University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Law Works: Volume 5 Issue 7 - October 30, 2009


 FACT: Large firms represent one of the smallest segments of employers hiring law students.

Reed Smith, Jones Day, Buchanan Ingersoll, K&LNG- sound familiar? Of course they do.  These firms quickly become known to students as a result of their high profiles in the community.  Accompanying the visibility of large law firms (e.g., firms with 50 or more attorneys) is student awareness of these employers' hiring cycles and criteria.  Large firms hire 2Ls in the Fall through OCI Program and accept (very few) 1L applications in December.  Typically students must be in the top 10% of their class and Law Review and Moot Court participation are preferred. As a result of the current economy, large employers are adhering strictly to these criteria and extending fewer offers.

 FACT: The largest employer of Pitt Law students and graduates is small firms comprised of 1-25 attorneys.

The visibility of large firms skews the perception that these employers comprise a large segment of the legal market. There are only a handful of large firms in PA, yet there are hundreds of small firms in the Pittsburgh area alone. Not only are large firms a small segment of the legal community-nationally as well as locally-large firm practice is not a desirable career option for many law students.  Students accepting positions with small firms do so because many aspects of small firm practice are appealing. Young associates at small firms cite the diversity of work, the amount of responsibility and the opportunities to get into court and have client contact early in their career as sources of job satisfaction.

 The majority of Pitt Law students target small firms for employment. The challenge with small firm searches, however, is that students often have minimal or no familiarity with this segment of the legal market. The process of jumping into a small firm job search can be very overwhelming; the good news is that the CSO is here to assist you. Turn off American Idol and schedule an appointment today!

 FACT: Now is the time!

Smaller firms typically recruit for summer and permanent positions beginning in late winter and spring and running through the end of the school year. However, because small firms are often unable to anticipate their hiring needs in advance, they do not adhere to strict hiring cycles. Students interested in securing a position with a small law firm should conduct aggressive job searches throughout second semester.

 FACT: The more information you gather, the better equipped you are to conduct an efficient and successful job search.

Often small firms do not have websites, NALP forms or brochures. The lack of readily accessible information makes it more challenging for you to focus a job search. The following are sources to assist you in researching small firms:



  •  The Small and Mid Sized Firm Directory: The CSO maintains a web page containing information on hundreds of small and mid-sized firms in Pittsburgh.
  •  Bar Association Directories: We have a host of directories that profile firms in our target markets.
  •  Students: Students report where they worked over their summers and upon graduation.  They are an excellent source of information on firm hiring practices and organization culture. 
  •  Attorneys:  The CSO can put you in touch with attorneys with whom you can conduct informational interviews.
  •  Martindale-Hubbell (  Search for both lawyers and law firms by specifying city, practice area, size of firm, law school attended, etc. The site then provides profiles of the firms and attorneys meeting your search criteria.  Although information is generally much more limited-and sometimes nonexistent-for small firms as compared to large firms, the information that is available can be valuable so check it out!
  •  Lexis or WestLaw: Both have features that allow you to search attorney's court appearances, client lists, dockets etc.  Please see a Lexis or WestLaw rep for more information about upcoming trainings.
  •  Networking connections:  Your mom's mall-walking partner, your father's  chiropractor, an attorney who sat next to you at a wedding and offered to speak with you, the judge on the bike next to you in spinning class-you get the idea. The more information you have about a potential employer, the greater the odds your job search will be productive. Information permits you to focus your job search. You are able to eliminate firms which do not match your criteria or whose hiring standards are not reflected in your resume. More importantly, information permits you to draft employer-specific cover letters, which greatly increase your chances of securing an interview.



I have been offered a summer associate position with a mid-size firm.  I am as excited about the job as they are about me. We have yet to discuss salary and when we last talked, I was told they would make a formal offer within the next few weeks.

Did I go wrong by not suggesting I have other interested employers and need a more immediate offer?  I would like to increase my leverage in the situation and I am not quite sure how to do it.

Once the final round is taking place, there's not much you can bring to the table other than just being yourself.  The final stage of the hiring cycle ALWAYS takes employers longer than they anticipate.  Give them twice as much time to respond as they initially indicated.  At this stage of the game, suggesting that you have other interested employers waiting may help, harm, or have no impact on your chances.  Why do anything that could cause potential harm? I would only tell a prospective employer (up front) if this is in fact the case, not merely a statement designed to speed up their decision-making process or to make you look more attractive.

 I attended the Equal Justice Works Public Interest Job Fair in October and had several successful interviews.  I had three second-interviews but I won't know until the Spring if I will be offered a job.  It does not seem as if any of these organizations has their act together.  Why is the process taking so long?

It is challenging to hang in there when it feels like your job search is stretching over months.  However, public interest employers conduct their job searches the way they do with good reason.  First, hundreds of public interest employers participate in the Equal Justice Works Fair in order to access the best and largest pool of applicants in the most cost effective-way possible.  The hiring season is drawn out well into the spring because public interest organizations find out what funding they will receive (and how many students they can pay over the summer) in early Spring/late Winter. 

 I have now had three interviews with my "top choice".  They interviewed several hundred people and I made it through all phases.  I learned last week that I am one of three candidates they are considering for the primo position. The last face-to-face meeting concluded with a firm's executive saying that they would have a decision by Tuesday (yesterday!) and that they would call me one way or the other.

Some of my closest family and friends are coaching me to call them, but my intuition says that would not be appropriate - would seem desperate and/or impatient. If I do not hear from them today, what would you advise?

