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Top 7 Ways to Find the Ideal Legal Job

published July 28, 2021

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Many people think that finding a job as a law student or attorney is easy. The legal job market must be straightforward with the big names everybody knows, right? Wrong!
 

There is a never-ending ocean of legal job opportunities scattered around in the legal industry, with the same number of hopeful attorneys or law students fighting to get the one they want.


But chances are they are not finding all the jobs out there, limiting their opportunities and possibilities to find success in the legal industry. They might look at public online job sites or try out the private job board on LawCrossing.

However, restricting the options to only one or two job searching methods might be fatal to anyone’s legal profession, which is really sad, as the legal job market is vast. The truth is that most people do not know how to find jobs. They may believe that they’re stuck in place because of the law school they attended, their seniority, or the market they’re in. Often, they’re not even working because they don’t see the full extent of open positions available to them.

Sometimes, they are already holding a position and won’t step outside their comfort zone or can’t see themselves finding another job, i.e., it’s too much trouble.

In the military, there’s a thing called the force multiplier effect. The effect describes how someone going to war and fighting can accomplish the mission and win using many different fighting options. One way to fight may be to bring in tanks. Another way is to bring in ground troops, airplanes, ships, or Marines with helicopters. Depending on the circumstances, there are always several ways to fight. Applying this idea of the force multiplier effect to search jobs makes sense. The more things you do when looking for a job, the more effective you’re likely to be. Most attorneys look for jobs by using one or two methods and think it is enough; therein lies the problem. The best lawyer knows that if they want to have a job where they will be happy, they have to be creative and use all available methods. Here are seven effective methods you should utilize to find the best legal job for you:


1. Networking


Networking is a highly effective way to find legal positions, but most people do not capitalize on it.

Even though networking is highly effective, it is understandable that it’s more comfortable to sit behind a computer and send an email. Networking might wake up the fear of rejection, preventing postgraduates and legal practitioners from going out there and talking to people. Maybe they do not want to owe anything to anyone.

Or they are hyper-aware of their weaknesses and think that by talking to someone or handing them their resume, they will expose their shortcomings and invite someone to take advantage of them.

Some of these reasons might have come from bad experiences in the past. It can be really upsetting and hurtful to gather up the courage to pick up the phone and call an acquaintance to ask them about possible job opportunities just to be hung up on or blatantly rejected. Something like this can put anyone off from trying to network again. But you have to remember that by having prejudices against networking, even if they are based on real-life negative experiences, you are only hurting yourself because networking is genuinely one of the best ways to find a job as an attorney. Or any job for that matter. Just think about it.

When looking for a job through networking, you either personally know the people at the job or through someone else’s recommendation. They know you and how you work, or someone vouched for you, which puts you ahead of the competition.

Moreover, with networking, you are sometimes the only candidate being considered. While job boards are a great way of finding job opportunities (and will be discussed later in the article), the competition might sometimes be overwhelming. There are hundreds of great lawyers and law students with impeccable education and job experiences waiting to jump at every job ad. When looking for a position through networking, you might find out about an open position before it is ever posted somewhere publicly. If you know the right people, some firms might even open a position with you, specifically in mind. But, of course, it doesn’t always happen like that. You need to learn some networking in-and-outs and skills to really profit from this method.
 
  • One of the most important things to know if you want to network is to realize that when you ask someone for help, they are usually actually happy to do so because it makes them feel good about themselves. While some younger people may be competitive and may not want to help as much, older people tend to be much more willing to help.
  • Employers really like to hire people recommended by others because you’re not just a stranger off the street when you come through a recommendation. Strangers can negatively surprise you because you don’t know anything about them. This is especially true for any firm that has ever had an unpleasant experience with someone hired as a stranger.
  • It would help if you assumed that every person you know or network with knows several people that can get out there and help you. The world really is small, and you never know who knows who. Maybe your old schoolmate did a favor for your future employer, who wants to repay it by recruiting you based on his recommendation.
  • Something you definitely want to do to network the right way is to look like someone very interested in their work. Having a passion for whatever you do is the only way others will want to refer you.

