Job searching can be nail-biting and stressful for the majority of law graduates. You have to attend interviews, submit dozens of CV’s at every opportunity and then play the waiting game for weeks, expecting that call that dispels your anxiety with the words “you are hired.” It’s a painful process for everyone and if not effectively managed can erode your confidence to ground zero. We’ve listed 7 job searching tips below to help you get your first job after law school
(1) Excel at the bar exam
Excelling at the bar exam must be a top priority for you if you want to get a job with any of the highest law firms. These law firms are often attracted to candidates who are highly credentialed, in terms of their class of degrees at both the university level and the law school. In some interviews, hiring managers give more preference to candidates with excellent law school degrees, so it’ll give you an advantage if you have one.
(2) Focus your job search
You can’t possibly want your finger on every pie. It has been said that a lady once lost a job interview because she told the interviewer that she could do “almost anything,” and the interviewer replied that he wasn’t looking for someone who could half-do everything but rather someone who could do one thing to absolute perfection. When your focus is everywhere you weaken your chances to be the ideal candidate for the exact job.
Develop a job search plan with a detailed list of prospective employers, your qualifications, and your reasons for seeking each job. That way your goals become precise and this will make it easier for people to help you.
(3) Go for an additional training
Don’t waste valuable time becoming a couch potato because you can’t find paid employment. Use that time to do extra training or go for additional certification. Do an LLM in an exciting area of law. That will add something to your CV and increase your chances of landing a job. More than that, it will give you specialized knowledge in a useful area of law.
(4) Do pro bono work
We’ve already spoken extensively on the pros and cons of doing pro bono work. Consider working as a volunteer for government agencies, NGOs and non-profit organizations. It will help you get useful leads and build contacts with other practicing lawyers who can help you in your job search. Contact your local bar for more information.
(5) Do publications
While you are still on your job search, embellish your resume with publications. Use the time on your hand to write articles in topics that interest you. Contact academic journals about the requirements for submission or your local bar. You can also write for top blogs in the legal industry, and in doing so, build your own online reputation which could swing the momentum your way in your job hunt. It’s a good way to gain recognition, build trust and connect with influencers and thought leaders in the legal industry, and this could translate to useful referrals going forwards.
(6) Attend events
In job searching circles, there’s the belief that to get your desired job, you need to go to places where people of influence in your industry meet. As a new lawyer, this could mean attending bar association events and introducing yourself to other seasoned lawyers who can be of help to you. This is part of networking though. When there, interact with other lawyers whose practice is of interest to you. You never know, you can land a job in places like these, but don’t let that be your only reason for attending.
(7) Explore other ways to generate income.
You can explore other alternative non-legal careers that could help you generate income while you wait for something to turn up. Be creative with your time. But only use this option in the short run. You could still take advantage of other available earning avenues in which to law students can make money.
(8) Offer genuine help to people
The saying goes that “One good turn deserves another,” and in job hunting as in life, it couldn’t be truer. The thing is, when you offer people genuine help in their areas of need, it could come back around and work in your favor. Naturally, they’d feel they “owe you” and would want to return the gesture by offering you help in kind. And once they know you’re out job hunting, they might refer you to someone they know who could offer you a job on the spot. So go out there and be unselfish. Beyond just being a religious exhortation, playing the Good Samaritan can often open you doors of favor where you least expect, and none more so than in your job search. Start helping people in any way you can and you’ll get invaluable referrals.
(9) Stay abreast of emerging industry trends
The legal job market may be as competitive and ruthless as ever –and frankly, with the present glut of lawyers, there’s isn’t going to be any upturn soon–but opportunities, though scarce, do present themselves every now and then. And given this present jostling for legal jobs at it’s highest, only the early birds notice and seize these rare job openings. So unless you manage to monitor and stay on top of emerging and in-demand job trends in the industry, you may well miss out on them, or worse, be hopelessly alerted to them when the leads have gone cold.
To beat this, keep your ears to the ground by subscribing to one of the many job alert services available on the web. You can start with Google alerts, so you’ll be first notified of any job openings as soon as they’re posted. Alternatively, you could visit any one of the several employment websites to find the latest job postings. You may visit legal employment sites like EmplawyerNet.com, Lawjobs.com, Findlaw.com, Monster.com or Lawcrossing.com. For Nigerian lawyers, you may visit sites like Jobberman.com, and careers24.com, as well as other Nigerian employment sites for up-to-the-minute legal job postings.
(10) Get on LinkedIn
Which is worse, lawyers who are not on social networking sites, or job applicants without LinkedIn accounts? It definitely has to be latter. As a job applicant out job hunting, you stand far better chances of landing your favored jobs signing up to LinkedIn than sending out your resumes in bulk emails to potential employers. Like it or not, LinkedIn has become the new hangout for recruiters and hiring managers scouting for available candidates with suitable skills corresponding with their needed job profiles. This is further strengthened by a recent survey revealing that about 85% of all jobs are filled via networking.
And as a mainstream professional networking site, it’s unarguable LinkedIn features prominently in that survey. And with jobs being posted by the minute and job seekers posting their CVs, LinkedIn sure does facilitate the job hiring process in as efficient a way as it can be.
As a fresh law graduate out of law school, you can leverage this outstanding networking opportunity on LinkedIn and the access it offers recruiters by setting up an appealing professional LinkedIn profile. That way, you can either wait for recruiters to find you or use the system to notify recruiters of your availability.
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LLB from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. In his spare time, Patrick doubles as a professional writer and copyeditor.
If you have any urgent enquiries, you can email him @[email protected]