There’s been no shortage of stories in the mainstream news and the blogosphere about law school graduates being unable to get a job as lawyer.
Rather than any fault lying with the law grads it’s the responsibility of the law schools who duped the students into coming to law school representing that they had a good chance to get a job. The latest comes from Solo Attorney David Anziska, who has filed 14 class actions against law schools for misstating employment numbers. Attorney Sam Glover in the Lawyerist characterizes Anziska’s actions as “Law Schools Under Siege.”
Unless Anziska is bringing in the cavalry and figures out a better basis for damages than saying a ‘law grad is working at Starbucks,’ we’ve hardly got ‘law schools under siege.’
Anziska may be bringing the class actions for publicity and may escape with a class being certified, if he’s lucky, and and a nominal settlement, but any good trial lawyer would have a field day deposing the putative class representatives on the reliance and damages issues. Law professors may not be the best trial lawyers, but law school deans and trustees know where to find good trial lawyers among their alumni.
I’m not buying the damages when it’s never been easier to get a job as a lawyer than it is today.
- The ability to network while in school and upon graduation has never been easier. You have a computer and the Internet for research, email, and networking. I had Martindale-Hubbell at the public library to prepare me for knocking on law firm doors (that’s how I got a job when all the firms in town told me there were no jobs). Today you have LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging, Twitter, and more to network with your target audience of leading lawyers.
- If you’re like most law students and don’t have a clue how to network through the Internet, figure it out or ask for some help. Despite my overtures to students at Seattle University, the University of Washington, and other law schools, I have never had a student take me up on my offer to help.
- Don’t wait for graduation. Build your network through the net throughout law school. How many recommendations on your completed LinkedIn profile do you have from law school and college professors, employers going back to high school, and colleagues. How many alumni events have you attended – even if it means bar tending or waiting the tables at the event so as to meet lawyers. How many blogs from practicing lawyers do you follow? Do you engage those lawyers through your own blog? Connect with them on LinkedIn? Follow and engage them on Twitter?
- Don’t wait for people to post internships. Go ask for one where you want to work, work for free, and let them know that no one wants the internship more than you and that no one will work harder.
- While you’re knocking on doors and bar tending after graduation, work for free. I worked for the public defender’s office for free doing research, briefs, and memo’s while my job hunt was underway. People at the court house knew me as a PHD – poor, hungry, and driven. Working for free showed my future employer I was driven to succeed and was not going to say no.
- In your free time, knock on the door of the law firms you most want to work at and ask to meet the partner you’d most like to work with. When the receptionist asks if you have an appointment, tell her or him no. When they let you know that the firm is not hiring, tell them that’s okay, I still want to meet them. When they tell you it will be a couple hours, tell them you’ve got time to wait. You will have piqued the curiosity of the partner who will want to see exactly who this nut is?
- When the partners tell you they have nothing for you, but they are impressed by your ambition (no one will have done this to them before), go back again and again – about every 2 to 3 weeks. It took me to the third visit to the firm which hired me to get a ‘buy signal.’ It took 5 visits to get a job. A job that paid more than any associate had ever been paid in the town.
- Your competition sucks. How many law students in the community you want to work in, for the firm you want to work at, and in the area of law you want to work are going to do the above? None. Do it and you shine like a star.
Good lawyers are champions for the people they represent as lawyers. Good lawyers get outside their comfort zone once a week. Good lawyers aggressively and zealously represent their clients.
Start behaving like a good lawyer would as a law student and a law grad and you will have no problem getting a job.
Relying on someone to feel sorry for you or, like Anziska, expecting jurors making $35,000 a year at age 50 to have sympathy for you, is not the path to success.