Career-related resolutions for 2010

 I recommend the following ten career resolutions for law students and recent law grads:

  1. Make a list of your top ten marketable talents, skills and qualities that make you stand out among other law students and recent law grad candidates. If a potential employer asked you today why a firm should hire you, what skills and qualities would you highlight in your answer?
  2. Join a professional association as a law student member—for example, join the Young Lawyers’ Division of your state bar, a local bar association or a specialty bar group. Not only will you learn important pointers and advice for law practice, but you’ll also have a chance to attend CLE, social events and networking opportunities.
  3. Expand your horizons and consider different sources of employment. Take some time to research various practice areas, employers and work environments. What do they entail, and which ones may interest you?
  4. Improve your communication skills. For lawyers, good written and oral communication skills are a must. Hone your writing skills and practice your oral presentation.
  5. Make concrete plans to network with lawyers and legal professionals. Whether it’s asking a lawyer for an informational interview or sending follow-up emails to colleagues, don’t just say you’re going to network more: put networking plans on your calendar and hold yourself to them.
  6. Make plans to gain practical experience and develop your practical skills. Law student clinics, externships, internships and clerkships all offer valuable practical opportunities and may make you stand out among other candidates. 
  7. Learn something new. Make plans to put on your schedule that course you’ve wanted to take in intellectual property, or take a CLE course on law firm marketing if opening your own firm interests you.
  8. Keep the bar in mind. Have you decided in which jurisdiction(s) you’ll be taking the bar exam, and have you made plans for preparation specific to those jurisdictions?
  9. Be proactive about your job search. Remember that your dream job is not just going to fall into your lap. Assess your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Network with lawyers. Make use of your law school’s career services office, and treat job hunting as seriously as you would treat a job.
  10. Don’t get caught up in all of the negative news floating around. While some can’t seem to find work or have lost jobs, there are many successful and happy new law grads out there.