As I’m wordsmithing 2L applications for the August 22nd deadline, I’m noticing a trend:
Students raising an interest in a particular area of law when there is nothing to support that interest in their materials.
Clearly the student’s research yields that the firm they are applying to practices in that particular area, so I applaud the student for being diligent. However, the desire to simply get a summer job shouldn’t be outweighed by the desire to find an appropriate summer student program.
Many feel obliged, for example, to state an interest in litigation since that is a practice area that permeates many law firms and, therefore, student programs. The problem with this approach is that if you’ve done nothing to support that interest, the reader will wonder how genuine you are being, or serious you are, about litigation. Either way, you have not left a positive impression.
From all my conversations with student directors at firms, they want to hear about your personal interests. Many summer student programs are designed to meet the student’s learning objectives, so be clear about them in your cover letter. If you’ve done your research, then you should be applying to places that match your interests. Doing otherwise puts you at risk for:
- Putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation if you are called for an interview.
- Damaging your reputation at an early stage of your career.
- Landing a job at which you won’t perform well or be engaged.
If, on the other hand, you have interests outside of litigation and are open to learning litigation skills, then say so. This is a fair and honest approach, and you will feel much better about it going into your interview!
Every year, Lawyer Coach Paulette works with 2L students on wordsmithing their applications, and preparing them for OCI and firm interviews. Contact her to schedule a 30-minute complimentary call (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.21stcenturylawyer.ca