Know thy Self: KU basketball coach’s job-hunting prowess teaches importance of persistence

At this time of year, it’s a tradition of mine to compare hunting for a job to the NCAA basketball tournament. Usually the March Madness analogy works well, but sometimes it’s more strained than the look on Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s face as he tries, once again, to rationalize a big game loss.

This year a topic was dropped into my lap. My wife read this Joe Posnanski article about Bill Self and forwarded it to me. If you have time, regardless of your interest in sports, read it in full — it’s excellent.

I was particularly intrigued by what the article had to say about Coach Self’s job-hunting prowess. Two stories jumped out.

First, consider Posnanski’s tale of how Self first came to work at KU:

Self was going into his senior year at Oklahoma State, where he was a decent player for mediocre teams. That summer, he went to Lawrence to help coach at Brown’s basketball camp — this is when Brown was coaching at Kansas. Self was playing ball up there, and he blew out his knee. Well, anyway, it SEEMED like he blew out his knee — it turned out he was fine. But in that moment, it looked like a blowout, and there was panic everywhere. An Oklahoma State starter blew out his knee at a Kansas coaching camp? Nobody in the world felt worse than Larry Brown.

“If there’s anything I can do for you, you just tell me,” Brown told Self, and the look on Brown’s face suggested that he meant ANYTHING.

Stop here. What would you do? What would any of us do? We might thank Brown for his kindness, maybe, tell him that we might just take him up on that someday.

Self said: “Well, you could hire me as a graduate assistant coach.”

Who is that guy? Where does that come from? Well, of course Brown said yes, he had just promised, well, “anything.” Only it gets better. Self took Brown at his word. Self had not shown much interest in coaching — he was going to go into business — but he was no dummy; the opportunity to coach for Brown made him think that coaching might be a fine life. He went back to Oklahoma State for his senior year, and he wrote Brown a letter every month, telling him again and again how excited he was to be the next Kansas graduate assistant coach. He did not get one letter in return, not one. He called a Kansas assistant coach he knew, R.C. Buford, now the GM of the Spurs, and said: “R.C., does Coach Brown ever mention me?”

And Buford told him: “I’ve never heard him say your name one time.”

So Self’s senior season ended, he still had not heard one word from Brown. Stop here. What would you do? What would any of us do? We might adjust our plans, call around, see if there’s a chance to coach elsewhere or a business opportunity for a recent college graduate…

Self packed up everything he owned, put it in his car, drove up to Lawrence, and walked into Brown’s office and said, “OK, I’m here. What do you need me to do?” And Brown, beaten, said: “Go sit over at that desk and start working.”

I love it. This is exactly the type of aggressive job seeking that we preach in our office. And it reminds me of 2004 KU Law grad Kyle Skillman, who knew that he wanted to practice sports law.

As a 2L, he approached 1974 KU Law grad Stephen Morgan of the Overland Park office of Bond Schoeneck & King. This office specializes in representing colleges, universities, conferences, and other organizations and individuals in matters regarding intercollegiate athletics.

At the time, the firm had expressed an interest in hiring a part-time/temporary intern, and that’s what led Kyle to Steve. Kyle was persistent, and the firm eventually hired him to clerk during the summer of 2003. Kyle continued to work for BS&K; a few days each week during the 2003-04 academic year.

Fast forward several months. Kyle graduated and passed the bar exam, but had not yet received a full-time job offer from the firm. Rather than bow out, Kyle simply continued to show up every day. Steve continued to reiterate that they didn’t have a full-time opening. Kyle would nod politely and explain that he really enjoyed the practice and appreciated the opportunity to continue to gain experience.

In the summer of 2005, he was given a small raise but was still paid hourly. Finally, in January 2006, the firm extended Kyle an offer for an associate attorney position and a desk with his name on it. He’s about to celebrate the sixth anniversary of his hiring.

Lest you think that Coach Self landing a job at Kansas as a graduate assistant was a fluke, consider the events that led to him coaching at his alma mater, Oklahoma State:

Self managed to get himself an interview, and he talked about how hard he would work, and how relentlessly he would recruit … and he noticed [Coach Leonard] Hamilton’s eyes glazing over.

Stop here. What would you do? What do any of us do when a job interview starts going bad, when it is clear that your talk is not getting through and your dream of getting the job is drowning. Maybe we panic. Maybe we try harder. Maybe we stand up and say, “I see I’m wasting your time here.”

“I’ll tell you why you should hire me,” Self told Hamilton. “Because if you hire me, I’ll get you your point guard for this season and you won’t need to give up a scholarship.”