While you can find out a lot more in-depth information on networking in articles focused solely on this topic, here is a small exercise you can do to get you into networking and possibly find a few career opportunities. It originates from a book called Don’t send a resume, but you can find many similar variations over the internet. Your task is to write down 100 names of people you know. They don’t have to work in the legal industry; it could be any 100 people you know in any position. When you have them written down on a piece of paper, all you really need to do is contact them.

Reach out to them and ask them how they’re doing. You can call them, send them an email, or message them on their social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any social media or communication channel. I recommend setting up a call, as it is the most personal. Still, the main objective is starting a conversation and checking up on the people from your list.

You should not feel bad about this because you are not asking for anything. You are only starting a conversation about what is happening in their lives. Generally, after saying how their lives look, they will ask about yours. How is your family? Where do you work currently? If you’re employed, you can talk about investigating the market or that you’re thinking about changing jobs. If you’re not employed, you can tell them that, but you don’t need to go into a lot of detail. You don’t want to make the call about that. Just briefly mentioning it is enough. A highly effective thing you can do is ask the person if there’s anything you can do for them. Maybe they do not need anything, but perhaps they will remember that they wanted to contact you a while ago because they saw that you were doing something they were curious about on social media.

In the legal landscape, the same thing happens with many excellent people who are good at their position. They will contact the legal practitioner on their LinkedIn profile from time to time they are interested in working with, and they will talk to them and see how things are going. When you’re networking, the most important thing you can do is show interest in others, and it doesn’t really matter who the person is. It could be someone from your family, an old friend, or a former colleague. There are stories of people who got their dream job through talking with a grocery store cashier or a fellow patient in a hospital. Showing attentiveness in others can be very effective, and you should definitely take advantage of it. You never know who you might come across.


2. Public Job Boards


Public job boards or job listings are quite common for people to get jobs, and everybody knows about them. Still, some vital secrets can help you get a job if you understand and utilize them.

Public job boards are free to use, so anyone can set up an account and start looking for or posting jobs. They typically charge employers to post a job, either a set sum to show an ad for a certain period, based on pay-per-click when employers pay based on the times people clicked on their ad or based on the number of actual applicants they get through the ad. The main idea of a job board is to attract as many relevant clicks and applicants as possible. And because the employers are getting charged to post jobs on these boards, you’re only seeing the jobs employers really want to fill.

Some people may have prejudices against public job boards because you don’t hear back many times when applying to these jobs. And this can happen quite a lot, so if you don’t see any success after sending numerous applications, it can create distrust. But this may often occur because employers post their job ads to several job boards and forget about one of them. Or they fill in the position and do not close the ad because they have paid a lot of money to have it posted. The problem often isn’t with you or your resume but in the way the job boards work.

Another thing to have in mind is that the best person is always going to get hired. Suppose you’re an attorney, and you’re applying for a specific higher-rank job. In that case, your odds of being the best applicant attorney or law student are going to be reasonably slim. But if you find a job that fits your education, knowledge, experience, and skills perfectly, your chances get pretty high.

The most important thing is that you be aware that when you’re applying to those jobs, you need to be among the first applicants because employers will almost always interview and hire from the first applicants. And then they will forget about the ad and not even look at the applicants that applied days or weeks after the job was posted. So, what you should be doing is you should set up alerts on public job sites. It would be best always to try to apply to the jobs within the first few hours of being posted and receiving a job alert.

When searching for new public job boards or job postings, do not leave out the smaller ones with more targeted job offers. Smaller niche boards that are less known and undermarketed will almost always have only a handful of candidates for each job, so your chance for success increases. It would help if you still were among the first applicants. The recruiting process will definitely not be as competitive as with the huge worldwide job boards everyone recognizes. There are countless association sites, small online legal publications, and small local publications with legal job offers.


3. Private Legal Job Boards


The difference between public and private job boards is that while anyone can visit and apply for jobs on a public board, only paying applicants can view job offers on a private job board. And you are currently on the best-known private legal job board in the country - LawCrossing.

