In a competitive job market, it can be difficult for recent graduates to find a position that pays the bills and allows them to work in their desired field. The legal industry is no exception. A career as a lawyer can be enriching and fulfilling, but finding a job isn’t always easy. According to the ABA, 25.8% of first-year lawyers are unemployed, and crappy jobs make up a large percentage of employed. To make yourself stand out to employers, you need to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Not to worry, though. There are ways around this, but you have to put in a little elbow grease before you sit back and enjoy your Biglaw salary. Here are some tips on how to find your dream job in the legal industry:
Having a professional website will let potential employers know that you are serious about your career. You can use it to showcase your work or interests—like writing articles on legal topics, blogging about industry trends, compiling a list of accomplishments, or sharing links to relevant social media profiles. This is especially helpful if you don’t have much experience with traditional résumé-building and networking techniques. It will help if you seek the services of web designers or web design companies to help you with your website. The web designer should be an expert in web design for law firms to ensure that your website reflects the professional company. With a well-designed site, you can create an online professional identity that will boost your chances of finding a legal job. Additionally, a website will make you look more experienced in the eyes of future employers.
Having relevant experience is essential for any profession, but it’s crucial for new lawyers. If you know that you want to work as an appellate lawyer or become a judge down the road, then read some books about those topics before you graduate—and continue researching while attending law school. Most entry-level openings will require at least one year of post-graduate experience, so you should begin applying for the position once you’ve finished school. Many employers like to see that new graduates can conduct their independent studies; this demonstrates that they’re willing to put in the hard work necessary to excel in their profession. This will help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of getting that dream job you’re seeking.
Since there is such a large amount of competition for available jobs, new graduates need to be willing to take on assignments that they may not initially be excited about. For example, if you want to practice as a litigator, but your firm mainly does transactional work, don’t hesitate to work on some contracts—even if you feel like it’s not what you wanted to do at first. Every assignment offers an opportunity to learn something new—which means that each experience can benefit your career somehow. Working as a paralegal for an attorney who practices family law will give you experience with real clients and teach you how to deal with people in stressful situations—which can make you more effective as a litigator if that’s what you ultimately want to do down the road.
It’s essential to develop your legal skills, increase your knowledge of different legal issues, and stay up-to-date on industry trends. Attending seminars and continuing education courses is helpful, but don’t forget about local pro bono opportunities. Getting involved with pro bono work will help you learn new things and enhance your résumé by showing leadership qualities and client interaction skills. If you’re interested in getting more experience with different types of law, consider participating in a legal clinic at your school or volunteering for a community legal services organization.
In addition to staying up-to-date on the latest developments within the industry, new graduates should attend conferences and networking events. This will help you meet people with similar interests, expand your knowledge of your desired field, and put you ahead of the competition when applying for jobs. Don’t be shy – talk to people. One fantastic opportunity for recent graduates is the annual Association of Corporate Counsel Convention, which brings together thousands of practicing attorneys from around the country every year. The convention offers hundreds of educational sessions, panels, and receptions open to all attendees. It’s a great way to connect with people in your industry.
Don’t forget about the career services offices at your school. Career counselors can help you build an effective résumé, write cover letters, and learn interview skills. They often organize on-campus recruiting programs for students to meet with prospective employers—some of which are even free of charge. And don’t forget about off-campus recruiting opportunities as well. Many law schools are located in cities with large legal markets, so there are always recruiters who come to visit looking for potential employees. Most importantly, please don’t wait until it’s too late to start networking. The sooner you begin meeting people, the better.
Above all, don’t get discouraged. Competition is tough out there—especially for new graduates, who are often fighting against law firm associates with years of experience under their belt. But just because you’ve graduated from law school doesn’t mean that your journey has to end there. As long as you’re willing to work hard, keep learning, and remain flexible, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful attorney.
After spending the past four years getting a firm understanding of the law and developing your skillset, it’s crucial to take advantage of all opportunities that will help you succeed in your career. Whether you want to become a litigator or a transactional attorney is up to you. These tips should provide you with a good idea of making it in the legal field and stand out from your competition. Following them will help you take full advantage of the career services offered at your law school and learn as much as possible about different aspects of the industry before graduation day finally comes.