Hey everyone, I hope you all were able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. Personally, I’ve always loved Thanksgiving weekend. Not only is it a great day to indulge a bit in some of your favorite dishes, drinks, and desserts, but more importantly it’s also an opportunity for many of us to see our families, friends, classmates, and significant others to reflect on the past year and spend a moment or two thinking about being thankful. For some of us students, it may seem like it’s a bit more difficult be thankful for with the current unemployment rates, deferrals being handed out by firms, and final exams lingering, but the mere fact that you’re sitting on a computer reading my page, aside from all the basic things like having a good meal, suggests that we have a lot to be thankful for. Definitely something to think about for students as grades and recruiting results play out over the next few weeks, for applicants as you start to hear back from graduate school programs that you’ve been dying to get into, and for everyone else as you’re trying survive these odd economic times.
While the Thanksgiving holiday brought a nice long weekend getaways for many folks out there, here in law school some (though not all) of my classmates decided to stay local, given that we’ll all be going home in just a couple of weeks after finals anyhow. Many of the folks here had small gatherings near campus. Some went out to the suburbs to visit friends from Chicago or to see family there. Other folks who typically don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, just had a normal day of relaxing and studying.
As for me, this year, I spent the weekend here in Chicago, given that finals begin fairly soon. My thought was that taking 3 or 4 days completely off would be a bit imprudent, especially considering that I don’t tend to get much done when I head home for holiday breaks, and that a good number of friends would be around in Chicago anyhow. So on my Thanksgiving, I actually did a lot of reading yesterday afternoon, had dinner with an old college buddy and his family just outside the city, and capped off the night by spending some quality time chatting with a friend afterward. I plan to use the rest of the weekend to do some reading, outlining, and studying.
It’s hard to believe but next week will be the last week of classes in my first semester of law school. It’s funny how fast it feels time is going by here. Most people here are ready for the semester to be over, but I suspect the next three weeks will feel really long, perhaps just as long as the first twelve weeks felt. In fact, I like to think of it like running a mile marathon. And just because you’ve run 23 of the 26 miles already, doesn’t mean you can just take off and sprint the last 3 miles. Even the fastest runner still has to pace himself and manage his energy, so that he can finish as strong as possible. But either way, should be a pretty interesting process to through my first law school exam period, and probably a lot of fun that night once we all finish. But for now, time to get back to the books.
At last … it’s almost time for the students here at Northwestern Law to begin the daunting task of trying to find their first year summer internship. Because of a national law that says firms can’t recruit at law schools until December 1, our Career Management Center doesn’t allow companies to start focusing on first years (1Ls) until the end of the semester. Unfortunately, this means that all of the 1Ls will be stuck trying to fit their internship search in right as finals are approaching, and after that finishing up applications over Christmas break. I can understand the rationale of the rule, because it gives us students time to get accustomed to school, to meet their classmates, and get used to the workload without worrying about the job search right away. But it’s going to be tough to balance sending out resumes with studying for exams, because there is still so much work to do before finals.
About a week ago, Northwestern Law had a law firm reception in our atrium, where a large number of law firms from various practices came to talk with the students one on one. Personally I talked a lot with the bigger firms Skadden and Kirkland, prominent Chicago firms like Jones Day and McGuire Woods, and also with a couple of prestigious smaller firms like Miner Barnhill. I’m also personally interested in the Chicago mid-sized firm Vedder Price but was disappointed to see that they weren’t at the event. At this point, since all of the resume drops for companies will start the middle of next week, I’ll spend a decent amount of my time the next few days writing cover letters and customizing my resume to what these companies might be looking for.
It should be interesting to see how things will turn out this year. For the law students, this year is going to be pretty tough. Both law firms and government agencies are cutting back on hiring this year because of budget cuts, so it sounds like there will be a lot less jobs to go around than usual. This means first semester grades will be more important than before and applying to places where you are a good fit will be critical. Overall, I think it’s definitely important for 1Ls to do something interesting this summer, that way during OCI next year, students will have something to talk about as they’re interviewing for the summer internship that will probably turn into their full-time job. This will be especially true for those students who’s grades might be on the margin.
