Advice to 1Ls – Part IV (Sally)

Next, we have Sally.

Question 1:
Hey!

I was accepted into the PT program starting this upcoming Fall. I saw your post on Facebook that you would answer a few questions. Thank you, I have visited SMU several times for yours and to sit in on a class, but I have only talked to FT students so I have been looking for a part time student to answer some general questions.

I listed the questions below (I know it’s alot! Sorry. Answer as many or as few as you want.) Again, thank you so much.

1.)Do most of the PT students keep their full time 40 hours jobs, or do they not work at all or work part time. Do you have an opinion on what is the best workload?
2.)Are you interning anywhere this summer? Or are you currently employed and will continue working where you are?
3.)If you are interning how did you get the position, did the career services help at all or was it by your own networking? Do you know about the internships of any of the other PT students? Or are the PT students not able to intern until their second summer when they have more classes?
4.)What’s your feedback on the PT program concerning employment/internship opps. Do employers look down on part time programs or do they give graduates from a part time program the same regard as they would with someone from a full time program?
5.)Are you happy at the SMU PT program?
6.)I have heard some people will take summer school and graduate in 3.5 years instead of 4 years. Do you know anything about how that works with employment? Would the person just start working after results from the Feb bar, or do firms and employers just have ppl start after the results of the bar in May/June?

Answer 1:
Sally,

I have always started out my advice to law students with this disclaimer: take every advice with a grain of salt. I have been given a lot of advice that sounded good at the time but turned out to be a sour apple. With that…

1.)Do most of the PT students keep their full time 40 hours jobs, or do they not work at all or work part time. Do you have an opinion on what is the best workload?

I relocated to Dallas from far, far away, so I had no employment at the time I started law school (and still don’t). Many in the evening program have full-time jobs: some are legal (which is very convenient for them) but most are not. I have seen some that started out with a full-time job that either had to cut their hours or quit during the first semester. The first semester of your first year is definitely going to be the hardest semester of your academic career. I say that not to scare you but to prepare you mentally for the challenges ahead. It definitely gets easier the second semester. I have seen people take on new part-time jobs during the second semester as they get the hang of things.

2.)Are you interning anywhere this summer? Or are you currently employed and will continue working where you are?

I will be interning at the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid in Weslaco through the Texas Access to Justice Internship Program. I have been looking for a job since the beginning of the spring semester, but so is 9% of the nation so the competition has been pretty stiff. 😉

[UPDATE: Last week, I found out that I was awarded a grant to work for another public interest internship during the second half of the summer. It is gratifying to know that there are people out there who will give money for poor law students to do public interest work. Yay for “free money”!!!]

3.)If you are interning how did you get the position, did the career services help at all or was it by your own networking? Do you know about the internships of any of the other PT students? Or are the PT students not able to intern until their second summer when they have more classes?

PT students are allowed to intern after the first year as a school policy, but some employers do look for students that have completed all of 1st year curriculum. In the middle of your fall semester, they will give you the access to school job board. Employers will indicate what level of students (e.g. 1E, 1L, 2E, etc.) can apply. Besides upkeeping the job board, career services office isn’t all too helpful, unfortunately. Diligently applying to these posted positions and networking is what will get you the jobs.

4.)What’s your feedback on the PT program concerning employment/internship opps. Do employers look down on part time programs or do they give graduates from a part time program the same regard as they would with someone from a full time program?

Employers do not look down on evening program students as far as I can tell. It is a very difficult program unlike any other “night schools”, and if they can see that you were able to keep your job and work through the rigors of law school, they will respect your abilities and dedication. Once you get a hold of that diploma, it looks just like that of a full-time student’s.

However, I have noticed that those who have full-time jobs and families to support have difficulty leaving their full salaried jobs to take $10/hr law clerk job or unpaid internship to get the legal experience they need. Experience is needed in order to get the next job, naturally. So there may be a bit of a disadvantage there.

5.)Are you happy at the SMU PT program?

Yes. Every law student will come to a point during their first year to question their decision to attend law school. It’s a rite of passage. When you face that question, hang in there; it will pass. Having just finished my first year, I feel relieved and am glad I stuck with it.

6.)I have heard some people will take summer school and graduate in 3.5 years instead of 4 years. Do you know anything about how that works with employment? Would the person just start working after results from the Feb bar, or do firms and employers just have ppl start after the results of the bar in May/June?

It all depends on your situation. If you are offered employment after your 3E clerkship and your employer is willing to take you in January rather having to wait until May, why not? Feb. bar is just as good a bar exam as the July one. But not everyone will be in such ideal boat. It may or may not be advantageous to be looking for employment before May. You might be beating the rush, but, on the other hand, some employers may not even be looking until much later.

Another thing to consider is bar prep. If you graduate in Dec., you have shorter prep time compared to May graduates preparing for July bar unless you plan on being completely anti-social during Christmas and New Years. 🙂 Something to keep in mind…

Hope that answers your questions. Let me know if you have more.

Cheers.

Comment to Answer 1:
Thank you so much for your detailed answers. This gives me insight into the program as I have not had the chance to chat with a PT student.

Thank you!

Question 2:
Hello,

I have one more question.

For the Oxford program that is in the summer. Are PT 1L’s able to participate in this after the first year? Or do they have to wait until the summer after their second year?

I get different answers depending on who I ask. Thank you!!!
-Sally

Answer 2:
1Es after their first year of curriculum can participate in the Oxford Program without having to wait until the end of their 2E year.

I don’t know who all is spreading the false rumors, but you can take this one to the bank. 😉 I know this for a fact because SEVERAL of my classmates are heading that way this summer.

Also, financial aid does apply to Oxford Program.

Hope that helps.

 

Question 3:

One more question: when are PT students able to participate in On campus interviews. Do the majority of employers wait until the 2nd year so we have more classes?

Answer 3:
Ah, the on-campus interviews (OCIs)… The topic that everyone loves to hate and hates to love. The evening students can participate in OCI after their first year. The bad news is that becoming eligible for OCI at SMU Dedman School of Law is quite challenging.

The Office of Career Services (OCS) tells all OCI-participating firms that they must interview a certain number of top-tiered students (I believe it is top quarter of the class) before they can even look at other students’ resumes.

Yet another reason to get good grades. [sigh]

You will receive a lot more information on OCI during orientation and OCS does a separate orientation sometime during the Fall semester.

Hope that helps.

 

Sally’s concerns are legit. There lives a career services counselor who tells her part-time evening students that they will have tough luck when looking for internships and jobs because they are “lesser quality” students. BS… @#$%^&* We’ll show her…

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