That stopped Hamilton. “You’ll get me a point guard?” he asked.

“Yep,” Self said. “But he won’t play unless you hire me as a coach.”

And there it was. Hamilton said that if Self could really deliver a point guard, no strings attached, then he had the job. And when Self left the office he called an Oklahoma State senior named Jay Davis, a close friend who had played at his high school, and said: “Hey man, you’ve got to play basketball for Oklahoma State this year.”

Davis had been a very good high school player, but he was happy with his college life — happy as the best fraternity basketball player at the school. He had absolutely no interest at all in playing organized ball and getting yelled at and all that. He said: “No way.”

And Self said: “Um, no, you don’t understand. You have to play. I won’t get the job unless you play. So, you’re playing.”

So, Jay Davis played basketball for the 1986-87 Oklahoma State Cowboys. The team was 8-20 and lousy (“Well, what do you expect, we had a walk-on as our starting point guard,” Self says), but you can still look it up: Davis led the team in assists, steals and fouls. Self was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State for five more years and was there for the rebirth of Oklahoma State basketball.

I can’t help but think of 1982 KU Law grad Mike Seck of Fisher Patterson Sayler and Smith when I read this story. At our invitation, Mike spoke to a group of 2Ls and 3Ls in August 2009 about interviewing for a legal job.

Mike stressed that too often interviewees’ responses are indistinguishable from one another. “I’m an excellent writer.” “I’m a people person.” “I’m a perfect fit here.” “I’ll work hard.”

He commented that his firm values candidates who understand the business model of a law firm and who can, in concrete terms, explain how they can contribute to the bottom line.

He meant that instead of saying that you’re a hard worker, explain through concrete examples how you’ve worked hard in the past and — this was the key — specifically how that work ethic will translate to the law firm setting. In other words, the legal job equivalent of explaining how you’ll deliver a starting point guard to your employer.

In this tough legal market, you need to pick up inspiration from any source you can. It’s hokey, but keep working hard, apply the Bill Self principles, and soon you’ll achieve your One Shining Moment.

Note: Although this posting was written before Saturday’s second-round loss, I still hope you can gain inspiration from the video montage capturing the excitement of KU’s 2008 title run. The video is, of course, Northern Iowa free.

Todd Rogers, assistant dean for career services

Black Law Students Association hosts Thurgood Marshall Law Day, Diversity in Law Banquet

KU Law students
KU Law students Eunice Lee-Ahn,
Bennett Mbinkar and Megan McGinnis

The Black Law Students Association is an organization dedicated to promoting the educational, professional, political and social needs of black law students. In this regard, BLSA sponsors a number of activities throughout the year encouraging leadership, civic responsibility and service to our communities.

Last year, BLSA organized its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive during which members solicited food donations from students, faculty and staff and fed more than 300 local families during the holiday season. In late February, BLSA hosted the 14th Annual Thurgood Marshall Law Day, to honor the late Justice Thurgood Marshall and to create an appreciation among high school students for law and the sacrifices made by people like Marshall.

Most recently, BLSA hosted the Diversity in Law Banquet, an opportunity for professional networking as well as an avenue for students, faculty, staff and alumni to celebrate the law school’s long-standing commitment to diversity. Photos and audio of keynote speaker Reginald Robinson

BLSA looks ahead with a renewed commitment to its ideals of service and fostering an atmosphere of shared responsibility within the wider KU community.

Bennett Mbinkar, 1L and BLSA vice president

10 things about KU you probably won’t learn in law school

There are many things about KU and Lawrence that every KU student knows. The glory of games in Allen Fieldhouse, the concerts that come through town, and the nightlife on Mass Street are next to impossible to escape. However, there are many elements of KU culture that law students don’t often encounter. This list is by no means comprehensive, and I encourage KU Law students to venture on to main campus whenever possible to learn more about the KU outside of Green Hall.

The history of the Jayhawk.

Jayhawk

KU’s Jayhawk is one of the country’s most unique college mascots. The term “Jayhawker” originated as a name for guerilla abolitionists in Kansas in the late 19th century. The Lawrence Journal-World traces the name’s history to a combination of two local birds, “the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome thing known to rob other nests, and the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter. The message here: Don’t turn your back on this bird.” KU fans have held on to the spirit of the name through the evolution of the Jayhawk’s image. If you want proof, head down to the Free State Brewing Co. and see modern Jayhawkers supporting their favorite cause. More on the Jayhawk

The museums are a lot of fun.

