Ten Legal Jobs Search Tips for 2020

Ten Legal Jobs Search Tips for 2020

03-04-2020

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Ten Legal Jobs Search Tips for 2020

The landscape of the legal industry has changed and job seekers need to go along with the trend. Lawyers and law firms have engaged the services of specialist firms to get more clients leading to an improvement in the hiring outlook for new law school graduates.  

Legal professionals are in demand because as business models evolve, corporate legal departments and law firms face increased pressure to provide not just efficient services but cost-effective services as well.

Working on searching for your dream job starts in law school. Participate in as many extra-curricular professional activities as your schedule may allow. Make sure to earn a high-grade point average, too. 

When there are too many applications for a position, recruiting officers will try to weed out some applicants to come up with a shortlist. Recruiting officers will most likely eliminate those who have not written for the Law Review of their school and those who do not have a GPA of at least 3.0. This is to say that what you do in law school does matter when you are searching for a job.

When you are searching for a job, you need to be as knowledgeable on the right ways to search for a job as you are about statutes and contracts.

Here are 10 legal job search tips that can serve as your guide for a solid job search. Following these tips will most likely separate you from other job hunters.

1. Have the right mindset

A positive mental attitude will help you get through the tremendous task of searching for your legal job.

  • Stay Focused. When you are focused, you eliminate distractions and become productive at all times.

  • Be Persistent.  Never give up. Persistence is a combination of diligence and focuses until you achieve your goals.

  • Be Diligent.  Diligence always gets results. Diligence is careful and continuous hard work until you achieve your goals.

  • Be Creative. Creativity gives you the power to think out of the box. It makes your job search for fun.

When searching for a legal job you also need to believe in yourself. Believe that you have what it takes to be a successful lawyer. You invested so much time and hard work to be a lawyer. Believe in your knowledge and capabilities.

2. Set Goals

Before venturing on your job search task, do some soul searching. Make a list of your:

  • Interests

  • Ethics

  • Principles

  • Work-life balance requirements

  • Financial requirements

  • Preferred employment settings

  • Geographical constraints.

Successful lawyers always started their careers with goals and worked hard on achieving them. You will never find out what you really want in life without identifying your goals. Walking through life with only vague notions of what you want to accomplish you will never get to find out what others define as security, fulfillment, and happiness.

Your lawyer's goals will set the framework of where you want your legal education and future law job take you to. In short, you need to have direction.

Setting goals entails short-term and long-term goals. Your goals need to be clear in your mind.

Your short-term goals will keep you motivated each day and set your momentum to complete each daily task that will lead to finding your dream lawyer job. Your long-term goal is the vision of your ultimate goal.

When searching for your lawyer job, ask yourself these questions to guide you on finding the right job:

  • What type of lawyer job do you want?

  • Who are the people you want to serve?

  • How do you want to work?

  • What is your perceived income?

  • How many hours a week do you intend to work?

  • How much vacation do you feel like taking?

When creating your goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T

  • Specific. Your goal should be clear and not vague.

  • Measurable. You should be able to track your progress towards the achievement of your goal

  • Attainable. You should not create an overly ambitious goal because it will hinder your motivation.

  • Relevant. Your goal should directly benefit you.

  • Time-bound. You should have a timeframe for your goal to keep you focused.

Determine how you want to live your life as a lawyer and search for a law job that will match your intentions.

3. Create an Action Plan

When searching for a legal job you need to have an action plan that will provide direction. You need an action plan on how to go about with your job search:

  • Identify the geographical locations you would like to work in.

  • Identify the area of law you want to work on.

  • Identify the types of employers you want to work with.

  • Identify the means by which you are going to search for your legal job.

You should also be organized. Create a system on how you will document everything you need to do and write down the progress of each step.

4. Have a Professionally Written Resume

A professionally written resume and cover letter increases your chances of landing your dream legal job. Your resume should include:

  • Educational qualification

  • Previous job experiences

  • Law school extra-curricular activities

  • Skills and abilities

  • Recommendation from a trusted source

It is important that you tailor-fit your resume to a specific job opening, highlight your skills and abilities that match the job requirement.

5. Seek Help

When searching for a legal job, it pays to list down all possible sources. Any of these sources can provide you with leads for job openings. Some of these sources can even put in a good word for you with prospective employers.

