Employer Outreach Update: Seattle
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been spending some time on the road to meet with employers to discuss ways they could connect with our students here at the law school. My most recent trip was early last month when I visited employers in Seattle and attended a local alumni reception. My experience was helped greatly by the fact that I landed on a day when it was 66 degrees and sunny -- not typical of early March in the Pacific Northwest. During my time, I met with legal recruiting personnel and attorneys at Perkins Coie, Lane Powell, Stoel Rives and Riddell Williams. At each of these firms, there was uniform interest in having more Minnesota law students make there way out to the area. These employers have had some track record of hiring alumni from the law school and, after our meetings, well aware of all that students and grads from this institution have to offer. A couple of tips for those interested in applying to these and other Seattle area firms:
1) It helps to have had some experience living and/or working in the region. These employers want to know that you understand the area and have a sincere interest in starting your career there. While connections to the Puget Sound area are helpful, it is also a plus to be from the greater Pacific Northwest region (Eastern WA, OR, ID, Western MT -- even northern UT).
2) If you are interested in practicing in Seattle with these kinds of employers, make sure that you apply during the late summer and consider flying out to the area (at your own expense) to do screening interviews. At this point, none of these firms participate in our interview programs. (Of course, convincing them to do so was one purpose of my trip.) However, recruiting staff and partners read your cover letters and resumes and are impressed when someone says they will be coming just to meet them. After the screening interview, fear not, any callbacks will be at the prospective employer's expense.
3) Seattle is a modest-sized legal market. This means that there are still more lawyers for the number of positions available. You need to find a way to distinguish yourself -- either by your academic, credentials, experience, connections to the area or sincerity of interest. One recent alum worked a number of different angles to land a job with the branch office of a large law firm. She spent her summers there and networked with alumni and other attorneys around town. It paid off for her and it can for you.
We have a reasonable number of alumni in the Seattle area and the ones I met seemed eager and interested in helping Minnesota students. They can be one of your best resources to making connections and finding your way around town. Don't be shy.
Dean Charles and I will be returning to New York in May for additional employer visits. In addition, Susan, Vic and I will be attending the annual NALP conference in Colorado later this month. The conference affords us an opportunity to meet with dozens of legal recruiter types from employers throughout the country. We plan on making sure the good news about our law school spreads.