To: JDs Without A Job

Below is the email I wrote to a 2L from my law school who contacted me regarding a job.

Thanks for the e-mail. I started here at this firm in September and am in the corporate and securities group. Although the firm does have a small trusts and estates practice, I have no idea what their needs are or if they are even looking for someone to work part-time. What I can do, however, is give you my advice as a recent graduate. 

I know that it can be difficult trying to get a job. Believe me I was just there. But you are doing the right thing by contacting alumni. I contacted many alumni while at and it paid off. I received a lot of advice and made some great contacts. I would recommend that you contact alumni seeking advice and information as to how they got to where they are, as opposed to coming across as if you are asking for a job. The latter will not get you very far, which I learned. It was very frustrating for me throughout my last two years of law school.   

When I contacted alumni, I genuinely wanted to know how they got to where they were so that I could learn from them. And it worked. In time, alumni were pointing me towards other alum that I couldn’t find online. Use the alumni mentor database and contact people throughout the country, not just in the cities you like. For the alumni that respond, personalize your message back to them and ask if you could speak to them on the phone about any advice they have. Set up a time to call and follow through. Once they speak with you and see that you’re a good person that really is looking for the right opportunity, they’ll remember you and will be willing to let you know if something comes up at their firm. It takes guts sometimes to call people you don’t know and have a good conversation, but once you do it a few times, it becomes easier and you learn what works and what doesn’t.  

Ironically, I did not receive my job through networking. The corporate group that I’m in now was growing and I got my resume in at the right time. But I let the alumni that I was in touch with know once I started here in September and have been in touch with them since. I now have a lifelong group of lawyers around the country that I have spoken with a few times, emailed many times, and feel comfortable contacting in the future. So my networking paid off.  

But I didn’t have a job when I graduated last May, and you may not either. Stay positive. The law school has a bad reputation in the city and it rubs off on the students. There are plenty of alum in big firms if that is what you want to do, but you have to believe in yourself and go after what you want. Your dream job may not come right away, but there is no reason to take a job you don’t like out of law school merely because you have no other options. Make options. Find the opportunities and go after them. I learned the hard way and think that I am a better lawyer because of it. In my last two years of school I sent close to 1000 resumes and finally got the job I have now. It can be frustrating – I know.  But don’t give up. You’ll get it. 

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