The Center for Professional Development is a resource students at Georgia State Law are encouraged to take advantage of starting in the first semester of their 1L year.
The goal of the department is to help students navigate their legal careers, but the COVID-19 pandemic has the department pivoting to determine how best to teach these skills.
“We don’t usually do summer programming because we encourage our students to work during the summers,” said director of the Center for Professional Development & Career Strategies Amy McCarthy. “We quickly realized this summer was going to be different because we had some students with rescinded offers because of COVID-19.”
To help bridge the gap, the department put together a series of summer virtual networking ‘lunch and learns’. It allowed students the opportunity to participate in small networking sessions with two or three attorneys and ask them questions about their practice area.
“It was really well received,” McCarthy said. “I think the attorneys thoroughly enjoyed it and I think the students got a lot out of it as well.”
Because the pandemic is also causing a shift in the process of networking and getting jobs, the Center for Professional Development is working to add in additional programming, such as virtual interviewing and how to leverage LinkedIn.
“We’re going to be offering some of our traditional resources, with a spin on it to talk about today’s emerging trends and we’re also developing a little bit of new programming to meet students where they are,” McCarthy said.
This programming is in addition to the class the department requires for 1Ls. The course discusses different legal sectors, resumes, cover letters, interviewing and networking skills. Prepping students with this class allows for more individualization once the students walk into their office.
“We hope to provide a road map for them,” said McCarthy. “We have students on both ends of the spectrum. We have students that came to law school with a very specific purpose in mind, and then we have students that come to us that say they were always told they’d be a good lawyer so here there are, but they don’t know what’s next.”
While the pandemic may require a shift in how the department coaches students to landing their dream jobs, the goal remains the same.
“Relationship-building is the foundation of everything that we do within our department,” McCarthy said. “It’s our desire to really get to know students and be able to customize the advice that we give them for their particular situation, and I think that makes us unique.”
Written by Mara Thompson