Though it's hard right now in the legal job market, there are ways to get an edge. That law degree may not be able to open as many doors for you as it once might have, but that doesn't mean that you should start trying to hand it back to the university.
Here are six ways that you can get an edge in this legal job market and finally find yourself employed.
- Attend bar association events in your area. Get out there and meet people who are in your situation or get to know the big wigs who are still seeking associates. A law degree on your resume is not the automatic in it used to be and so the only way to get noticed is to make sure that the people doing the hiring know your face. Local bar association functions are a great way to meet other lawyers so that when it comes time to hire a new associate, they remember your stellar smile.
- Work for a non-profit. This may not be why you went to law school, but non-profits are still hiring with much more frequency than the big law firms. One of the reasons is that non-profits pay much less than a big firm, but a paycheck is better than no paycheck and it's a way to get your foot in the door and pay off those student loans while you look for something else.
- Work at a university. My mother-in-law runs a legal foundation through New York University's Law School and she has recent law students clamoring to work for her. That's because she is one of the only people in the legal world hiring. She doesn't pay as well as the big firms, but she knows all the men and women at the big firms, and she also knows members of the media and people in government and working for her means having a chance at some face time with them.
- Start a blog. It seems to be the go-to for any person struggling with their career, look to the internet, start a blog, but if you are dedicated to your blog, if you make it interesting enough, a blog will help you market yourself for a job. A blog like Gen Y J.D. might get you noticed in this market and it's a great way to connect with others in similar situations.
- Help a professional with their pro bono work. While you can't help a big time lawyer with his or her job at the firm, you can help them with their pro bono work. Contact an established lawyer you know is working on a welfare or custody case pro bono and ask to unofficially help with that. There are limits to what you're legally allowed to do, but you can file papers and do some research, or get them coffee. If you do a good job, they'll be sure to remember your work and your initiative come hiring time.
- Start a practice. It seems like quite a leap, especially in this market, to go out on your own, but there are ways to start a practice that are not all out career suicide. Get together with some of your unemployed law school grad friends and start up a niche practice. If you fill a need that hasn't been fulfilled, like perhaps dealing with online contracts or copyright issues, your practice might thrive.