» Student FAQs
+ - When can I begin my job search?
As per NALP guidelines, 1Ls may begin initially contacting employers and may receive career counseling beginning October 15, but not before.
+ - When can I have my cover letter and resume reviewed?
Counselors are available to review cover letters and resumes throughout the year. All 1Ls are required to submit a cover letter and resume in the fall.
+ - What type of employment is available while in law school?
Law students will be able to find employment as a(n):
Law Clerk: Paid position; no school credit. The student would engage in a variety of legal research and writing. A law clerk would typically be hired by a small or mid- sized firm or business. Law clerks can work in the summer and throughout the school year.
Summer Associate: Paid position; no school credit. These are competitive positions at large firms, which are highly valued because they often lead to an offer of permanent employment after graduation. Summer associates are recruited in the early fall of their 2L year (primarily via OCI, Resume Collection or Resume Direct). Some firms offer summer associate programs for 1Ls; however, the majority of the positions are offered to 2Ls.
Unpaid position: No school credit. These positions are only allowed in the public sector (e.g., government agencies, public interest organizations). Interns perform the same tasks of a law clerk.
Extern: Unpaid position; school credit. An extern would primarily work in the public and non-profit sector and for companies. Those hired by judges (while in law school) would also be considered an extern. There are other opportunities for externships in other sectors, such as entertainment. For more information, please visit our Externship Program.
+ - Do I have to work during the year, or can I just wait until the summer?
Law school is a rigorous education process, so it is an individual judgment call and your studies must come first. Obviously, the better your academic performance the greater range of opportunities available to you. However, having a body of practical experience on your resume upon graduation will add greatly to your marketability. Additionally, experiences help you determine what type of legal career is a good fit. So, it is really a personal decision. The Career Services Office (CSO) is always available to strategize with you.
+ - Does the Career Services Office provide job placement?
The CSO is here to support all of your job search and recruiting efforts, but we do not have the resources to act as a recruiting agency. We provide resources, counseling, networking events, attorney contacts, and a host of recruiting opportunities to help you identify job openings and successfully apply and interview for these jobs. But ultimately, you control your professional future.
+ - What is Symplicity? What does it do?
Symplicity is CSO's exclusive online job posting site where law clerk and attorney positions are listed. The online system also manages OCI programs and internal job fairs. It is also used to track RSVPs for Career Services events.
+ - I forgot my Symplicity password. How can I retrieve it?
Please contact the Recruiting Program Manager to have your password reset.
+ - I accidentally sent the wrong cover letter to an employer while applying for a job posting on Symplicity. Is there any way to recall it?
Yes. As long as the particular job(s) has not expired, you may recall the application. Click on the "Jobs" tab, then click on the "Applications" sub-tab. The "Withdraw Application" button will pull the application from the employer's email so long as it has not been opened.
+ - Is OCI only available to those in the top 10%?
Our OCI program (both Fall and Spring) offers more employer diversity than most law schools. Although Fall OCI is historically the primary recruiting season for NALP large law firms (to fill summer associate positions), we are proud to host an assortment of employers, including small firms, mid-sized firms, government agencies, public interest organizations, and corporations.
+ - When does OCI begin? When do I apply? What is required to participate?
We offer OCI Orientations, which more fully describe the specifics of the program and explain the participation requirements. You generally apply for Spring OCI in January and Fall OCI in July. Please refer to the OCI Handbook, which is available on the On-Campus Interviews page.
+ - What is a bar association?
A bar association is a professional organization of attorneys. Bar associations are located in most cities and counties and are composed of professionals in a wide variety of practice areas. Bar associations may offer CLE opportunities, attorney and student mentor programs, and social networking events. Every fall, we host "Bar Association Day." The event allows students the opportunity to meet with different bar association representatives and register as student members.
+ - Am I allowed to "round up" my GPA or "round down" my class rank?
No. You are not allowed to round up your GPA or round down your class rank. Go out to the second decimal point and do not round up or down.
+ - Where can I find cover letter and resume samples?
Please browse our bank of handouts, including sample cover letters, resumes, and thank-you letters by visiting our Handouts and Samples page.
+ - When can I order business cards?
We place student business card orders once a year. Please check the Classifieds for information on how to order business cards. Once you have ordered, you will receive an email informing you that your cards have arrived. Contact the Law Recruiting Program Manager with questions about business cards.
+ - What types of recruiting events does Career Services offer?
