Category Archives: Career

Find Your Focus with the Law Library

by guest author Melanie Griffin

Finding a focus topic is when law school really gets interesting. No matter where you are in your program or where you’re accessing your classes, UofSC Law Library has a number of ways for you to take a deep dive into specific types of law that catch your attention, require further research, or seem like the path you want to take after graduation.

  • We’ve got a library research guide for that: If the sheer amount of available information about different types of law makes you wonder where to start, check out our list of legal research guides. This lists links to all of the law library’s guides by topic in alphabetical order, and each topic has its own wiki dedicated to introducing a type of law and showcasing relevant materials that will take your understanding to the next level – including official websites you can use now (such as the SC Workers’ Compensation Commission if you’re interested in worker’s comp), UofSC Law Library books you can check out in person, and UofSC Law Library e-books you can use remotely.


  • Find a topical electronic resource: The Law Databases Guide is especially useful for furthering your knowledge whether or not you’re physically in the Law Library. The Topical Legal Research section has all you need to know about specific databases you can access with your UofSC login. If you’re looking to learn more about international law, historical legal research, or legislation, each of these sections will lead you straight to a plethora of information about your chosen topic.


  • Search UofSC law research by topic on Scholar Commons: The Law Library participates in UofSC’s Scholar Commons research repository, which gathers together UofSC research into one free, open-access electronic database. That means you can search research on a number of law subtopics from our own school regardless of whether you have access to their original journal publications. It’s not a complete list since it’s voluntary for professors to submit their work to be added to Scholar Commons, but it’s an easy way to see who may be working on what without having to go a million different places or running into paywalls.


  • Ask a reference librarian: Our reference librarians can help you with your research and find further materials on any legal topic that catches your interest. Send us an email at or use our Law Library Chat system to get in touch Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


  • Get in touch with Career Services: You can still get plenty of great advice from our Career Services professionals through their remote access. They’ll talk with you about the number of different ways you can focus your work and the realistic ways your choices may guide your life after law school.

United States Foreign Service: Background and Careers

Current events have spotlighted several individuals in the United States Foreign Service.

Law students may want more background on the Foreign Service, and they may be curious about whether a law degree could be one step on a path toward a foreign service career. As always, the law library has resources.

Background on the Foreign Service

American Diplomacy is a collection of essays by scholars and diplomats examining what diplomacy is and is not able to do, particularly focused on the Obama era.

Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy is a career memoir dated 2017. As former ambassador James F. Dobbins reflects on his career, he gives an insider’s view of U.S. relations with Vietnam, Russia, Germany, Afghanistan, Somalia, and more countries, spanning from the 1960s to the 2010s.

Careers in the Foreign Service

Foreign service officers may serve with the State Department, Agricultural Service, Commercial Service, or USAID. Certainly the websites of these organizations and are great places to start when researching these career options. A few library resources may provide additional insight.


The third edition of Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the US Foreign Service, dated 2017, is co-authored by Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland. These former foreign service officers “describe the five career tracks—consular, political, economic, management, and public diplomacy—through their own experience and through interviews with more than one hundred current and former foreign service officials.” -Georgetown University Press

Careers in International Affairs has a broader focus than Career Diplomacy. Editors Cressey, Helmer, and Steffenson cover government employment with the foreign service as well as careers with multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, and more.

To access the full text of any of the above e-books, click the link that says “Connect to: USC All Libraries from EBSCOhost,” then enter your USC Network ID and password.

Additional Resources

The law library also has biographies of ambassadors, and deeper historical background on the U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Service, among other resources.

Pop-Up Tech Talks

Law librarian Aaron Glenn describes new features of Westlaw Edge to 1Ls Angelica Padgett and Destinee Wilson

What Are Pop-Up Tech Talks?

Tech Talks are 5-minutes-or-less quick demonstrations of tips and tricks that law students can use both now, and in practice.

The purpose of the Pop-Up Tech Talks is to provide the most relevant tech skills law students need, in as little time as possible.

