It is tough to get a job when you are in the “in between” space of taking the bar exam and waiting for bar exam results. The economy is already not at its best, and having a JD (with a question mark as to whether that will turn to “Esq.” in the next couple of months) is an additional hurdle.
Many employers will not hire you as a paralegal or a clerk because they are afraid that you will leave as soon as you pass the bar exam. (Note: we have known students who do not list their law degree on their resume in an attempt to get hired — we do not recommend this! Employers will ask what the prospective employee did for those years that are unaccounted for, and feel deceived when finding out that the person attended law school!)
Further, many law firms are too afraid to hire you as a prospective lawyer, just in case you do not pass the bar exam.
That can make this in-between period difficult (you don’t know your future, you don’t know if you passed, you don’t have a lot to do besides think about these things!). However, it can also provide you with a great opportunity to relax, reflect, and plan for a career moving forward.
Should I Apply for Jobs While Waiting for Bar Exam Results?
Relaxing is probably well-deserved and much-needed after months of studying for the bar exam. Reflection may be equally needed. From the time you started law school until the time you took the bar exam, you may not have had much time to truly think about what you want to do with your law degree, what kind of law you want to practice (if any), what kind of job will lead to a meaningful career, and (equally importantly) what kind of job you do not want to have. Waiting for bar exam results is your first real “break” where you can do that.
Given that you are unlikely to be hired by blindly applying for jobs at this stage, we recommend you do two things:
- First, follow the steps listed below. They will help you advance your career.
- Second, if you want to attempt to get a job now, we suggest you do the following:
- First, apply for jobs that do not require a bar exam license. For example, many court clerks do not require licenses. Further, document review jobs, while not luxurious, often pay the bills for many law students waiting to become lawyers.
- Second, reach out to connections for opportunities. (You will likely have more luck with connections rather than applying to jobs online.)
Below we list other ways to advance your career.
Ways to Advance your Job Search while Waiting for Bar Exam Results:
- Set up meetings with acquaintances or friends who are attorneys. Get to know about their jobs. See if they know anyone who is looking for help. (They will likely keep you in mind even if nothing immediately comes to mind.)
- Network. And I don’t just mean bad networking events. Participate in activities you are truly interested in. Volunteer. Join a club or society that means a lot to you.
- Get business cards. Remember not to call yourself a lawyer yet, but put your JD on it. These will be helpful when you meet people. You should also take business cards of others so you can follow up with them, if necessary.
- Create a list. It is helpful to create a list of contacts and connections in an Excel document. Once a week, go through your list and email or reach out to some of your contacts or connections. Even something small, like a card or note, can make a big difference.
- Update your resume. Add, delete, and modify. Send it to your career counselor at your law school or a trusted friend to review.
- Update your online presence. Create a stellar LinkedIn profile (or update your LinkedIn profile!). Remove embarrassing “public” Facebook photos or anything else that looks unprofessional on any social media accounts. Your online presence is increasingly important as employers use the internet to scope out potential employees.
- Get a nice suit or nice clothes to interview in. Your first impression at an interview or just meeting a friend or acquaintance will make a difference. If your suit does not fit well or is falling apart, it will be noticeable. Invest in a decent suit now.
- Take a break! As we mentioned above, this is one period in your life where you really can justify taking a break. Relax. Reflect on what you want to do. Go on a short (or long) post-bar exam vacation. Give yourself time and space to think outside the box.
Looking for some more things to do while waiting for bar exam results? Read our article on the Art of Waiting for Bar Exam Results!
Have ideas of your own about how to advance your career while waiting for bar exam results? Please post them below!
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