The CSO has annual events/opportunities, which include (but are not limited to):
- Fall OCI (August - September) & Spring OCI (February)
- Resume Book (distributed twice a year)
- Resume Collections (part of Fall & Spring Recruitment)
- Job Postings (via Symplicity and other sources)
Southern California Law School Consortium Events:
- Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day (hosted by UCLA School of Law)
- Entertainment & Intellectual Property Law Symposium (hosted by Southwestern Law School)
- Patent Job Fair (hosted by Loyola Law School, Chicago)
- Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair (in Washington, D.C.)
+ - Aside from Symplicity, are there other places jobs are posted?
Yes. Symplicity just represents jobs that are specifically targeted to Chapman students and alumni; it is our internal electronic job bulletin board. But there are many other online sources where you can identify job openings. Please visit our Job Search Websites under our Job Search Tools page for a comprehensive listing of online resources. Please speak with a counselor for more information.
+ - Are there options for me if I want to practice outside of Southern California?
Yes. We facilitate reciprocity, which allows you to request job search resources at other ABA-accredited law schools outside of Southern California. Please contact the Recruiting Program Manager to request reciprocity.
+ - How much can I expect to earn as a law clerk?
While there is not a set hourly rate, most law clerks will receive between $12-$30/hour depending on the nature of the work and experience of the applicant.
+ - What type of market is Orange County?
Although there are a number of large firms with offices in Orange County, it is predominantly a small and mid-sized firm market. LA County, however, offers more in terms of large firms, but it, too, has many small and mid-sized firms.
+ - How will I be notified about Career Services events and programs?
The CSO publishes and distributes The Classifieds, a weekly e-bulletin (every Tuesday), which contains a sampling of recent jobs on Symplicity, networking opportunities, and events. On occasion, we will post announcements in The WRIT. Please read and respond to information in these bulletins. We have many deadlines and time-sensitive programming.
+ - Are online social networking sites helpful for job searching?
Certain sites have proven to be effective. LinkedIn, because it is devoted to professional networking, is more helpful in developing professional contacts.
+ - If I do not have the grades for a large firm, what are my options?
- There are a vast number of legal employment options, including small and mid-sized firms, government agencies, public interest organizations, as well as non-legal "alternative" careers.
- Other factors besides your GPA may influence your ability to land a summer associate position: If this situation applies, please talk to a CSO counselor for specific advice. In addition, if you are not able to secure a large firm job right out of law school, you may join the firm later as a lateral hire.
+ - Will Career Services help me prepare to for an interview(s)?
Yes. The CSO facilitates a Mock Interview Program, which allows you to interview with a practicing attorney at their place of employment; mock interviews can also be given by a career counselor. Please contact the Assistant Director for more information.
+ - How do job fairs work?
Every job fair is run differently. Some function similarly to OCI where you must be invited and pre-scheduled for an interview to attend. Others have a table talk component, where you would be encouraged to bring your resume and discuss current and/or prospective career options with employers. Other fairs are strictly informational. Regardless, students should arrive professionally dressed in a two-piece matching suit and take advantage of the opportunity to meet and learn more about prospective employers.
+ - I am applying to several positions, but am not getting any interviews. Why?
Remember that finding a job is a job. It takes time. It is important that you remain persistent, volunteer, network, and hone your resume and cover letter writing skills.
+ - I am getting several interviews, but no offers. Why?
+ - I really want to work at a firm, but I do not know if they are hiring. Can I apply?
Yes and no. With large firms, it is best that you follow the recruiting calendar for Fall Recruitment (as a 2L). If you miss the application deadline, it is highly unlikely that you will be considered. For small and mid-sized firms, it is always recommended that you send "unsolicited" resumes because their hiring needs are less predictable. Please see our resume/cover letter samples on the website and consult with a CSO counselor to learn how to make your unsolicited applications more successful.
+ - When will I be paired with a mentor?
The Mentor Program begins during spring semester and is open to all 1Ls. Because of the demand, not all first-year students who wish to participate will be paired with a mentor. The process is typically first-come, first-served.
+ - Where do most alumni work after law school?
Generally, most alumni work at firms in Southern California. Fowler School of Law alumni presently work in many different states and several foreign countries. And those numbers are growing.
+ - I am nervous about not getting a job after the bar. What can I do?
Be deliberate about your job search. Finding a job after graduation starts during your 1L year. Take advantage of all the resources that the CSO provides. We are here to help you lay your foundation for your professional success.