Tag Archives: lawyer

Making the Most of Your First Legal Job Search After Law School @thelegalintel

7 Mar

My latest Young Lawyer column for The Legal Intelligencer:

You’ve graduated law school, passed the bar, and are raring and ready to go into practice.  Unfortunately, the job market has not been kind to its newest members.  Recent statistics show that only about half of new law school graduates have secured full time legal employment.  Qualified candidates abound, and it is essential for you to distinguish yourself from the competition.  Now that bar prep is behind you, you can take advantage of some newfound time for your job search as well as complementary activities.

Get Involved in Your Local Bar Association

 Many bar associations offer free memberships to lawyers in their first year of practice, and it is well worth the money (and more) to take advantage of this opportunity.  With far more candidates than there are open positions, networking is key. 

 Most bar associations offer committees and divisions for every possible interest, and all are equally valuable in networking opportunities.  By establishing yourself as a leader within the young lawyers division, you can make friends with other young lawyers who can give you a heads up when their firm is hiring, and maybe put your resume in the right hands.  Becoming involved in practice area focused committees will introduce you to more seasoned practitioners who may personally be making the hiring decisions.

 There is no one division of the bar that is better than any other in terms of networking potential.  Regardless of how you choose to associate yourself, assuming a leadership role is essential.  Show initiative, dedication, diligence and above all, friendliness, and you will stand out when a colleague learns of an open position. 

Pursue Pro Bono Projects

 Pro bono representation provides a valuable community service and is the ethical duty of every attorney.  It can also serve as a teaching ground for the nuts and bolts of basic practice.  Pro bono representation in conjunction with your local bar association is frequently covered through the bar association’s malpractice policy.  There are diverse opportunities for pro bono involvement, including serving as counsel in protection from abuse hearings, drafting estate documents through a local Wills for Heroes project, or preparing expungement petitions.  The pro bono committee or coordinator of your local bar association can point you in the right direction for these engagements.

 Pro bono practice is also a good entre into getting to know other local practitioners.  If you confront a legal issue with which you are unfamiliar, do not be shy about reaching out to more senior practitioners and asking for their thoughts.  Bouncing legal theories off a more experienced practitioner will increase the quality of your representation.  It also will not hurt that a more experienced colleague will get to know you and get a sense for the quality of your legal abilities.

   Publish! Publish! Publish!

 Legal newspapers, blogs, and bar association publications are continuously seeking high quality articles for publication.  Publishing articles on an area of law you are passionate about can help guide your job search.  For example, if you long to be a litigator, a well-worded article on a change in local procedure will catch the attention of attorneys in that field.  Changes in substantive law or procedural rules, new legislation, and noteworthy court decisions all make for useful, attention-grabbing articles.  Do not get hung up on the academic.  An article that makes the reader’s job easier—by concisely identifying the legal issue and giving practical advice for dealing with that issue—will best catch the attention of other practitioners.

 The guidelines for submitting an article are usually easily available in the publication itself or on its website.  You are better off authoring the full article ahead of time instead of just a pitch.  You can always put together a quick abstract later if the publication requires it.  You should only pitch your article to one publication at a time.  However, if the article is not picked up by one publication, feel free to pitch it to another.

 Be aware that local and small industry publications generally do not compensate their contributors.  The value in publishing is developing your own research and communication skills, and attracting the attention of other local attorneys who can help you in your job search, or possibly offer you employment themselves.

  Catch up on your Community

 The world is much larger than the practice of law, and your efforts toward legal employment should not be exclusively focused in the legal community.  Use this time to get involved with your community at large. 

 Nonprofits of all stripes are always seeking volunteers.  Arts organizations and charities need volunteers to solicit contributions for benefit events.  Better yet, most benefit events need volunteers for the event itself.  As a volunteer, you will forego the steep ticket price, help out an organization in need and have an opportunity to mingle.

 With time to spare and elections on the horizon, it is also an ideal time for you to canvass on behalf of your favorite political figure.  Young professionals’ organizations are also ideal for making connections, both in your job search and for long term business-building purposes.  It is hard to go wrong with community involvement– pick an interest and run with it.  You will better your community and make invaluable connections.

Meet People, Make Friends

The best opportunities are often happy coincidences.  “Networking” can be a dirty word, suggesting self-interest and shallowness.  Think of your job search as a time for meeting people and making friends.  While you will hope that they can keep you in mind for employment opportunities, also think about what you can do for them.  Respond “accepted” to as many events as you can and offer to help out the host.  Attend alumni events for your university.  Participate in “town hall” community meetings concerning local issues.  When folks hear you are a lawyer, they may well call you about legal advice that you as a job searching new graduate are not yet capable of giving.  Build up your relationships with other lawyers so that you can provide appropriate referrals, and you will receive thanks from both the lawyer and the client.

