I know this blog centers a lot on the solo practice of law, or on lawyers going out on their own. But, the truth of the matter is that a good many lawyers and law students want to find paying jobs -- at least initially. (Oh, the motivation of student loans).
In this regard, there are a few simple but overlooked things to keep in mind if you really hope to find a law job and to get hired at a reasonable salary.
1. Review your resume. I mean really review it. I am the world's worst about typos and misspellings. I get in a hurry. I feel like I need to move on to other things. But, with a resume it really counts. You need to review your resume repeatedly. You need to get everyone you can encourage to do so to review it. Frankly, I do not know anybody that got hired based upon their resume, but I know people who have been denied jobs based upon their sloppy resume. Andrew Jackson once said "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word", but I am not sure Andrew Jackson never had to rely on his resume to get a job.
2. Interviews are hard to get, so show up on time. I am not talking about oversleeping. I am talking about miscalculating how long it will take to fight traffic to get to the interview location ... to find the location ... to find parking ... to get through security ... to remind the clueless receptionist why you are there. It is better to be early than late. Especially for lawyers who are required to be prompt in making court appearances and the like, it is a real turn off for an applicant to be even a little late. The rule in law is to hurry up and wait. In court it is okay to wait on the judge, but the judge is not going to wait on you. The same is true for the dreaded job interview.
3. Dress your best. Law firms are getting more casual, but unless you know how the firm dresses that day, make sure you wear a suit or some equivalent.
4. Know about the firm and what they do. I cannot emphasis this enough. Believe it or not, most law firms do not want to hire another attorney, and especially one they have to mentor. They are looking for a specific type of attorney, such as a real estate lawyer, family lawyer, bankruptcy lawyer or the like. Maybe you have not actually practiced law yet, but you need to express a proper interest. I know of one law graduate that interviewed for a job at a bankruptcy law firm, and when asked what he sees himself doing in 5 years answered "employment law". That did not go over well with the law firm that does not practice and does not want to practice employment law.
5. Ask questions, please. Most of us have thought that the job interviews we have participated in are silly. Okay, but in truth they are silly because they tend to be monologues on the part of the interviewer. Questions show an interest in the firm and an appreciation for what it does. It clarifies for you what the pay might be, the benefits, insurance and the like. It gives you a feel for the metal of the law firm for which you want to work.
6. Talk to everyone about the fact you are looking for a law job, and especially a law job in a certain practice area. Most law jobs are NOT posted. Let me repeat this. MOST LAW JOBS ARE NOT POSTED ANYWHERE! The overwhelming majority are NOT even advertised except through word of mouth among friends and colleagues. Some represent an inkling on the part of the firm it needs someone else if the right someone shows up. You find these opportunities through networking and asking around. Think of it this way. The posted jobs make up maybe 10% or 15% of the law jobs that may be available. Yet, because they are posted, these firms are absolutely inundated with resumes and requests for interviews. What do you believe are your chances with these firm?
7. Follow up! Follow up! Follow up! I cannot say this more. We all know to send a follow up email or thank you note, but firms put things like this off to complete real work. They get confused. They are distracted. Confused and distracted firms put off making decisions. Those they offer jobs to often accept and then back out. Get these people on a list and stay in touch with them regularly. If nothing else, they can be a valuable resource on who else might be looking for a new lawyer.