Graduation season is both a time of celebration and a time of anxiety for graduating law students. You have spent three years specializing in legal studies while others your age are already working. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you may already have secured a job at a firm; if you’re one of the less lucky ones, you must still be looking for one. Regardless of whether you are still applying for jobs, or busy going through the most common yet tricky interview questions, this is a momentous time for your law career.
Here are top 10 career pieces of advice all law graduates need:
1. Prepare for the BAR
A no-brainer, but no less important advice since you cannot start practicing law without first passing the BAR. We won’t give you tips on how to pass the BAR exams in this article. Make sure to get into the best bar reviewer you can and take in all that they give you. Do your best, too, while taking the actual BAR exams—don’t let pressure and anxiety get the best of you.
2. Get a kick-ass resume
Think of your resume as the advertisement to convince large law firms to interview you aside from your standing in your law school. Therefore, your resume has to be well-written and well-curated. Recruitment experts at CustomEssayMeister suggest tailoring your resume for every law firm you apply for. This way, you can emphasize aspects of yourself that best fit the firm or position you are applying for. For a kick ass application, get an expert to write your cover letter to go with your resume.
3. Know the areas where you excel and focus on that
Different law firms have their own practice areas, as do great attorneys. After three years in law school, you most likely already have an idea as to which practice area you are most interested in or which one you are good at. Then, your job search will be more focused as you can focus your efforts on employment options that will contribute to your career development in this area. Your enthusiasm for that area, be it environmental law, family law, health law, or intellectual property, will show in your application and will reflect in your work.
4. Be open to various employment options
The legal job market is highly competitive. For example, some 34,922 law students graduated in 2019 alone, which means this is the approximate number of new attorneys you will compete with. Naturally, not everyone will be considered for a position in large law firms, but that does not mean it is the end of the world. The legal field is far and wide, there are many job listings in other areas that are as equally viable as jobs in New York and other such cities. Be open to looking for jobs across the country, too—you will find that there are just as many interesting law career paths in other areas.
5. Consider additional training and certificates
A way to make yourself even more marketable is by adding specialized training and certifications to your degree. Law school teaches you the fundamentals of law, but specialized trainings will give you practical strategies and methods for specific law fields like arbitration and meditation. This will definitely look good in your resume if you’re applying for a specialized position.
6.Build your network
Aside from job fairs, make the time to attend events where many legal employers might be in attendance. These do not have to be legal networking events—any event lawyers generally attend is an opportunity to build your network. Simply talk with them and get to know them and their work—build a relationship with them—and this might help you in the future. A more active approach to networking would be to set up meetings with attorneys who will meet with you for possible job opportunities.
7. Get published
Law is a writing and research intensive field, although this is not something emphasized in degree programs. Nevertheless, new graduates ought to hone and exhibit their legal research and writing skills. That said, having a publications section in your resume is a surefire way to boost your resume. Plus points if your publications are focused on the practice area you intend to enter.
8. Always appear your best
Whether you are attending a job fair hosted by your school’s career services office, meeting with a lawyer, or going to an interview, it is a must to always be in your best. By best we do not mean just your clothes, face, and hair, we mean your mental health and attitude as well. We know that the last few months of law school is some of the most grueling months, so don’t forget to take some time to take care of your wellbeing. Appearing in a poor state of mental health will most definitely reflect in your attitude, and that might negatively affect your application. Look your best, and be your best self.
On a related note, avoid being overconfident and entitled either. It is not just your skills and grades that matter for these large firms, they ultimately look for those who will thrive in their organizational culture. If you’re too entitled, recruiters will not think that associate attorneys would like working with you.
9. Take initiative
Taking initiative means doing unassigned work. You know this, you have heard this in class, but as a professional, this means a lot more than being a step ahead of your classmates during recitation. As a practicing lawyer, taking initiative could mean taking on pro bono work or, if you’re employed, doing unassigned work. Pro bono work gives young lawyers real-life legal experience, which is very attractive for law firms. The value of pro bono work is in the opportunity for you to apply all that you have learned.
On the other hand, if you are working on a firm, try to take initiative in doing unassigned work. This shows your firm that you want work there and that you can have a valuable contribution. This will help you get promotions.
10. Value your mentor
Modern law firms typically assign junior associates a senior associate to mentor them. These mentors will guide you in around your firm, introduce you to powerful people (network!), and may put in a good word for you when you’re up for a promotion. That said, not only do you need to observe them and how they do their work, you also should connect with them and show them that you respect them (but of course not to the extent of doing their errands).
