Launching a Legal Career
You are nearing completion of your undergraduate degree. Now what? Have you considered a legal career? It is not all about courtroom drama. There are numerous career paths for those with a law degree and most lawyers are not litigators. There is a niche for almost every personality type and skill set. Below we will share a few basic legal career planning tips.
Explore your career options
Conduct research and explore multiple career options. You are not limited to a career as a lawyer. There are many careers in which a law degree would be valuable. Beyond functions and job types for consideration, there are a range of settings in which an attorney may work: government, nonprofit, and corporate. When you multiply the factors, you will begin to see that the options are extensive. For example, are you drawn to litigation? Perhaps you enjoy
transactional work. Are you interested in diving deep to analyze legislation and draft public policy? These are only a few examples.
US News examined ten diverse job types for attorneys. Researching your career options could open a door to a career that you had not previously considered. As you explore the possibilities, review the job functions, required skills, and probable career trajectory. Ideally, at the beginning of a career, new lawyers will target jobs based on their skills, specialized interests, long-term career goals, and daily work (job functions) that they find satisfying.
Market yourself for your target job
After you have decided which field you want to enter, prepare to apply. Develop a resume and LinkedIn profile page to demonstrate the skills and experience that meet the employer’s needs. Try separate yourself from the crowd by demonstrating your value and unique skills. The Balance Careers stresses the importance of having extracurricular activities such as student government roles, community service, and professional organizations.
Many candidates have more than one target job type. Customize your resume for each job type so that you can closely align your skills and values with the needs of the target employer. That means you will likely have more than one version of your resume. Also, as you submit your resume to an employer, you may further refine your resume for each target employer.
Special Counsel explains how many law positions are not advertised. Networking is one of the best ways to gain an interview. It is common for people to receive interview invitations based on recommendations and endorsements. Therefore, it is never too early to cultivate your professional network. Connect with law school cohorts and professors on LinkedIn. Join bar associations and professional organizations. Network to learn about career opportunities, for career development, and to gain access to industry news. Networking is not a one-way street. Remember to give more than you receive when cultivating your professional network.
For more assistance launching your legal career, talk to the career services staff at your alma mater, investigate resources through professional associations, and talk with recruiters specializing in legal careers.