The mission of the Office of Career Services is to provide the resources and professional environment to enable students to achieve their career goals. The OCS assists students in their self-directed career searches by advising them about career options and job search strategies and creating opportunities for them to connect with legal employers. OCS staff provides individual career counseling and coaching, assistance with résumés and cover letters, mock interviews and current and complete resources online through the OCS website and within the Resource Technology Center. The office hosts numerous career-related programs throughout the year, including on-campus interviews and off-campus job fairs, recruiting opportunities, seminars, panel discussions and workshops designed to allow students to network with employers. OCS also works with a wide variety of employers to provide students access and exposure to a broad range of employment opportunities.
The OCS is located on the third floor of Carr Collins, Jr. Hall on the east side of the Law Quadrangle. Interview rooms within the OCS are available for legal employers interviewing on campus.
The OCS staff includes six experienced career professionals and an administrative assistant. The assistant dean oversees the management of day-to-day operations, creating and implementing innovative programs for students and employers, counseling J.D. and Tax LL.M. students and conducting outreach to promote the Dedman School of Law and students to legal employers. Two directors work with the assistant dean to develop permanent job opportunities and clerkships in the small-firm and corporate sectors. The associate director is responsible for government employers and develops internships with the state and local agencies. The directors share counseling of the full-time J.D. students with the assistant dean and develop programs and opportunities to nurture and enhance the professional development of all students. The assistant director specially counsels students in the part-time J.D. evening program, as well as transfer and visiting students. OCS has a special counselor dedicated to working with the international LL.M. students and the judiciary to develop internships and post-graduate judicial clerkships. The assistant director manages all arrangements with employers and students relating to on-campus and off-campus interview and résumé collection programs; coordinates all job fairs, special events and programs; and maintains technology services and databases, such as the website and the career management software Symplicity.
Career counseling is available to all students by appointment throughout the calendar year. Each student is paired with a career counselor, who will advise and coach the student throughout his or her law school career. An individual career counseling session might include suggestions for self-assessment techniques, planning an individualized job search strategy, reviewing and revising a résumé or cover letter, direct referral to an employer or tips on successful interviewing. The staff is always available on an informal basis to answer questions and guide students through the job search process.
The OCS maintains a library of career resources both digitally on the Career Services website and in the office. The Career Services website, as well as the Resource and Technology Center library, contain a wide variety of publications on career and job search information, legal specialties and judicial clerkships. Students have access to directories for courts, government agencies, nonprofit and public interest organizations and corporations throughout the country. In addition, various reference books for nonlegal/alternative careers are available for review. The Resource and Technology Center is equipped with computer terminals, a scanner and printer to provide access for online research of the legal market and legal employers. The office subscribes to Symplicity, a Web-based recruiting system that students use to manage the on-campus and off-campus recruitment programs, from the application process to scheduling interviews. Students also use Symplicity to conduct research on legal employers and access the online job bank for job opportunities posted by the OCS.
SMU Dedman School of Law is committed to helping our students develop as polished professionals. In furthering that goal, OCS holds the Career Foundations and Professional Development series for first year students. Through the Career Foundations seminars first year students are exposed to the information and skills required to be a competitive candidate in today’s job market and a valuable contributor to the legal profession, covering topics such as job search strategies, professionalism, networking, résumé and cover letter writing, interviewing skills and the business of practicing law. For all students throughout the academic year, the OCS conducts an extensive range of career-related presentations. To educate students about the many practice areas of law, including opportunities in private practice, government, and public interest, OCS invites attorneys to campus to conduct information sessions, to network with students and to share their experiences. Also, OCS actively works with student organizations to promote their career-related programs. Most of the programs are taped and posted on the website for students who are unable to attend.
The OCS hosts both on-campus and off-campus interview programs for employers. In recent years, more than 100 employers have visited the campus for the fall and spring interview programs. At any time during the year, employers may solicit résumés from students and graduates, including lateral attorneys, by posting a position on the online job bank. More than 1,200 job notices (part-time, full-time, summer and graduate) are posted each year for law students and graduates.
Dedman School of Law also participates in a number of job fairs during the year, providing students access to local, statewide and national opportunities. The public interest job fair, Public Advocate Day, is sponsored by the OCS, along with the Public Service Program. Representatives from government agencies and public service employers come to the campus to discuss with students their work and employment opportunities in the public interest sector. The OCS also facilitates the application process for internships with the Collin County and Dallas County courts, as well as with the Federal Judicial Externship course offered each term. Law students and alumni also participate in the following off-campus annual fairs:
Bay Area Diversity Career Fair – San Francisco, California
Boston Lawyers Group, Law Students of Color – Boston, Massachusetts
Equal Justice Works Career Fair – Washington, D.C.
Heartland Diversity Legal Job Fair – Kansas City, Missouri
Hispanic National Bar Association Job Fair – Boston, Massachusetts
IMPACT Career Fair for Law Students and Attorneys with Disabilities – Washington, D.C.
Lavender Law Career Fair (LGBT) – Washington, D.C.
International LL.M. Student Interview Program – New York, New York
Minnesota Minority Recruitment Conference – Minneapolis, Minnesota
National Black Law Students Association Career Fair – Houston, Texas
Patent Law Interview Program – Chicago, Illinois
Rocky Mountain Diversity Legal Career Fair – Denver, Colorado
Southeastern Intellectual Property Job Fair – Atlanta, Georgia
Southeastern Minority Job Fair – Atlanta, Georgia
Sunbelt Minority Recruitment Program – Dallas, Texas
Texas in Washington Recruitment Program – Washington, D.C.
University of Texas Public Service Career Day – Austin, Texas
VAULT/MCCA Legal Diversity Job Fair – Washington, D.C.
As participants in all of the recruiting programs, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their interest for employment with a wide range of employers that have identified Dedman School of Law as a top school from which to recruit. To emphasize the importance of professionalism in the interview process and in order to participate in the interview programs, students must sign the Agreement Regarding Professionalism in Recruiting and Employment acknowledging their agreement to adhere to the ethical and procedural guidelines by which the interview programs operate. Students are expected to attend the interviews they are granted and to uphold their commitments to employers. The legal profession is built upon the highest ethical and professional standards, and cultivating these standards begins the day a student enters law school.