General Career Information
A JD can take you almost anywhere. Of course, there is the traditional route of joining a legal practice, but in today's diverse and fast-paced job market, there are a multitude of less conventional options available to you as well.
Your career path will unfold over time, beginning prior to attending Law School. It is an evolving process, and you are likely to find it to be more enjoyable if you are well prepared and informed. Take time on a regular basis to work on your career goals: assess why you applied to law school, what is your motivation and values, speak to lawyers and gather information about various career paths, review our website and the resources available, keep notes of contacts and information about a law firm or recruitment activity, make decisions and develop a strategy based on your interests. Once you have enough information to make an informed decision, develop a strategy and focus on your area of interest (it is important to have a goal and target, but to also be flexible and have a back-up plan). Develop your application package and be ready for deadlines as they approach.
Personal choices to consider when deciding on your career path:
- The type of career that would be most suited to you: traditional practice with a national, regional or boutique firm, or perhaps an alternate career choice in the civil service, or further academic pursuits
- Your own personal values and interests including: the size of city or town where you want to live, lifestyle ideals
- Type of firm you wish to join
- Type of practice you are interested in pursuing
Your action list prior and during law school:
- Collect as much information as you can to make informed decisions about your career
- Talk to lawyers and people who have a law degree
- Build your network and networking skills
- Learn about the various types of employment you can obtain with your law degree
- Attend Law School events and receptions, especially those hosted by or co-organized by firms
- Contact firms and speak to their recruiters or take firm tours
- Meet with our alumni and articling students
- Join various student organizations which will allow you to learn about the different areas of law and meet with potential future employers.
The career office offers specialized services to our law students. We streamline our service to ensure we are the most efficient and effective and try not to replicate the services that students can access elsewhere such as the Student Employment and Career Centre (SECC). Therefore we have developed a process to ensure that when we meet, we can focus on issues of legal recruitment and your strategy.
We encourage you to review the information on the website, attend upcoming career events and information sessions, and reach out to upper year students who have been through the process.
Sample - Unofficial Reporting of Grades (if official transcript is not available)
Suggested Steps to Consider When Booking a Career Appointment with the College of Law Career Office:
- Review the application materials information at the above link and prepare a draft of your cover letter and resume with a legal employer in mind. Look at job postings and the recruitment tab to gain familiarity with the process and employers.
- Have someone (family, friend, upper year law student, SECC) review it before you attend your appointment.
- 2L and 3L students can sign up at the College of Law Career Office through the online booking system. (Use your NSID and password to sign in).
- If you are not able to book an appointment within the time frame that you require email email@example.com
- Prior to the appointment consider the following:
- what brought you to law school and what interests you
- what type of legal employer you want to work for (public interest/law firm/gov’t/other)
- size of firm you want to work at (large/medium/small)
- where you would like to live (size of community) and why
- do you have any interest areas (criminal, family, corporate etc.)
- do the employers you are interested in actively recruit students or do you have to outreach to them
- recruitment timelines
If you have not fully developed the answers to some of these questions, that is fine, and we can talk about them and what you will do to research and develop some answers as time goes on. It is useful to start thinking about these questions so that you can begin developing a strategy.
“All lawyer jokes aside, our profession is old, conservative, and traditional. If you want others to treat you like a lawyer, you must dress like a lawyer.” Marina Modlin, Esq., The Independence Track: How to Succeed as a Freelance Attorney
A first impression counts and you only have a few moments to make it. As a lawyer, you will have an obligation to live up to the highest degree of care and professionalism in everything, including appearance. Law firms and other organizations are taking note of students who take law school and career events seriously and dress appropriately. Your appearance shows attentiveness to details and gives recruiters an idea of how you will represent their company and clients. But what does “dress like a lawyer” mean?
What to wear? It is a personal choice based on your preference and personality. It is up to you to decide how far you go to dress in a manner that is comfortable to you or not. The following is a recommendation pertaining to the common understanding of business wear.
- Number 1 – don’t wear casual jeans!
- What type of event is it? Interviews are normally business formal (dark, conservative suits) while many other events may be business casual/professionsl reception. Check materials (e.g. career office notices) for recommended attire or ask HR or the recruiter.
- Pay attention to what others in the organization and students are wearing; if there is a difference between lawyers and staff, dress like the lawyers. Talk to your fellow classmates and ask what they are wearing to an event or interviews.
- Do your research and develop savvy – there are many books and internet resources on dress codes and appropriate business attire. Check the resources at the career office.
- When in doubt, err on the side of conservative. It is preferable to be overdressed rather than underdressed. This shows that you take the matter seriously and are showing respect.
- Your clothes should fit well and you should feel comfortable. Check the fit by moving around and using a mirror.
- You should appear clean, neat and well-groomed. You may want to cover visible tattoos, remove facial piercings, and trim or shave facial hair.
- A few well-chosen, simple, conservative pieces will serve you well. You can combine one suit with different shirts, ties, jewelry, scarves and other accessories.
- You don’t need to spend a fortune. Cost is irrelevant as long as it fits well, and is ironed and clean. Shop outlets stores and sales. Look at ‘cost per wear’ – it may be more economical to spend a bit more money on a suit in a long lasting style and fabric than something trendy.
This should go without saying, but you do not want to appear sloppy or inappropriate.
- Avoid tight clothes, rumpled or ripped clothes, t-shirts, spaghetti straps, short skirts, shorts, bare midriffs, bare legs, cleavage, sandals or flip flops, open-toed shoes, or scuffed shoes.
