R. Debb, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, Newark, NJ
Judicial Intern, May – June 2009
Analyzed issues and prepared opinions and bench memoranda on substantive and procedural motions, such as
summary judgment. Conducted extensive research and drafted complex habeus corpus opinion. Participated in
daily conferences with Judge Debb to consider legal topics in a variety of criminal and civil cases, including federal
sentencing guidelines and jury selection.
ASA Communications, Inc., New York, NY
Summer Associate, May – August 2008
Researched and evaluated corporate communications strategies, including print, television and new media marketing
plans. Prepared and presented advertising campaign proposals for industry competitions. Team won award for best
telecom industry presentation at regional conference.
Curtis Brown, LTD., New York, NY
Assistant to Literary Agent, July 2007 – April 2008
Reviewed thousands of manuscripts and query letters for publication potential and prepared written appraisals of
such submissions for internal use. Composed letters of introduction for texts sent to publishing houses for
Proficient in Spanish. Accomplished concert pianist; toured extensively in Western Europe as member of junior
Duke Class of 2012 Resume Format (Public Service Oriented)
PATRICIA L. YU
123 Acme Street
Durham, North Carolina 27705
Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC
Juris Doctor expected, May 2012
Duke Law Journal, Staff Editor
Make a Difference Scholarship — awarded for exemplary community service
The Evidentiary Challenge of Abuse Accusations in Divorce Proceedings
Intramural Football, Graduate League Champions
Public Interest Law Foundation, Fundraising Committee
Asia-America Institute in Transnational Law, Hong Kong
Completed upper-level coursework in International and Comparative Law
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric, May 2009
Dean of Student Affairs Scholastic Achievement Award
Religious Studies Department, Research Fellowship
Multi-Cultural Student Advisory Committee, Secretary
Department of Children & Family Services, Oklahoma City, OK
Legal Assistant, Summer 2011
Drafted petitions and motions submitted to the court on behalf of clients in guardianship disputes, including
a successful probate guardianship transfer and the appointment of a temporary guardian.
Researched termination of parental rights and other related issues arising under the Juvenile Court Act for
attorney’s reference during oral arguments.
Prepared cases for administrative hearings by determining the sufficiency of the evidence, creating case
theory memoranda, and drafting direct and cross-examination questions.
Families First! Legal Clinic, Washington, DC
Senior Student Clerk, Spring 2011
Represented indigent clients before administrative law judge in claims related to disability and public
assistance benefits, resulting in an average increase in benefits of $300/month per client.
Participated in all aspects of divorce and landlord/tenant cases, including interviewing and corresponding
with clients, filing petitions and motions, and presenting evidence at prove-up hearings.
Drafted and argued petitions for Plenary Orders of Protection on behalf of domestic violence victims before
Maryland state court judges.
Winnebago County Public Defender, Granville, Ohio
Legal Extern, Summer 2010
Researched and wrote memoranda on legal and evidentiary issues in areas such as search and seizure,
appeal rights, jury instructions and hearsay exceptions. Portions of memoranda were incorporated into
briefs without substantial revision.
Conducted trial preparation, including interviewing clients and witnesses, photographing evidence for
exhibits and preparing related charts and diagrams for use in court.
Native Mandarin speaker. Enjoy winter camping, triathlons (participated in Hawaii Ironman Triathalon, 2009).
Sample Language for Resumes
Work & Activities Prior to Enrolling in
SUMMER JOBS OR WORK DURING COLLEGE
U.S. Department of State, Office of Russian Affairs, Washington, DC
Program Assistant, June – September 2009; December 2010 – January 2011
Assisted in the coordination of planning and logistics for U.S.-Russian consular talks and
other official conferences. Planned and scheduled consultations in Washington for U.S.
Ambassador to Russia and other Moscow Embassy officials.
Wrote reports, memoranda and cables on national security and diplomatic relations topics
for use by Department officials in meetings, speeches and official communications.
Conducted research from domestic and foreign news sources.
Drafted official letters on behalf of Office Director, Secretary of State, and other
Music Television Networks (―MTV‖), New York, NY
Standards and Practices Intern, May – August 2010
Analyzed MTV Networks and competitive programs for decency and assessed
compliance with accepted media standards.
