Archive‎ > ‎June 2013‎ > ‎

40 Things Every Cooley Student Should Know

40 Things Every Cooley Student Should Know Before Graduation

Thomas M. Cooley Law School Career & Professional Development
Dean Toy presents 40 Things To Know:
The Career and Professional Development Office polled all Cooley Faculty and Staff for a Career Week program entitled "Forty Things Every Cooley Student Should Know Before Graduation."
The 40 best ideas were placed in a Power Point program and presented during Career Week, January 26 to February 2, 2013.
The Pillar now offers these slides in text format in this and successive editions so that all Cooley students can benefit from what was shared.
While you're in law school, take advantage of opportunities that allow you to make connections with the legal community.

(1) “Networking Is Critically Important”

~ Lauren Rousseau, Associate Professor – Ann Arbor Campus
Get involved in student chapters of local bar associations. Look for pro bono opportunities that pair you with practicing attorneys. Attend Cooley's networking events. And network with your professors, too. Get to know them in outside-of-class meetings, through your work with student organizations, or other events. If your professors know you, then they are more likely to think of you when opportunities for practical experience or networking cross their desks. And they are able to write you a better recommendation letter if they know you, your strengths, and your interests. A mentor is an appropriate resource. You can let a relationship develop naturally or you can specifically ask and attorney if they would be willing to mentor you.

(2) “Find a Mentor”

~ Shari F. Lesnick, Career & Professional Development Coordinator – Auburn Hills Campus
A number of bar associations, such as the Macomb County Bar Association, have mentoring programs designed especially for law students. Familiarize yourself with the primary law databases your state bar provides.

(3) “You Shouldn’t Have to Pay a Dime to Access Cases and Statues”

~ Mike Bird, Reference Librarian – Auburn Hills Campus

(Casemaker in Michigan, Fastcase in many other states)
Lexis and Westlaw add a lot of value via finding aids, but you shouldn't have to pay a dime to access the cases and statutes themselves. If you are passionate about a particular area of law, network with professionals in that field and get hands on experience while in law school.

(4) “Strategize for Placement”

~ Jamie Baker, Reference Librarian – Lansing Campus
The experience will look great on a resume, and the networking could lead to a job opportunity in a selected field.

(5) “Always Be Humble”

~ Don Petersen, Professor – Grand Rapids Campus
Be confident, but do it in humble manner. For example, be polite to everyone. Assume everyone is a lawyer until you find out otherwise. Send cards with hand-written notes: Thank-You, Congratulations, Happy Birthday, Christmas, etc.

(6) “Send Cards with Hand-written Notes”

~ Don Petersen, Professor – Grand Rapids Campus
A personalized hand-written note should be in each card. It will be remembered.

(7) “Punctuation Matters”

~ Tammy Asher, Associate Professor – Auburn Hills Campus
My favorite punctuation quote comes from the late Marion Hilligan:  “Commas are not confetti! You don't throw don’t them up and see where they land."

(8) “Determine What Subjects Will Be on the Bar Exam”

~ Donna McKneelen, Professor – Lansing Campus
Check the State Bar site to determine what subjects will be on the State Bar exam you intend to take and then take the appropriate classes before graduation. You don't want to wait to learn these subjects during bar review.

(9) “Become a Student Bar Member”

~ Donna McKneelen, Professor – Lansing Campus
Become a Student Bar member in the state where you expect to take the Bar. Reasons for this: often free section memberships will provide you with information and publications on topics of interest, social events, and networking. Careers don't always go the way we planned them to be.

(10) “There’s More Than One Route to Your Dream Job”

~ Heather Dunbar, Assistant Professor – Auburn Hills Campus
Sometimes when you take the scenic route through the legal field, you end up with an entirely different dream job that you didn't even know was an option. Keep your mind and your options open to every opportunity, and do not be afraid to change paths if the one you thought was best turns out to be something different. Keep your career options open. You may have come to law school because "I want to be a prosecutor." Then, wonder of wonders, every single class you took fascinated you, and you could see yourself working in each one of those fields. In short, keeping your options open means more opportunities after graduation.