Don’t Have Time?

Law librarian Eve Ross provides a handout to 1L Andrew Wood about Boolean searching with the NOT operator

There is no need to set aside a full hour or miss other great lunch-hour presentations in order to get the information from a Tech Talk. You can glean quick tips and tricks if you stop by a Tech Talk for just a minute or two.

If you don’t have even one minute, it takes no time at all to grab a handout and keep walking to your destination. You can wait to read the handout until a more convenient time. That’s why every Tech Talk takes place in a high-foot-traffic area, and includes a hard copy handout.

Missed a Tech Talk? Lost the Handout?

You can always go to to find the schedule and handouts for the Tech Talks.

Here is the list of Tech Talk topics from Spring 2019, with links to the handouts:

January 2019:
February 2019:
March 2019:
How Did Pop-Up Tech Talks Start?

Law librarian Dan Brackmann demonstrates how to save time by automating repetitive documents at a Pop-Up Tech Talk

In 2018-19, the University of South Carolina Law Library took the lead in organizing a Pop-Up Tech Talks series at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

The format was adapted from AJ Blechner’s and Heather Joy’s “Lightning Lessons,” but the topics were expanded beyond legal research to include contributors from academic technology, career services, legal writing, and pro bono.

Gary Moore of Academic Technology gave the first Tech Talk in Fall 2018, entitled “Backing Up Your Computer.” In Spring 2019, 15 more tech talks were given by eight different contributors, some in the Student Commons and some in the Perrin Family Lobby.

Moon Dust Law

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Who would have guessed then that 49 years later, a blog post would be written about Moon Dust Law? Yet here we are summarizing two recent cases about lunar samples.

United States v. Ary, No. 6:05-cr-10053 (D. Kan. Dec. 14, 2016).

This photo is from a later auction of the bag, via Sotheby’s

Nancy Lee Carlson bought a “lunar sample return” bag at government auction. Later it was discovered that this was the bag Neil Armstrong had used for the first lunar samples ever taken. Due to recordkeeping errors, NASA had not been informed that it was being auctioned. NASA asked the judge to set aside the sale, but the judge refused because Carlson was a bona fide purchaserAry at 12.

Cicco v. NASA, No. 6:18-cv-01164 (D. Kan. filed June 6, 2018).

Photo of the vial, filed as an exhibit to the complaint

Neil Armstrong was friends with a man named Tom Murray. Armstrong gave Murray’s then 10-year-old daughter Laura a vial of moon dust along with a note, saying “To Laura Ann Murray— Best of Luck— Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.”

Photo of the note, filed as an exhibit to the complaint

In the currently pending case, Laura Murray Cicco is asking a court to declare her the rightful owner of the vial of moon dust. This declaration may be necessary because NASA considers itself the rightful owner of all lunar samples. NASA Policy Directive 1387.2G.

Practicing Moon Dust Law

Interestingly, the same lawyer, Christopher McHugh of Kansas City, represented the alleged moon dust owners in both of these cases. Most lawyers pick and choose their area of practice, and Moon Dust Law might just be the narrowest practice area we’ve ever encountered. Probably not a viable full-time career choice for the vast majority of law students, but interesting nonetheless.

Legal Career Alerts

The law library supports Career Week by spotlighting online alerts to help law students in their transition toward legal careers.

Lexis Advance Alerts and Westlaw Alerts

You can use the alert features on either Lexis Advance or Westlaw:

  • to stay updated on specific legal topics,
  • to follow the progress of a pending case through the courts or a bill through the legislature, or
  • to find out when new cases are decided that could affect the validity of a case you’re relying on.

PDF instructions are available for Lexis Advance Alerts and Westlaw Alerts.

What are Google Alerts?

A Google Alert is a web search that runs automatically on a regular basis, and the search results are emailed to you. The benefit is that you’ll find out new information shortly after it becomes available on the web, and you don’t have to run the same search repeatedly.

Why Use Google Alerts?