Worked interdepartmentally to communicate standards issues between record labels and
Independently conducted weekly presentations for department members nationwide on
current issues and trends in print-media and trade magazines.
The Hon. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), United States Senate, Portland, ME
Intern, Maine Press Office, May – August 2009
Drafted press releases and conducted research on a variety of political and economic
topics with national or state significance, including Senator Snowe’s work as Ranking
Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Maintained daily contact with city and state media. Regularly briefed the Senator on
current issues. Monitored and advised Senator Snowe on her media coverage.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Research Assistant, African-American Studies, Educational Psychology, and Speech
Communication Departments, January 2008 – May 2010
Conceptualized, designed and executed study of the forms of racial bias expressed on an
online sports-themed discussion board.
Administered qualitative surveys and oversaw focus group studies related to racial
perceptions in college athletics.
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Chicago, IL
Interlibrary Loan Specialist, May – August 2010
Utilized database to procure written and electronic copies of cases, statutes, journal
articles and other materials at attorney request.
Coordinated with library departments at neighboring firms and government offices to
retrieve books and legal documents not available in the firm’s internal collection.
POST COLLEGE WORK
Legal Assistant/Paralegal or other Law Firm Administrative Assistant Positions
Baker Botts, L.L.P., Houston, TX
Administrative Assistant, May 2008 – July 2010
Provided all aspects of administrative support to Senior Corporate Partner, Litigation
Partner, Bankruptcy Of Counsel and Litigation Associate.
Managed partners’ billing procedures with accounting department and clients.
Coordinated client and attorney meetings. Drafted and edited client and court
correspondence. Collected, organized and filed legal documents.
Received highest marks at annual reviews; performed drafting responsibilities, such as
composing basic transactional documents and certificates, usually reserved for paralegals.
Hughes Hubbard & Reed, LLP, New York, NY
Paralegal, Litigation Department, June 2008 – May 2009
Managed complex litigation case files, discovery materials, court filings, and attorney
work product for white collar crime cases. Prepared resources for attorney use in
depositions, including reviewing discovery materials for relevance, reviewing
interrogatories and summarizing witness testimony.
Developed proficiency with LiveNote, Summation, Concordance and other litigationsupport applications.
Fabian & Clendenin, Salt Lake City, UT
Litigation Legal Assistant, May 2009 – June 2011
Managed discovery in securities and product liability litigation for this highly regarded
full-service regional law firm. Supervised legal assistants and document clerks.
Created discovery organizational system resulting in increased efficiency and improved
communication between attorneys and clients.
Researched energy, land use and natural resource issues in direct response to client
questions. Translated documents and facilitated filings in pro bono political asylum
Where Magazine, Miami, FL
Acting Editor, Associate Editor, Intern, February 2009 – May 2010
Managed editorial department of a city travel magazine with a monthly circulation of
74,000 and offices worldwide.
Interviewed, wrote, edited, assigned, researched, fact-checked, and formatted more than
200 articles on local events and trends. Oversaw dining, theater, museums, shopping,
spas, wine country, and real estate sections.
General Electric Consumer and Industrial Division, Louisville, KY
Co-Op Engineer, January 2009 – December 2010
Served as New Product Introduction team member for high-end gas cook-top and Product
Cost Take Out Controls team member.
Implemented software revision for laundry control resulting in annual manufacturing
savings of $100,000. Designed and completed hardware revision for dishwasher display
for annual savings of $200,000.
Performed reliability analysis and testing for controls components. Constructed test
procedure to simulate standard use over 10-year period.
Analyzed reliability of gas cook-top products using statistical regression.
MoveOn Political Action Committee, Milwaukee, WI
Field Organizer, September – November 2010
Recruited, trained and supervised twenty-six volunteer ward leaders and nearly 100
additional volunteers to turn out over 1,300 identified infrequent voters on Election Day.
Implemented national volunteer strategies exceeding both team and voter targets.
Government Accountability Office, Washington, DC
Policy Analyst, August 2009 – September 2010
Worked closely with teammates to compile and distribute information and evaluation
data for Congressional review of border inspections.
