Time Spent Searching for First Job

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Wanderlust89

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Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby Wanderlust89 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:58 am

Background: Attended prestigious undergrad, worked at a name-brand firm prior to law school, 2016 graduate in top 25% of class from a top 25 law school, member of Law Review (wrote-on), and unemployed.

March 1st and still looking for a full-time position. I'm volunteering at two smaller firms and make kale smoothies for yoga moms on weekends...not what I imagined my life post-law school. I'm applying to all types of positions in-state and out-of-state, but have zero leads that look promising after getting two calls this morning informing me firms were going forward with other candidates. I'm fortunate to have gone to undergrad for free and paid 4K a year for law school so student loans aren't crushing my soul.

Did anyone give up on the practice of law because they weren't able to find a job? If so, how long did you spend searching for a job and what non-legal position did you pursue? I genuinely enjoy working at the smaller firms and all of my summer experiences in various legal settings. I can only go so long though without a job....

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zot1

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby zot1 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:16 am

Don't give up. I had a friend who graduated with no job. She got a part-time remote gig for a solo practitioner that helped her with her bills. It took a little over a year after graduation, but she scored an in-house counsel position--which is what she wanted anyway but everyone had told her she couldn't get it. I know plenty more stories like this. Keep pushing!

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AVBucks4239

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby AVBucks4239 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:24 am

Just going to quote my post from another thread about how I landed my job. TL;DR: keep plugging away, but start thinking strategically about your contacts.

AVBucks4239 wrote:Stats: T-30, top 30%, secondary journal, executive position; graduated in 2014.

Employer: small firm (25 attorneys) in small market (less than 100k population)

Application: applied in January, long story.

Other: On a random Saturday morning over Christmas break of my 3L year, I went to my hometown YMCA with a friend to play racquetball. I ended up playing cutthroat (three person racquetball) with this random guy that turned out to be a partner at said small law firm. He said he was retiring within a couple years and they were looking to hire somebody. I told him I was interested and we should get lunch or something.

We exchanged emails and I came in for an interview in January. Things seemed to go pretty well, but I didn't hear from the firm until April. They just completed a merger with a 6 person firm and thus didn't plan on hiring that year, so they didn't hire me.

They were my only lead, so I thought out of the box. My school offered a "Career Start Grant," whereby the school would pay me $2,000 to work for an employer of my choice (and thus at no cost to the employer) for up to three months. So I wrote the small firm a letter stating something along the lines of, "Sorry to hear about not hiring, but let me tell you how I can work for you for free for three months."

The president of the firm called me a week later and basically asked, "So you'll be an independent contractor, at no cost to us, and with no expectation of full time employment?" "Yes."

So they let me work under this grant. I lived at home with my mom (free rent and homemade dinners every night for the first time in almost ten years!), started in September, and worked pretty damn hard for three months (came in early, left late, made sure to do perfect work, etc.). Finally, just two days before my grant was set to expire, they hired me.

And here I am. Granted, this isn't a prestigious job (only making $47,5000, but in a very low cost of living area), but it's been great thus far. It's either going to be a great spring board (people who leave here go to big firms in nearby mid-size markets) or I might be a lifer (12 of the partners have been here since graduation and worked here for 20+ years, which leads me to believe this firm actually does provide a good work/life balance).

So my advice: (1) check and see if your school offers these types of grants, (2) don't worry about firm prestige, you just need any fucking legal job; and (3) and target, target, target. The mass mail advice on here is complete bullshit and a waste of time. Instead, target firms that match your resume and really put yourself out there. You never know who you will run into or what will happen.

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:29 am

Wanderlust89 wrote:Background: Attended prestigious undergrad, worked at a name-brand firm prior to law school, 2016 graduate in top 25% of class from a top 25 law school, member of Law Review (wrote-on), and unemployed.

March 1st and still looking for a full-time position. I'm volunteering at two smaller firms and make kale smoothies for yoga moms on weekends...not what I imagined my life post-law school. I'm applying to all types of positions in-state and out-of-state, but have zero leads that look promising after getting two calls this morning informing me firms were going forward with other candidates. I'm fortunate to have gone to undergrad for free and paid 4K a year for law school so student loans aren't crushing my soul.

Did anyone give up on the practice of law because they weren't able to find a job? If so, how long did you spend searching for a job and what non-legal position did you pursue? I genuinely enjoy working at the smaller firms and all of my summer experiences in various legal settings. I can only go so long though without a job....


I graduated from a T14 with bad 1L grades and ok 2L-3L grades and it took me a long time to find a job, too. I got my first offer months after graduation, and I know what you're going through: so many people would look at me in shock at interviews ("Wow seriously the market must be tough"/"Why can't you find a job?").

With the exception of some really elite practices, most small firms are composed of grads from "local"/lower ranked law schools (I say this with no pride), and will look upon your T14 (or T25) degree with some disdain. I have heard a grad from a small, local law school mention that he'd hire an alum from his own law school any day over a Harvard Law grad, "because at Harvard, they learn theory, and not practical skills."

Keep looking and applying everywhere. I ended up getting hired by a small firm, but I've seen people in your situation go to all sorts of places (firm, corporate in house, PE firm in house). The key is not to give up, show persistence and a good work ethic, and have a consistent story to sell.

