Robert Half International: 6 tips for finding a job after law school
If you’re as passionate about the Robert Half Salary Guide as you are about the law, you already know that law firms and corporate legal departments are actively hiring again as they recover from the pandemic.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re just going to get into your dream job. Demand tends to be highest for mid-level legal professionals with five years of experience. And while there are plenty of entry-level opportunities out there, law school won’t have taught you much about the art of job hunting.
We can help. Whether you’re still in school or a recent graduate ready to launch your career, here are six strategies to incorporate into your research efforts.
1. Go the extra mile in law school
Earning a high grade point average and participating in extracurricular professional activities — like doing pro bono work, holding a leadership position in a legal association, or publishing articles — will give you an advantage in finding employment.
Here’s an example: A newly appointed judge looking for a law clerk received approximately 75 applications for a position that might have attracted a dozen applicants in the past. To weed out applicants, she eliminated those who hadn’t written for their school’s law journal and who didn’t have at least a 3.0 GPA. This allowed him to cut the applicant pool by about half, showing that what you do in law school matters.
2. Be an accomplished networker
The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll hear about. As an undergraduate, don’t just get to know your classmates and law school professors; also look for volunteer programs that give you access to people from more diverse fields and backgrounds. New graduates can discover internship or shadowing opportunities through their alumni associations. And with the pandemic sending so many events online, you no longer need to crisscross the country to attend presentations and conferences, many of which have breakout rooms where you can chat with other attendees. .
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3. Use your career services office
It might take you a while to build your network, but in the meantime, you can tap into someone else’s. Your on-campus Career Services office can help you find internships, schedule interviews, and learn more about the legal job market. They can provide information on a range of legal jobs, including non-traditional positions in law firms and corporations. You can also read about interviews, starting salaries, and billable hour expectations, among other topics.
4. Think outside the box
As legal careers become more varied and diverse, an increasing number of law graduates pursue jobs related to, but outside of, the practice of law. Known as JD Advantage jobs, these are roles for which a law degree is preferred or required. Examples include positions at consulting and accounting firms, legal processing contractors, legal content writers, and corporate compliance analysts. When considering getting a job, be open to some of these non-traditional ways to use your law degree to get a job.
At Robert Half Legal, our recruitment specialists bring decades of experience helping job seekers find great career opportunities. Let us help you find the job that’s right for you.
5. Follow trends in the legal labor market
New opportunities continue to emerge in the legal job market, making it essential to stay current with trends. Robert Half’s The Demand for Skilled Talent report is a good place to start. Knowing how to find a job means following the fields of practice in demand and learning about the types of positions that are being created. Changing needs may suggest that you should target a different area of practice than you originally planned.
6. Adopt several strategies
Don’t rely on just one method to land a job. Join professional groups and stay in touch with law school colleagues and professors. Sign up with sites like USAJobs and ABA Legal Career Central to receive email alerts as soon as opportunities are posted in your preferred practice area. Additionally, you may want to proactively seek out and contact companies, as well as respond to job postings you find through LinkedIn or other sources.
Above all, be persistent and stay positive. If recruiters ignore your resume and cover letter, rework them. If you have a bad interview, ask for feedback and come back stronger next time. You’ll always need a bit of luck, but to fit the old sporting saying, the more you practice, the luckier you’ll be.