Comanche

KU’s museums are a great place to plan an on-campus outing. The Spencer Museum of Art has more than 36,000 works of art, ranging from medieval to contemporary. Touring exhibits supplement the art museum’s permanent collections, so you can go as often as you want and always see something new. The Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Research Center boasts the world’s largest diorama of North American mammals in the world. On top of that, you can get up close and personal with taxidermied grizzlies, check out the hanging mosasaur skeleton, or visit Comanche, a horse ridden at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

There are words to the fight song.

The most dedicated sports fans at KU Law have undoubtedly learned the special clap to the fight song. Far less common is a student (in law school or elsewhere) who knows the words to the song, or that the song even has words. If you want to get the most out of your KU athletics experience and impress all of your friends, you can find the lyrics at http://www.ku.edu/about/traditions/songs.shtml.

The allure of the steam tunnels.

Running underneath the university is a network of tunnels that connects buildings all over campus. These tunnels are big enough for groups to wander through and have captivated the imagination of students since they were made. Generally, exploring the tunnels is something that is talked about more than actually done, and for good reason. These hundred-year-old tunnels are undergoing renovations because of their decayed state and can be extremely dangerous.

You can get cultured for free just across the street.

Avenue Q

The Lied Center is a wonderful venue for internationally known artists, and half-price tickets for students make attendance affordable. Even more affordable (as in free), are the student and faculty recitals just across the street from Green Hall in Murphy Hall. The performers often have graduated from or will later in their careers attend some of the best conservatories in the country, and the frequency of the recitals offers more variety of works than other venues in town. While you can see a world-famous string quartet at the Lied Center once a year, Swarthout Recital Hall in Murphy is the place to find everything from a tuba and euphonium choir to Yoko Ono’s music written for bicycles.

If your friends are any good at all, they will dunk you in the Chi Omega Fountain on your birthday.

Chi Omega Fountain

To be fair, this tradition hasn’t been consistently observed for a long time, but older generations took it very seriously. Even if you don’t take a dip in this fountain on your birthday, you would be well advised to try it some time before you graduate. It’s a familiar spot to all campus dwellers, and there are few more traditional Jayhawk pastimes out there.

Spencer Research Library has the best view on campus.

Tucked behind Strong Hall (the administrative building) on Jayhawk Boulevard is a building most KU students never realize exists. The Spencer Research Library hosts rare book collections and an extensive variety of useful primary source documents. Its collections include everything from photos of Langston Hughes as a child in Lawrence to books in the ancient and medieval manuscript collection that are over a thousand years old. Students are welcome to study in the North Gallery, which has what I believe is the best view on campus and overlooks Memorial Stadium, Potter Lake and the Campanile.

The Campanile myth.

The myth around campus is that if you walk through the Campanile before graduation, you won’t graduate at all. This only applies to walking in one door and out the other, so if you want to see the inside but you aren’t interested in risking your degree, walking out the door you came in is a safe bet. If you follow this advice, it naturally leads to the next item on the list.

You don’t graduate at KU. You “walk down the Hill.”

Walk down the Hill

At KU, we don’t call it “graduating.” It’s called “walking down the Hill” and it’s definitely unique to KU. All graduates from all schools line up at the top of the hill and process through the Campanile into Memorial Stadium. Students in the procession carry creative signs, favorite pets and the occasional baby.

The history of the Rock Chalk Chant.

I have heard more stories about where the Rock Chalk Chant came from than I can count. I hesitate to believe any of them fully, but I trust the history that KU offers on its Web site the most. This retelling traces the chant to a science club cheer that got mixed up with the words “chalk rock,” which is a nickname for limestone. Regardless of its origins, the Rock Chalk Chant is the best chant in the world. Teddy Roosevelt agreed with me, calling it the best he’d ever heard, and the U.S. Olympic team used it to show the world what a model American college yell sounds like. With all due respect to President Roosevelt, he only knew the half of it because nothing compares to getting to say the Rock Chalk Chant as a real Jayhawk. More on the chant

Alyssa Boone, 1L

Wheat Law Library’s Five Laws of the Law Library

Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan (1892-1972) was considered the father of library science in India. He developed what has been widely accepted as the definitive statement of ideal library service. His “Five Laws of Library Science” (1931) is a classic of library science literature, as fresh today as it was in 1931. These brief statements remain as valid, in substance if not in expression, today as when they were promulgated, concisely representing the ideal service and organizational philosophy of most libraries today:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his or her book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

We here at the Wheat Law Library believe that the Five Law of Library Science apply as much to the law library today as they did to Ranganathan’s libraries in 1931. Granted, with the advancement of technology, these laws need a bit of updating. So here I would like to propose…

Wheat Law Library’s Five Laws of the Law Library

1) Books and databases are for use.