During the hiring process, it's important to be yourself, so if you think calling would make you look pushy, don't do it - it would be out of character for you.  If you do call, don't do it from a place of desperation or frustration: get clear with yourself before you call that you are a proactive, professional candidate inquiring about the timing of the hiring process and expressing continued interest in the organization.  During any hiring process, you should allow a hiring company double the response time they promise. These things just take more time than they usually estimate.





Mandatory Group Orientation Sessions:

  • Section B             Monday November 2nd                 12:00-12:50pm                 Room 113
  • Section C             Monday November 2nd                 4:00-4:50pm                       Room 109
  • Section A             Tuesday, November 3rd                1:00-1:50pm                       Room 109

The Career Services Office will be holding mandatory Career Services group Orientation Sessions and individual career consultations at the beginning of November for all first-year students to introduce you to the services and resources offered by our office.  Before you can take advantage of career counseling sessions, mock interviews, and resume preparation, you must attend a group orientation session and schedule an initial individual consultation.   If you have not already done so, you may come to the Career Services Office (Room 235) and schedule your initial consultation.  These will be scheduled to begin after your group orientation session.  Students who have a primary interest in public interest work or government employment may request (on a space available basis) to have their initial consultation with Mary Thinium, our Director of Career Services and Public Interest Initiatives. Once having participated in the group orientation session and having completed your initial consultation, you are welcome to use all of our services and resources.   In conjunction with our office, the library will be holding Westlaw and Lexis Career training sessions (job searching) in November.  These sessions are required, and attendance will be taken.  Additional information on the times and dates will be announced. 


"How to Start and Manage a Sole Practice or Small Firm in Today's Economy." 

12:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Networking Party: 4:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Cost: $35

When: Thursday, November 5, 2009.

Where: ACBA Conference Center Auditorium, 9th floor, City-County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219.

To register, please mail registration form with payment to the ACBA CLE department at 400 Koppers Building, 436 Seventh Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219. Credit card registration is also available at  The last day to pre-register is November 3, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. Anyone wanting to register after this date and time MUST attend the program as a WALK-IN registrant.



November 4, 2009

The Rivers Club, Oxford Centre, Fourth Floor, 301 Grant Street, Pittsburgh
3:00-6:00 p.m. (Program)
6:00-7:00 p.m. (Reception and Networking)

This program will provide an opportunity for students to network with attorneys and gain a better understanding of what is going on in the market.  The program has been put together for the Pittsburgh business and legal community on the state of the current economy by Heather McAllister, a 2001 graduate of our law school.    She recently left her law firm position in Washington, DC, to establish The Flagship Group, Inc.  Dean Mary Crossley and Max Miller, Director of Pitt Law's Innovation Practice Institute are on one of the panels.    STUDENT REGISTRATION UPDATE:   $15 for Symposium  to register:  (1)  Stop by the Career Services Office Room 235 and Register (name and email) along with check ($15.00 made payable to The Flagship Group, Inc.) or Cash; or   (2)               Fill out the form emailed earlier with credit card info and faxing (202-204-5198) or scanning and emailing it back to  If you have any questions, please contact 202-302-6364 or   If you would like to travel with a group of students to the program please email and if there is sufficient interest we will set time/place to meet.  Please note that you must still register for the program as set forth above.


Immigration Detention in Pennsylvania: The Realities and the Need for Representation
 Join the ACBA Hispanic Attorneys Committee on Monday, November 9, 2009 for a brown bag lunch with the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) highlighting the situation facing thousands of immigrants detained by the Department of Homeland Security throughout Pennsylvania and what you can do to help. This event is designed to highlight pro bono opportunities.
The program will be held at the Allegheny County Bar Association headquarters, 400 Koppers Building, 436 Seventh Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Please RSVP to Marlene Ellis at or 412-402-6611.


The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) is the leading source of free legal assistance to immigrants and refugees held in detention by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in detention facilities throughout Pennsylvania.



Thursday, November 10th Room 107


Objective:  to develop a well-tailored resume for use in securing legal employment or an internship

Education:  University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Experience:  Externships, internships, retail sales, food services

On November 10, from 1-2, the CSO will host a resume writing workshop for first year students.  This resume workshop will help you identify what to include on your resume, and how to write it and format it effectively. Following the steps in the workshop will result in a well designed and effective resume. If you have already started or have a resume, the workshop will not only make your resume a better document, but help prepare you for upcoming interviews.  If you would like to attend please RSVP to Mary Thinium  We also encourage you to bring your laptops to this program.




RSVP Required - Signups are limited to 2L/3L students

Thursday November 12th, 12:15-2:00pm

Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, 816 City-County Building


Judge Alan Hertzberg, Civil Division, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas invites students to meet with him in his chambers on Thursday, November 12th.   This "Alumni Career Chat" is part of the partnership between the Career Services Office and the Pitt Law Alumni Association Board:  alumni invite students to visit their workplaces to see the law in practice.  Judge Herzberg is a 1983 graduate of Pitt Law.    Lunch will be provided and formal business dress is required.  Space is limited to the first seven 2L/3L students to sign-up by emailing Pam Day at .  Please note that by signing up you are making a commitment to attend the event.  A member of the CSO staff will also be attending this event so students can elect to travel downtown as a group from the Law School or go directly to the Judge's chambers.  When you RSVP, please let us know if you plan to travel with the group or if you will meet us there.

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