Building Your Career

There is a reason Willamette has a strong employment program. We work hard to give you the tools to find your career path and job. By taking advantage of the tools we provide, you build a strong foundation for achieving your career goals.

Individual Career Coaching and Development Plan

We assist you in developing strategies and plans whether you to know what you want to do or you are still determining what interests you. As a 1L, you will receive an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to help you find your unique path to meet your career goals. Setting goals is an essential step in creating and taking ownership of your career. For some, your current goal may simply be to learn as much about career options as possible. Others may have a specific career goal in mind and are interested in getting concrete experience to move them towards their goal and meeting people in that particular practice area.

We meet with you individually during your 1L year to review your IDP and skills analysis, and to assist you in taking the first steps in mapping out your career path. You will be reviewing and adding to your IDP as you move through law school – and we will continue to meet with you to help you set goals, map out different strategies as your goals change, or to help you stay focused on your career plan. Our goal is to assist you in achieving a successful and satisfying career. 

Boot Camp

The legal job search is very different than a regular job search. Employers expect to see a different type of application materials. Cover letters, resumes, writing samples, thank you notes – all have to be tuned to the legal employer. To prepare you for your job hunt, you attend a one day Boot Camp in October or alternatively, on the Monday after fall exams in December. Interactive exercises help you identify your transferable skills and how to translate them effectively for an employer in a legal resume, cover letter, interview and “elevator speech.” In addition, you learn how to conduct an informational interview and will have the opportunity to practice interviewing with attorneys in the afternoon. 

Professional Connections

Being in the legal profession is all about building a professional community. But, building a professional network does not come easily for some people. We provide safe and easy ways to develop these skills.

  • Mentor Program: Willamette’s Attorney-Mentor Program matches you with an attorney during your first year of law school. Your Mentor will expose you to the practice of law, introduce you to other attorneys and provide support during your first year of law school. This is your first connection in your new professional community.
  • Networking Events: The Placement Office hosts networking events at the law school during the school year to meet attorneys and judges. Additionally, we sponsor tables or attendance for students at professional events in Salem and Portland to expose you to attorneys and judges in various settings.
  • Alumni & Attorney Connections: Your career advisor will help you connect to attorneys in traditional practice, government, non-profits or alternative careers to help you explore practice areas and build your professional community. We provide a step-by-step instruction on how to conduct an informational interview with professional contacts and give you an opportunity to practice at the Boot Camp.  Willamette also has a strong network of alumni in different geographic areas who volunteer as geographic mentors. These attorneys and judges can connect you to the local community – and, they become part of your professional connections.

As a student, your professional connections will help you gain firsthand knowledge about legal careers, help you transition from student to professional, connect you to other professionals, and let you know about job opportunities as a law student. As a graduate, your professional community will answer legal questions, recommend you for bar committees or other community organizations, refer clients for private practice, and keep you informed about employment openings.

Practical Skills on Your Resume

A good student legal resume includes legal practical skills experience. For certain employers, this is more important than grades. Without practical experience, you are at a disadvantage to students who have experience. Legal skills can be obtained through paid law clerk positions, unpaid non-profit, judicial or government volunteer work, externships, clinics or other practical skills courses. Moreover, volunteer work is eligible for the Pro Bono Honors Program