Legal Practice

Starting your Job Search

Whether you were just sworn in a few weeks ago or have been a lawyer for a few years, dusting off your job search skills is never any fun. Looking for work is time-consuming, frustrating, and sometimes it seems never-ending. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of work upfront, but today we’re sharing five things you should consider doing to kick your job search into gear:

legal job search

One. Contact your contacts. Do all the people in your network know that you 1) graduated from law school, 2) passed the bar, and 3) are looking for work? Likely not. Consider sending a genuine individualized email to all your contacts (former intern supervisors, clinic directors, 3Ls you met when you were a 1L, etc.) and give them an update on your life, and then-most importantly-tell them that you’re looking for work and if they hear of any opportunity to please keep you in mind and let you know. It’s not an outrageous request–even if it feels awkward to ask other professionals for help. But most people will want to help you, and by contacting them you’ve put yourself in their radar.

Two. Sign up for job postings. Of course, there is the default posting sites that schools recommend, but go out of your way to find as many sites as possible. Sign up for notices so you can review what’s available and apply for a job as soon it’s posted. In fact, I learned about my first job through an online job posting site. I got the notice the day it was posted and applied the same day. It can be tedious to get daily announcements postings, but it’s worth it if you find a job.

Three. Update your resume. We are big believers in catering resumes for the job postings, but you should keep your resume updated frequently enough so that when you do have to edit it for the job application, it only requires a few tweaks rather than a whole re-write. It must also be kept in mind that whether you’re opting for a job in the corporate sector, or a law firm, most recruiters prefer classic resume formats. Thus, it could be a good option to search for the best classic resume formats and use the same while creating or updating your resume.

Four. Network. Consider joining local organizations and bar associations. Usually, for younger attorneys, there are steep discounts (or free if it’s your first year). Take advantage of the events that are being hosted and go to just meet the local bar and other attorneys. The key to effortlessly networking is being genuinely interested in learning more about the organization and attendees. Join organizations that you want to continue to help even once you’re working full-time. It may take a couple of events/meetings, but it’s a possibility you’ll meet someone who will pass a job opportunity on to you (that is, after all, a major part of networking).

Five. Keep options open. When I first signed up for job posting notices, I made my selection so narrow that I barely ever got any updates. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t have the luxury to be selective (thanks a lot, Recession!). I changed my preferences so that the site would send me any legal position in Chicago. This helped me see what the market was really like, and helped me come to terms with the idea that perhaps my first job wouldn’t be perfect, but I could at least try to gain skills as an attorney even if it wasn’t in my preferred area of law. I think it’s so important to try to be as inclusive as possible. Don’t shut an opportunity out just because it’s unfamiliar or perhaps inconvenient to your current situation. In my case, my husband was willing to relocate if I was hired out of Chicago because we looked at it like an adventure knowing that as a family we could adapt. Apply for work you may not have considered, or apply for a position in a different city-remember a new job need not last forever. You can give it a try, gain new experiences and skills, and then move on to a different goal. That’s the beauty of a law degree.

What are some other must-do things when job searching?