Or, you don’t have your dream job? You are not alone. Read on for PDO’s top ten basic, but critical tips.
1. Visit PDO, Dean Chodosh and trusted faculty. Jaclyn and Anneliese in PDO, Dean Chodosh, and faculty are here to discuss your job search, ideas for networking and getting legal experience.
2. Update, edit and polish application materials so that they are at hand when job opportunities arise. This includes your resume, cover letters, unofficial transcript, writing samples and references/letters of reference. If you need some examples, go to the Document Library folder in Symplicity. Have PDO, a professor, or other colleague review your finished materials. Touch base with the persons you use as references to make sure that they are aware of your situation and have a recent resume. You can email resumes for a review to Anneliese at Anneliese.firstname.lastname@example.org or to Jaclyn at email@example.com. As you do more community or pro bono service, pass a bar exam (fingers crossed), or do short term work, add it to your resume.
3. Remain involved in and keep building your network. A job search can be stressful and draining. You may be tempted to spend all your non-bar study time on job search websites and cover letters, or to simply avoid interacting with those who might ask you about your efforts. Avoid these temptations. You should not ignore family, community, and social activities during this time. You need the support of these people, and you need, more than ever, to be visible to those who can help you. Some ideas:
- Go to an inexpensive lunch or coffee with and seek advice from friends and mentors who are working—try to remain positive when interacting with them. Try to make at least one appointment per week, maybe until July (and bar exam study becomes a full time proposition).
- Re-examine your pre-law school contacts and touch base with them. Send a thank you note showing appreciation for their support over the years.
- Seek out even short term volunteer work which will allow you to meet others in the community—perhaps a different group than you normally interact with.
- Join a Bar Section in which you are interested and become active in it.
- Participate in a pro bono project or advice clinic through the Pro Bono Initiative.
- Write an article for a bar journal on a topic of interest.
4. Regularly check your law school email (or have it forwarded to your new account). Review the job postings we email out and attend PDO events open to alums, including Solo/Small Firm Support series events.
5. Pass the Bar Exam. This is critical to your job search prospects—once you take and pass a bar, many more legal employers are likely to consider your application. A few very basic tips:
- Take your bar exam study seriously, whether you are taking a prep course or not, and regardless of whether you got straight A’s. Even top of the class folks can fail a bar if they don’t take it seriously.
- If you are not taking a course, obtain books/audio materials from someone.
- Make a study schedule in advance, tell friends and family you will be much less available, and buckle down.
- Include in your study schedule planned “mental health” breaks (especially for exercise, getting outside, and reacquainting yourself with family), but stick to your study schedule.
- Remain positive and confident. Do not panic. It does no good to freak out. Keep in mind that anyone can, in theory, pass the bar (have you seen some of the lawyers practicing out there?) and that you and your classmates are all in the same boat. All you need to do is pass!
6. Treat your job search like a job until you find one (but with bar exam study as your first priority). Set aside time at least weekly to focus on professional development/your job search. Keep detailed notes/ a spreadsheet on your applications, networking, contacts, and follow-ups, including names, dates, and follow up tasks.
7. Create targeted mailing/contact lists of preferred employers. Apply to and follow up with desired employers, even if they have not listed jobs
- If you have not already done so, you must evaluate which geographic and practice areas you are open to. Think about the courses you have enjoyed and the work experience you have had, and set an appointment with PDO, a trusted faculty member, or practicing attorney. This may help to define where you will be happiest and most marketable.
- Create targeted employer lists by practice areas, and where you feel you have determined you may be most competitive.
- Use standard resources, both internet and print (including classified ads in relevant newspapers), to find employers. Keep in mind that PDO has compiled a wealth of job search websites, and has organized many of them state-by-state. Go to the Document Library in Symplicity, and look in the Job Search Websites folder. The “Job Search Resources—All Websites” contains numerous sites, as well as some general/contract attorney legal job search sites.
- Those interested in law firms can also obtain regional Law Firm Lists from PDO (in the Document Library in Symplicity—Salt Lake City, other places in Utah, and some other states in the western US; do google searches; or search www.martindale.com, www.naldirectory.com, and www.lawyers.com.
- If you are applying “cold” (i.e., not in response to a job posting), you will often apply via email these days. Prepare a single pdf with your cover letter, resume, references (if you want to include) and unofficial transcript (if it is a larger firm or a place you think cares about grades). Have your name in the pdf file name. Send the materials to the recruiting contact if you can tell who it is from a Law Firm list or website. It might be an attorney, but it might not. Include a short message such as “I am very interested in an attorney position with your firm. I have attached to this email my X, Y, and Z. Please feel free to contact me anytime. Thank you.”
