Recruiting opportunities begin quite early at the Law School and require students to start thinking about career goals in the first year. Final decisions about career objectives need not be made immediately, but the process of self-assessment and professional development begins early. In all cases, students are encouraged to prepare and update a resume by the end of the fall semester of first year and begin working on a job search strategy near or at the same time.
In terms of formal recruiting, different types of legal employers recruit at different times of the year. While no single rule applies to any one group of employers, certain generalizations can be made. Law firm hiring, for example, depends largely upon the size and economics of the employer. Medium to large law firms generally can anticipate their hiring needs nine months or more in advance and, therefore, primarily recruit in the fall of each year for summer and permanent positions. As a result, the Fall On-Campus Interview Program primarily brings this group of employers to campus from late August through early October. Smaller firms cannot anticipate hiring needs so far in advance and usually do not begin interviewing summer or permanent associates until the spring or summer immediately preceding the start date.
Corporations and accounting firms generally follow the same recruiting schedule as larger law firms and recruit primarily in the fall. Similarly, many federal government agencies conduct recruiting efforts in the fall and impose strict fall deadlines for applications.
In contrast to these employers, public interest organizations, the majority of state government employers (as well as some federal employers) and non-traditional employers generally do not conduct hiring efforts until the spring and summer or even after the bar exam is completed.
Hiring for federal and state judicial clerkships occurs on a separate schedule from the employers described above. Typically, law students apply for clerkships early in their third year, depending upon the particular court, with the intention of beginning the clerkship shortly after taking the bar exam the summer after graduation. There are no universal timelines, however, so students interested in clerkship opportunities must research individual judges' requirements throughout their second and third years. While much of this research should be completed by the individual student, the CPC and Faculty Clerkship Committee endeavor to keep students informed of application deadlines as they are announced.
Although the above generalizations are helpful to keep in mind, students should be aware that they are merely generalizations subject to numerous exceptions. There is no real "hiring season," and, therefore, it is important for students to be proactive in an ongoing job search process to avoid any missed opportunities.