As a JD-MBA, my experience is going to be a bit different. While many JD-MBAs participate in the OCI process, many don’t work full time during the first summer. This has noting to do with our success levels in the OCI process, but rather it’s because here in the Northwestern JD-MBA program, most take a full load of classes during the summer, so the folks who do work, have a delicate balancing act. Because of this, many JD-MBAs prefer to get creative during first summer. Some work part-time, others work only during the time that we have off, and many decide not to work at all, while a select few do decide to work full-time. From a recruiting perspective, employers are really familiar with our program, so they understand, when students choose not to work. It will also be interesting to see where my JD classmates end up. I’ve talked a lot with my classmates and my section mates, and everyone seems to have lots of diverse career goals, and this year most students are keeping their options open.
My one piece of advice to everyone who’s applying to school this year, JD or MBA, is to do the same. Understand the market, do your research and keep your options open if need be. That means understand the recruiting market. Know how your target industries and companies are being affected. And start researching firms and organizations that are good fits and align with your background as early as possible. And also, try to be flexible to some extent. Personally, I’m planning to participate in OCI this year, and I’ve found a couple of select organizations that I am currently interested in. Stay tuned to see how things turn out.
Just last week, I attended an evening reception at Mckinsey & Co here in downtown Chicago. The event was a reception for first year MBA students, and although I’m not at Kellogg this year, and won’t technically be a first year at Kellogg until next year, one of the recruiters sent me a personal invite to attend. So I took her up on her offer and I decided to bring a couple of my JD-MBA buddies to the reception along with me.
When it comes to management consulting, and probably business in general, McKinsey is the most well-known of the firms. The name certainly carries a bit of prestige with it, and they definitely have a huge presence in Chicago. Over the past year or so, I’ve been to a couple of McKinsey events, and they’ve all been a lot of fun and drew a pretty unique crowd of folks with different professional backgrounds and interests. So I was pretty intrigued to see how this event would turn out.
This reception happened to be the most informal of the events I’ve been too. It took place in the corner room of a medium sized restaurant downtown near the water. It was a pretty intimate crowd, maybe 30 or so MBAs from both Chicago Booth and Kellogg. There were three of us 1st year JD-MBAs from Northwestern and probably 6 or 7 McKinsey consultants.
The entire night was basically a meet-and-greet. No presentations. No speeches. And no forced networking. The McKinsey team spread themselves out around the room and hung out with us over some appetizers and drinks while chatting with us about the firm and about school. As usual, the consultants I met at the event were really accomplished and well rounded with diverse backgrounds and experiences. I met one consultant with a background in investment banking, another who worked at a competitor consulting firm before Mckinsey, another who was in marketing before business school, and another who worked in the education sector before business school.
I ended up chatting with one of the local Chicago consultants for about 45 minutes. She was an engagement manager at the firm and a Kellogg grad a couple of years back. We talked a lot about Kellogg and about some of the current projects at the firm, which was interesting since I have a few friends there now and was familiar with some of the work she brought up. We also talked a lot about law school, and she had a lot of interest and insight into my experience, given her husband been to law school a few years ago. That said, McKinsey is a big supporter of hiring from law schools and especially from JD-MBA programs. They are the only firm that has a team of recruiters dedicated to specifically to law schools, which should come as good news to current and future JD-MBAs here at Kellogg.
As a 1st year JD-MBA at the law school, I won’t be interviewing for consulting jobs this year. But it’s nice to get a head start on the networking and learning about the firms, because next year at Kellogg, we’ll be going to dozens and dozens of these types of events over the year. The whole process of getting a consulting job can be tiring and a bit intimidating for some, just like applying to business school and law school, but starting the process now should make things a little easier next year. I also think these events are a great way to meet new people, including both at the firms and at the local business schools. There’s always a lot of people with really interesting backgrounds, so there’s always the chance to strike up some pretty interesting conversations, and I always find at least one unique connection at every event. At this event, I actually ran into a good number of people that I had already met over the past year so it was nice catching up with them. It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up this summer.
A couple of week ago here at the law school, the private wealth management team from Goldman Sachs came out to give a presentation. Contrary to Goldman’s usual pit stop down at Kellogg, this time they decided to come and recruit specifically here at Northwestern Law. It’s pretty odd that they were here on campus at the law school, since companies like Goldman spend the majority of their time on the business school campuses.
But the Goldman buzz definitely got around campus quickly when the news first came out. A lot of people were talking about the session, and multiple emails went out to our listserve in the last days before the event. The session took place at lunch on a Thursday. Minutes before the session started, the room quickly filled up. It’s no surprise that a large number of the JD-MBAs were in attendance, many of them from my year. Events like these are usually much more attended earlier in the year before classes get hectic and midterms begin.