- After you have submitted your materials, don’t be afraid to use the telephone to follow up and express continued interest. If you apply before you pass the bar, and have not heard back from an employer, send them updated materials reflecting your bar passage. A surge in hiring often occurs when bar results are known, especially by small and mid-sized firms.
8. Check internet and print resources regularly (at least weekly) for job postings. Although most jobs are found through networking and personal contacts, there are still many helpful job posting sites which you should be reviewing regularly. These include:
- Those listed in the “Job Search Resources—All Websites” in the Document Library in Symplicity. This document contains hyperlinks to job search sites grouped by categories and State by State! “Job Search Resources—International” contains international job search sites.
- The PDO Job Board, accessible through Symplicity.
- A few good Utah sites: https://statejobs.utah.gov/OpenJobsList.jsp (State of Utah Jobs); http://www.employment.utah.edu/ (University of Utah Jobs); http://www.utahbar.org/marketplace/ (Utah Bar classifieds for other employers)
- On several other State Bar sites, you can review job postings or even sign up for email alerts for jobs in your desired states. Look at the State Bar sites in the places you are interested. The Idaho Bar’s job postings are often very good (http://isb.idaho.gov/job_announce/announcements.cfm), and the Nevada State Bar allows you to sign up for email alerts (even for jobs outside of Nevada). Just register at http://l.nv.bar.associationcareernetwork.com/Common/HomePage.aspx .
- The Intercollegiate Job Bank, which allows you to search law school job postings around the country https://www.law2.byu.edu/Career_Services/jobbank/ . (Password is always updated in Symplicity’s Document Library, in “PDO Passwords.”) In using this job bank, keep in mind that some schools have more, better and/or more updated postings than others. Do not simply look at the postings from schools in the exact area where you want to be—consider looking at the postings from schools in nearby states, or states with schools which might advertise jobs in other locations. For example, if you want to find a job in Boise, consider looking at job postings not only from Idaho schools, but also those in Washington, Oregon, Montana, etc.
- A great resource for public interest jobs, www.pslawnet.org . Because we subscribe to it, it is free for students and alumni. You must register using your law school email.
- Equal Justice Works (www.equaljusticeworks.org), which has information concerning fellowships and general information regarding loan forgiveness and other job sites.
- Judicial clerkship websites, which include: https://oscar.symplicity.com/ (federal clerkships); http://www.ncsconline.org/D_KIS/info_court_web_sites.html (National Center for State Courts); and http://www.law2.byu.edu/career_services/government_publicservice/judicial_clerkships/rocky.php (Northwest Consortium Judicial Clerkship Database)http://forms.vermontlaw.edu/career/guides/index.cfm (Vermont Judicial Clerkship Database)
9. Consider geographical areas other than your most favored, especially if you have contacts in those areas.
Utilize Alumni Contacts: Talk to PDO. We may know of alums in different areas willing to meet with graduates about their practice areas. You can also use www.martindale.com to find alumni.
Make a Reciprocity Request: You may also choose to request “reciprocity” to use career services at other law schools. Contact Jaclyn Howell (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the PDO office to request help in securing these services. The nature of the career services Quinney students/alums receive depends upon the subject law school’s policy with regard to these reciprocity requests, but the schools will often provide access to job postings and perhaps some limited career counseling. Be aware that there are certain “blackout” periods during which reciprocity requests will not be honored at many schools due to on-campus recruiting seasons. These blackouts typically begin in August, and end in November or December.
10. If you have been engaged in a job search, but have not found fulltime legal work:
- Apply for a Dean’s Fellowship. The College of Law has instituted the Dean’s Fellowship program under which PDO helps new graduates from the most recent class who have not yet found a job to be placed in a public service or small/solo firm placement for 1-2 months. During the placement, the College provides the graduate with a small monthly stipend. Contact PDO to discuss details.
- Consider offering to work for legal employers on a contract basis, and keep up your job search. It is true that it is always easier to find a job when you already have a job (even when it is not your dream job).
- Consider applying for non-legal jobs. There are many jobs which from which you can still gain skills, contacts, and potential for valuable law client development (if you do go into private practice in the future). It is no secret that the employment market is very difficult right now. The competition for posted law jobs is fierce. If you are considering a non-legal job, come talk to PDO.
- Try to find part-time or temporary law-related work, paid or volunteer. Doing so allows you to continue to develop your professional skills and, perhaps more importantly, shows potential employers that you consider yourself a member of the profession and you are committed to the practice. It also shows initiative by refusing to remain professionally inactive.