If you do not know Tomasz Stasiuk, you are about to. He is the publisher of Colorado Social Security Law, and as the name suggests he has dedicated his legal career to obtaining Social Security and medical benefits for Colorado based adults and children. But, he has also found himself generously providing advice to recent law school graduates as to how to find a job out of law school. Job finding is not a subject we handle too much at the Third Wave, and his advice is very good in this regard. He offered to share with the readers of this blog this advice, and it is a pleasure to introduce him.
One of my friends recently updated her Facebook status to say that she is finalizing her resume to find her first job out of law school. Having made just about every job search mistake possible, many of which I did not even realize until I started my own office, I can offer some advice to young graduates.
First of all, I think she made the right move by using Facebook to notify her network that she is looking for a job. You want everyone to know you are available and looking for work: old friends, classmates, even the barista at your local coffeehouse. Don't laugh! Lawyers love Starbucks and the local barista may well have the inside track on who is hiring!
You have probably heard that you should, "tap your network." But here is something that is probably more enjoyable and that you may not hear much: go have lunch.
Call a lawyer in your desired practice area and ask them to lunch. I remember when I was fresh out of law school, these words would start my knees to shaking and give me a cold chill. So here is a quick script to follow:
"Hi, my name is John Smith. I am a young lawyer, just starting out, and I would like to meet with you over lunch to talk about [criminal law, estate work, East Michigan mineral rights -- whatever the lawyer's practice is].
If you get the receptionist, stick to the script and simply replace "I would like to meet with you" with the attorney's name.
You may have to follow up in a week with another call, letter or email until you get a response, but it will be worth it. Persistence counts!
The worst that can happen is the lawyer will say that they do not have time to meet with you and they will ask you to stop calling. It is not the end of the world. If you get denied, call another lawyer.
Before your meeting, make sure you have a business card. It does not matter if you are not currently working, get a card made. While business cards may be "so last century," they are still the universally accepted way of communicating your contact information in a business setting.
Beyond providing your name, telephone number and e-mail address (if it is firstname.lastname@example.org, get it changed) include your LinkedIn address, twitter handle, or professional blog URL -- so long as you are using these for professional development and not talking about your cat.
What if you are not doing any of these things? The easiest place to start is a LinkedIn profile. Fill in your information, then connect with your law school chums. When the lawyer looks you up, you want to show that you have some connections or recommendations on LinkedIn.
If you are not ready to write a legal blog, you can at least be twittering about developments in the area you want to practice in. If you are not already on twitter, setting up an account is easy and free. Find news stories and blog posts through Google, Google reader, or Google alerts and tweet them. It may not seem like much, but it shows that you are staying on top of current legal developments.
What do you talk about at the luncheon?
Ask the lawyer how his business is going. Talk to him about any news on the lawyers website or blog. Asked how he got into this area of practice. Ask what is the best part of practicing in that area.
The worst mistake you can make is not "being stupid." The worst mistake you can make is trying to appear knowledgeable, when you really do not know anything about what the lawyer does. Remember, you are talking to an old hand at this, and you are the newbie. It is okay to be the newbie. Ask questions, and listen attentively.
Ask if there is anything you can do to help the attorney. You are not asking for a job, or for contract work. You are simply asking if there is something or someone that you know that might be of assistance to the attorney. Remember, you are the avant-garde. You take for granted the technologies that the lawyer is probably struggling with: online filing, Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, blogging, creating YouTube videos, and social networking. Be willing to share your knowledge. The lunch will go fine.
Of course, after the meeting, send a note thanking the attorney for his or her time.
Does this guarantee you a job? No, but it builds personal contacts which are the best source of job leads.
By Tomasz Stasiuk - http://www.ColoradoSocialSecurityLaw.com