Analyzed documents and interviewed agency officials regarding strategic training of
Customs and Border Protection Officers. Proposed training modifications to improve
Drafted majority of 250-page report ―Border Security: Despite Progress, Weaknesses in
Traveler Inspections Exist at Our Nation’s Ports of Entry.‖ issued August 2010.
Teaching & AmeriCorps
Oxford Academy, Oxford, MS
Student Advisor, August 2008 – August 2009
Developed and administered guidance program for over 100 students of this experimental
Achieved 13% improvement in attendance rates over previous year.
Translated for Spanish-speaking students and parents.
Instructor, June 2009 – January 2010
Taught algebra and tutored at-risk students for state exit examinations.
Achieved 15% increase in student pass rates over previous year.
AmeriCorps Fellowship, Chicago, IL
Program Coordinator, January 2009 – September 2010
Developed and implemented new projects in Six Sigma, ESL and OSHA workforce
education at the City Colleges of Chicago to promote community and economic
development in industrial neighborhoods.
Taught on-site safety training to immigrant Hispanic factory workers.
Work & Activities During Law School
1L SUMMER WORKING IN PUBLIC INTEREST OR GOVERNMENT
Mississippi Center for Justice, Jackson, MS
Intern, May – July 2012
Assisted with formation of education project geared toward creating a more holistic
disciplinary process in the Jackson Public Schools (JPS). Since implementation of the
program, expulsion rates have decreased by 17%.
Collaborated with local and national organizations to provide legal representation for all
JPS students facing long-term suspensions and expulsions.
Established a training manual and program for volunteer advocates for students facing
suspensions and expulsions.
The Hon. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington, DC
Intern, May – August 2012
Conducted research on proposed legislation regarding a wide variety of topics to inform
Senator Leahy’s voting positions. Drafted statements for Senate floor and committee
hearings, including analyses of agricultural subsidies and childhood nutrition.
Prepared memoranda summarizing the backgrounds and records of judicial and executive
nominees. Briefed the Senator on major Supreme Court and circuit court decisions.
California Appellate Project, San Francisco, CA
Legal Intern, July – August 2012
Participated in all aspects of death penalty litigation with this non-profit organization
representing condemned inmates on San Quentin’s death row, including direct appeals
and state and federal habeas petitions.
Reviewed the voir dire of a capital trial and drafted claims based on ineffective assistance
of counsel as part of a state habeas petition.
ACLU National Prison Project, Washington, DC
Intern, May – August 2012
Assisted in civil rights litigation aimed at improving prison and jail conditions for federal,
state and local inmates and detainees.
Conducted legal and policy research for government affairs representatives. Wrote
memoranda comparing and evaluating California and Arizona prison reform proposals.
Drafted briefs and letters and summarized trial transcripts and depositions for use in
appeals. Assisted with discovery, trial preparation and trial.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Quito, Ecuador
Social Policy Area Intern, June – August 2012
Participated in the organization and review of a compendium of the legal norms and
rights of children and adolescents in Peru.
Aided in the planning and coordination of a workshop with the Shipibo of the Amazon to
increase the participation of adolescents in the political process and facilitate their input
in policy documents. After attending the workshop, 87% of youth indicated their intent
to vote in the next municipal election, up from 32% prior to the workshop.
1L SUMMER WORKING IN JUDICIAL CHAMBERS
The Honorable Andrew J. Peck, U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y., New York, New York
Judicial Intern, May – August 2012
Conducted extensive legal research on a variety of substantive and procedural issues and
prepared memoranda to brief the Judge on matters before the Court. Portions of several
memos were incorporated by Judge Peck into opinions. Drafted habeas corpus petition
Performed deputy duties. Observed and documented for the Judge’s records settlement
conferences, plea hearings, detention hearings, and various other court proceedings.
1L SUMMER AT LAW FIRMS, DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL
Lenz and Staehelin, Geneva, Switzerland
Summer Associate, May – July 2012
Worked in the Litigation and Arbitration, Banking and Finance, and Corporate and M&A
groups of Switzerland’s largest law firm.
Researched and wrote memoranda advising international clients on U.S. and European
banking rules, securities regulations, and other legal issues. Drafted witness statements
and internal memoranda for $500 million intellectual property dispute. Translated briefs
and other materials for external use.
