What should you do when being "practice-ready" just isn't enough to land you a job? It's a rather universal complaint among law students, that law school often doesn't prepare us for the realities of the legal sector. In an attempt to remedy this, law schools these days are trying to incorporate more practical experience into their curriculum.
But, really, they can only do so much. As promised (and mentioned) in a recent post where we summarized the findings of a law professor, who claimed that the ideas behind being a practice-ready law graduate were a fantasy; here are some tips to work within this rather crappy job market, where no one is knocking down your door to offer you a job.
Networking. When will this tired piece of advice just die already? Well, never, because it actually works. But, you need to go beyond just the traditional exchanging of firm handshakes and business cards at events, and take a more personalized approach afterward. Send a nice card or email to follow-up with the attorney you met and bring up something non-legal as a point of reference (are you both into sushi? Or bowling? Or collecting soda can tabs? Let's face it, a lot of things are far more interesting than the law). It will help separate you from the rest and be the first step to making what might be a crucial connection.
Alumni database. Ask an alumni from your school out for coffee or lunch (and possibly score a free cup of joe or meal in the process). It's a good way to forge a connection and to get real-world insight into life after going to the same law school as you. Hit up your school's alumni database to scour the list for any potential networking opportunities. You just never know what could build from that.
Cold calling. No, you didn't go to law school to become a salesperson. But, landing a job often requires a sharp, competitive business sense. Also, times are just tough and it's partly a numbers game. Don't actually psycho dial every law firm listed in a directory, though, but prepare your mailing supples, and your immaculate resume and personalized cover letter. It may be a shot in the dark, but, there definitely have been success stories in the end from those who've mass-mailed.
Start small. In other words, lower your standards. Remember that it's not the 90s anymore where all you needed to land a firm job was to sneeze. Taking on temporary positions to do pesky document review, or just working on a part time or contract basis or volunteering could easily turn into something more permanent, over time. Once the trust is built, the possibilities can only expand. At the very least, you'd get a good reference.
Being practice-ready is one thing (and apparently useless at times). But, being ready and willing in general is another. Good luck!