LawCrossing recently published a list of the “Top Ten Ways to Get Your First Job after Law School.” The list was authored by legal recruiting expert and attorney, Harrison Barnes.
New attorneys today must battle with a difficult legal job market. The economy’s decline took with it thousands of job opportunities for attorneys. Nevertheless, each semester new attorneys graduate from law schools all over the country, and each of them needs a job to pay the bills. The primary purpose of going to law school is to work as an attorney, but today, achieving that end has become increasingly difficult. However, there are many steps you can take to increase your odds of landing a job in today’s market.
1) Apply to Every Job Opening You Can
The more jobs an attorney applies to, the more likely it is that attorney will land a job. Too many attorneys, even recent graduates, are picky in their job search. Limiting yourself to applying to large law firms and ignoring dozens of government jobs or in-house counsel opportunities is not going to help you become employed.
2) Be Very Flexible Geographically
For many attorneys, the fact of the matter is that there aren’t going to be tons of opportunities in their current market. Instead of remaining unemployed, it’s important to look at other locations throughout the country in order to ascertain which places have firms that are growing and thus more likely to be hiring. Every attorney is marketable in some area—the attorney just has to figure out where.
3) Be Enthusiastic and Make People Feel Important
Many recent graduates are either too opinionated or overly pessimistic. When an attorney has a negative attitude going into a job interview, it’s very likely that the interviewer will pick up on it. It’s extremely important to be enthusiastic in every interview and make the interviewer feel like the attorney really wants the job. The trick is to go into the interview with the mentality that the prospective job is going to pay you a million dollars a year.
4) You Need to Network and Talk to Everyone You Possibly Can
It is human nature for people to be more inclined to help others that they encounter through a mutual colleague, friend, or family member. Attorneys often underestimate the connections they can make from friends, neighbors, and even their own law schools. Talking to law school deans, networking in community organizations, and connecting through friends and family members have all been extremely successful methods to get hired.
5) Use Career Services and Other Resources at Your Disposal to Get a Job
It is vital for the attorneys being interviewed for a position to know their audience. Different jobs require different interview skills. What an interviewer for a government position wants to hear may be the opposite of what a large defense firm wants to hear from an applicant. Career services employs experienced counselors who can provide you with valuable insights, advice, and possibly even a job referral based on their connections to law firms.
6) Get Yourself Together
When a firm hires an attorney, they want that attorney to represent the firm well and enhance the firm’s image. While you don’t have to be a “cover model” to land a job, looking fit, presentable, clean-cut, and professional will instantly increase your chances of landing the job.
7) Mail Out Your Resume
Mailing out your resume incessantly is an underestimated and overlooked method. It is a very effective strategy because it demonstrates to the firm that you are interested and that you are proactive. Since many attorneys refrain from mailing their resume to firms, you can make an impression without having to compete against others in a more formal hiring process. Plus, it’s harder to ignore a letter than an email.
8) Adopt an Enthusiastic Mindset
It’s important to avoid being overly stressed during the job hunting process. It is not a time to be cynical and doubt your capabilities. Simply believing that one will be successful is often the key to landing a job. Most importantly, associate with people who support you or believe in you as opposed to those who offer negative, uninformed opinions.
9) Remember This is Not About You and Your Job is to Be a Soldier
Unfortunately, new attorneys aren’t going to start off making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. It takes time to build up one’s credentials and it is the natural order of the business world to work one’s way up. However, the best way to achieve your career goals is to get the job, do the work, and gain experience. After all, there’s always going to be someone out there who can replace you in an entry-level attorney job. If an attorney has an egotistical attitude that he’s better than the job he’s applying for, he’s not likely to be hired.
10) Make Sure Your Application Materials Are Perfect
It’s absolutely not worth it to lose a job due to errors or typos on your resume, cover letter, or writing sample, because these mistakes are easily avoidable. While this may seem nitpicky, it is the harsh reality of practicing law: attorneys are paid to be extremely detail-oriented. An interviewer will be hesitant to hire anyone who does not take the time to carefully proofread the materials they have presented to the employer.
As a final thought, there are many ways that new attorneys cost themselves jobs—without realizing it. Being conscious of the ten tips above will assist you greatly in finding a job, and will make you stand out from many other applicants.
Below are some related articles on LawCrossing that can help you find a job after law school: