Law students and graduates are often their own worst enemy when it comes to finding a law job.
They can blame the law schools, blame their student loans, blame their parents, and damn the World. I am not saying there is not enough blame to go around. But, the truth of the matter is that most law students I have met have done nothing to build relationships with the legal community in which they want to practice until about the time they graduate or pass the bar exam.
Sure I wish law schools would do more in terms of job placement, or even simply teaching students how to start and manage their own law practices upon graduation. That would help.
The truth is, however, that almost all law graduates enter the legal market at the same time. At certain times of the year in Texas, for example, there are about 2,000 people clamoring to find meaningful employment at one time.
Practicing lawyers and law firm must feel like they are unwittingly participating in the running of the bulls.
This is not the time to begin trying to build relationships, or get to know anybody significantly enough so they might want to offer you a good paying job.
A law degree is fine, but it does not mean you know how to practice law. Giving someone a chance makes most practicing lawyer feel good. But, paying someone in this circumstance a great wage with benefits takes a level of confidence that cannot be built at the same time a law firm is being inundated with a stack of seemingly similar resumes.
The main criteria expressed by new lawyers as to why he or she should be hired over another is typically - "I have student loan payments coming due!!!"
I do not mean to be cruel, but I am capable. No lawyer or law firm is really looking simply to hire a law degree. What is important the person behind the law degree. It does not matter if the law degree is from Harvard or some California, non-accredited, night law school. And, when you are just one of the flood of bulls storming law firms and lawyers for jobs all anyone sees are the law degrees.
I want to give you a couple of tips that might help you immensely.
First, you have to begin making inroads into the practice of law in which you wish to practice well before you are led with the rest of the scared bulls into the street. It begins with making contacts and selling yourself as far in advance of graduation and passing the bar as possible.
Second, you cannot be a wandering generality. You have to be a meaningful specific.
Here is what I have told my children about finding jobs in general and finding law jobs in particular. You need to know what it is you want to be as a lawyer -- the type of law you wish to practice. Not, five or six possibilities. It needs to be specific. The more specific the better.
What do you think the success of people is who simply start down the help wanted pages of any paper or website? I would bet it is not good. And, should they manage to get a job in this way, I bet they do not enjoy their work or life that much.
Yet, that is what most law graduates are doing.
My oldest daughter, graduated with a JD and an MBA, had worked on business, bankrutpy, insurance and tax issues. But, she came to understand specifically that she wanted a law job in commercial real estate law. That was a big task for someone with little direct experience and right after the commercial real estate market had collapsed.
But, it was possible, and worked out well because she was focused in her pursuit and was able to aggressively market herself -- not her degrees -- to a narrow market of perspective employers.
She became the limited commodity that other lawyers or law firms felt they had to have, instead of some type of Kmart blue light special walking in their doors.
Multiple offers. Choices. That is what you want.
Put yourself in the position of a managing partner of a law firm who looks at young lawyers all day. They graduated from this law school or that one. They were part of this fraternity or honor society, or maybe not. They have backgrounds outside of law that are interesting, or boring. But ultimately, they all become a blur. Then someone comes in that knows what he or she wants. They want to do what this lawyer is doing -- exactly what this lawyer is doing. They seem to enjoy the minutiae of the arcane legal area this managing partner enjoys.
Who would you chose?
And, the point of becoming a limited commodity which is in demand in a specific area? Lawyers and law firms are willing to negotiate, and possibly bid, for you and your services.