Many people do not like private job boards because they believe they shouldn’t have to pay to look for a job. They might have been taught that it must be a scam anytime you have to pay to get a job. Or they might think that private job boards only resell the publicly available information, which is online for free. However, when you think about how many job boards, company sites, government sites, and information about job offers there are on the internet, and how much time it would take you to find and look through this information, a reasonable monthly fee that you pay for a few months before you find a good-paying job does not seem that much. When using a private job board, you’re basically subscribing to a research service. And just as you want to do all the networking you possibly can and get all the resources you possibly can from public job boards, when you use a tool like LawCrossing, you’re using a examine tool and making sure that your searches are as comprehensive as possible. You have access to all open jobs in the market.

Now, if you’re in a niche practice area, such as product liability litigation or aircraft finance, where not many offers open regularly, you can use LawCrossing Archives. Using this tool, you will see all the firms and employers with openings in your practice area in the past. Often, they may have new openings for you soon.

The best way to use a private job site is to sign up for them, get job alerts, search the site, and make sure that you see everything out there. This applies to public and private job boards, but it is essential to apply to anything that looks like it could be a good job for you. It’s critical to apply to as many openings as you possibly can. Do not avoid employers just because you have heard something bad about them. Bad reviews or negative press doesn’t always mean the legal firm is a bad place to work. You might be missing out on a great opportunity. You must apply to every possible place you can.

The faster you apply to jobs, the more likely the employer will interview you since they often hire the first people who applied for the job. When you use a private job board, you need to apply quickly.


4. Mass-Targeted Mailing to Legal Firms


Mass-targeted mailing is a fantastic thing. What you do is identify a job market, build up a list of legal employers in the market and send out your resume and cover letter to them either by post office or email. Let’s say you want to work in Denver, Colorado as a litigation attorney. There are probably over 1500 to 2000 law firms in Denver, with more than a couple of lawyers in the surrounding area that do litigation. Many of those firms, maybe even half of them, have never posted a job online. Even if you looked at every job board, you wouldn’t find a position at some of these firms.

But mass-targeted mailing is a perfect way to get a job in those types of companies. Employers are businesses, and as a business, they want to make money. If they believe that they can make money by hiring you, they will hire you. And with targeted mail, it is effortless for them to hire you. It’s very time and money-consuming to write a job description, post it online, review tons of resumes, and contact and interview several applicants. So, if a resume shows up on their desk, especially if it’s mailed, they’re much more likely to give you a job than going through the whole recruitment process.

Typically, you’re also going to be the only applicant to the employer. There would be no other applicants if an ad were not posted. It’s straightforward for the employer to bring you in, and it can work. A lot of people believe that employers will only hire them if a position has been advertised somewhere. That’s not the case.

Companies, tiny to midsized companies, typically do not know how to hire legal practitioners. So, if an attorney’s resume shows up, you have a good chance of getting hired. Do not worry that sending in your resume will be considered spam or a waste of effort.

There is a chance that your mail will end up on someone’s table at just the right time.

How to build up the list? It’s easy, and most of the information is readily available. Just set the market and the legal field and then use Google to find companies and employers in that city. BCG, for example, has a list of top law firms in different cities. You can also investigate it by practice area, but you don’t necessarily need to apply only to the best law firms. You need to apply to every law firm.

Many people ask about doing this investigation and putting together lists is - who do I contact in the company? Typically, a legal firm, organization, or company will have HR departments. Suppose they do not have such a department or are a small to midsize company. In that case, it is best to directly approach the CEO, even when there is an HR department. You can say that you can help them in their legal department. If you’re approaching law firms and there are no hiring people list on their page, you can always target those who look like the most senior lawyer or one of the named attorneys on the letterhead.

You don’t necessarily need to mail your resume and cover letter, you can email it, but a mailing carries a lot more weight. You can sign everything personally. And it looks terrific. Some people really appreciate it when you mail the resume, as opposed to just emailing it.

When you build a long list of employers, you may want to write a generic letter about your experience and expertise. But the more focused your resume and your cover letter are, the better off you’re going to be. You want to personalize it and say why you may be interested in working for that specific company. A short cover letter that talks a bit about why you may want to work with that legal employer, the skills needed for the job, and what you can do, including legal research and drafting legal documents, for them can do a lot.


