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Tips For Unemployed Law Grads Who Still Want to be Lawyers

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

What are the unemployed law school graduates up to these days? Because, many of you who graduated this year, or even earlier, are likely still on the market for a full-time gig practicing law.

It's certainly a popular option to consider alternative careers for those of you who are burnt out from the law, or for those who weren't happy at the idea of practicing law. But, what about folks who, um, went to law school to be, well, you know, lawyers? Here are some options to consider pursuing, while you're still on the rampant job hunt.

Document review

Okay, true: it's tedious, it's boring, it feels like mindless grunt work. But, the truth is, document review is necessary and it has to be done at virtually every law firm you can think of it. Document review is a popular, and actually valuable option to consider in the interim for a number of reasons. There's always a need for it, it pays fairly well (far better than resorting to a barista or retail gig, that's for sure), and you are actually gaining exposure that could prove to be relevant on your resume and future endeavors as a full-time associate attorney.


It doesn't pay, but it might pay off. This time is actually a blessing in disguise. Many who have been in your shoes will tell you that now is the time to really explore your options in a field that you actually want to be working in. Because, you may inevitably get sucked into a paying firm gig that you're not that thrilled about working for but will begrudgingly take, just because it pays. For now, though, volunteering at the organization, firm, or clerking for free for a judge you've always admired may not only pay off and lead to an actual position in the future, but prevents you from getting rusty, and allows you to actually delve into work that you went to law school for. Time will tell, and for now, you have control over the present.

Specialize: training and certificates

You don't have to dive back into another year of schooling to get an LL.M or anything, but there are plenty of other practical options for you right now to continue furthering your education that may prove very valuable in the long run. Many legal specialties, like mediation, require additional training before you can really practice in it. Interested in immigration law? Brush off that Rosetta Stone, already! You may not actually have the time for this once you're fully hired, and what's more attractive than already being prepared or having that extra set of skills that others might not?

Network, network, network.

Networking is crucial in the legal field -- you know this, everyone knows this. It doesn't have to involve the daunting task of aggressively making your rounds at a mixer, either. Seek out those above you whom you genuinely admire and want to know more about, and ask them out to coffee or lunch. Chances are, you'll get a free meal out of it, gain some valuable insight, and make a great, new connection.

Good luck!

Editor's Note, June 21, 2016: This post was first published in June, 2013. It has since been updated.

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