For a Permanent Job
The following resources and information are available to assist you in your out-of-state job search.
- Alumni Lists: The Office of Career Services maintains alumni lists from the most popularly requested geographic areas. We may also request a specific geographic search of alumni from Alumni Relations. Please email email@example.com with your request.
- BYU Intercollegiate Job Bank: SMU Dedman School of Law participates in the BYU Intercollegiate Job Bank, which is an exchange of alumni job bulletins from law schools around the country. This site is particularly helpful to students and alumni searching for jobs in areas outside of Texas. The job bulletins are updated regularly by the individual law schools. This website requires a username and password. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
- Request Reciprocity from Other Law Schools
Out-of-State Job Search Tips
A job search outside of Texas can be difficult, but it is not impossible! Keep the following in mind as you begin an out-of-state job search:
Coordinate your job search with the time of year the desired employers hire. For example, large law firms that hire summer associates every year are likely to interview on law school campuses during the fall semester. You want to apply and be considered during that same time frame or even in advance. Smaller and mid-sized law firms hire as needed, but some of these firms will consider hiring upcoming graduates during the spring as summer and graduation approach.
Visit the Resource Center to ascertain what type of out-of-state resources are available from the office. The Resource Center contains hundreds of national employer and job directories, and current information on out-of-state fellowships and government Honor Programs.
Consider applying for judicial clerkships as a means to enter the job market in that geographic area. Judicial clerkships provide great introductions to the practicing bar as well as the potential for a judge’s recommendation that can open doors with local law firm and public service employers.
If you are relocating to an unfamiliar legal market, it is important to learn about the particulars of that market from the perspective of the attorneys who know it. Network with local attorneys, especially our alumni. Access the alumni lists. You can also find attorneys by doing a search using Martindale Hubbell directories (www.martindale.com), Lexis-Nexis (www.lexis.com), or Westlaw’s Legal Directory (www.lawschool.westlaw.com) to find attorneys with specific practices in your desired location. Once you identify these attorneys, call or write and inquire about conducting an informational interview at the earliest convenience. Ask what these contacts like/dislike/suggest about practicing law in that area.
When contacting attorneys for informational interviews or to follow up on job leads from personal referral, be specific as possible about what you want in terms of future employment (For example, what type of employer or environment – small or mid-sized firm? Government? Or the type of practice – litigation or transactional; civil or criminal, in which area of law?) Ask for other people that he or she suggests you contact. Build your network!
Contact the bar admission authority in the state. This will help you to determine exactly which requirements must be met to practice law in that state. The American Bar Association website, www.abanet.org, contains a nationwide directory of bar admission offices. Determine the timing of bar exams.
Join bar associations in the city or state. Some bar associations and chambers of commerce will allow you to join as a student member. Membership provides access to attorney/employer contact information and key bar calendar events – perfect venues for job search networking.
Surf the Internet, law firm web-pages, state and local governments, and the local newspaper for valuable information about a geographic location in which you are interested. Start by checking out the Online Job Search Websites on the Career Services webpage. This page contains links to many job websites, many of them have national job listings.
Find legal newspapers or bar newsletters that cater to attorneys in that city and read them! Many of these publications have classified employment ads. Use the publications to research trends in the area and even changes in local laws and procedures. Visit the Office of Career Services, which subscribes to legal trade publications having national classifieds (Lawyer’s Weekly – geared to smaller law firms, National Law Journal).
Access alumni job bulletins from other law schools from the BYU website. Get a feel for the type of employment opportunities available in that area.
Access the web pages of ALL the local area law schools for news on local legal events and job search advice relevant to finding employment in that legal market.
Your Plan Should be to Research, Apply and Get the Interview!
Review the NALP Directory of Legal Employers in the Office of Career Services or online (www.nalpdirectory.com) for information on member law firms and public service employer information. Use the Martindale Hubbell Directories (www.martindale.com), Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw directories to research attorneys, private practice and public service employers, and national judicial resources. Visit individual firms’ websites, which often have information about recruiting and contacts.
Plan to visit the area if possible. Write to your contacts to set up informational interviews during the time you plan to be the area.
You must demonstrate your willingness to commit to the out-of-state employer or location. Employers are wary of candidates proposing to make drastic life/location changes without a clear showing of commitment to actually make the change. In your cover letter, explain your interest in or connection to the geographical area. Inform the employer if you are already licensed to practice in that jurisdiction or when you will be taking that jurisdiction’s bar exam. Note on your resume, any information that conveys a commitment to the area. For example, if you have local family, get permission to use their address on your resume and correspondence until you relocate. Or rent a local post office box and use that address on your materials.
Your cover letter should reflect that you have researched the employer and know something specific about the organization. If you know someone who works with a particular employer that you are contacting, write to that person directly or write to the recruiting coordinator and mention the name of the person you know.
Get the Interview:
Many firms may be interested in you but are not willing to buy a plane ticket for you to visit the firm. If you are not invited to interview at the firm’s expense, you can plan and pay for a trip to an area and tell employers you will be in town and available to interview. Many employers are happy to have you come by and talk to them. This is a good way to get your foot in the door and show the employer you are serious about working in that particular city.
If one employer invites you to interview, call other employers and say “I’ll be in town interviewing with employer XYZ. I wanted to see if I could interview with you while I am in town.”
Once you have the interview scheduled, follow proper protocol; that is, be on time, bring an extra resume, transcript, writing sample and references.
During the interview, be direct, and articulate why you are interested in that employer and that particular city.
After the interview, be sure to send a thank you letter.