Thoughts on the Never Ending 3L Job Search

by ursavoice

Denny Chan

UCI Law Alumnus 2012    

The third year can be one of the most frustrating times in law school. This feeling is understandable. The expectations people have of 3L students, especially at UCI Law, are undoubtedly rigorous. Taking classes and being involved in extracurricular and pro-bono activities already make for a busy school year, not to mention the clinic requirement means that 3L life can cycle from crazy to even crazier. There are also the added responsibilities of institution building that students at a new law school continue to carry. Many 3Ls also scramble to make sure their post-graduation life is in order: taking the MPRE, completing the moral character application, registering for the bar exam, etc.

Perhaps one of the biggest, most weighty tasks on the post-graduation life list is searching for a job. The process can begin as early as 2L summer when students brainstorm fellowship projects and prepare clerkship applications. In the fall, students wait anxiously by the phone for the prized call(s) from chambers to schedule interviews, and they also scramble to turn in their fellowship and government honors applications.

When the dust settles, for those students who do not have offers with firms from 2L summer and who are not handpicked into clerkships, the search continues. Unfortunately, the process of looking for and applying to legal jobs is incredibly undefined. Sometimes there are postings on PSJD and new openings on OSCAR; of course, there is the school’s Symplicity site too, but other than that, students are left with very few resources featuring concrete opportunities for post-graduation employment.

The Career Development Office, which has experienced more turnover in leadership it seems than any other office at the school, tries its best to be helpful. The staff are extremely diligent about passing along suitable opportunities should they hear about them and are always willing to counsel students. But students can still legitimately feel frustrated. The problem is that students can try their best and do everything “right” but still not land a job, and all of this happens while they slowly lower their expectations for what they want to do after graduation. In face of this, hearing advice like, “go to more networking events” and “have you updated your resume?” begins to feel canned and meaningless, even if said with the best of intentions.

Jobless 3Ls reach another low point when they pay for taking the Bar and Bar classes, totaling thousands of dollars, without any assurance they will be employed afterward. The worst is at a school as small as ours. One of the most bittersweet feelings in all of law school was seeing many, if not all, of my friends gainfully employed, happily discussing their post-graduation plans of where they would move to and how they were getting there. I felt so happy that they were establishing their careers and helping create the reputation of the school and yet concurrently so depressed about my own situation.

I want to end on a constructive note. I want to offer my own simple advice to current and future 3Ls who may find themselves struggling with the job search. Apply, apply, apply. Cast your net wide and far. In my +1 year search, I interviewed for jobs that I thought I had no chance of getting, jobs where my qualifications did not match the posted requirements. Applying to anything you may be interested in doing is important because it gives you the opportunity to be considered. I eventually was hired for a job in October that I originally interviewed for and was rejected from in June. Moral of the story: apply, apply, apply. You never know. And good luck!