(11) “Keep Your Career Options Open”

~ Evelyn K. Calogero, Assistant Professor – Lansing Campus
Use your clinical credits to explore legal fields. Extern for a judge; you'll see a little bit of everything

(12) “Use Clinical Credits to Explore Legal Fields”

~ Evelyn K. Calogero, Assistant Professor – Lansing Campus
Extern someplace where you'll be allowed to appear in court. Extern in the state in which you eventually want to live and practice; you'll get a head start on working with the local rules, and you'll meet lawyers who either have jobs to offer or who know other lawyers who have jobs to offer.

(13) “Your Reputation Is Your Stock in Trade”

~ Alan Gershel, Professor – Auburn Hills Campus
No case or client will ever be worth risking your integrity for. Once lost, it can be irretrievable.

(14) “You’re Interviewing the Employer as Much as the Employer is Interviewing you”

~ Evelyn K. Calogero, Assistant Professor – Lansing Campus
The big question that you should be asking yourself during the interview is, "Can I work with these people 12 hours (or more) every day?" Nothing is worse than spending huge chunks of time with people you can't stand to be with; it hurts your clients, and it hurts you.

(15) “Serving Your Clients is an Honor ”

~ Evelyn K. Calogero, Assistant Professor – Lansing Campus
Serving your clients is an honor and can bring you much satisfaction and joy. Serving your clients when you have colleagues you respect, who respect you, and who work together as a cohesive team not only benefits the clients but also affirms whatever it was that led you to enter our service profession.

(16) “Think Outside of the Box ”

~ Laura LeDuc, Assistant Dean – Lansing Campus
The skills you perfect in law school are a major benefit to many different types of employers. Be open to a variety of jobs.

(17) “Initiative and Follow-through are Two Highly Attractive Traits”

~ Lisa DeMoss, Director, Graduate Program Insurance Law – Lansing Campus
No matter what your career aspirations are, initiative and follow-through are incredibly simple to execute. Develop your own system that incorporates the view that every personal encounter is an opportunity to make an impression, practice your communication skills, and learn something. Practice 100% follow-through on your commitments. Earning trust is essential to effective professional relationships and nothing erodes trust faster than a failure to do what you say you will do.
(18) “Try a Variety of Internships, Externships, or Clerkships”
~ Carly Wolf, Deputy Director and Adjunct Professor – Tampa Bay Campus
You may be surprised by what practice areas you enjoy, and it's a great way to build up both your resume and your comfort level around practicing attorneys.

(19) “Be Impeccable With Your Word”

~ Sherida Wysocki, Assistant Dean/Registrar – Lansing Campus
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth.
– Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”

(20) “Don’t Take Anything Personally”

~ Sherida Wysocki, Assistant Dean/Registrar – Lansing Campus
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
– Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”

(21) “Don’t Make Assumptions”

~ Sherida Wysocki, Assistant Dean/Registrar – Lansing Campus
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
– Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”

(22) “Always Do Your Best”

~ Sherida Wysocki, Assistant Dean/Registrar – Lansing Campus
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
– Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”

(23) “Develop the Three Keys to Being A Practicing Lawyer”

~ Chris Trudeau, Associate Professor – Lansing Campus

(1)    Develop your reputation success

·  Your reputation is the key to your success. A bad reputation damages the entire profession.

(2)    Develop your social network

(3)    Develop your practice skills

(23) “Develop Your Business Acumen”

~ Chris Trudeau, Associate Professor – Lansing Campus
Be different than most lawyers and develop your business acumen.
Always think about how your actions affect the firm's bottom line. Be proactive about this. That's what can separate you from the pack.

(23) “Be Smart About Your Job Choice…You’re About To Spend 50-60 hours/week Doing It”

~ Lisa Halushka, Assistant Dean & Professor – Auburn Hills Campus
Don't make your decision on the substantive area of law alone. You need to think about the physical surroundings of the potential job. Do you like to work in a large firm? Small firm? Government building? Silk Stocking firm? Downtown? Small town?

You need to think about the daily tasks of the'll be doing these tasks for hours every day. Do you want to be in court all day? Reviewing documents? Meeting with clients? Only then should you be worried about the area of law...that stuff you can find in the books.


(24) “Make a List of the Three Top Things You Love…Not People”

~ Chris Hastings, Professor – Grand Rapids Campus
Now go talk to your professors AND to your friends who are involved in those things, and learn how lawyers touch these things that you love, and the services those lawyers provide.
Lawyers touch everything—nothing anywhere works without lawyers. Now find some lawyers who are providing those services. Find out what they do and who they work with. Ask them who else to talk to.
These will be easy conversations because you are talking about things that you love and your shared passion for them.

