Alright, I’ve been wanting to write this for a while and after reading some posts over the past 2 pages I decided to sit down and actually do it. So here is a primer. Not for 1Ls, not for 3Ls, but for people who have graduated, have taken the bar (or about to take the bar) and just flat out don’t have anything:
For those of you that don’t know my story (I only see a few familiar faces in this thread from back when I was in here like Blue Lotus and sometimes snow peach) I was in the Vale a couple of years back. It was really terrible, and at times extremely depressing. I graduated with good grades and a resume loaded with experience. I got no offered from my firm in law school, had an offer at graduation that was rescinded due to budget issues and had another offer right before I took the bar from a firm to work for a new satellite that never ended up being opened in that city. I literally told my wife “I think I’m not meant to have a career”. The only reason I detail my background is to assure you that I’ve been there, I’ve dealt with it, and I have 100% been at rock bottom when it comes to the job search. So, with that said, here is what I want you to understand:
Its very easy to get down on yourself when you graduated, passed the bar and don’t have a job. Its very easy to feel worthless and just want to lay around watching Netflix or giving up cause you haven’t had an interview in a month and it all feels like a big waste of time to spend so much time applying to never hear back again. You also get just as discouraged when you read about the math numbers where something like 44% of law grads cannot find jobs because they are just not there. In one word of advice: Don’t. Let me explain:
The bad news is that the math and logic is very real. You just have to accept that no matter how much you play around with the math, there are not enough jobs for everyone. The good news is that those ~150,000 estimate of graduates counts every graduate. This means its people who graduated with al C’s, people who graduated from Cooley, people who went to law school without any interest in practicing law, people who sit around their parents basement eating Cheetos and look on simplicity once a week as their only form of “job searching, people who are extremely socially awkward and will bomb every interview they get, people who have no experience because they decided to study abroad (or worse, go on a European vacation) during law school summers, people who have never networked and don’t know how, etc etc etc. Where am I going with this? Well, I’m telling you that today, right now, you’re objectively better than they are and will get the job before they do. There, your math problem is solved. I have very rarely met a poster on TLS who was unemployed at graduation and not driven. I’ve certainly never met one who was a straight C’s Cooley grad. In your head, you think you’re mostly competing against Harvard grads with all H’s, but in reality you’re not. There are thousands of jobs opening up every year, and they are not all filled by the time people graduate. You can put yourself in the top tier of candidates by being persistent, not feeling sorry for yourself, coming off optimistic, and most importantly, putting in work.
So, its time for you to put in work if you want to get a job. I applied to 496 jobs before I got my job (I actually have the spreadsheet still, no exaggeration, it was actually 496). I don’t have a ton of advice on interviewing and this wasn’t the point of this post. Once you get an interview, its all you. But what I wanted to do is tell you what I believe (very “IMO” of course) separates people who get jobs at this stage of the game from those that don’t. Its called work ethic. You don’t have a job now, so your job is to find a job. How do you do that? Its not sitting around looking at simplicity and craigslist. EVERYONE is doing that. If that’s all you’re doing, you may get lucky and get a job, but you’re not getting ahead of the game here and relying on only your resume to get you an interview you can hopefully nail. Symplicity and craigslist are staples, and should be checked multiple times per day. However, you need to do more. First, the obvious is to check indeed.com and simplyhired.com often. “Attorney”, “associate”, “JD”, “Jd advantage”, “JD preferred”, etc are all good searches. Next, you need to get out there and meet people. Networking events that are actually labeled as networking events are a huge waste of time. Why? Because everyone there is only there to GET something. People don’t go there who want to find candidates. You’ll likely be swimming in 90% of people who are also looking for a job. You need, 2 types of networking: Informational interviews and “Organic networking”.
Info interviews are much easier when you’re in law school cause its not as embarrassing, but they are still very helpful in expanding your network. You need to find every and all alumni (both law school and undergrad) in your city and ask them for coffee. In my experience like 10% say they will go, they will basically always pay for your lunch or coffee, and sometimes they will have some ideas. The best are those that “get it”. You’ll be able to tell within 30 seconds whether the attorney you are meeting with knows what the market is like. I’ve met attorneys who told me they had ideas but I had a difficult road ahead, which I appreciated. I’ve also met some who told me, and I quote verbatim, “I hope you don’t get swayed by the money at Morgan Lewis or K&L Gates cause the smaller firms really will give you more hands on experience” (I swear you can’t make this up). Thanks buddy, Morgan Lewis was basically knocking my door down but I’ll try to resist and hold out for a smaller firm! But you need to keep doing it. Ask as many as you can, 3 meetings a week if you need to, it can all help. You may have 20 worthless meetings, but #21 will be a guy who knows of a position or two that’s not posted.
