Your Most Valuable Network
While a job search should include your law school career services office, there is no better advocate for you than you. Take a look at the sometimes overlooked resources available for job searching that helped Maria Sussman land her first legal job and ultimately led to her launching her own firm.
The job market was not the same when I started law school as it was when I graduated. Given the number of lawyers being sworn in year after year, I knew the competition was going to be fierce. I also knew I could not rely on the school to find a job for me. I knew they had the best intentions, but I also knew that I was just one out of many others in the same boat. However, I knew I had one thing and that many undervalue while seeking employment: relationships with friends and family.
Law school teaches us to believe that networking events with strangers will land you a job. While there is definitely value in networking, remember that the rest of the 3Ls are also networking at the same events, so the chances of making a meaningful and memorable impression are slim. Career Services would have us believe that we need to send our resumes to every potential employer within a 500 mile radius. While resumes are important, and it is easy to email resume after resume, the chances of the person on the other end picking your resume among the hundreds, if not thousands, of others with equally impressive bullet points is pretty low.
I quickly realized that I had to shift my focus to something else if I was going to find a job anytime soon. I began reaching out to my close family and friends for help. What better way to get a reference that doesn’t read like a resume but is based on real life experiences and real opinions, than getting your friends and family to give you a stellar reference? This is exactly what I did. I asked family and friends to please go the extra mile and spread the word that I was seeking employment. I asked them to please explain in their own words why I was a valuable employee based on what they knew about me and most importantly, based on the challenges they had seen me overcome. This worked! Through some of my closest friends I was able to secure different job offers before I was even sworn in. I began working as in-house counsel at a local corporation, and today I have my own law practice by choice not by necessity, which is a very important distinction.
My advice to law students is not to put all their eggs in the Career Services basket. Nothing against them, but nobody will care about you more than your friends and family. Use the relationships you have built throughout your entire life; not just during law school. Reach out to family and friends, past and present. There is no shame in asking them for help. Call them and tell them you are looking for a job. Do not text them. Do not email them. Even if they keep up with you via social media, they may mistakenly think you already have a job and you may miss an opportunity. In the end, it will be worth it.