1styearlateral

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby 1styearlateral » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:18 pm

I'm wondering why you didn't exploit your contacts at the "name brand law firm" you worked at prior to law school to pull a 2L gig. A classmate of mine did just this in a different market than where he previously worked and now he's an associate.

Civilservant

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby Civilservant » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:33 pm

It took me nearly 18 months from graduation to get a real job. I went to a tier 4 school with so so grades, and nothing really going for me. I got legal work wherever I could find it, and started taking on matters on my own and learned how to litigate. I warn you not to "volunteer" at any firm. Firstly, this is a labor law issue, it is a private enterprise deriving a benefit from your work, you deserve to be compensated. Early on when I was gaining experience, I did so uncompensated, and was treated like garbage. Once I valued my time, I was then valued by others. Even if it is $10 per hour, get paid for your time.

Genius

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby Genius » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:14 am

i think there's something you are doing objectively wrong that is not told here. With your stats, it's hard to imagine not getting a job. I had worse stats than you and still secured a first real job within 2-3 months. I did work at a small firm for a year though and got some exposure to litigation.

You really should focus on improving your resume and cover letter. By improve, I mean really see you present yourself well.

Wanderlust89

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby Wanderlust89 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:56 am

1styearlateral wrote:I'm wondering why you didn't exploit your contacts at the "name brand law firm" you worked at prior to law school to pull a 2L gig. A classmate of mine did just this in a different market than where he previously worked and now he's an associate.


The firm is a top 100 firm in the country, but only had a summer program at their main office in another state, not at the office I worked at prior to law school. I've heard whispers that the office I worked at isn't doing well, meaning they haven't hired any associates there for a few years.

Wanderlust89

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby Wanderlust89 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:01 am

Genius wrote:i think there's something you are doing objectively wrong that is not told here. With your stats, it's hard to imagine not getting a job. I had worse stats than you and still secured a first real job within 2-3 months. I did work at a small firm for a year though and got some exposure to litigation.

You really should focus on improving your resume and cover letter. By improve, I mean really see you present yourself well.


I appreciate the response. The difficult aspect has been trying to convince small firms, and others, that I'm interested. I've received feedback multiple times asking why I'm applying for such and such position from partners at small firms with my credentials. That question becomes frustrating when they assume you're not truly interested because in their eyes you should be working somewhere more 'prestigious'. I could likely tweak cover letters more going forward. Overall though, my resume and presentation are solid. The lack of entry-level positions is the larger issue.

RaceJudicata

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby RaceJudicata » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:16 am

Wanderlust89 wrote:
Genius wrote:i think there's something you are doing objectively wrong that is not told here. With your stats, it's hard to imagine not getting a job. I had worse stats than you and still secured a first real job within 2-3 months. I did work at a small firm for a year though and got some exposure to litigation.

You really should focus on improving your resume and cover letter. By improve, I mean really see you present yourself well.


I appreciate the response. The difficult aspect has been trying to convince small firms, and others, that I'm interested. I've received feedback multiple times asking why I'm applying for such and such position from partners at small firms with my credentials. That question becomes frustrating when they assume you're not truly interested because in their eyes you should be working somewhere more 'prestigious'. I could likely tweak cover letters more going forward. Overall though, my resume and presentation are solid. The lack of entry-level positions is the larger issue.


But is bolded really true? It sounds like you have been landing a fair amount of interviews (and please, correct me if I'm wrong). That leads me to believe that positions are out there, but you aren't converting the interviews.

I don't mean this to be rude, and I fully understand the position you are in, but I'd consider setting up a meeting with your school's career services (even a virtual/skype meeting if you aren't in the locality) and work on a mock interview. Usually these services are available to graduates.

dixiecupdrinking

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:43 am

Agree on mock interviews. Take every advantage you can get.

I will say though, I think the incredulity about your difficulty finding work is misplaced. Once you're outside the traditional biglaw/clerkship/fellowship/government fall hiring class pipelines, hiring gets much more random. Even for someone with good credentials, I don't find it surprising that things might just not have worked out yet.

I do wonder if maybe you are underestimating the amount of hustle it will take to get a job now. Throwing out random email applications might not get it done. You need to work your networks and meet people face to face.

1styearlateral

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Re: Time Spent Searching for First Job

Postby 1styearlateral » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:12 pm

Wanderlust89 wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:I'm wondering why you didn't exploit your contacts at the "name brand law firm" you worked at prior to law school to pull a 2L gig. A classmate of mine did just this in a different market than where he previously worked and now he's an associate.


The firm is a top 100 firm in the country, but only had a summer program at their main office in another state, not at the office I worked at prior to law school. I've heard whispers that the office I worked at isn't doing well, meaning they haven't hired any associates there for a few years.

I guess I was asking whether they had an office in the city your LS was located. If that is the case, you should have reached out to your former supervisor/contacts to see if they could help land you an SA in your LS city. Further, I'm sure you could have used those same contacts to land an SA at the firm's HQ, but perhaps it would be harder/more competitive depending on that office's hiring practices.

Overall, good school, good grades, and LR; you shouldn't have any problem finding something.



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