- You should not wear excessive makeup, scents or smell of smoke.
- You will want to make sure your outfit and accessories do not distract you or others.
- Accessories: Woman do not wear wild nail polish or jewelry that jangles. Men, do not wear obnoxious ties. Printed or trendy handbags or briefcases should also be avoided.
- Think twice about ‘unusual touches’. And interview or event with prospective employers is not the place to be making a fashion statement.
Remember: If you are dressed appropriately you will feel and act more comfortable and confident.
Business Formal Attire:
Men: A suit (trousers and matching jacket, but not a sport coat) in a dark conservative colour such as dark grey, blue or black (although black may be considered too serious) with a long-sleeved shirt, collar and necktie and leather oxfords or loafers with matching belt. Socks should match or be close to the colour of the trousers.
Women: A suit (trousers or skirt with matching jacket) in a dark conservative colour such as dark grey, blue or black, with a blouse, cami or dress shirt. Skirt suits were once considered to be more appropriate; however the new consensus seems to be that pantsuits are perfectly acceptable. A tailored dress with matching jacket may also be acceptable. Nylons should be worn with a skirt or dress and closed-toe shoes with comfortable heels are the most appropriate.
Business Casual Attire:
The interpretation of business casual varies across organizations. Resarch the organization, event and venue. An oft cited definition is “in general, business casual means dressing professionally, looking relaxed, yet neat and pulled together.” It is a middle ground between business formal wear and casual wear.
Men: Similar to business, but less formal. Suit and tie are not necessary. Range can be from more formal - a suit with out a tie, or a sport coat, with a button up shirt and dress pants to less formal ie khakis with a belt, with a collared shirt (long-sleeved dress or polo) and/or sweater. In this instance you may wish to keep a blazer/sport coat handy. A newer trend is to wear dressy top end denim with a collared shirt and blazer.
Women: Similar to business, but less formal such as a reasonable length skirt or trousers (not denim) with a dress shirt or blouse or sweater set. You can mix and match tops and bottoms. Suit jackets are not necessary but can be worn. If the event is more formal you can keep your jacket on, if the event is less formal, you can remove your jacket. A tailored dress may also be acceptable. Flat heels are acceptable in business casual wear.
Networking. What is it? It is meeting people. It is thinking of who you know in the legal profession, reaching out and contacting them. It is about meeting new people. It is going to events where you will learn about potential employers and they will learn about you. It is up to you to approach and talk to people. You will gain a wealth of information from networking opportunities which provide you with the rare chance of learning about a potential employer, the environment at the firm and your level of comfort with members of the firm.
Throughout the academic year, the Career Office, in conjunction with various firms and organizations, will host several networking events for students and potential employers. Here are some helpful hints to help you prepare:
Personal Communication Tips:
- Approach people and shake hands (practice a firm, not tight, comfortable handshake).
- If you are sitting, stand up if you are meeting someone to shake their hand
- Make eye contact
- Remember names. State the greeters name when you meet. If you forget someone's name, try to find it and if this is not possible re-introduce yourself and say your name again to them.
- Body language: face the person, hold your head up, shoulders down, stand with your weight on both legs, do not cross your arms, stand about arm's length apart, do not put your hands in your pockets; feel confident and comfortable, look friendly, open, interested and engaged
- Listen: you are there to learn, so show you are listening by focusing on the person
- Converse: have appropriate topics prepared to help ease your discomfort, ask open ended questions
- Be confident, but do not brag
- Try and be comfortable and take the opportunity to learn as much as you can
- Professionalism: your reputation as a lawyer is critical to your practice, and begins as soon as you enter law school. You will interact with your fellow classmates who will also be lawyers some day. As well, you will have the opportunity to interact with staff, faculty, the law society and lawyers. How you interact will define how you are perceived.
- In addition it is important to recognize the information that may be available to legal recruiters and fellow colleagues on accessible internet sites. We are very proud of our students and know you will be an excellent representative of our law school.
Other helpful Networking Ideas:
- If you know a lawyer, student, or articling student, contact them to learn about the profession and the firm environment that they work in, or perhaps they may know something about a firm you are thinking of applying to
- Consider joining the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and mentorship program
- Attend student events
- If you are interested in applying to firms outside of Saskatchewan and are unable to attend networking events hosted by that firm, contact the firm and request to meet the recruiter, alumni, articling student, junior lawyers and do a tour
- Join extra-curricular activities and network with your fellow students.
- Consider volunteer work that is beneficial to the community and will also provide you with insight and hone your skills in the legal professions
Prior to any networking event:
- Research any potential employers that may be in attendance
- Consider appropriate dress
- Imagine appropriate topics of conversation
- Think about what you want to learn and appropriate questions to ask
- Practice talking about your personal interests
- Reflect on what you would like a firm to learn about you, including your skills, hobbies, and the areas of law in which you are interested.
Have confidence in yourself. Employers are interested in you. Take time to think of your strengths, your experience and skills. Everyone has a story and your story will be of interest to firms. Employers will all have different skill sets and personalities they are looking for in their potential employees. Primarily they will be interested in finding a good match for their firm, and a student who will prosper and ultimately stay with their firm. You will want to find the firm that you are comfortable with and one where you will be able to achieve your career goals.
So, take a deep breath, go forward and approach a potential employer. You may be amazed at the results!