These are some of the most important tips to help you jumpstart your career as a lawyer. Keep in mind, though, that you do not need to do all of this all at once. Do not overexert yourself! You may want to modify it depending on what your resume needs and what the career you want may require.
How to become a good lawyer
Equally important with starting a law career is maintaining and expanding your career paths. In the field of law, whether in corporate law or in government positions, there are many steps to climb in the corporate ladder. No one in their right mind would be content with an entry level position. These are the most crucial skills you will need in order to become a good lawyer.
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking
- Logical thinking
These, of course, are basic. What truly makes a difference is how you wield these skills. As a lawyer, you will need to engage in hours and hours of document review and make decisions on how to handle or solve your clients’ problems based on what you find there. This involves knowing which strategies will work for a particular case, for example. To become a good lawyer, you need to be able to analyze documents and situations quickly and expertly.
Likewise, your critical thinking skills will help you craft your argument. Part of good analytical skills is being able to anticipate the arguments the opposing side will present. This doesn’t mean that you need to have a rebuttal for everything, just that your argument should be more persuasive than theirs.
- Problem-solving skills
People mostly only seek their attorney’s advice when they have a problem, which makes lawyers essentially problem-solvers. In order to solve your client’s problems, you need to employ your analytical skills, first to identify the true problem, and then to identify the best, most practical solution.
- Communication skills
- Written communication
- Verbal and nonverbal communication
- Persuasive skills
Communication is indispensable in the field of law. Lawyers have to communicate to various kinds of people in multiple ways, and they always need to convince the other person of their arguments. Conversely, they need to be able to understand their client’s needs and in turn let it be understood by others involved. In short, lawyers need to be able to use language effectively.
As a lawyer, you need to be able to communicate whether in a meeting room, over the phone, in front of an audience, through an e-mail or text, or through documents. You should be able to clearly and persuasively put forward your client’s case.
- Research skills
Lawyers also need to gather the information they need. Though senior associates typically have a team to do the research for them, they still have to direct the team towards the right kind of information to look for and where to find them. You need to know how to effectively use the search resources available. You will not be able to do this successfully without acquiring research skills yourself.
- Negotiation skills
Even when they are writing, lawyers are always negotiating. Lawyers always negotiate on behalf of their clients, and they do that using their knowledge of the law. Great lawyers are able to use their knowledge and other skills, and cooperate with the other parties, to arrive at a solution that all parties can agree to. While interpersonal skills, a significant ingredient in being able to negotiate effectively, tend to be inherent to a person, negotiation skills are not. Negotiation skills can be honed through practice and experience. So, don’t neglect your negotiation skills while practicing law.
Creativity, sometimes thinking out of the box, is needed to find solutions to a seemingly complex problem. A great lawyer uses their analytical skills with creativity when making judgments and finding solutions. Not everything is straightforward in the world, especially not in law.
Since you’re already about to graduate from law school, chances are you’re already a persevering person. Still, this is a trait that we hope doesn’t get lost in you as you climb the corporate ladder. Law jobs require long hours and a long time of commitment before gaining promotion. So, this is a trait that is useful in handling cases as well as in expanding your career.
By now, you already know that lawyers always have to work with a team. An associate attorney always has a support staff, work with co-counsel at times, coordinate with other experts, or negotiate with clients. Whether you are the leader or part of the support staff, you need to be able to build strong relationships with your team and be able to successfully coordinate with them towards achieving your goal.
In law, especially when you’re a starting law associate at a large law firm, you may be assigned a client you don’t particularly like. This could range from finding your client arrogant to finding that your client wants something that goes against your own opinions, and you may not always have the option to opt out. In cases like this, you should be able to put your feelings aside and work with what you have. You can chalk this up to professionalism. In fact, the top ways attorneys can help their clients is by viewing their case objectively.
- Have strong attention to detail
This soft skill goes hand-in-hand with almost all the skills a lawyer needs. Everything that you do and produce must be virtually perfect as a minor error could cost you your case. Likewise, very small details could be the key to the solution to your case. Take for example this case in Maine that was won due to a missing Oxford comma.
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These skills are probably already second nature to you by now after studying law for three years. Our resume tip is to emphasize these skills in your resume and interviews. Similarly, do not forget about these legal skills once you get accepted or once you get a promotion. These are lifelong skills for a lawyer, and as you grow in your career these skills should improve, too. Law, like any career, requires you to take on lifelong learning. This does not just apply to learning recent laws and such, but also learning new skills and improving the ones you already have. If you need any help with your law career, visit CustomEssayMeister any time. Now, on to your future!