Documented legal discussions between firms and due diligence interviews related to
upcoming cross-border acquisition.
Nishimura & Asahi, Tokyo, Japan
Summer Associate to Outside Counsel, Development Bank of Japan, May – June 2012
Revised stock purchase and lending agreements for Bank’s Growth and Cross-Border
Investment Groups. Wrote letter to opposing counsel disputing due diligence requests.
Conducted legal research in both Japanese and English; summarized securities
regulations in pertinent foreign jurisdictions for client best practices update.
Drafted nondisclosure agreement provisions. Interpreted English-language contracts for
Holland & Knight LLP, Miami, FL
Summer Associate, May – August 2012
Assisted with researching and drafting briefs on energy litigation matter filed with the
United States Courts of Appeals for the Eleventh and Ninth Circuits.
Researched and wrote memoranda of law for the Sustainable Development team,
including an analysis of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and the related
Florida counterpart and the applicability of this legislation and the results of an
Environmental Impact Statement to a major golf course development project.
Damon Morey, LLP, Buffalo, NY
Summer Associate, June – August 2011
Worked primarily in the Corporate and Commercial Finance departments of this leading
Buffalo law firm with over eighty attorneys.
Drafted letters of credit, SBA loan applications, and collateral documents for commercial
lenders. Researched New York and California deviations from the Uniform Commercial
Code. Participated in renegotiation and restructuring of intercreditor agreement.
Assisted pro bono client with HUD grant application related to the development of a
sustainable housing project
1L SUMMER AS RESEARCH ASSISTANT
Professor Neil Siegel, Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC
Research Assistant, May - August 2012
Investigated and briefed tax evasion, bankruptcy fraud, and money laundering issues
relating to a complex criminal appeal.
Performed original research on the political history of U.S. racial civil rights legislation
and policy for forthcoming book on the contemporary landscape of civil rights law.
Professor Sara Sun Beale, Duke Law School, Durham, NC
Research Assistant, June - August 2012
Drafted sections of the supplement to a Federal Criminal Law casebook, including text on
new sentencing guidelines.
Conducted research for scholarly articles on prosecutorial discretion and prosecution of
juveniles as adults.
Special Entries for JD/LLMs
Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina
Juris Doctor/Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law expected, May 2014
SUMMER STUDY ABROAD
Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law, Geneva, Switzerland
Completed upper-level coursework in International and Comparative Law
Special Entries for Transfer Students
Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC
Juris Doctor expected, May 2014
List as usual
List as usual
Original Law School, City, State
Matriculated Month Year – Month Year
GPA (or rank):
0.00 (or 0/000)
Journal or Moot Court, invitation extended
Scholarships or awards (description of criteria if not well-known)
Student groups, organizations and community activities, position
Undergraduate Institution, City, State
Full Name of Degree in Major, Month and Year of Graduation
List as usual
List as usual
List of Action Verbs Commonly Used
To Describe Professional Experience
Verbs to use
Effective Cover Letters:
A Suggested Framework & Samples
Crafting Effective Cover Letters: Get Ready to Write
CONNECTION (ALUM, 3L, FRIEND):
WHY THIS ORGANIZATION?
DATE TO FOLLOW UP?
Does your letter pass the ―target‖ test, or does it sound like Spam?
Does Paragraph 1 grab the reader’s attention? Does it introduce your headlines/thesis?
Do Paragraph #2 and #3 powerfully describe what YOU can do for THE EMPLOYER?
Do you make it easy for the employer to consider you and identify next steps?
Read, read and re-read: Is your letter typo-free and grammatically perfect?
Sample Cover Letter Format
Private Employer (Indented)
Do NOT include your name
in the header.
There should be four
hard spaces between
the date and the
In this style
one halfinch tab.
City, State Zip
There should be two hard
spaces between your
address and the date.
Attorney’s Name, Esq. or The Honorable Judge’s Complete Name
Name of Organization Note that there are two spaces
between state and zip code.
City, State Zip
Dear Mr., Ms., Judge, etc.:
Your address and the
date should be aligned
just slightly to the right
of the center. (7 halfinch tabs)
The text of the letter
should be single-spaced.
A double space should
separate the paragraphs.
