The news about cutbacks in on-campus recruiting continues to roll in. (Witness Harvard Law School’s latest advice for its students.) By all accounts, this is going to be a rough season for both 2L and 3L hiring.
However, there is still plenty of time left to develop a game plan. The days of large-scale, on-campus hiring are coming to an end. Even firms that plan to recruit this fall are looking at fewer schools and fewer candidates.
What can law students do to keep from getting lost in the shuffle? Here are some thoughts:
- Start networking now. I know, everyone says networking is important. You can find advice in all quarters on how to network, why you should network, the benefits, etc. Stop reading the advice and start doing it. Talk to contacts, friends, family, other lawyers, former classmates, your career development office, the local bar organization — anyone willing to listen. A corollary to this is “Get involved now.” Volunteer with bar committees, student orgs — you need to be visible to be noticed. Think now about what appeals to you and start planning for the fall.
- Look for any opportunity to get experience. Do you have time to work part-time this fall? Are there volunteer law student pro bono placements or clinic opportunities that will become available? Keep the focus on building skills and developing as a lawyer. A side benefit will be a stronger resume and hopefully some good connections to other practitioners.
- Flexibility is critical. You may have wanted to practice M&A law, but, face it, there’s not a lot of that work out there for you. Are there other practice areas that appeal to you? Can you get experience in some of them — perhaps during the school year? Also, think about starting outside of major markets and downtowns. I know — the stock advice is that you can begin in New York or DC and go anywhere. That’s probably true — if you have a job. No job, no experience, no mobility. In this day, a job at a small firm in a suburban office park that pays looks a whole lot better than a “fervent hope” (for you trust and estate types) of a job in a mega firm.
- Be ultra-prepared. This means mock interviewing, polishing your resume, re-reading cover letters, spending time to research employers and looking your best at your screening interviews. Little slip ups might not have canned your chances in 2006 or 2007. But it’s 2009 now and interviewers are going to be VERY picky this fall.
(photo: Alex France)