Hi all in the Vale,
I could use some help and redirection. I have lurked and posted here occasionally. I am a May 2013 grad of a strong top-30ish regional school. During 2L OCI I did not hustle enough, struck out, and worked at a small firm 2L summer where I got good experience but did not anticipate (or want) an offer - strictly an intern. During 3L I got strong plaintiff-side civil litigation experience. I have both a strong secondary journal and moot court on my resume. I was in the top 1/3 of my class all through 2L but slipped just outside of it during 3L thanks to some poor class choices (I hate you, Tax) and focusing too much on my clinic. I worked on taking classes and getting experience in a particular area of law, and applying to midsize and big firms within that practice area, but never even got an interview nibble. I also applied for public interest fellowships and fed gov't, to no avail.
During fall of 3L I applied to everything on Symplicity, sent hundreds of mass mails, and made some awkward stabs at networking. Since winter of 3L I've just focused on applying to jobs on Symplicity for which I am qualified or are a slight reach. After a long dry spell I have had three interviews since mid-July and am still waiting to hear back from one job that I would love to get and for which I did a final round interview. It's an in-house gig and I really liked what I learned about it. But I just have a bad feeling about it. I got these jobs through applying on Symplicity. Good news is that I passed the bar and am getting sworn in soon.
I am doing doc review 40+ hours a week semi long term, which gives me a little breathing room to focus on finding a job I want, but I am also finding it really hard to put the effort in when working full time. It's hard to figure out how to best use my time. I am also a little flummoxed because 2 out of 3 interviews I got were for jobs for which my resume was NOT very tailored. I've also met with some attorneys about getting involved with nonprofits/public interest-ey things, not for immediate job prospects but just to do something that feels worthwhile and keep the public interest door open down the road. PI/gov hiring are just terrible in my state right now.
I would either like to work in-house at a small company, which my resume does not speak to very well but for which I have some helpful pre-law-school work experience, or work at a small firm that has something going for it. Eg, a Superlawyer plaintiff-side partner, a mix of practice areas that are not just traffic/Workers' Comp/slip and falls. Family law, bigger med mal cases, good quality plaintiff side employment law, etc. cases. I would LOVE to do any gov't work and am more open to (eg, would love to do) nonprofit work than I was a year ago.
So what do I do? I can plausibly tailor my resume toward general civil litigation, family law, employment law, both legal and non-legal nonprofit work, and government work. I have four or five attorneys locally who like me, are happy to meet for coffee and serve as a reference, etc. But it feels awkward to just meet for coffee, ask general career questions, and act plucky and enthusiastic about the job search. They all know I need a job. Do I try and reconnect with those attorneys, when it hasn't led to anything so far? Do I cold e-mail alumni from my school? What does a post-bar mass mail look like?
Or is my strategy of just keeping an eye on job boards enough? It's all that's yielded anything so far, but it feels like it could be months before I get a job.
The flip side of this is that as much as I hate doc review, between that and another freelance (non-legal) job I'm clearing 45-50k a year. I also have health insurance for a reasonable rate through a spouse. The doc review is really flexible, so I can meet with attorneys, do pro bono work, etc. a bit each week. So I'm not quite willing to leave my current situation for a job that pays the same amount or less and feels like it has little growth potential, such as working for a solo attorney on tiny cases where I won't be doing anything more complex than what I did with clients during 3L. At this point my priorities are 55k+ a year with bennies (and a lot of small firms pay 40k around here), people I like, and growth potential more than any specific practice area. I've honestly liked almost everything legal I've done from real estate to family law and just don't have a strong preference as long as the work is dynamic and the people around me are good. It's a good and bad place to be.
I am also in a semi-rural area but could plausibly waive into DC (family living there) and look for jobs there.
Someone please give me a reasonable game plan. I've applied for a couple jobs each week that are actually hiring and for which I seem somewhat qualified but it just doesn't feel like enough.
Should I send a nice short paper resume and cover letter to small firms that are desirable to me (what one local attorney recommended) or take the thinly disguised informational interview approach at this point?
I know I'm lucky to have an income and health insurance right now and be getting interviews at all, but I am just as sick to my stomach and stressed and down as all of you. I really like being a lawyer but this has been hell. Any advice appreciated. I feel like I had a pretty good strategy/hustle through 3L but just ran out of steam because it led nowhere.