Never use ―To Whom it May Concern.‖
Be sure to use a COLON, not a comma!
Begin your letter by introducing yourself, but keep it brief and to the point. Specifically, tell the
reader (1) why you are writing, and (2) what position you are seeking. If you have the name of someone
who is known to both you and the reader, or know a particular fact about the reader, you should use it here-e.g., ―Mr. Ronald McDonald suggested that I write...,‖ or ―I heard your presentation at the Law School...‖
The last sentence of this paragraph should be a ―thesis,‖ in the sense that it sets out the 2-4 qualifications
that you will discuss in the body of your letter.
This paragraph, and the rest of your ―body‖ paragraphs, should flow nicely from paragraph to
paragraph, fully elaborating on your thesis sentence. You should have at least one paragraph that discusses
why you are specifically interested in this employer.
The middle paragraphs should serve as a general summary of your educational background and/or
work experience, organized in a manner that logically follows your ―thesis‖ sentence. Back up this
sentence with some concrete examples, but take care to integrate these examples – your paragraph should
not come across as simply a listing of accomplishments.
The main purpose of the closing paragraph is to ask for an interview. You may indicate that you
will be contacting the reader to discuss employment opportunities or an interview. Use this paragraph to
inform the reader that you will be in town during a specific period of time, during which you are available
for an interview.
Use ―Sincerely‖ or ―Very
truly yours‖ followed by a
comma, four hard returns and
your signature line.
Your typed name
Simply state ―Enclosure‖ or ―Enclosures,‖ if more than
one, two hard lines below the signature line, flush with
the left margin to signify the inclusion or your resume
and/or reference sheet.
The closing is positioned
two lines below the last line
of the body and should be
aligned with the date.
Sample Cover Letter – Public Sector (Block Style)
14 Fairmont Street
Durham, NC 27703
December 1, 2011
Dinah Wiley, Esq.
Whitman-Walker Clinic Legal Services
1407 S Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Dear Ms. Wiley:
I am a first-year student at Duke University School of Law with a background in children’s law who has
worked with children with HIV/AIDs. A summer internship with the Whitman-Walker Clinic would
allow me to apply my experience to an endeavor to which I am fully committed.
Last summer at Camp Heartland, I supervised nine and ten year old children with HIV/AIDS. As a
counselor, I was responsible for the emotional well-being of my campers, and throughout the summer, I
counseled them on coping with their illnesses. During my time at the camp, I realized the negative impact
that social stereotypes have on children whose lives are affected by HIV disease, and I decided to devote
my legal education to fighting this insidious discrimination.
This fall, I have continued to work on HIV/AIDS issues by assisting people with AIDS in drafting wills,
living wills and powers of attorney in conjunction with Duke’s Pro Bono Project. Prior to drafting these
documents, I conduct legal research to ensure that I include the appropriate language and I interview each
client to determine their wishes. I believe that my research skills and credentials, combined with my
dedication to this area of law, will make me a valuable member of your staff this summer.
I have enclosed a resume and a brief writing sample for your review. I will be in Washington, DC the
week of December 18th and would be delighted to meet with you to discuss opportunities at your
organization. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Sample Cover Letter – Private Sector (Block Style)
300 Erlwood Way, Apartment 208
Durham, NC 27704
December 1, 2011
Ms. E. Joy Bryan
Legal Recruiting Coordinator
Ward and Smith, P.A.
P.O. Box 867
New Bern, NC 28563
Dear Ms. Bryan:
As a first-year student at Duke University School of Law with life-long ties to eastern North Carolina and a strong
desire to live and practice law in the area, I am writing to ask that you consider my candidacy for a Summer
Associate position at Ward and Smith for the summer of 2011.
As a North Carolina native, I was familiar with Ward and Smith’s excellent reputation long before I entered law
school. I also had the pleasure of hearing partner and Duke Law alumnus David L. Ward speak on his antitrust
practice at an event at the North Carolina Bar Association. It was especially interesting to learn about the firm’s
recent involvement in antitrust litigation involving the financial industry. Given my longstanding interest in dispute
resolution and positive experiences in both Contracts and Torts, I am especially drawn to Ward and Smith’s highly
regarded Litigation Practice Group.
