LegalJob recently talked with several 1Ls concerning career advice. This post is the first of two summarizing the advice:
Put yourself in a position to pick a specialty area (sooner rather than later).
- Talk to as many people as possible practicing in different areas and learn how they spend their days.
- Take advantage of programs offered by your law school or local bar group
- Participate in legal clinics
- Participate in career events/attend panel discussions
- Law professors may provide helpful guidance or have suggestions on helpful people to consult
- Seek out 2L/3L mentor
- If possible, relate your pick to your undergraduate education or work experience.
- It may be helpful to have this head start (as far as distinguishing yourself from the competition early on)
- It is okay to chose something else but think about how your undergraduate or experience will help you contribute (even if not naturally connected)
- Remember that employers appreciate focus and dedication to a particular path (so keep this in mind for your future elevator pitch)
- You may change your mind (and that is okay)
- You may change your mind multiple times (and that is okay)
- You will likely change jobs multiple times (and that is okay)
- The purpose of this initial decision is to help put you on a path to eventually attract multiple job opportunities
Maximize the information resources of the Career Development Center
- Once you have one or two practice areas you are considering, ask for information about government and private job options in these areas
- Ask for contact information for people that match at least three of your touch points
- Same hometown (place of birth or where you were raised)
- Same undergraduate degree
- Same law school
- Similar law school experience (i.e., moot court winners)
- Similar work experience
- Working in the practice area you are interested in
Contact people practicing in that area (with your touch points.)
Get specifics on what their day looks like and the kinds of matters they handle
- Make clear up front that you are not looking for a job
- If not, many folks may not be interested in talking with you
- Ask for five minute meeting/call to discuss their background and opportunities in the practice area
- Ask what qualities they have that makes them good at their particular practice area
- Attention to detail and focus probably helps every lawyer, but what about other qualities (for example, tax planning which requires creativity and the ability to anticipate many different alternatives requires a different skill set then tax controversy which generally requires focus on a narrow legal issue and a contained set of facts)
Ask what experience would be most helpful to excel in this practice area
- Does that sound interesting to you?
- Certain classes at the law school (or outside the law school)
- Certain work experience
- Participation in certain law school activities
Image courtesy of jscreationzs.