If you’re as keen a student of the Robert Half Salary Guide as you are of the law, you already know that law firms and corporate legal departments are actively hiring again as they rebound from the pandemic.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll just walk into your dream job. Demand tends to be highest for midlevel legal professionals with five years of experience. And while there are plenty of entry-level opportunities out there, it's important to get additional insights on the art of job seeking.
We can help. Whether you’re still in school or a recent graduate ready to launch your career, here are six strategies worth incorporating into your search efforts.
1. Go the extra mile in law school
Earning a high grade point average and participating in extracurricular professional activities — such as doing pro bono work, holding a leadership role in a law association or publishing articles — will give you an edge in finding a job.
Here’s an example: A newly appointed judge searching for a law clerk received about 75 applications for a position that might have drawn a dozen candidates in the past. To weed out applicants, she eliminated those who hadn’t written for their school’s Law Review and who didn’t have at least a 3.0 GPA. That allowed her to cut the applicant pool by about half, illustrating that what you do in law school does matter.
2. Be a consummate networker
The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll hear about. As an undergraduate, don’t just get to know your classmates and law school faculty; also seek out volunteer programs that give you access to people from more diverse fields and backgrounds. New graduates can discover opportunities for internships or job shadowing via their alumni associations. And with so many events being online these days, you no longer need to travel to attend presentations and conferences, many of which have breakout rooms where you can chat with fellow attendees.
Get inspired with Salaries, Talent Retention and Tech Trends in the Legal Field.
3. Use your career services office
It may take you some time to build up your network, but in the meantime, you can tap someone else’s. Your on-campus career services office can help you find internships, schedule interviews and become more educated about the legal job market. They can provide information on a range of legal jobs, including nontraditional-track positions in law firms and corporations. You can also learn more about interviewing, starting salaries and billable hours expectations, among other topics.
4. Think outside the box
As legal careers become more varied and diverse, a growing number of law graduates are pursuing jobs related to but outside the practice of law. Known as JD Advantage jobs, these are roles for which a law degree is preferred or required. Examples include positions within alternative legal service providers and accounting firms. Other popular, non-traditional legal jobs are litigation support analysts, legal content writers, data privacy specialists and corporate compliance analysts.
At Robert Half, our legal recruiting specialists bring decades of experience helping job seekers find great career opportunities. Let us help you find the right job for you.
5. Follow trends in the legal job market
New opportunities continue to emerge in the legal job market, which makes it essential to stay abreast of trends. Robert Half’s The Demand for Skilled Talent report is a good place to start. Knowing how to find a job means keeping up with in-demand practice areas and taking note of the types of positions being created. Shifting needs may suggest that you should target a different practice area than you initially planned.
6. Adopt multiple strategies
Don’t rely on just one method to land a position. Join professional groups and stay in touch with law school colleagues and professors. Enroll on sites like USAJobs and ABA Legal Career Central to receive email alerts the moment opportunities are posted in your preferred practice area. In addition, you may want to research and proactively contact firms, as well as respond to job postings you find through LinkedIn or other sources.
Above all, be persistent and stay positive. If recruiters are ignoring your resume and cover letter, rework them. If you have a bad interview, ask for feedback and then come back stronger next time. You’ll still need some luck, but to adapt the old sports saying, the more you practice, the luckier you’ll get.