I believe my education and work-related experiences have given me a number of skills that could help me contribute
to Ward and Smith’s tradition of excellence. My undergraduate training in philosophy at Harvard has helped me
better identify and analyze complex legal issues and write about them, especially in preparing trial and appellate
level documents. Additionally, my experiences in management on behalf of several non-profit and for-profit
entities—including successfully promoting sales to new clients and serving as a representative to existing clients in
the U.S. and around the world—have enhanced my ability to communicate with, relate to, and work well with
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to introduce myself more fully and discuss the
possibility of working with you next summer. I have enclosed a resume for your review; please let me know if you
would like me to provide you with any additional materials. Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look
forward to hearing from you at your convenience.
Very truly yours,
Sample Cover Letter – Public Sector
Informational Meeting Letter (Block Style)
City, State Zip
Attorney’s Name, Esq.
Name of Organization
City, State Zip
Dear Mr., Ms., Judge, etc.:
Begin your letter by introducing yourself, but keep it brief and to the point. Specifically, tell the reader (1)
why you are writing, and (2) that you are interested in an informational — rather than formal — interview. If you
have the name of someone who is known to both you and the reader, or if you are aware of a particular fact about
the recipient, you should use it here. The last sentence of the paragraph should be your ―thesis sentence.‖ For
example, this first paragraph might begin something like this: “I am a second-year law student at Duke
University School of Law. Jane Doe, Director of Public Interest America, suggested I contact you to learn
more about your involvement with the City Works Project in Baltimore. As you can see from my enclosed
resume, my long-standing interest in urban housing predates my law school experience and includes three
years in project development at HUD. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you briefly to learn
more about opportunities for young attorneys in this important field.”
The middle paragraph(s) should serve as a general summary of your educational background and/or work
experience, organized in a manner that logically follows your ―thesis‖ sentence. ―Having worked in government
and on zoning committees in both large and mid-sized urban settings, I began law school with a clear goal of
ultimately tackling equal housing issues on both the individual and policy-making levels.” Back up this
sentence with some concrete examples, but take care to integrate these examples – your paragraph should not come
across as simply a listing of accomplishments.
Your closing paragraph goes here. The main purpose of this paragraph is to ask for ―AIR‖ — Advice,
Information, and a Referral if possible. Reiterate the fact that while you are not in fact looking for a job interview
from the recipient, you are looking for general information. You might also use this paragraph to inform the reader
that you will be in town during a specific period of time, during which you are available for a meeting or something
as simple as a cup of coffee.
Your typed name
cc: Jane Doe
TO: [email protected]
FROM: [email protected]
BC: [email protected]
DATE: December 1, 2011
SUBJECT: Duke Law Student Seeking Summer Employment
Dear Ms. Smith:
I am a first-year student at Duke University School of Law and am interested in obtaining a
position with your firm for the Summer of 2012. I have attached a copy of my cover letter
I will be in the St. Louis area visiting family and friends during the winter break (December
19 – 31), and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with representatives of your firm at
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you.
Sample Reference Sheet
Sample Reference Sheet
ISABELLE J. ARCHER
123 Jordan Avenue
Durham, NC 27705
Professor Henry James, Constitutional Law
Duke University School of Law
Corner of Science Drive and Towerview Road
Durham, NC 27708
Be sure to include an
email address for your
Ralph Touchett, Esq.
O’Farrell & Ashley, LLP
101 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10170
Henrietta Stackpole, Esq.
North Central Legal Assistance Program
212 North Mangum Street
Durham, NC 27702
Thomas M. Cogdill
3611 University Drive, 26-A
Durham, NC 27707
DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
2010 Fall Term
Intro to Law & Leg Prof
Legal Anal/Research Writ
2011 Spring Term
Legal Anal/Research Writ
Intro to Law & Leg Prof
2011 Fall Term
Federal Income Tax
Ethics/Law of Lawyering
Total Credits: 30.50
Cumulative GPA: 3.34
Sample Thank You Letter
Form Thank You Letter
City, State Zip
Attorney’s Name, Esq. or The Honorable Judge’s Name
Name of Organization
City, State Zip
Dear Mr., Ms., Judge, etc.:
Remind the interviewer of the position for which you interviewed, as well as the
date and the place of the interview. It is always courteous to express your appreciation. If
you elect to write one letter to your OCI host, the partner/attorney in charge of hiring, the
most senior partner/attorney on your schedule, or the recruiting department representative,
mention the names of the other interviewers with whom you met. In addition to noting how
much you enjoyed meeting his/her colleagues, you might also wish to mention a topic of
particular interest from one of the meetings. Finally, ask the interviewer to express your
thanks to them.