(25) “The Happiest and the Most Successful Lawyers are…”

~ Chris Hastings, Professor – Grand Rapids Campus
Those who are active in an area they connect with personally.

(26) “Clerk for Judge”

~ Bradley Merritt, Career & Professional Development Coordinator – Lansing Campus
Clerkships are a great way to serve the public while building the skills and connections that will propel your career.

(27) “Network with Cooley Alumni”

~ Patrick Corbett, Professor – Lansing Campus
Appellate court and federal clerks spend most of their time performing legal research and writing, verifying citations, and drafting court documents. Trial court clerks spend most of their time in the courtroom managing jurors, witnesses, evidence, and performing administrative duties.

(28) “Start Career Brainstorming with Professors in Your Area of Interest as Soon as You Arrive at Cooley”

~ Patrick Corbett, Professor – Lansing Campus
Have coffee with Cooley Alumni using the Cooley Alumni database.

(29) “Work on Letters of Recommendation Early and Often”

~ Patrick Corbett, Professor – Lansing Campus
Don't assume your professor will write a great letter just because you earned a fine grade.

(30) “You Are Always Being Interviewed”

~ Patrick Corbett, Professor – Lansing Campus
Behave as a professional at all times!

(31) “Pro Bono Experience…You Cannot Do Too Much”

~ Dionnie S. Wynter, Campus Director – Tampa Bay Campus
You will meet many attorneys and you will get a chance to explore areas of law you probably otherwise would not have considered. 

(32) “Take On a Minimum of One Leadership Role During Law School”

~ Dionnie S. Wynter, Campus Director – Tampa Bay Campus
It is great to join as many student organizations as you possibly can, however I would trade all the student memberships for one leadership role in one organization.

(33) “Become Active with State and Local Bar Associations”

~ Dionnie S. Wynter, Campus Director – Tampa Bay Campus
Most successful attorneys were at some point extremely active with their State Bar. Getting involved with a bar association includes attending meetings and events.

(34) “Treat Everyone You Encounter With Respect”

~ Brianne Myers, Enrollment & Student Services Coordinator – Tampa Bay Campus
Whether you work in a small town or a big city, you will develop a reputation by the way you behave at work and outside of work.

(35) “Dress Appropriate for the Occasion”

~ Val Schnable, Enrollment & Student Services Coordinator – Auburn Hills Campus
Be honest, positive, and humble. Be true to yourself. Professional dress is Key! “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Look at your shoes. Making sure your shoes are the appropriate style, in good condition, and fit will confirm you pay attention to detail. If you think people don't notice shoes, observe how many times after reading this you start looking at other people's shoes.

(36) “Reference Librarians Want to Help You Even After You’ve Graduated”

~ Duane Strojny, Associate Dean for Library & Instructional Support

When you hit your first research problem, the Cooley Library has a toll-free number you can call 7 days a week at: 866-REF-DESK (733-3375). The online catalog links to many electronic items and websites and is a good place to begin general research.


(37) “Develop Your Networks”

~ James Carey, Associate Professor – Auburn Hills Campus
Join organizations and go where lawyers and clients congregate.

(38) “A Well-rounded, Confident, and Enthusiastic Personality Is Just as Important as Good Grades”

~ Brad Charles, Assistant Professor – Ann Arbor Campus
Time and time again students with average GPAs land jobs because their personalities won over a judge or hiring partner.

(39) “Symplicity Can Make Your Job Search Simple”

~ Alana Glass, Career & Professional Development Coordinator – Auburn Hills Campus
Symplicity is a web-based career service management program that will allow you to streamline your job search and career development. All Cooley students and graduates have access to Symplicity via the Portal.

(40) “Use the Career & Professional Development Office’s Services”

~ Charles Toy, Associate Dean, Career & Professional Development
The CPD Office provides education, encourages professionalism and facilitates professionalism, job search skills. Our services are available to Cooley students and alumni.

·         Ann Arbor - Room 148, (734) 372-4900, ext. 8716

·         Auburn Hills - Room 189, (248) 751-7800, ext. 7778

·         Grand Rapids - Room 236, (616) 301-6800, ext. 6986

·         Lansing - Room 318, (517) 371-5140, ext. 4110