What Comes Next? Career Counseling for Law Grads

Career Counseling for Law Grads

Finishing law school is certainly a relief, but what’s next?

Now that graduation and the July bar exams are over, recent law school graduates are facing a transition. Steps they take now, as first-year attorneys, can have an amplified impact down the road, as some paths are pursued and others forgone. Getting some insightful career counseling is crucial when it comes to finding your first legal job. Here are five steps to follow as you consider your counseling options:

1. Find a mentor.

A legal mentor can be a good source of career counseling early on. Reach out to the seasoned attorneys and law professors you know, and ask their advice on the best local firms and choosing a practice area. If you don’t have a mentor, being active in your state bar is an excellent way to find one.

2. Make use of resources.

Salary is an important factor in career satisfaction, and it can vary according to which career path you take.  The Robert Half Legal Salary Guide can help you get a handle on current salary trends and job options. You can adjust compensation for your specific region with our Salary Calculator, as well as check out hiring trends to see which positions are hot in your area. The American Bar Association (ABA) also offers a wide array of graduate resources. And along with your state bar, the ABA provides a listing of current job openings.

3. Don’t stop learning.

Legal learning shouldn’t stop the day you receive your law degree. Even before you’re hired, start looking into continuing legal education (CLE) options in technology, management and other key areas. Make sure to attend legal conferences too, because they provide a concentrated way to increase your legal knowledge and make connections that can help with longer-term career counseling. What you learn can inform the career path you select.

4. Get LinkedIn.

Networking is easier than ever with today’s technology, as long as you navigate the waters of social media properly. Be sure to maintain your LinkedIn profile, respond to messages in a timely manner and make prudent choices as to what you post on social media. You can also join online professional groups in which you may find the answers to your career counseling questions. If not, start your own discussion. You’ll find many experienced attorneys are eager to help new legal professionals start out on the right foot.

5. Work with a recruiter.

Another great help in your career decision-making process — and also a way to grow your legal network — is by working with a specialized legal recruiter. Recruiters can provide career counseling on topics such as what size firm you’d thrive in, salary negotiation and how to make the most of your legal job search. In addition, their agencies may offer opportunities for CLE credits.

Keep in mind your need for career counseling won’t end once you find your first legal job. Continue working with mentors and stay in touch with connections and recruiters. By constantly seeking to improve yourself as a professional and keeping your network active, you increase your chances of a successful and fulfilling career.

Do you have career counseling advice to share with fellow law grads? Share your expertise in the comments.