No Job? Find a Way to Get Experience

The hot rumor is that the legal economy is showing modest signs of improvement. Even so, there are still plenty of 2009 and 2010 law school grads who are looking for legal jobs.

Even if you have to take a non-legal job to pay the rent, make time to keep your legal skills sharp.

Push yourself

If you are working a 9-5 job somewhere to pay the rent, you may need to work outside of those hours to do legal work. Yes, that could suck.

Most attorneys, however, work more than 9-5 anyway—working 40 hours a week could be poor preparation for a legal job. It can get easy to get sucked into working banker’s hours—push yourself to do more.

Working those extra hours can make or break a job opportunity down the road.

Every little bit makes a difference

Doing four hours of legal work a week is better than zero. Working on one case a month is better than nothing. Why? Because if you do nothing, your legal skills get stale and start to erode.

This is especially true if you are a recent graduate. Other grads are doing legal work full time. You will not be able to keep pace, but you can still keep your skills fresh, or at least fresher.

Employers notice

Employers realize the economy is tough, but they still want people with experience. Making that extra effort will make sure you have experience. You might not have as much experience as others, but at least you give yourself a chance. When you get asked about legal experience during an interview, you can give a much better answer.

If you take pro bono cases and handle them on your own, that might even be more impressive than someone who only does discovery and never meets clients. Compared to other grads working full time legal jobs, you are still at a disadvantage. If you push yourself, however, you can minimize that disadvantage.

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  • AJ

    “find a way” is not advice.

    • The message of the post was why it is important to get experience, not how. Unfortunately there is no easy—or magical—way to do it. I’ll work on a follow up post with some ideas.