Now What? 4 Professional Development Resources for Law Grads

Professional development resources for law grads

Congratulations! You’ve joined the ranks of law school graduates—but what now? Whether you’re among the lucky few who beat out the competition to secure a job or are still embroiled in your job search, professional development resources can help you advance your career.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for lawyers will grow at a rate of roughly 10 percent from 2012 to 2022 (on par with most occupations in the United States), especially in the fields of healthcare, consulting, finance and insurance. Competition for jobs, however, will remain fierce, as every year the number of graduating law students exceeds the number of jobs open and available for them. To maintain your competitive edge in a tight market, it’s critical to continually develop your skills. 

Here are four resources to help you keep building your legal muscle:

1. Your own firm’s professional development resources

If you’re already employed, don’t overlook resources offered by your employer. This one might sound obvious, but while many firms have a career development program, that fact is not always clearly communicated or widely leveraged. Find out whether your firm offers such a program. If you have an intranet, start there; if not, pick up the phone and reach out to Human Resources.

2. A good mentor

The value a mentor can provide to your career is incalculable. From guidance on law firm and legal department politics to tips on case law, a mentor is one of your top potential professional development resources.

To identify and approach a potential mentor, first determine what you need—help honing your litigation skills, for example, or networking. It’s best if you can identify an experienced professional who is on a career track similar to yours. Once you know whom you’d like to approach, ask to meet him or her for lunch sometime to learn about the skills that made this person successful. During your talk, you’ll see whether this person would be receptive to a mentorship—or if this is someone you’d really want to meet with. If you’ve identified a potential mentor outside of your organization, an email or social media message on a shared interest can serve as an effective icebreaker. “I see you were also an editor on the Georgetown Law Journal and wondered if you might have any tips for a new associate” can spark interest when a more specific, skills-related approach might fail.

3. Publications on law trends

How well do you know what skills you should be focusing on? Review Robert Half Legal’s Future Law Office 2020 report to find out where the field is heading. This detailed report outlines legal and business trends, as well as technology changes anticipated to reshape the practice of law and drive change throughout the legal profession by 2020. A definitive professional development resource, the report includes a strong collection of best practices and predictions from leading legal experts.

4. Continuing legal education (CLE)

You can tap into a host of free CLE resources—online seminars, webinars and self-paced, on-demand training—from your own desk. Some of the top industry associations provide a combination of free and low-fee CLE offerings open to members as well as the public. Another option for professional development resources, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), focuses specifically on law career development and planning. For example, recent NALP webinars include “Women’s Initiatives in the Law Firm Setting” and “A ‘Roadmap’ to a Successful Summer.”

While you pursue these essential professional development resources, here are seven more tips to help you launch and build your successful legal career. There’s no better time than the present to work toward a brighter future.

Have the law degree and professional development resources in the bag, but still looking for the job you really want? Take a look through the open positions Robert Half Legal has listed in your area.