If you hope to interview with someone in the near future (for example, a particular judge, law firm, corporation, or government agency), you’ll first do some research to understand what type of work they do. Then you can set up a free Google Alert to be notified when new information about them appears on the web. This can help you show during the interview that you are staying updated on your potential employer’s most recent work.

You may also want to set up a Google Alert on yourself. That way if incorrect or unwanted information gets posted about you on the web, you’ll be made aware of it. You might then try to contact owners of websites where such information may be posted, to request that the information be corrected or removed.

How to Set Up a Google Alert

    1. Go to
    2. Type your search terms in the bar that says “Create an alert about…”
    3. Scroll down to the alert preview. It shows the types of results you’ll receive. If irrelevant entries appear, try more specific search terms. For example, put the name of a person or company in quotes, or add a location.
    4. Click “Show options” below the search bar to adjust settings.
    5. Click “Create Alert.”

Settings under “Show options” include:

  • how often you want the alert to run,
  • what email address you want to receive the results (or, instead of email, you can send the results to an RSS feed), and
  • whether you want all results or only the best results. All results is probably the best choice at first, so you don’t miss anything. You can always click a link within a results email to readjust these settings.


Legal Career Guidebooks

The law library supports Career Week by spotlighting career guidebooks to help law students in their transition toward legal careers.

Many of the career guidebooks listed in the law library’s catalog are located in the Career Services Office (in the Student Services Suite on the first floor of the law school, not in the library), although a few of the guidebooks are in the law library. Any given book’s location will be indicated in the catalog.

If you don’t see the type of career guidebook you’re looking for in the examples below, search the catalog, or ask a librarian.

Criminal Law (Prosecution or Defense)

Career as a Criminal Lawyer by the Institute for Career Research is an e-book. It lists the attractive and unattractive features of a career in criminal law, and contains blurbs from criminal lawyers of all types explaining in plain English what they do and how they arrived where they are.

International Practice
Careers in International Law

by Salli Anne Swartz

Published by the ABA Section of International Law, the 4th edition (2012) of Careers in International Law contains standalone chapters in which one international lawyer after another describes their unique career path. It includes chapters on solo, in-house, transactional, and many other types of international law, including a chapter on how to get started now, leveraging law school toward an international career.

Judicial Clerkships

In Chambers: a Guide for Judicial Clerks and Externs, a 2012 text by Jennifer Sheppard contains practical, on-the-job advice for judicial clerks, as well as a chapter on applying for clerkships.

Practice Area Overviews
21st Century Legal Career Series

by R. L. Hermann

18 slim volumes, all published in 2017, each detail a different area of legal career opportunities. These areas of opportunity are not the focus of many other guidebooks, because these practice areas rely on brand-new technology, or because they are a very recent modern twist on a traditional practice, or because they are often categorized as “alternative” careers for holders of law degrees.

Private Practice

The private practice experience can be very different depending on the size of the firm. Here are our most recent guide books that are specific to solo, small firm, and large firm practice.

Resumes and Cover Letters
Telling your story : a step-by-step guide to drafting persuasive legal resumes and cover letters (2017)

by Jo Ellen Dardick Lewis

“The book starts by focusing on audience and purpose, like all effective legal writing. Students are encouraged to think about their professional goals by completing a questionnaire and to work with career advisors to fine-tune their resumes and cover letters for specific internships.

Each chapter includes:
1) the purpose of a specific section of a resume or cover letter;
2) a step-by-step guide to drafting that section;
3) annotated ‘before and after’ student samples; and
4) a checklist.

The student sample resumes are divided into groups based on years of work experience before law school and the sample cover letters are grouped by the level of connection a student has to the potential employer.

The book includes chapters on writing samples, requesting references and recommendation letters, and job prospecting and networking tips.” -Carolina Academic Press

Spotlight on Continuing Legal Education

To law students in the throes of legal education, the idea of continuing legal education (CLE) throughout the rest of their legal career might sound daunting. Or maybe it sounds like fun to be a lifelong legal learner. We hope it’s the latter.

