If you are a law student seeking an ideal legal job, the pandemic offers a tremendous opportunity for you as a result of major laws enacted in March and many regulatory actions recently taken to provide relief for individuals, families, and businesses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. And there is a plethora of legal landscape covered — tax, health, employment, banking, privacy, compliance, government contracting, etc.
How do you take advantage of all this activity? This article will advise you on how to follow in the footsteps of successful law students who have discovered the secret for landing a great legal job.
These students take three impactful steps. First, they pick an attractive “major” — an area to focus on in school and practice upon graduation that is a growth industry with many opportunities relative to other practices. Next, they research what is required to make themselves the perfect candidate for a set of legal employers.
Once they decide what kind of client challenges, they want to spend their days thinking about and solving, they research employers that do that work. Then, they learn about the skills, knowledge, experiences, habits, and attitude they must have to be viewed as an ideal candidate. Finally, they use the information discovered to show that they are clear on the client challenges and the results they are seeking, and they demonstrate that they can help the employer overcome these challenges and obtain the results desired.
So, how can the pandemic help you get started? Use this time to develop Clarity, Competence, and Capability to help you identify a desirable practice area in demand and begin to navigate the path to its attainment.
You need to have a clear picture of what want to accomplish and a recognition of the importance and benefit of the accomplishment. Here is an example.
Your mission is to identify your dream job and create a detailed plan for securing that job. You realize that following these steps is one way to quickly and competently execute this plan.
For help identifying your desired practice area, check out any major law firm website and you will likely find space dedicated to coronavirus alerts. Look through those articles and you will get a sampling of the myriad of legal issues clients are currently facing, including how to navigate the terrain of the recent, major legislative and regulatory activity.
Find an area that suits you and concentrate on that area. Perhaps it is an area in which you already had a sense you might want to practice. Maybe you will discover something new that interests you.
Take comfort in the fact that you have one big advantage relative to long time practicing attorneys. Unlike them, you don’t have to unlearn vast amounts of material that has changed and is floating around in the head of a person who has learned the law over many years.
Once you have chosen your area, you need to gain a basic level of competency, which will be easy to do. Go to the firm websites and check out their newsletters and webinars which describe the laws that have been enacted (and the regulatory actions taken) and identify potential implications and challenges for clients. Here is one of those sites if you are looking for a reasonable place to start.
Write down some questions they have put forth, and their suggested answers, and use that information to formulate relevant and meaningful questions to ask practicing attorneys. A good start might be “I understand that one of the questions arising from the new legislation is _____. Do you have any insight on that issue you could share?”
Then, contact alumni who are currently practicing in the area. To encourage responses, it will help if you have something in common with the person (e.g., same undergraduate school, hometown, hobbies, etc.). Your professors may also have good suggestions for people to contact. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back or get the green light from all of the folks to whom you reach out. All you need to execute is a “yes” from a couple of people or even one person.
Before contacting the attorney, review your list of questions and perhaps narrow the list to just two or three good ones. Determine whether there is any additional information you need before engaging.
Know that you don’t have to have a perfect call, you just need to have the call. If you wait until you are perfectly ready, you will never act. These calls are just another form of networking but with a strategy and a purpose.
Start the conversation with confidence which you can do because you have a script. “Thanks for being up for talking. I will be brief because I’m sensitive to your time. I’m a 2L interested in learning more about the practice of employment law and I’m calling because I’m hoping you could provide some perspective into the recently enacted legislation. I understand one of the challenges clients are facing is _______. Do I have that right, and could you please share some insight into this issue?”
Be somewhat cautious about appearing to know more than you do. Concentrate on one or two questions at most.
With Clarity, Competence, and Capability you will be on your way to identifying your dream job and navigating the path to its attainment.
Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net.