How to get your foot in the door

In years of counseling students and writing about legal careers, this is the one question I have gotten most often. But in recent tough times, the same question seems to be on most law students’ and law grads’ minds.

To put simply, you have to be proactive about looking for a job. It’s time to go back to basics: develop and nurture your professional network, get your name out to potential employers (for the right reasons) and keep an open mind about your options, weighing them realistically.

With that said, there is not one way to land a job that will work for everyone. I’ve interviewed many young lawyers about how they got started in their respective fields. The following list is not exhaustive but presents some of the methods that worked for them. One of them may work for you as well.

  • Build practical experience through an internship or clinic in a particular practice area, and then use that experience to stand out as a more marketable candidate in that area.
  • Enroll in an LL.M. program that taught deeper skills in a particular practice area.
  • Get involved with the Young Lawyers section of a local or state bar association and network your way into a position.
  • Get published by a reputable journal, such as the publication of a specialty bar association.
  • Build a favorable online presence by blogging about your involvement in a particular field and join Listervs, an electronic mailing application, with your fields of interest in order to learn more about career options and network.
  • Treat the job search as a full-time job, proactively approach potential employers and meticulously track and use your time spent on looking for a job.
  • Prove your entrepreneurial spirit and diligent work ethic by starting a business or non-profit organization while you look for legal employment.