A couple of senior Goldman advisors stood up in front of the room, introduced themselves, and then gave a mini presentation. All of them were lawyers and a couple had JD-MBAs. It was pretty obvious that the presentation was canned, and the presenters seemed more interested in giving a small pitch and answering question than making a formal presentation. Goldman’s pitch was that both law students and experienced lawyers are very well-prepared to enter the private wealth management field, given their strong communication, negotiation, and client management skills.
I don’t disagree with the pitch. But I also think there’s a bit more to it. In my personal opinion, I think Goldman was also trying to cast a wider net for the private wealth recruiting team. For one, in many business schools private wealth often takes a back seat to investment banking, which has long had the lure, appeal and prestige to attract MBA students. This has long been the case, and I don’t think anything has changed even in this economy. And second, I think Goldman is absolutely correct. In the long run, lawyers do make really good private wealth advisors. This is because they have both the soft client skills to do well and in the long run they bring clients with them to make Goldman a lot of money.
Overall the session went pretty well. Despite a seemingly canned presentation, the advisors gave a lot of information, answered a lot of questions, and were available to chat after the session. I have a JD-MBA friend here at Northwestern who is in his final year in the program now. At the time of the session he was preparing for a Goldman interview but hadn’t had it yet, so he made a point to chat with the advisers after the presentation. Turns out that just earlier this week, he finally received and accepted his offer. This is proof that sometimes going to all of these info sessions can pay off during recruiting time, especially if you target the right sessions.
In my opinion, it’s definitely nice to get an offer at Goldman this year no matter which division you work in. Kudos to one of my JD-MBA classmates for reeling it in. Law school recruiting for first year students has barely started here at Northwestern for first years. On 11/1 Northwestern Law was permitted to meet with students to advise us on our career options. In December, we’ll finally be able to start sending out applications and going through the formal recruiting process. Should be an interesting couple of weeks as things start to progress. Check back for more recruiting updates along the way.
After a two week hiatus from posting, I’m finally back to writing again. As of late, life has been mostly studying and trying to keep up with the hectic pace of law school, so the past two weeks have gone by quickly. But I’ve got a few pieces of interesting information about the last two weeks, including midterms, classes, and the semester in general.
In the period, I’ve taken midterms for all my classes, gone to review sessions for the same classes, started the recruiting process, done a few mock interviews, started my final paper for my legal writing class, and began preparing outlines as study tools. Also, just around the corner is Thanksgiving Break and after that finals. It seems like the semester is flying by.
Despite how quickly the semester is progressing, we really have been learning a lot about the law. We generally read several hundred pages of text per week, comprised of dozens of cases on various topics. Some of the cases are interesting and some are dry, but most of us are starting to pick up the higher-level concepts more easily and conversations in class are flowing pretty well. This seems to be especially true in our Criminal Law and Torts classes. Also, the good news is that ten weeks in, most of us are starting to read cases faster, take fewer notes, and prepare for class more quickly.
We’ve also had lots of great guest speakers the past few weeks, including a couple of judges, attorney generals, law firm partners, government officially and public interest guests. Many of the students regularly attend these functions. Just last week there was a public service employers reception that a lot of people in my section went to.
In addition to all of that, we had a couple of important JD-MBA meetings. In one meeting last week, we learned more about planning our schedules for next semester and beyond. Ultimately, we have requirements at both the Law School and Kellogg, so getting everything finished can sometimes be a tricky. The Director of Academic Affairs and a panel of older JD-MBA students gave us the inside scoop about classes and the paths JD-MBAs often take. All of the law students, including the JD-MBAs, get to choose two electives next semester. I’m personally thinking about taking Business Associations (i.e. Business Law) and Employment Law but I’m not positive yet. Most JD-MBAs take Buusiness Associations because it’s a prerequisite for a lot of courses we’ll want to take when we come back to the law school our third year. We have a list of about 25 electives to choose from.
This week, the JD-MBAs are meeting to talk about how to approach working this summer. Unlike students at the law school or at Kellogg, the JD-MBAs take courses during their first summer. Having the option to take classes is nice for those who don’t want to work. It will be a delicate balancing act for those who do want to work, because we’ll have to balance working with classes, units, and fullfilling requirements. I’m hoping to be in the latter group, but it will be interesting to see where everyone ends up.
I plan to address many of these things more specifically in a series of separate posts this month. Stay tuned!