“Organic networking” is what I call meeting people in the industry or that know people in the industry anywhere that’s not a networking event. My wife’s friend invited us over for dinner and they had 6 couples. One of the men there was a former AUSA who knew some attorneys in the area. He got me in touch with them, and although they didn’t ultimately get me a job, it was good to expand the network and meet some people. You never know. Plenty of times in your everyday life you will run across people who know attorneys, use that (during an eye exam I found out that my optometrists sister is an attorney in town).
So now we are up to simplicity, craigslist, indeed/simplyhired, and the two types of networking. That’s good, but we can do more. I was putting in roughly 8-10 hours 5-6 days a week applying. Look for midsize firms in your city. Biglaw has already hired and done, but midsized firms are large enough to have a careers page that may have an “openings” section. No harm in checking that. Look through all the local (hour away or closer from you) bar association websites, they often list positions. Keep in mind all of the local county websites, some of the smaller county websites list basically all of their government positions there. USAjobs.com is always very difficult to get a job from, but they do have them. You need to check all of these websites every single day, multiple times per day. If a job posts and they get 3 resumes they many times won’t even look at the rest. You need to be in the first batch. I also realize that response rate from mass mailing is virtually zero, but I landed one interview with a 12 attorney firm that I massmailed because apparently the hiring partner was just thinking about how they could use the help and he was swamped the day he got my resume. It’s a very low yielding process, but its not completely worthless (although should be your last resort. I only massmailed if I had no meetings scheduled and have dug through all of the above websites without anything new for the day).
So now we basically have a ton of stuff to do every single day. But I want to give you one more that I truly think is a good one and I know has worked for at least half a dozen people I graduated with. JD advantage. Now, JD advantage jobs are the unicorn that career services makes up that don’t really exist right? Wrong, they exist, and people work in them. There are two types of JD Advantage jobs: 1.) Jobs where the JD actually is somewhat usable based on substantive skillset and 2.) Jobs where the JD isn’t really usable or required but the employer, for whatever reason, thinks highly of you because of your JD and can maybe use a higher education person or at least the analytical skills. So, apply everywhere. The first set of JD advantage includes consulting companies, compliance jobs, landmen, etc. You can even go on any company’s website who is located in your city and look for the openings they have that at least sound like they may use analytical skills and are fairly entry level. Low yielding? Maybe (higher than mass mailing though), but you have all the time in the world so apply. The second level of JD advantage is just employers who are looking for someone that is entry level or close to it and you have at least some connection with the position while having that shiny JD that may impress someone (we all know the JD is a sham by now, but you would be shocked at how laypeople view it). I got an interview with a local college to teach their con law 101 and criminal justice courses. 15 mins into the interview it was very apparent that I was underqualified, but it’s a good example that these people saw something in the JD itself and thought it may be able to work.
The above should keep you busy for at least 40-50 hours each and every week. That’s the easy part. The hard part is keeping this up each and every week. You’re gonna get stressed, you’re gonna get mad, you’re gonna feel like you would rather go work at McDonalds than write another tailored cover letter (Yes, EVERY cover letter needs to be at least somewhat tailored, seriously). Don’t do that. This is how everyone (a.k.a. your competition) is feeling right now in your position. All you need is one job, and when they apply to one simplicity job in the morning and call it a day you are there scooping up everything they are missing. You need to motivate yourself each and every week, it needs to happen, this is how hustling works. This is how unemployed law grads get jobs. Some get lucky and apply to 5 jobs and land them, many don’t. If you’re in the latter category, you need to do whatever it takes to convince yourself to get up at 8 am each and every day and just keep grinding. I hated it, I got depressed, I got bored, I was mad at those cover letters, and I had some bad days where 3 apps in I just gave up for the day and turned off the computer. It happens, but you need to do everything possible to minimize it.
There are probably dozens of other job searching tools I didn’t know of or use (Linkedin is something people swear by, but I haven’t been able to find much more than a group of other unemployed law grads all asking each other if they know of any jobs). I gave you what I had though. Remember, the numbers don’t matter, what matters is that you are able to motivate yourself and beat out all of those people looking for work who are lazy, weird, or are straight Cs from Cooley. Its gonna be tough, its going to be awful, but you need to grind and hustle and do it every single day. I wish you the best, I really hope every one here gets a job sooner rather than later. I hope that this post at least gave someone a little help.