By Dennis Hung • August 31, 2018•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Legal Academia, Nonprofits and the Public Interest, Politics and Government, Other Career Issues
One mistake you don't want to make when graduating from law school is to assume that having a major law degree will have clients knocking on your door or local firms immediately hiring you. In fact, the field of law is actually one of the most competitive in the US and law school graduates have their work cut out for them. In today's competitive climate, you have to have flexibility when it comes to geography, a fine attention to details when it comes to compiling a resume, and most importantly, a willingness to take the kind of work that's available. There are several places you can look at finding work if you're ready to enter the job market.
Look Into Law Clerk Positions
These are the top-of-the-line jobs that go to graduates coming from some of the best law schools in America and are by no means easy to get into. Law school graduates who can get clerk jobs for judges, even if it’s temporary, usually will find the barriers to entry of private practice much lower than for other graduates. But it is quite a tall order being able to qualify for an opening in this area. Other court or government positions have not usually been the first places law school graduates have gone in the past, but with today's job market being what it is, every available option should be tried.
Serve As An In-house Legal Counsel Person
If you're not able to get into a private law firm or have a lot of credentials to be listed in online legal services like LegalZoom, you might consider looking for a legal counsel position at a company. The ABA For Law Students discusses in this article that if you like working for one client and you agree with what the company's goals and philosophies are. You will usually have to work with a variety of department heads such as the accounting and finance department, research and development, and executives themselves. Another thing is that you may need to have more than one area of law practice you specialize in depending on the size of the company you work for because not all companies have the budget to hire multiple attorneys of different practice areas. While in-house attorney positions are no less competitive to enter than law firms, they are worth a look if you're willing to find the companies who offer them.
Use Your Law Degree Outside Of The Field Of Law
While you probably went into law school with the grand plan of representing clients in front of a judge and protecting innocent people, or maybe even one day being a part of important court rulings. However, that isn’t how things pan out sometimes. In some cases, people become mediators. Others may look to take roles in civic leadership, or in non-profit organizations that need legal help. They might go into professional counseling as psychologists, or even into fields like investment banking or teaching as a university professor.
In conclusion, you really need to have an open mind about where you want to work once you leave law school because things can go very differently than you planned. Plus it's not been unheard of for some law school graduates to give up on finding a job and end up working in a low-paying job spending years trying to get rid of law school debt. But that doesn't have to be you. Along with having an open mind to where you'll work and the position you take, be willing to attend events or get to know people who can refer you to law job openings.