Express with enthusiasm your strong interest in being considered for a position.
Mention anything about the firm that genuinely interested you, especially anything you
learned from this interviewer in particular. Explain why you would be an asset to the firm.
Suggest that if you can provide him/her with any additional information, he/she
should not hesitate to contact you. Reiterate your interest in the position and thank the
employer again for their consideration.
Your typed name
Sample Acceptance Letter
Sample Acceptance of Employment Letter
1212 Snowcrest Trail
Durham, NC 27707
January 23, 2012
Roger Davis, Esq.
Slater & Slater LLP
155 Flowers Street
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Dear Mr. Davis:
Thank you very much for your letter of January 15, 2012, in which your firm extended
me an offer for a position as a summer associate beginning in May 2012. I am very
excited about the opportunity to work for Slater & Slater this summer and am pleased to
accept your offer under the terms set forth in your letter.
As we have discussed, I am eager to begin work as soon as I complete my exams. I will
contact Amory Evans in your recruiting office to arrange for a start date.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at (primary phone number) or [email protected]
should you require any additional information.
Thanks again for this opportunity. I look forward to a productive summer.
Very truly yours,
Sample Letter Declining
An Offer Received
Sample Offer Declination Letter
1212 Snowcrest Trail
Durham, NC 27707
January 23, 2012
Mr. Jerry Jones
Heath & Graham, P.C.
1355 Seventh Avenue
Dallas, TX 75226
Dear Mr. Jones:
Thank you for your offer of employment with Heath & Graham for the upcoming
summer. I truly appreciate the opportunity, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the
attorneys at the firm. While the decision was a difficult one, I have decided to accept an
offer with Firm X. [Or ―After much deliberation, I have decided to decline Heath &
Graham’s generous offer.‖]
I look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you again for your time
Robert K. Jordan
Sample Interview Questions
What Interviewers Ask During An Interview
What do employers, particularly legal employers, look for in their potential new
employees? As you prepare for interviews, focus on these highly prized five attributes of
a new attorney:
An ―ownership mentality‖ about your life and work
A communication style appropriate to the setting
Well-articulated interest in that particular employer
Commitment to the community or city of the employer
Your objective is to answer the questions presented to during an interview as well as
make conversation. Below are some commonly asked questions:
Let’s discuss a complex situation that you analyzed.
Is there a project that you accomplished without complete information? What did
Have you ever picked up work or tasks that ―were not your job,‖ but you saw that
they needed to be done?
What makes our organization compelling to you? Provide a specific example.
How long do you plan to live on our city?
How do you like Duke?
Why did you come to law school?
What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
What do you consider your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
What is your most notable accomplishment?
What unique experiences or qualifications separate you from other candidates?
Tell me about yourself. Tell me something that is not on your resume.
Describe your most rewarding law school experience.
In what school activities have you participated? Why? Which did you enjoy the
How are you doing in your present job search? Where else are you interviewing?
Did you receive an offer from the employer you worked for last summer? Why or
What do you think of your last employer?
What do you know about our organization?
Do you have a geographical preference? Why?
Why are you interviewing in this city?
What can I tell you about our organization?
Do you have any idea what area of practice you would like to go into?
What have you learned from your participation on a journal or in a clinical
What is the question I should ask you, the answer to which would make me hire
you on the spot?
Tell me about your writing sample.
Thoughtful Questions You Can Ask During an Interview
Almost every interviewer will ask you if ―you have any questions.‖ It is imperative to be
able to ask a few–even if you are not actually seeking new information. Questions are a
perceived of a sign of interest in the employer, while also providing the opportunity to let
the interviewer speak. Good questions also indicate that you’ve ―done your
homework‖—while generic questions, or those you should be able to answer yourself
from your own research on the organization, show lack of preparation.
