The legal economy is showing signs of a rebound, but recent many recent law school graduates are still struggling in their job searches.
The attorneys I know that struggled in their initial job search are all working as attorneys now. They all had one thing in common: they strategically networked and stayed assertive.
Find opportunities to work around attorneys
I volunteer at a consumer rights clinic in town. Recently, a 2011 grad was also at the clinic helping me assist a client. This particular individual was lamenting that they have “a” job, but not a legal job. At the same time, this person recognizes the value of pro bono work, and was moonlighting as a volunteer lawyer.
This is noteworthy for a couple reasons. One, by continuing to volunteer, you will keep your legal skills fresh. You might not develop your skills as fast, but you are at least keeping your legal mind active. Two, volunteering will give you opportunities to network with working attorneys. Most attorneys are sympathetic to the job situation and this is a good chance to make a good impression. They might not offer you a job, but they might know another attorney who could.
Take advantage of your opportunities, or create them
I have met more than one recent grad who is looking for a legal job. I always tell them to either e-mail me so that I can buy them lunch, or e-mail me so that I can will keep them in mind in case I hear of a job opening. I can’t think of a single person that has followed up with me. Statement of the obvious: follow up on these opportunities.
If you meet an attorney who doesn’t offer to help, take the initiative and ask them. My firm is really busy right now. If some recent grad started bugging me to work as a law clerk, I might take them up on it. Most attorneys (especially solos) are looking for people with drive and willing to take the initiative. You might need to harass a couple attorneys before someone bites, but it can certainly be time well spent. Even if they can’t hire you (as noted above), they might know someone else who can.
Keep yourself in the loop with potential referral sources
If you meet an attorney who can’t help you right now, that doesn’t mean you should never contact them again—do the opposite. Many job seekers contact someone, don’t have any luck, and then disappear. That is not a good use of that contact.
Check in with them every other month if you are still looking—you want to remind them that you are a great candidate and that you are still looking for a job. You want to be careful about bugging them too much–like every week–but there is nothing wrong with checking in. Again, the more you develop a relationship, the more likely they are to help.
Law school isn’t easy and neither is finding a job. But tenacity and staying assertive can pay off.