How to Land a Legal Job When You're at the Bottom of Your Class
In this sluggish economy, it can be hard to land a job, even if you graduate in the top 10 percent of your class. So what legal job-search tips can possibly help someone who's ranked at or near the bottom?
It shouldn't come as a surprise that it can be much harder for "unranked" graduates to get a job. But you should know that it is not impossible. With a little hard work, you can even get that dream job you were after when you started law school.
Here are five law job search tips for those without stellar grades:
- Set Realistic Goals. Not to be a total downer, but the odds of you getting an associate position at a BigLaw firm are probably nil. You can send them your resumes, but unless you graduated from a top-tier school or are heavily connected, you may want to consider saving your resume stock. Depending on your situation, you may want to focus more on medium to small firms, many of which are comprised of attorneys who also weren't the best test takers.
- Consider Going Solo. Instead of harboring dreams of becoming an associate, you may want to consider hanging out your own shingle. You earn no money sending resumes to firms, and at least you have the potential of making money as a solo. And since many attorneys choose to leave the grind of a firm after several years, those who start off solo will have a head start.
- Be Open-Minded. A law degree may not be as useful as once believed, but it's still pretty useful. There are many opportunities for those with a law degree outside of the traditional legal practice setting. This can include legal research and writing jobs, labor and union positions, working in administrative positions, etc.
- Don't Turn Down Money. Most of us enter law school with dreams of six-figure salaries. But if you graduate in the bottom 10 percent, the reality is that these jobs usually won't be there for you. So if you get a low-paying job offer, consider taking it, building up your experience, and spinning it into a better-paying job. If you keep turning down jobs waiting to strike it rich, you may be waiting for a long time.
- Hustle Harder. Being a good test-taker really has no correlation to being a good lawyer. Put yourself out there, whether it is with potential clients or employers. Always network and put yourself in a position to get a job.
It certainly helps with your job search if you graduated near the top of your class. However, these job search tips can help any law graduate attain a job, regardless of class rank.