5. Legal Recruiters


Legal recruiters are people that collaborate closely with legal employers and help them find the best talent. They monitor the jobs in the market through job boards; they network with employers. The recruiters have experience contacting many different employers and knowing the kind of people they’re interested in.

Typically, they work with candidates they believe they can find jobs for and tend to be very in tune with different people in the market. They will help the candidates through the whole process until the moment you successfully sign a contract.

Some legal recruiters work with only one type of lawyer, such as patent attorneys. In contrast, others work with all kinds of lawyers. But they always have relationships with firms, companies, and people in the business that will allow them to find positions from legal employers. Many legal employers don’t advertise the jobs and only use recruiters. Thus, recruiters will know about exclusive openings no one else knows about.

Some people do not like recruiters, as people do not like giving up control of their job search.

Once you choose a legal recruiter, the legal recruiter will be the one interacting with firms and corporations for you.

You also have to be careful and do your research when choosing a legal recruiter, as there are different types. Some are a part of more prominent companies, like BCG Attorney Search; others are part of smaller companies, and some work independently.

And their access to the job market and different employers varies based on these factors. Now, just because a recruiter is very small doesn’t mean that it’s bad. A recruiter that works alone out of their house may have some great relationships with a few organizations they could get you into. But people with more resources can often get you more results, so this is something to keep in mind. The quality can also vary tremendously. Sometimes, the market is oversaturated with people who just saw an opportunity to earn money. Still, if you take your time to find the right recruiter for you, it can help you a lot. A good legal recruiter will understand you; they will have excellent investigation and networking skills that will help them track down the right jobs for you. So, feel free to find someone who specializes in the area you are seeking a profession in.


6. Done-For-You Legal Search


Some corporations offer done-for-you job search services. An example of such a service is LawCrossing Concierge. Such a service will do the most tedious work for you. They will look for legal position openings through all possible ways, compile a list of positions for you, and suggest the job offers worth replying to. After this discussion, they will then apply for the chosen positions for you. All you have to do is communicate with the employers that want to interview you, nail the job interviews, and get hired.

Some people might not be fond of the idea of paying someone to look through public job boards without digging deeper. Such a service can actually save you a lot of time and energy. Just think of all the work you would have to do to find and apply for jobs, even if you wanted to apply just for five openings a week. A done-for-you legal search service can apply for positions every day for you, and they can monitor a ton of websites and job markets to make sure that you do not miss any opportunity.

The best thing you can do to make sure that you get the maximum out of the done-for-you legal search service is to know what you want. If you have specific job parameters and requirements, it is much easier to find job offers that really fit your skill.


7. Career Services Offices at Law Schools


Almost every law school has employment services offices with fantastic resources and people to assist you in searching for a legal career. While you might think that these offices are only for law students, you can use their services at any stage of your legal career.

You might think back to your early law student years when you tried to use the employment services office at your alma mater but were discouraged by the sea of students trying to get the administration officers’ attention. Or you might have used their services but had a bad experience with them, leaving you with the thought that you will never set your foot in that office again. But remember, by not utilizing all possible resources when searching for your next position, you are only hurting yourself. You might have only come at the wrong time or were unlucky with the person you were assigned to. Don’t be afraid to try it again.

But it would be best if you kept in mind that you will have to do some work on your own here. Career services offices have a significant advantage of having a vast database of employers.

They often get the latest news about exclusive openings from alumni. They are also a great place to find resources about lawyers just starting and not having a ton of experience. They can help you with the basics like writing your resume or practicing for interviews. You are responsible for setting up appointments and chasing the people in the office to get you what you want. You must be proactive and persistent. However, once you get on their radar and consistently check-in, they can do wonders for you.

These were a few common methods you can use to look for and find the legal career of your dreams. You might be already using one or two of them. The key to maximizing your opportunities is to employ as many of them as you can. Only then will you be able to map out every opportunity and speak to everyone in your legal job market that might have a position for you.

See also:
 

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