You have been passed the ―interview baton.‖ Your goal is to engage the interviewer in a
lively, back-and-forth conversation, and actually learn something new about the firm—
while at all times remaining ―in bounds‖—confining your questions to appropriate, noncontroversial topics. If you ask a generic question about the assignment system or the
training program, it will put the interviewer on Autopilot, serving up rote and repetitive
answers that don’t provide much opportunity for engagement. This is the wind-up to
your interview, and it should be pleasant and memorable—the interviewer will complete
his or her evaluation of your meeting immediately thereafter. Make the most of it.
Ideally, the interviewee will generate specific questions based on independent research
about each employer and/or interviewer. You should use these examples merely as a
springboard to more thought-provoking and interesting follow-up questions. Although
some may be tailored for a law firm interview, these questions are readily modified for
any employer. Keep the following objectives in mind:
Demonstrate that you expect to work at this employer for a significant period.
Demonstrate your focus, and flexibility, in choosing the practice area in which
you will work if you choose to work for a law firm.
Show that you are confident in your work product, that you are willing to accept
constructive criticism in the form of formal reviews, and that you enjoy learning.
Show interest in the culture of the employer. (Many students choose to probe
more deeply in this area after an offer has been extended.)
That you are interested in the interviewer as a person.
Some questions to ask:
To partners: What type of deals/cases/matters are on your desk right now? How
might a first year/third year associate contribute to that type of matter?
To associates: What type of deals/cases/matters are on your desk right now?
How might a summer/junior associate support you on those matters? What type
of work did you do as a first year/third year? To whom did you report – senior
associates? Partners? Junior associates?
How did you come to choose your practice area? How has the practice area
changed/how will it change in the future? What qualities do you think make an
associate successful in this practice area?
Does the firm prefer to have junior associates work and train intensely with a
small number of attorneys, or work broadly with a variety of attorneys?
Do the attorneys in your practice area have an opportunity to work with lawyers
in other practice areas/offices of the firm?
(If the web bio indicates that the lawyer came from another firm/organization:)
How would you compare the culture here with your previous organization/firm?
Are there particular practice areas at the firm that are in a real growth mode?
What does he or she enjoy most about working at the employer?
And when you truly have no other questions to ask, don’t be afraid to say ―I really
don’t have any further questions at this time. Thanks for taking the time to meet
with me. Is there anything on my resume that we haven’t had the chance to
cover?‖ In this way, you are allowing the interviewer to take back ―the baton‖
and wrap up the interview gracefully.
Some questions to avoid:
Avoid questions that are answered on an employers’ web site. These
questions show an absence of initiative and limited candidate interest. Use
information on the website as a launching pad to other questions to demonstrate a
thoughtful approach to synthesizing information. Ask more than ―Tell me about
your summer program…your formal training program…the assignment process.
Can I be assured a spot in the X department? At some firms, receiving a
permanent offer in a particularly popular or smaller department can be quite
competitive. The decisions are only made at the end of the summer, once the
needs of the firm and the candidates’ strengths can be evaluated. It is appropriate
to inquire about having exposure to the work over the summer, but that’s all.
For litigators: When will I take my first deposition/argue my first motion?
At some firms, early experience is a point of pride; at others, it is an awkward
question, because the cases are so large that only more senior lawyers receive this
experience—at the clients’ behest. You can get at the same information by asking
litigation associates what they are working on, how their work has changed over
their tenure with the firm, what work they enjoy most.
How much vacation time do first year associates receive?
What is your billable hour requirement? Is this an “actual” billable
requirement, or “hours worked” requirement? Is it strictly enforced? These
questions can easily be misinterpreted to your detriment; in addition, much of the
information is on www.nalpdirectory.com so you should be familiar with it
May I split my summer with another employer? With another office? Except
in certain markets where splitting is the norm, most students wait to ask this until
after they have two offers. It is also wise to discuss splitting strategy with your
CPDC counselor before broaching the subject with any prospective employer.
Questions or negative comments about a prior employer, another employer
with whom you interviewed or the current one.
Making reference to a comment you read on a blog or list-serv about the firm
or organization, including issues about offer decisions, economic difficulties
or any other awkward topics.