  • Law School Career Office

Your law school definitely has a Career Services Office but any law school alumni fail to approach their law school’s career offices when searching for legal jobs.  You can take advantage of your career counselors’ knowledge, contacts, and resources. You can ask your school’s career counselor to introduce you to lawyers in their network.

Your counselor may not have connections in your desired practice of law area or your chosen geographical location.  The objective, however, is to meet lawyers who can give you valuable insights, share with you a job lead, or refer you to someone who can help you.

The career counselors in your law school can help you strategize methods that can make your legal job search more effective.

Your law school’s career office can help you:

  • Become more knowledgeable about the legal job market.

  • Prepare your resume.

  • On how to socialize with important personalities in the legal profession.

  • Expand your business network

  • Supports you through your legal job search process.

  • Have access to career development programs and resources for law alumni and students.

  • Have access to many legal jobs ranging from positions in law firms and corporations.

  • Connect to legal services companies in the area you wish to work in.

  • Provide information on how to go about with your legal job search.

  • Give you an idea about starting salaries, interview tips, billable hours expectations, and more.

To maximize the use of your school's career services office, make sure to regularly attend their career program orientations. Speak to the counselors because the more they know about you, the better they can assist you to search for a legal job.

The staff of your law school’s career services office can definitely help you search for the right legal job for you. Your future employer will know if you used your law school’s career service office, so make sure not to disregard this useful job search resource.

  • Law School Professors

If you have just completed law school and plan to work in the area of your law school, your professors can definitely give you a list of law firms that may need your help. Your professors may personally know decision makers they can refer to. They can also provide you with letters of introduction and letters of recommendation.

You can also try to contact your internship connections, or lawyers you did some paperwork for in your first year of law school. Send them your resume and inform them that you are searching for a legal job. Let them know that you appreciate any job opening leads they can provide.

  • Former Classmates

You can contact former classmates who are currently employed for some job openings and job opportunities you may otherwise not find on your own.

  • Local Courts

This may be a long-shot but most courts in your locality have court clerks and receptionists who may be able to refer you to law firms who may need your services. It may also be possible that these courts have job openings for you to check out.

  • Family and Friends

Many legal job seekers often leave asking their family and friends for some leads. Some of them may have probably engaged the services of lawyers or law firms in the past and may have built good professional relationships with them.

6. Use a Headhunter

A legal headhunter or recruiter helps law firms tap candidates for their job openings. A legal headhunter can help identify your strengths and weaknesses and match you with the right legal job. Search for the National Directory of Legal Recruiters in the area you want to work in. You can expect to find a lot of competition but it is worth a try.

7. Research Potential Employers

Researching on the Internet or other sources about potential employers is also a good strategy. You can consider contacting companies you have worked within the past. Many companies have legal departments. Many of their middle and upper management positions also interface with legal aids, paralegals, and lawyers.

Searching for legal jobs online is a less cumbersome task. There are many job sites that are regularly updated with the latest job openings. Many of these sites post unadvertised legal jobs exposing many companies who currently have legal job openings.

Many lawyers have been successful with this targeted approach of searching for legal jobs. Once you have found a company that fits your employment requirements (whether they have an opening or not), find a point of contact in the firm or company that makes the hiring decision.

Send a letter of introduction to your contact person stating who you are and how you fit into the job. Notify him that you will be sending a cover letter and resume on a certain date and do so. Make a follow-up phone call to further discuss your application.

This may not be an intuitive approach but it is the best way to find unpublicized job openings. This is also the best way to beat the competition because you knew about the job opening first.

Check out websites of law firms. More often they have a “careers” page. It is easy to search for top law firms because most of them have been made more visible on the internet.

Network

Do some online and offline networking. While there are many lawyers, there is only a small community of legal professionals and networking can be an easy task. If you are an introvert and do not enjoy networking, think of it this way – networking is all about getting to know new people and building relationships. Whether or not you are searching for a legal job, you should always do networking.

These are ways on how to successfully do networking:

  • Join professional social networking sites

This platform makes networking easier. If you are choosing this approach, make sure to be creative and professional when choosing the events, you want to join and meet as many friends as you can. 

