Between Tuesday and Thursday afternoons last week, I met with 13 different employers throughout Washington, D.C. The list included law firms, members of Congress, Senate Judiciary Committee staffs, federal agencies, non-profits and lobbying firms. Below are some things I learned.
- Employers have a positive impression of Baylor! I was welcomed warmly in every office I entered, and nearly every employer expressed interest in receiving applications from Baylor Law candidates whenever they have openings. The Baylor in D.C. Initiative on main campus has made and impression on people as well and given us a presence in the city that we perhaps didn’t enjoy before. And the law school, through events Dean Rispoli is coordinating on a fairly regular basis, is expanding our reach as well.
- If you want to spend a summer in D.C. or maybe even begin a career there, start planning the financial piece right now. The reality is, nearly all the opportunities will range somewhere between unpaid and low-paid, and there are plenty of people willing to take jobs at that price so it’s also still very competitive. But if you can plan ahead and position yourself in a way that you can say yes to something without worrying too much about the pay, you’ll be in better shape.
- Prior to my trip, when I asked around as to where I should focus my time, the Senate Judiciary Committee staffs were mentioned multiple times. There are 20 members of the Senate on the Judiciary Committee, each with their own small staff (3-5 attorneys plus 1-2 staff) devoted only to the committee. Both of our Texas senators, Cruz and Cornyn, happen to be on the committee, and I met with representatives from both. Senator Cornyn’s committee staff had actually posted a paid law clerk position last summer and again very recently, and they mentioned that they received a good number of Baylor applications and were very pleased with the response and the quality, so keep it up!
- I met with three members of Congress and/or their staff: Congressman Bill Flores, Congressman (and Baylor Law alum) Louie Ghomert and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. All had different opportunities either currently available or coming available soon. Some will be more competitive than others, whether it is working with their legislative council, policy staff members or other roles. One point to mention is many of these employers are going to want to see (one or more) letters of recommendation. This can be from a faculty member, but you’ll likely want one from a member of Congress. Congressman Flores is happy to do this, but does require a face-to-face meeting before he’ll draft a letter (you can set that up with his local Waco office).
- Equal Justice Works you may have heard of. They so wonderful work, and one of the great events they put on for law students is their annual Conference and Career Fair. Unfortunately for us, that event typically occurs in late October, right around the time of fall finals. However, it is my understanding from talking with numerous folks around D.C. that there is no better one stop shop for you to find public service employment in D.C. than at this event. And, while you bid/get selected for interviews in advance, a large percentage of the positions gained at the event take place not in those interviews, but through the table talks that go on all conference long. If this event is of interest to you please come by and talk with me. If the scheduling is an issue we might be able to arrange something on a different date with your desired employer(s).
There is much more I could share from this trip, but hopefully this gives you some ideas and questions to ask if you are interested. Please come by or email me if you have any interest in D.C. and we’ll map out a strategy together.