Fresh Out of Law School and In Need of a Job

Q: I am a recent admittee to the bar who does not have a lot of experience. I am finding it difficult to find a job and was just wondering if you had any pointers on what I could do or steps I could take to get employment.

A: The first job search you do after law school is often the toughest -- it usually becomes easier to make lateral moves once you are in the job market. So, if it takes a little bit longer, don't despair. It is also obviously a tight job market, so the length of your search may not necessarily be any reflection on your credentials, or how you progress in the future.

There are a few steps you can take while you are looking. Make sure you are not spending all of your time responding to classified ads or sending out mass mailings. Although plenty of people do get their jobs that way, you will be limiting your job search if you do not also do some form of networking. Networking is still considered the most effective means of finding job leads. You don't necessarily have to "know anyone" to network: you just need to take steps to expand your circle. Here are some good methods for a recent graduate: Get back in touch with professors, get back in touch with all former employers for summer jobs, or jobs held prior to law school, join your local bar association and become active on a committee, take CLE courses in the practice area you would like to get into, and definitely attend all upcoming holiday functions that you are invited to, including both your undergraduate and law school holiday receptions.

In short, the more face to face contact you have with people, the more likely it is that you will find someone with an idea, a job lead, or even a job for you.

Do Recent Law School Grads Lack Real World Skills?

Q: Is there a concern among firms that recent law school graduates lack the real world skills necessary to function in their jobs right away? Are there any studies which outline this issue and can shed some light on proposed remedies?

A: Yes, there is this concern, and the concern is well-founded. Most law graduates do lack the requisite skills; though law study provides an essential foundation to legal reasoning and practice, it does not attempt to provide many of the real world skills required in practice. These skills you will develop on the job. The functional equivalent of a medical residency is provided for a lawyer in the first one or two years of practice.

What Can an Applicant Do to Increase Her Chances Interviewing Against More Experienced Applicants?

Q: What can a young applicant do to increase her chances interviewing against older, more experienced applicants?

A: While this concern of yours is certainly understandable, I would suggest not spending too much energy worrying about your competition but to rather focus more of what you have to offer a potential employer. What makes you special? What talents and abilities help you to stand out as a possible candidate?

Were there any aspects of your law school experience that sets you apart from the norm that a future employer would appreciate? With regard to personal attributes, what can you bring to the table that employers would be interested in; enthusiasm, energy, strong work ethic, team player? Think about what an employer would appreciate about you and be sure to convey this in both your written and oral presentations.

Remember, your salary demands may just make you more attractive than your experienced competition just depends on the nature of the position you're applying for and approach of the employer.