All of our books are available for anyone to use. Not every piece can be checked out, but we do have copy machines and we are even willing to scan material and send it wherever it needs to go.

This holds true with electronic databases to a certain extent. Many of our databases may be accessed by the public. For those pieces that are not open to the public, we are happy to help you find alternatives or access those databases for you.

2) Every reader has his or her resource.

No matter which legal issue you are researching or task you are performing, there is a resource out there for you. Keeping this law in mind gives the law librarian drive to perform his or her duties.

3) Every resource has his or her reader.

Keeping every book on our shelf or subscribing to every single electronic database is simply not possible, but we do realize that ever single resource is needed by someone. This is why we offer inter-library loans as one of our services. If we don’t have it, we will find out who does.

4) Save time of the patron.

We are here to help you find what you need. Although we cannot answer your legal questions or write your memos, we can save you time by matching you up to the material you need to help you with your issue.

5) The law library is a growing organism.

We are constantly re-evaluating our services and materials. As new databases come out, we are on the front lines of reviewing for ease of use and relevancy of content. We keep up to date with the latest technologies, and we learn about our users and how best to serve them. The law library is not a static entity but rather one that is ever changing and ever evolving. This change is what keeps us alive and relevant.

These Five Laws of Library Science are markers we all should keep in our minds when we think of any library, not just the law library. As librarians, we must remind ourselves why we are here, what our duties are and who we are serving. As patrons, you need to know why we are here and what we can do for you.

So I hope to see you in the library. Preferably mine! And if you do come, bring us some cupcakes. Because Blake’s Rule of the Law Library is even simpler: Everyone likes cupcakes.

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Interviewing advice: Tell a better story!

Our office prepares hundreds of students (and a number of alumni) each year for interviews with legal employers. During this interview prep, which often includes the review of a videotaped mock interview, we talk about strategies to enhance responses to common interview questions.

Often our advice boils down to this: Tell a better story!

Employers ask questions to evaluate an applicant’s potential for success. Sometimes an employer’s questions, while direct, don’t seem to lend themselves to effective storytelling. For example, “Who’s your favorite law school professor?” or “Why did you pursue a legal education?” are relatively easy to answer; but a short, obvious answer won’t help the interviewee’s cause.

In other instances, an employer may rely on a more probing “behavioral interviewing” type question. These tend to follow a “Tell me about a time when…” or “Please describe a situation in which…” format. Questions of this type beg for an interesting story in response, but they often tie interviewees in knots.

When responding to either type of interview inquiry, it’s important for the interviewee to capture and hold the interviewer’s attention by weaving a coherent story of accomplishment. Anecdotes that relate past accomplishments to the potential for future success with that employer are the secret to effective interviewing.

For several years now we’ve been suggesting the STAR method of responding to interviewing questions. The method is recommended by this article and is a powerful way to connect with an interviewer through an “accomplishment story.”

The STAR method is simple. In response to a question, walk an interviewer through these steps:

  • Situation or Task: Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. Don’t rely on a general description of a past event; be specific. Pepper your description with memorable details.
  • Action(s) you took: What steps did you take to address the situation? What tasks were necessary?
  • Results you achieved: How was the issue resolved? What happened and what did you learn?

An effective “accomplishment story” holds the interviewer’s attention and keeps the focus on you, the interviewee. It also provides an interviewee a memorable way to organize and deliver his or her thoughts.

The STAR method resonates particularly well with attorney interviewers. Our theory is that attorneys, who after all are in a customer service driven industry, like to hear about situations in which issues were resolved through concrete actions.

Resolved issues = happy clients.

An interviewee with the potential to make clients happy = a new employee.

Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Services

Big 12 football tour provides fun outlet for diligent law student

I remember when I was a prospective law student visiting various law schools, a major concern of mine was whether law students had time to do anything fun. I had heard the one-liners from all of my friends and family sarcastically telling me, “Have fun at the library … we’ll see you in three years!” Then there were all the law school prep books that I had consulted. They meticulously structured the ideal daily schedule for a first-year law student, which, of course, involved countless hours at the library in order to review prior class discussions and prepare for future ones. Finally, the dozens of Hollywood portrayals of life as a law student that I saw did little to calm my nerves. I’m thinking specifically about “The Paper Chase.”

