Even when you pass the bar, the hard work’s not over — and those student loans aren’t going to go away on their own. Now, you need a job. The market for law school grads is changing, but the common sense rules of professionalism still apply. Here are four expert tips on landing a job:
Cut yourself a little slack. “Most legal employers are not expecting applicants coming right out of law school to know practically how to be a lawyer,” says Marisa Rauchway Sverdlov, owner of the Law Office of Marisa Rauchway Sverdlov, LLC. Instead, play up your past experiences (even if they’re non-legal) that show you’re a quick learner and a reliable employee.
Take an active role. Network by joining committees within bar associations and volunteering at events. “This way other attorneys will not only know your name, but will know you as a driven new lawyer who can be trusted with responsibility,” says Rauchway Sverdlov.
Be open to different paths. You may have had dreams of yelling “objection!” in a crowded court room since you were a kid, but “pursue a variety of positions and work to get exposure,” says Randal Jeffrey, director of the general legal services unit at New York Legal Assistance Group, which offers free legal aid to New Yorkers who can’t afford privates attorneys.
Go pro bono. New York State’s new Pro Bono Scholars Program puts final-year law students at a legal services organization in the state; it’s a great resume booster and you’ll make connections, Jeffrey says. If you get accepted to the program, you’ll also get to take the bar early, in February of your third year — meaning you can likely start working immediately after graduation.