If you have the misfortune of having graduated law school anytime in the last five years, there's a pretty good chance you're unemployed and looking for work.
But just because you may be one of the many unemployed law grads, this does not mean you should be standing idly by waiting for the economy to turn.
Instead there are five things every attorney (including attorneys with jobs) can do to make themselves more marketable.
Read and Study. Just because you finished school, this does not mean you finished studying. Law school and opining about the First Amendment has almost no relation to the real life practice of law. Make use of the local library or nearby law library and read practice guides in areas you want to work.
Volunteer. While it may be hard to find a paying job, you may still be able to find non-paying work that provides invaluable life experience. Many legal aid societies and nonprofits are looking for law grads who can assist them in the office. As these agencies tend to be understaffed, you will surely gain a lot of experience as a volunteer.
Go to Court. Working lawyers go to court. You should too. Courtrooms are public places and you can generally show up and sit in. You can see firsthand how judges interact with lawyers and the varying degrees of skill that attorneys demonstrate. Courtrooms do not have to be scary and the more often you go, the more familiar they will become.
Network. You've heard this before, but it can't be stressed enough. Network. Talk to your friends, your friend's friends, and anyone else. You never know who may be hiring, and you never know who will need legal assistance. This may even be a good way to start your own solo practice.
Keep Open-Minded. Law firm jobs do not begin and end with big law. If you expected six-figure jobs coming out of school and didn't get one ... get over it. Broaden your horizons and consider jobs with different pay scales. You may discover that lower pay often comes with other benefits, like fewer billable hours. Bottom line: don't limit yourself with unreasonable expectations.
Unemployed law grads should know there are productive things they can do to make themselves more marketable. The five things listed above will help you in the right direction.
- Law Schools Cut Class Sizes after Applicants Wise Up (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- More New Lawyers Going to Small Firms Than BigLaw: ABA Survey (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Will Litigate for Food: NJ AG Takes On Attorney Volunteers (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)