So as I entered law school, I pretty much had resigned myself to the fact that my life would be spent in a sea of books for the next three years.

While spending quality time in the library is part of the deal when someone decides to go to law school, it’s not the end of the world that I had envisioned when I signed up for a legal education. In fact, finding fun-filled outlets was a necessity for me in order to escape from the daily grind of reading appellate cases, writing memos and worrying about falling victim to the Socratic method. Some people work out at the rec center, others spend time with family, but for me, the key to success in law school was college football.

I made a goal to see a KU game played in every stadium of the Big 12 Conference, and after three years I made it to all but one: Baylor in Waco, Texas. I would find law school friends to join in on my adventures, and often times I would travel with people who had graduated from the school KU was playing that week. My trips to Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas State were like this. For my friends, it was an opportunity to see their old friends and experience the nostalgia of their undergraduate life. For me, it was more of an opportunity to experience a new college town and try out the local flavor. For instance, no trip to Ames, Iowa is complete without a stop at Hickory Park BBQ for ribs and an ice cream sundae. And when cruising through Stillwater, Okla., a detour ought to be made at Eskimo Joes for some cheese fries.

Other times, a group of students just wanted a getaway, like when four guys piled into a two-door sedan for the eight-hour trek to Boulder, Colo. We toured the Coors Brewery, checked out Pearl Street Mall and enjoyed the nightlife in downtown Denver. In November this past year, a group of 14 law students rented a condo along Sixth Street in Austin, Texas for an extended weekend to watch the Jayhawks and the No. 2 ranked Longhorns. It was there that I learned that a hotdog topped with pulled pork is the next big thing.

It pains me a bit to know that I will graduate this May just one Big 12 school short of the mark I set out to reach. But I place most of the blame on Big 12 scheduling more than anything. At any rate, it will provide a great excuse for all of my friends to take time off of work next fall for an extended weekend in Waco to remember all the good times we had back in law school.

Rock chalk, Jayhawk!

Chris Kaufman, 3L

KU Student Bar Association hosts charity, social events

The Student Bar Association has had a very busy spring semester and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. SBA organized a blanket drive for the Lawrence Humane Society and collected two boxes full of donations for the animals from students and faculty. In addition, students met at Wayne & Larry’s, and the business donated a portion of its proceeds from the night to the Lawrence Humane Society.

Everyone is looking forward to the annual Barristers’ Ball to be held March 6 at the new Oread hotel in Lawrence, KS. This semi-formal event gives students a chance to get away from the law books and have a nice night out with friends.

Race Ipsa, the SBA’s annual 5k for charity, is planned for April 10. Be sure to look for more information on Race Ipsa in the coming weeks so you can sign up to run or walk for a good cause.

Sonja Kramer,
SBA president

On-campus interviews offer learning experience

The KU Law Office of Career Services does an absolutely phenomenal job of arranging and hosting on-campus interviews here at the law school. Todd Rogers, Karen Hester and LaVerta Logan of Career Services put enormous amounts of time and energy into bringing both local and national firms, agencies and other employers to Green Hall to meet with and interview our students. In these distressed economic times, we cannot thank Career Services enough for their efforts. And we also thank the employers for their willingness to travel and invest time and attention in KU Law.

Participating in OCI for the last two years has been a very helpful and rewarding experience. Not only is it beneficial to gain interview experience, but it is a great opportunity to get to know the participants in the legal community. The wide range of employers really helped to broaden my perspective of what kind of summer position I wanted to pursue.

I found that one of the best ways to prepare for OCI was to participate in the mock interview program established by Career Services and local employers. It was helpful to select for the mock interview the type of employer I thought I would like to meet during OCI. The feedback and encouragement is truly invaluable! Even if a summer offer does not come from OCI, the contacts made and experience gained from the experience will develop your interviewing skills for the future.

The OCI process for the 1L class has been a dominant feature of the beginning of this spring semester. While the 2L and 3L class encountered the bulk of their interviews last fall, this is the first real opportunity for 1Ls to have first-hand encounters with employers. This is a time of great excitement for the newest class at KU Law, and they are anxious to begin to find out where in the legal community each of them belongs. We welcome all interviewers to KU, and wish all interviewees the best of luck throughout the OCI process!

Kristen Koenen, 2L

OMG, jurors can’t tweet about cases!

