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Author: Erin Binns

Erin Binns Erin Binns is director of career planning at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee.

Website Linkedin @binnse

Author posts

Five Ways to Seize Every Opportunity

March 15, 2015

Access to the inner workings of any legal employer is a gift. Take full advantage of every opportunity you have to be inside an organization as a law clerk, volunteer, or intern. While there, arm yourself with curiosity and observe, inquire, and evaluate. The observations you make and the people

Stand Out in the Job Market with Practical Training

November 01, 2014

Are you making choices that will keep you competitive in the job market? Legal employers are calling for “practice-ready” graduates who can hit the ground running when it comes to performing on the job. The economics of practice disfavor past-used training structures where new attorneys tagged along to

How to Rethink Interview Preparation for Alternative Careers

September 01, 2014

There’s nothing new or trendy about law students searching for careers outside the traditional parameters of practice. Lawyers are everywhere, and we have been for a long time. We infiltrate industries, organizations, government agencies, and companies. It makes sense when you consider the fundamental skills and strengths that are honed

Arbitration Program

Refining Your Career Aspirations

May 01, 2014

What do you plan to do with your law degree? This question evokes tremors of anxiety in many law students because either they don’t know or they thought they knew but their interests are now expanding rather than narrowing. Relax. You don’t need to define “forever,” today, but you do

professional interview attire for law students.

Interview Attire - Spend Smart to Look the Part

April 01, 2014

By Erin Binns. Grab your wallet . . . it’s time to invest in your career. Qualifications and academic accomplishments alone don’t generate offers. You need to look the part, too. Legal employers value appearance and will judge you for it. If you opt not to wear a business suit to

What employers value in law students.

What Employers Really Value

February 01, 2014

Grades—they don’t matter as much as you think they do. Despite all the hype (especially at this time of year for 1Ls) most employers don’t rely exclusively or even heavily on academic achievement when making hiring decisions. Yes, some employers are persnickety about grades and use class rank as a

Stop Squandering Opportunities - Master the Follow-Up

December 01, 2013

Students listen to lawyers present on career panel. The end. Students attend class with lawyer as guest presenter. The end. Students attend a Student Bar Association event and mingle with lawyers. The end. Does your story end with being in the same room as a lawyer and never following up? Ignoring chances to

Rejection Hurts, the Opportunity That Comes with It Shouldn’t

October 01, 2013

Rejection is something most students only flirt with from afar before law school. A legal job search tends to change that. Few students navigate a legal job search without becoming intimately familiar with the “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter. And then there are the silent rejections, which are arguably even more painful. You

Navigating the Mentor-Mentee Relationship

February 01, 2013

Depending on the relationship and the moment, they may serve as your cheerleader, coach, reality check, therapist, and/or teacher—and who doesn’t need one or all of those from time to time? I find four compelling reasons, among many others, that make it particularly important for you to establish mentor-mentee relationships: The

LinkedIn® or Locked Out

January 01, 2013

You’ve heard it before. The decisions you make on social media sites can damage your professional reputation. Career services offices remind new law students every fall: Be careful. Keep it private. Shut it down. Don’t offer photographic evidence of your lapses in judgment. All sound recommendations. But the

Resourceful Grads Find Great Work

December 01, 2012

If you’re looking for stories that graduates aren’t getting legal jobs, hit the blogs. But I recommend instead considering what you can learn from the gainfully employed. Their stories don’t seem to populate the Internet to the same degree. As noted by a working grad, “When would I have time

A law student's resume.

Resumes - Creating the Best First Impression

November 01, 2012

Résumés have two stand-out moments in the application process. The document’s first job is to generate an interview. The second is to serve as a springboard for questions and conversations during the interview. Approach résumé creation with an eye toward both. All formatting and content decisions should be filtered with

Networking by the Numbers: 4 Flights, 2 Airports, 1 Day, 8 Contacts

October 01, 2012

The necessity and benefits of networking are espoused by career planning professionals from sea to shining sea. Likely to student annoyance at times, I weave the wonders of networking into nearly every student communication and meeting. Because I promote networking so ferociously, I took advantage of a personal trip to

Silence the "What Ifs" When Deciding to Accept a Job Offer

May 01, 2012

Getting a job offer feels fantastic. Deciding whether to accept it doesn’t always produce the same euphoria. Your legal training has taught you to assess situations from every angle, to analyze, to overanalyze, and to respond to questions with “probably yes” and “likely no” rather than definitive yesses and nos.

Own Your Job Search with Planning, Persistence, and Determination

March 01, 2012

Planning, persistence, and determination are essential ingredients in every legal job search. Jobs—summer or permanent—aren’t secured by luck. Even the right-place-at-the-right-time stories have a backstory of someone seizing an opportunity, cultivating a relationship, or taking initiative to be in that right moment. Like the first-year

Above and Beyond Will Set You Apart

February 01, 2012

“There just isn’t a wow factor.” This wasn’t quite the reaction the student was going for when she submitted her résumé for a job. The student’s grades were impressive—top 15th percentile—so she was befuddled when she didn’t even get an interview. In following up with the employer, the student learned

Hang On! Legal Careers Can Take Wonderful Twists and Turns

January 01, 2012

I have a Peanuts© comic sitting on my desk where Charlie Brown asks Linus if he knows what he wants to be when he grows up. Linus responds quite simply: “Outrageously happy!” Worrying about class rank, student loans, and job searches makes it easy to forget that the goal of

Managing Your Contacts and Applications

December 01, 2011

A law student walks into a bar and sits down by a lawyer. The lawyer says to the student, “I was expecting your call a few weeks ago.” That’s it. There’s no punch line to this guy-walks-into-a-bar story. Ryan, the student, had proactively sent a résumé and letter

Stats and Grads: You Can Learn from Both

September 01, 2011

NALP—The Association for Legal Career Professionals—has been compiling and analyzing placement data for law graduates since 1971 and is the go-to source for employment statistics and trends. So it’s noteworthy when NALP publishes an article called “The Legal Job Market for New Graduates Looks a Like it Did 15 Years

Punctuate Your Exit with Gratitude and Good Judgment

May 01, 2011

You have things to do before you go. You need to wrap up your summer internship or job with the same attention to detail and deliberate actions that got you the position in the first place. Your departure should be thoughtfully orchestrated. Recommendations, references, and offers can hinge on your

Law student presenting to a group.

Jobs: Present Yourself Like a Lawyer, Not a Student

March 01, 2011

You’re not a law student anymore. Ok, technically you are. But for students, if you are in your final semester of law school, it’s time to adjust how you view and market yourself. Legal employers aren’t hiring you to serve as an understudy. You’re being cast as a

Student Searching for Job

Gear up for Your Spring Job Search

December 01, 2010

Take advantage of winter break—when casebooks aren’t competing for your time—to establish the foundation for a spring job search. There’s much you can do now to ready yourself to roll out a strategic and effective plan. Nurture existing relationships. Toasting old acquaintances

Jobs: Use Cover Letters to Tell Compelling Stories of Fit

November 01, 2010

Pair your résumé with a fabulous cover letter and employers will take note. Cover letters, or letters of interest, shoulder important responsibilities in a job search. Cover letters allow you to pique employer interest differently from résumés. Résumés are lists that tersely detail your professional and academic credentials.