Top Ten Tips for How To Get a Job after Law School

Ashley HeidemannMany law students and graduated law students struggle to find a job after law school. It is no secret that the legal job market is at an all-time low. Law students and new lawyers compete for the few jobs that have openings. If you find yourself to be one of many unemployed law students or lawyers in this competitive job market, below are some tips on how to get a job after law school.  Before you read the list of ideas about how to get a job after law school, keep these  few tips in mind:

First, remember that whatever job you do now does not have to be the job you do for the rest of your life. You can find something that works now and keep your eye on other options. Be open-minded, especially when you are just starting your search!

Second, be strategic in which options you run with. Remember that you do not have to go down the list and try all of these job strategies at once. Pick a few, and if those don’t work, come back and pick some more options!

Lastly, it is a good idea to brainstorm while you are reading this list. See if any ideas come to you. Are there any people you should reach out to? Do you know deep down that you have to clean up your resume? Write down a few things to do this week, and then do them!

Top Ten Tips on How to Get a Job after Law School:

  • The first thing you should do is try to excel the best you can in law school. High grades mean a lot. If you graduate in the top ten percent of your class, you are infinitely more likely to get a job than if you fall below that. If your goal is to get a high-paying job at a big firm, it is almost a necessity that you get high grades and graduate at the top of your class.
  • Rekindle the connections you already have.  Strive to create a meaningful network with your classmates, your professors, anyone you know personally or professionally. You may be surprised at who might be able to connect you to a legal job. Many of my friends got jobs through neighbors, family members, friends, or even law school classmates or professors. When you network, don’t be shy about letting people know that you are looking for a job. Tell everyone what kind of job you are looking for or what kind of field you are interested in working in and see if anyone has ideas or connections that may help you!
  • Network with new people – create new ties!. And I don’t mean those cheesy networking events which don’t seem to lead to any job opportunities. Instead, get involved in clubs or bar associations. Meet new people. Try to be enthusiastic about meeting new people and being a part of the legal community (even if you are not feeling super-enthusiastic!).
  • Do pro bono work in the field you are interested in. Many bar associations will offer pro bono work that comes along with  a mentor. This is a great way to network with people who work in a field you are interested in. It is also a great way to get legal experience. Another option is to volunteer at a pro bono firm. I have friends that started doing volunteer work which eventually led to a job offer. After all, when the pro bono firm or association has a new position open, they will be much more likely to offer it to a loyal volunteer rather than a stranger they do not know!
  • Ask yourself one key question, “What got me here?” How did you get into college? How did you get into law school? What has consistently brought you success? Whatever brought you success in the past will continue to bring you success in the future. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. So think for a long time about what it was: Was it your writing abilities? Then write! Find opportunities associated with legal writing or look for niche jobs that value this skill.  Was it networking? Network like crazy, create new ties, and strengthen the existing ties. Was it your leadership abilities? Be a leader. Start a club. Start a movement. Really take time to reflect on what has brought you success in the past because it will continue to bring you success in the future.
  • Talk to your career counselor at your law school. They know the trends. They know the openings. They can tell you honestly what is the best fit for you. The career counselor at my school was so stellar she would personally e-mail legal jobs to individual students  that she thought would be a good fit for them (even those students that graduated long ago!) . Your career counselor can be an outstanding resource and source of support.
  • Consider traditional routes to getting a job. Develop your LinkedIn profile. Update your resume and send it out. Use social media. Go on legal job search engines to find something. These may not be the most effective means to get a job, considering the competition, but it is something worth trying if you have not already.
  • Consider nontraditional jobs. Why be undervalued in the legal world when you can be valued in a different realm? Try applying for Human Resources jobs, government jobs, or working in business. Alternative careers can be very fulfilling. And government jobs have fantastic hours and competitive pay.
  • Be proactive. If you are interested in a particular field, show it. Try to get to know attorneys who work in the field.  Ask if you can shadow them or volunteer for a bit to see if you like it. Seek out an internship if you are in law school. When I look to hire someone, I always look for people who are enthusiastic and excited about the work my company does. Many bosses value these qualities.
  • Consider starting your own firm. This is never easy and depending where you are in your law school journey, it may not be right for you. But it is in an option to consider!

Again, it is not necessary to try all of these ideas at once! Instead, stick with a few and try them in whatever field you are interested in working in. If you are interested in family law, focus these strategies on getting a job in that realm.

As a very last note, we have talked to some students who are scared to look for a job because they are scared that they will actually get a job! They feel unprepared going into the workplace as they have forgotten how to research, write, etc. and they are worried they will embarrass themselves working at a new firm. This holds them back from conducting a “real” job search. If you find yourself with the same feelings, first of all, it is okay (many jobs will show you the ropes!). Secondly, if you are looking for extra assistance in learning attorney skills before diving into practice, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer specialized packages (between 2 hours and 40 hours!) where we teach you basic skills, including legal research, legal writing, and court appearances.

Best of luck on your job search! If you have any other ideas, please do not hesitate to comment below and let us know what they are!

Ashley-Heidemann-Profile-382x356Ashley Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011. She, as well as a team of tutors offer private one-on-one tutoring for law students and bar exam students nationwide as well as small-group courses and seminars for the Michigan bar exam  For more information about her Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) or Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) tutoring services, please click here. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions or concerns.