 Submitting resumes alone will not find you a job.  You need to approach this search period as a full time commitment to making broad but meaningful connections.  The job market is in employers’ favor right now, and it is in your best interest to set yourself apart as a candidate.  Leadership, enthusiasm, and developing a positive reputation in your community are all positive steps to distinguishing yourself in that next interview.

Reprinted with permission from the March 7, 2013 issue of The Legal Intelligencer.  Copyright 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC.  Further duplication without permission is prohibited.  All rights reserved.

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Administrative Assistant

9 Dec

I work most weekends, but hardly ever spend my weekends in the office. Usually, I can get my work done from home. On the weekends that really do require my presence in the workplace, Mr. Beez and I can usually sort things out so that he’s at home with Baby Beez when I’m at work, and vice versa. Some weekends don’t work out that way, and the final result is a field trip for Baby Beez.

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I’m involved in a big filing for tomorrow, and the degree of coordination required meant I needed to be in the office.  (And yes, I really DID have to use the Bluebook today.)  Mr. Beez also had obligations, so Baby Beez visited work with me. She watched Finding Nemo 1 and a half times, she wrote all over some scratch paper (pens are fascinating to her right now), she looked out the window, she ate some pretzels, and she threw some papers around. There was no screaming and no flailing, and I DID get my work done, so all in all it was a success.

When I was young, my mom worked at my school, so going to work with her was not a novelty.  My dad is an operating room nurse, and he once took me on a little tour of the OR, and I even got to watch a heart surgery (and by watch, I meant spent the time in a corner, holding onto a wall, trying not to pass out or be sick).  It was about the coolest thing my little self go to do.  I love it that our county has a big “Take Your Kids to Work” program at the courts, and can’t wait until Baby Beez is big enough to participate.  I am not pushing her to be a lawyer, but I do think it’s important to understand what Mommy is doing during those long hours away.

NaBloPoMo Day 2: Workin’ it from Home

2 Dec

working-from-homeI have a love/hate relationship with remote access to work. I love it on days like today:  I had a lot of work to do, but was also down to yoga pants as the only clean clothes in my house, and it being the weekend, I wanted to see my family.  If it were 10 years ago, I’d be stuck having to haul in to the office for the better part of the day (with laundry left undone, and a lonely kid).  Now, thanks to good VPN access, I can throw a load of laundry in the washer, open up my laptop, and get work done as the little one dances around to the Wiggles. And working on the weekend is much more pleasant if you can work in your jammies.

I don’t often work from home.  One main reason is because I have to be on the phone a lot, and we have 2 parrots at home. Try to explain parrot noises on a client call. It’s not pretty.  Also, I do love the structure and professionalism of an office environment.  In a pinch, though, the access is priceless.

Remote access is also perfect for when I need to think creatively and intensely.  Appellate briefs in particular require uninterrupted focus.  My office is not a place for uninterrupted focus.  There are always people calling and stopping by.  I love that with remote access I can park myself in a quiet, vacant corner of the library and get my thoughts together.

The downside of remote access is that it means you can work everywhere, anywhere, all the time.  Sick days become work from home days.  It’s virtually impossible to have a true day away. The answer is setting personal boundaries, but that is often not a practical answer in the legal field.  Courts and clients have deadlines and needs, regardless of whether you’ve got the flu.  It’s nice to not have to scramble for a Plan B, but it would also be nice to actually not have to worry about working when you’re feeling under the weather.

On the whole, remote access is a blessing for my family.  My husband and I both work hours-intense jobs, and our ability to get the household to run and also to spend time with our daughter (admittedly sometimes multitasking, but time while on the laptop is better than no time at all), is only possible because we are able to, when the need arises, work from the couch.

Does remote access give you freedom, or keep you tethered to your work?

Sucks to be You (also good luck)

24 Jul

Starting in 2008, the last Tuesday and Wednesday in July have been consistently pleasant days for me. Why? Because I’m NOT taking the bar exam.  There are few emotions as truly satisfying as knowing I am DONE with that nonsense.  Even if someday I had to take another bar exam, it wouldn’t match the stress and the terribleness of taking that first bar.

So to all my friends testing away, all the best to you! May you remember the Rule in Shelley’s case, or better yet, not get asked about it! May your computer be reliable! May you not be seated next to someone noisy, or worse yet, smelly!  Good luck and godspeed! And I’ll buy you a beer on Thursday!

FOUR more days

23 Jul

I leave for vacation on FRIDAY.  This is going to be the worlds longest 4 day week.  Of course, it could be worse…I could be spending Tuesday and Wednesday taking the bar exam.  Best of luck to all of yinz, but boy oh boy, I’m glad I’m not in your shoes!

So until Friday, I’m grouchy that it’s not Friday YET.  I’ve got several things I need to wrap up before then, so I’ve got plenty of stuff to keep me busy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!