Researching Potential Employers
Employers are looking for candidates who genuinely want to work for them. Researching employers will help you determine if they are a good fit with your interests. You will want to know the organization’s size, location, branches, practice areas, hiring criteria, and how the organization describes itself. Begin by searching for the organization’s website. Additionally, be sure to check press releases to learn about recent cases, awards, and publications, and review news articles on legal news sites. Alumni, faculty and fellow students who have worked for an employer are also good sources of information. Not knowing an employer’s profile, practice and other details makes you a less effective interviewee and may cost you an offer.
The Moritz Career Services Useful Job/Resources Links is helpful to students looking nationwide.
To watch a video with insight from practicing attorneys regarding researching employers, visit this video page.
Researching Large and Medium Law Firms
Researching large law firms takes time. Statistically, many of the firms look alike. Differentiating among them requires research.
Martindale-Hubbell (accessible through Lexis-Nexis) is the most comprehensive directory of large law firms. This resource provides information on the areas of practice of firms and attorneys’ biographical information. You can use this resource to learn more about the attorney(s) who will be interviewing you and you can identify Moritz alumni working at the firm.
Another comprehensive resource is nalpdirectory.com. The National Association for Law Placement is an organization of hundreds of law firms and virtually every ABA accredited law school. This resource contains statistical information about law firms, lists major areas of practice, firm demographics, employment data and contact information. The narrative section is important as it describes the values of the organization through what it chooses to emphasize. The directory allows for searches of member employers by city, state, office size and/or practice areas. However, the NALP directory is not a comprehensive listing of law firms; most mid-size and smaller firms are not NALP members and are not included.
An internet search by firm name will give you access to relevant articles in major newspapers. If you are looking in a particular city, you should also review the local legal newspaper, bar association directory, local law schools’ websites, or other resources specific to practice in that city or region. Other sources you may wish to look at include:
- American Lawyer – The American Lawyer Midlevel Associate Survey and the Summer Associate Survey are good resources. A hard copy of the American Lawyer is available in Moritz Law Library.
- Avery Index
- Chambers and Partners
- Legal 500
- National Law Journal
- The Lawyer
The Career Services Office maintains a list of students who volunteer to talk about their previous summer experiences. In addition to hearing their first-hand impressions of where they worked, you can get some “tips” if you are planning to interview with the same employers.
Talk to faculty members as well. They often keep in touch with former students who are working in different parts of the country. Many have worked in some of the country’s largest firms.
Researching Small Law Firms
Unlike large firms, which typically report an abundance of hiring and salary information, most small firms do not participate in such reporting mechanisms. Sometimes even confirming the name of a small firm, whom to contact within the firm, and discovering the areas of practice can be difficult.
WESTLAW has developed a database of law firms which contains a comprehensive list of small firms.
A city’s bar directory will give you the names of most firms in the area, their practice areas, number of employers and address and phone. You will have to call the firm to get the name of the person to whom you address job related correspondence. This is an excellent resource for both medium and small firms. If the Moritz Library does not have the bar directory for the city you want, your career advisor will try to get the directory for you. If you know attorneys in the region, they may be able to get a copy for you. Additionally, some cities post bar directories online. In Columbus, cbalaw.org is a free resource for the public.
Intercollegiate Job Bank will give you the job postings from law schools throughout the county and can be searched by state. Once on the site, click on “intercollegiate job bank.” Then enter the username and the password and you can search current job postings by school in the state you are targeting. For example, the job postings for ten California schools can be found through this site.
Researching Government Opportunities
Before applying to a government agency or public interest organization, you should know its mission statement as well as what the agency does. An excellent resource for researching both federal and state employers is a database maintained and updated by the University of Arizona to which the Moritz College of Law subscribes. To use this site, enter the username and the password. You will find information about various hiring programs and their respective deadlines which usually fall in August and September.
To search for specific jobs with the federal government, go to USAJOBS to find jobs searchable by title, keyword, city and state.
The Moritz Career Services Useful Job/Resource web page lists both multi-state and by state, including state government job postings.
Researching Public Interest Organizations
Moritz subscribes to PSJD. It is a network of more than 180 law schools and more than 13,000 law-related public interest organizations in the U.S. and around the world. Through its online database, Moritz students can access a comprehensive clearinghouse of public interest organizations and opportunities for lawyers and law students. The database is password protected and Moritz students can log on and create a personal password.
Another web-based compendium of public interest job sites is posted on the University of Virginia Law School web site. The site contains information about public interest initiatives in the U.S. and abroad, many with related job postings.
Another great resource for law and non-law positions in public interest is Idealist.com. It is a free job posting resource for the public.
Researching Judicial Clerkships
Information for Moritz students interested in judicial clerkships is available and contains information about application procedures, checklists, and deadlines for applying to federal judges. For off-cycle judicial clerkship postings, go to the Federal Law Clerk Information System web site. The site can be searched by circuit and by latest positions posted. It includes positions for judges, magistrate judges and bankruptcy judges. You can also monitor judicial nominations, where you can find the names of individuals nominated and not yet confirmed to whom you can send materials in advance of confirmation. Note that not all judges are confirmed and many will not actually conduct interview until confirmed. Others may interview in advance of confirmation and make contingent offers. The University of Michigan maintains an on-line database of judicial nominations and current status.
Don’t overlook state judicial clerkships as potential employers. State clerkships are an effective way to relocate and are often a springboard to private practice in another state. Note that many state clerkships deadlines fall in the summer between second and third years of law school. Moritz subscribes to the Vermont Guide to State Judicial Clerkships. To access the state-by-state guide, click on “Career Opportunities” then click on “Judicial Clerkship Guide,” then click on “Access the Guide,” then click on “Complete Guide or a Specific State.” Enter the username and the password.
Researching Alternative Careers
The Career Services Office of The Arizona University, Rogers College of Law has produced an excellent resource for those pursuing alternative careers. The Alternative Careers Handbook provides useful information on a broad range of related topics. Many thanks to them for sharing it with us. A Career Services counselor can help you explore alternative career options that fit your interests. To search for specific alternative career jobs, click here.