The federal courts have always been up on technology. The administrative office of the United States Courts established Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), a one-stop shop for uploading and downloading court documents for federal cases. The courts themselves are relatively high-tech, containing such items as Smart Screens, document cameras and various display devices.

So it’s no surprise to find out that in December 2009, the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management added to its Proposed Model Jury Instructions rules on social networking sites such as Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. The proposed rules basically add e-mail, text messaging and the use of the sites mentioned above as forms of communication under the basic “no talking about this case” rule.

Although these rules are simply proposed, it probably would not be a bad idea to include such rules when you are drawing up your jury instructions. Never assume that jury members would come to the conclusion that they should not tweet, “OMG, just saw the grossest crime scene ever!”

W. Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Right place, right time: not quite serendipity

On this gloomy winter Friday in Lawrence, let’s brighten things up by highlighting the job hunting successes of three current students and one very determined recent grad.

Often a law student will tell us that he or she landed a job by being “at the right place at the right time.” Statements like this suggest that serendipity is to thank, when in fact the vast majority of successful job hunters make their own luck.

What appears on the surface to be a fortunate and unconnected series of events leading to a job is almost always a planned and cultivated strategy. While organized job seekers may not always be able to predict the end result of their searches with perfect clarity, through diligence and determination they increase their odds of ultimately being hired.

For example, I recently spoke to a 1L who landed a position with a highly respected mid-sized litigation firm in Topeka. The firm didn’t interview on campus, so how did he do it?

He met two attorneys from the firm at Legal Career Options Day in November. Neither attorney indicated that the firm had a summer law clerk position available, but the attorneys and student had a pleasant conversation. The student followed up with a thank-you note a few days later.

After the New Year, he sent one of the attorneys a cover letter and resume to inquire about summer opportunities. He was the first 1L to approach the firm after it had made the decision to hire a summer clerk. A couple of weeks later, the attorney contacted the student to set up an interview, which resulted in a job offer on the spot.

Or consider the case of a 2L who, after being rejected last spring for a number of paid positions for which she was well-qualified, finally took an unpaid summer position with a federal district court.

She parlayed this experience, and the recommendations she garnered from it, into a part-time, paid summer position with a small law firm, which undoubtedly helped her secure on-campus interview invitations. She prepared for these interviews carefully and eventually accepted an offer for paid summer employment with a large law firm in Kansas City.

Then there’s the 3L who knew that he eventually wanted to work out of state, but for a variety of reasons choose to work during his first two summers in Kansas. He spent his 1L summer as a volunteer clerk with a state court judge. During his second summer, he worked for a small law firm as a paid law clerk. He met several times with our office beginning in the fall of his 2L year to discuss how to best narrow down his geographic targets for full-time employment.

Armed with comprehensive lists of KU Law alumni, he made specific inquires about the job markets in a number of cities. Eventually, he narrowed his choices down to one city each in the two states with which he had the deepest connections.

A number of applications resulted in one job offer in each state, and he will proudly walk across the stage in May as an employed grad, without ever accepting a position from an on-campus interview.

Our final story of grit and determination comes from a recent grad who did well in law school but couldn’t quite decide where he wanted to practice. On-campus interviews didn’t pan out for him in either the spring of his first year or the fall of his second.

As a 1L he enrolled in the Judicial Clerkship Clinic. He secured a summer job offer as a 2L through a position advertised on Symplicity.

He initially hoped to land a post-grad federal clerkship, and got close on several occasions. When clerkship season ended he decided to take the Missouri bar, but not before submitting applications to firms in a number of other states. He soon received invitations to interview from firms that shared one thing in common — they weren’t in Missouri.

The interviews didn’t pan out, and no firms in Missouri were biting. By the time he graduated in May 2009, he was back to square one, questioning his Missouri bar plans and wondering how to restart his job search.

He took and passed the bar exam and eventually began working part-time reviewing legal documents in order to pay the bills. One of his co-workers, a recent grad from another law school, told him about an interview she had lined up with a local law firm with offices at a well-known Johnson County intersection. When he inquired about the firm’s name, she begged off.

Undeterred, our student drove to the intersection, wrote down the names of all the firms with offices there, and contacted each one by letter and resume. He secured an interview with the one firm that was hiring, impressed the partners with his attitude and preparation, and landed the job. He’ll sit for the Kansas bar next week and soon will be an employed member of the bar in Missouri and Kansas.

Right place, right time? Sure. Serendipity? No way. The moment these grads stumbled on something fortunate was the culmination of months, and sometimes years, of carefully crafted effort.

Todd Rogers, assistant dean for career services