One of the hardest stages of your legal career occurs about a month after you take the bar exam. If you are like most young attorneys, you will not have a job lined up at this point. If you have a job with a large firm lined up, that’s great. I presume that you do not, though, so keep reading.
It is especially hard to convince an organization to hire you when it is not certain that you have even passed the bar exam. For this reason, many attorneys start their careers as temporary or contract attorneys. Some attorneys find jobs unrelated to law in the private sector, others go to work for the government, and some remain unemployed for several months while looking for a job.
If you have been unemployed for a few months and still have not had anything beyond a first-round interview, do not despair. Law firms are notoriously slow when it comes to hiring people. The key to getting a job is to be patient but persistent. That is, make contact with several people at the firm at least once every two weeks. This could be via an e-mail or a short phone call. Let them know that you are still interested in working at their firm, and tell them what you have been doing in the meantime.
Sending out resumes and interviewing at small and mid-sized law firms is time consuming if done properly. It is not a full-time job, though, as you should be able to take care of all your applications and research in about 20 to 30 hours per week. The way you spend the rest of your time is very important, as it is a great way to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Think about it – if you were a partner at a small law firm who had to choose which one of seven qualified applicants to hire, would you pick someone who looked for jobs on the internet all day, or someone who attended lectures on current developments in the law and wrote a monthly column for a local newspaper? Obviously, the more active and engaged applicant is more appealing.
Here is a list of recommended activities to do while you look for a law job:
1) Attend lectures on law, business, politics, and current events
2) Write for a newspaper, magazine, or website
3) Volunteer and pro bono legal work
4) Networking events
5) Stay in contact with your law professors
6) Tutor students for the LSAT
The more of these activities that you do, the faster you are likely to find a job. What all of these activities have in common is that they force you to contact other people. Even if you do them every day, though, it could still take three to six months to find a job. Do not get discouraged. You will get a job offer eventually.
Finding a law job is a bit like fishing. You could catch a fish during your first five minutes on the lake, or it could take all day. Regardless of how long it takes, keep working at it and eventually you will find a job.