Employment numbers for new attorneys are looking better than they have for more than ten years, but that doesn't necessarily mean legal jobs are falling into graduates' laps. A recent survey found that 52% of new JD grads say the job search process required more time than they anticipated.
Whether you're graduating in December, May, or somewhere in between, planning for your job hunt is almost as important as doing well in your classes.
One of my law school classmates would always say, "C's get JD's." It was typically used to comfort someone who was struggling in a particularly tough course, but it seems they may have been on to something. According to Kaplan's survey, graduates are finding that their GPA isn't quite as crucial to getting a job as they were led to believe.
"I think I overestimated the value of my GPA, class rank, journal experience, and other qualifications," one respondent said. "Not that those are unimportant, but I should have spent just as much time networking as I did studying."
Speaking of networking, new law school graduates are getting more creative when it comes to job-search resources. One respondent spoke of finding the author of a legal article on Facebook and sending a message to compliment the article and request more information. Next thing they knew, they received an email asking if they were interested in a position at the author's firm.
The survey also found graduates benefited from consulting with their school's career services office. The majority of students gave their alma mater at least a "B" when it came to their school's job guidance.
The survey also highlighted that, to graduates' surprise, many firms no longer hire pending bar exam results. So, new grads also have to plan for the time between taking the exam and getting their scores (an infuriatingly long time, in some jurisdictions). If taking the time off isn't financially feasible, remember: There are plenty of positions out there where a J.D. gives you a leg up. A contracted position in a legal-related field can help provide some security while waiting for results - and take some of the pressure off your job search.