If you are an unemployed lawyer and active on social media, join legal communities.  This way you will be able to make some valuable connections. Do not be afraid or shy to join their conversations. Most social media legal communities, mostly on Twitter, are composed of a bunch of great lawyers.

LinkedIn is another social media platform where you can build new connections. This is where you can also possibly reconnect with former employers, colleagues, professors, and classmates.

There are also groups on LinkedIn that can connect you with law firms that may be interested to hire you.

  • Network offline, too

When searching for legal jobs it is important to adopt multiple strategies. While online networking is an easier task do not forget to network offline or in person, too.  Stay in touch with your law school classmates and professors and join professional groups.

These groups can allow you to research and actively contact firms and respond to job openings. Although the normal process is to be recruited for a job opening, you should not wait for that to happen.

Finding a job after law school is a combination of networking, diligence, and a lot of luck.

8. Have a Consistent Image

Have you met someone in school or at work and later saw them again in a different situation? Sometimes they look different to the point that you do not remember who they are because they look different.

This same scenario can also happen when you are searching for a legal job and the best solution is to be consistent. How is this?

  • Use the same photo for all your social media accounts. Have a professional photo of yourself and use it as your "go-to" photo when posting your professional qualifications. This way people are sure they found the right person.

  • Be consistent with your interests. It often goes without saying that the extra-curricular activities you engage in while in law school are similar to the jobs you want to apply for.

  • Make sure that everything you are online is in sync with your application materials. If your cover letter says you are in the top 5% of your class, make sure your LinkedIn profile also says the same thing. Double-check all education and employment dates. Do not give your prospective employer a reason to think that you may not be telling the truth.

9. Follow-up

Many job seekers believe it is not right to follow-up on an application. Many legal job seekers have the notion that if the law firm really likes them, the firm will email or call. Besides, most interviewers say they will call you, and for you not to call them. This is not applicable in all cases.

When your prospective employer is silent on this aspect, it is just right to follow-up on your application. You can follow-up after submitting your application or a few days after your interview.

Following-up often gives your prospective employer the impression that you have the drive, perseverance, and determination- the three most important traits legal recruiters like to see in their lawyers.

The Job Interview

The interview is an important aspect of your legal job search. Your job-hunting efforts will result in nothing if you do not know how to act in an interview.

Yes, job interviews can be daunting and nerve-wracking. Here a few suggestions on how you can ace your job interview.

  • Be Positive

Only talk about everything positive. Employers want to hire lawyers that are ready to meet challenges and appear upbeat. Never mention any complaints about your previous employers or the law firm will be wondering how you will be likely to act if they hire you.

  • Research about the business or law firm

Before your interview schedule, take some time to research the company or law firm.  Check out their website and read on t how many employees they have, what they do, recent press releases, their social media accounts, and everything you may find about your prospective employer.

  • Make sure you know your resume by heart

Well, you made your resume so you should know every detail in it by heart. Your resume will be the interviewer's basis for your discussion. Expect the interview to have you elaborate on some transactions you have entered into in your past job or extra-curricular activities in law school.

  • Arrive on time

Arrive on time. Being late will give the interviewer a negative impression. Arriving too early may make you sit nervously in the reception area while waiting for your turn. It is best to arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled interview.

  • Dress appropriately

This may sound obvious but some people still do not get it right. For men, it is best to wear a smart suit with a good jacket and a smart pair of trousers. Women should also come in a smart suit and skirt or in a dress and jacket combination. Women should also avoid wearing glaring accessories and make-up.

  • Be professional at all times

Law firms and companies have varying cultures. It is therefore important to follow the lead of your interviewer when answering questions. No matter the mood of your interviewer, make sure to be professional at all times.

  • Aim to deliver your message

Talk about why you should be given the job and not why you want the job. Write down a few phrases using some words from the job description or requirements of your prospective employer.

  • Avoid the issue of salaries

Never raise the issue about the financial package unless of course you are asked. The advertisement for the job opening will most likely state the compensation package. If you feel the compensation package does not match what you have in mind, you can raise this issue when you are offered the job.

When on a job interview, make sure to give confident answers. Look and act confident, too.

Remember that the main point of going to law school is to be a lawyer and to get a job! Follow some of the tips mentioned above and make sure to ace your job interview.

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