By Eisha Vatsal • June 05, 2017•Writers in Residence, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
It’s been over one year since I graduated law school (thank you Facebook for reminding me). In that time, I have experienced the ups and downs of life. Twice I moved apartments and cities. I found a full-time job that I truly enjoy and has a great work environment. Overall, I’ve been very fortunate despite what life has thrown at me.
As the Class of 2017 begin studying for the bar, there’s a spectrum of feelings and emotions surging. While studying is important, so is your health. Remember to take care of yourself, exercise, get out of the house, and take breaks. On the other end of the spectrum is the ever looming “job search.” I’ve written prior posts on both the bar and job hunting, but lately I have been reading blogs about alternatives to the legal field.
While having a license opens many doors, a J.D. gives you an advantage as well. How? A typical job posting has the following elements: description, responsibilities, and pre-requisites, including educational background. When applying, the description and responsibilities are used to beef up the resume and cover letter. The education background is where a J.D. becomes most useful. Many posts that I have seen have a minimum requirement of Bachelors. But don’t let that stop you. Apply if you think you are qualified. Even if the posting says “3 to 5 years experience”. I say apply because you can use your degree and other experiences to set yourself apart from others. Examples of JD Advantage jobs include government, academic, business, and policy.
There’s another reason to pursue an alternative job: the legal market. If I had a quarter for every time I heard “the legal market is saturated with attorneys, specifically new and inexperienced attorneys.” It’s true, thousands of students graduate law school, and while that number has decreased over the years, the fact remains: the market is saturated. Obtaining employment is a vicious cycle. Many good posts require “three to five years” experience, but how are you supposed to get this experience when you can’t get hired? Alternative jobs are where you can beat the cycle, obtain employment, and build the foundation to be used in the future. Take my job, for example: responsibilities include negotiating with attorneys on high dollar amount cases. Perfect for a resume and cover letter!
The entire point of this particular post is to help ease the minds of the newly graduates who are stressing about finding employment. If you are able to move, I suggest moving to a bigger city where there are more opportunities. If you can’t, it’s okay, you can still use your J.D. to your advantage. You went to law school where you learned to think logically, to research and write, and handle stress. Use that to your advantage. Sell your skills and I promise you will get that first job.