South Carolina CLE

CLE requirements vary from state to state. In South Carolina, lawyers must have 14 hours of CLE per year (actual 60-minute hours, not academic course hours) to maintain their licenses. The requirements are more intricate than this, so lawyers should refer to the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules and the South Carolina Commission on CLE and Specialization Regulations for details.

Why Start Now, as a Law Student?

Has anyone ever selected a law school course partly because their friends were taking it? Has anyone ever noticed that they don’t see some of their law school classmates in person much over breaks, but when classes start up again, you’re glad to see each other and catch up?

By the same token, oftentimes networking figures into why lawyers select the CLE courses they attend. Many lawyers find that the main time they can be sure to catch up with some of their colleagues in the field is at CLE courses. Being at those CLE courses yourself as a student gives you the chance to start becoming part of that professional network.

Another reason to start now is that some CLE covers topics too narrow or too new to be covered by a law school course. By attending these courses, you can highlight an interest in emerging legal issues that won’t fit in your class schedule.

In addition, CLE tends to be much more practical than academic, so it’s likely to convey a strong sense of what it’s like to be a practicing lawyer in that particular area. A one-hour CLE is a low commitment to gauge of your level of interest in a given practice area.

What CLE Courses are Available?
IT seminars 

The law school IT department’s Legal IT Seminar series at 8 am on selected Thursdays is free. These are valuable courses because you learn the tech skills you’ll need as a lawyer, and you get the chance to mingle with local lawyers on your own turf, the Karen J. Williams moot courtroom.

Journal symposia

The South Carolina Law Review and South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business each host symposia that typically offer CLE credit, and are free for law students. By attending, you can support your fellow law students who put a lot of work into organizing these, and delve into some interesting current topics.

SC Bar seminars

SC Bar hosts a lot of CLE. To highlight one offering in particular, the LPM-TECH (Law Practice Management TECHnology) conference is only $50 for law students. LPM-TECH takes place every September, and is especially great for those interested in solo and small firm practice, where you won’t be able to hand off tech issues to an in-house IT department.

Free to Above the Law readers

Readers of the legal blog Above the Law can get one free hour of online CLE via Lawline every month. September 2017’s topic is timely, considering hurricanes Harvey and Irma: Utilizing Government Contracts For Disaster Relief and Hazard Mitigation 2017 Update. South Carolina lawyers should be aware of South Carolina’s limitations on online CLE.

Complete, searchable list

The South Carolina Commission on CLE and Specialization provides a list of all seminars they have approved for CLE credit. Search for obscure topics or remote locations, and get a sense of the wide variety of CLE available.

The ABA’s “Top 100 Blawgs”

The American Bar Association has posted its “Top 100 Blawgs” list for 2016.

Law students with a little more free time than usual over winter break may want to check out the following law-related blogs in particular, since the topics relate to law students, early-career lawyers, or legal career advice. Links to blog home pages and sample blog posts are below.

Associate’s Mind

Birmingham lawyer/blogger Keith Lee who has been in practice for roughly six years, writes about the transition from law school to lawyer, getting that first job, and improving from there.

Before the Bar

This is the official blog of the ABA’s Law Student Division.

Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports

A law professor at the University of Chicago blogs about law schools nationwide. Some posts are deep dives into the inner workings of legal academia, while some are directly of interest to current law students.

The Gen Why Lawyer

Nicole Abboud passed the bar five years ago. She practiced family law, then fashion law, then founded the Gen Why Lawyer podcast.

Law School Café

One law professor with multiple teaching awards (Deborah J. Merritt) and one 27-year-old law graduate who has been named by National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers (Kyle McEntee) moderate a discussion about how law school and the legal profession need to change.

The Lawyer Whisperer

A former lawyer who now works as both a consultant to law firms and a career strategist for lawyers, writes an advice column for lawyers.

Thanks to the ABA for highlighting so many interesting blogs. See all Top 100 Blawgs.