So, you spotted an opening and landed an interview with a rural employer. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack? Beyond the skills any legal employer will look for, like writing and research skills, people skills etc., there are two things that rural employers will look for during the interview process.
1. You’re in it for the long-term.
First, is an indication you plan on staying in the area. Many rural employers have concerns, whether justified or not, that interviewees may use rural employment as a stepping stone to landing metro employment. If you’ve geographically narrowed down your search prior to applying for the job, you’ll automatically have reasons you can point to during the interview that demonstrate you have a commitment to the area. Also, if you’ve created a network in the area, you’ve started a reputation in the community that you’re interested in rural practice. By demonstrating that you’re interested in the job for the long-term, you’re a step ahead of many other interviewees.
2. You have the skills to hit the ground running.
Another concern of rural employers is whether you have the practical experience to be responsible for files on your first day of employment. As I’ve stated in prior posts, solos and small firms don’t have the luxury of using new hires purely to research and draft documents under the direction of a more senior attorney. Especially if you’re a law student or recent graduate, you’ll need to show during the interview that you can hit the ground running. Participating in legal clinics, taking practical classes, or clerking either with a law firm during law school or with a court can give you the necessary tools to be responsible for files.
By showing a committment to the geographic area and having practical experience, you’ll make yourself more attractive to potential rural employers during an interview.