By Makenzie Way, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Hear that? It’s the constant chatter around summer jobs and hopeful offers. You’re happy for your 3L friends and peers who’ve landed something, but deep down you’re starting to freak out because you don’t have an offer … yet. What do you do? How are you going to pay off your student loans? Will your parents be disappointed? How can you handle the stress?
Take a deep breath, it’ll be fine
Really, it is. You’ve got the entire year of law school to secure an offer. You’ve got some time. With that said, start planning now. There may be one more academic year left for you, but jobs get snatched up quickly. You don’t want to miss a potential hiring spree.
Begin with the obvious: your school
Contact your school counselor or employment office. They have connections and experience we don’t. Enter the appointment not in a mad panic, but with a goal in mind (i.e. what sectors of law you’re most interested in, geographical target areas, where you’re flexible and where you’re not).
Draft a firm application plan
Research a wide range of law firms in your desired geographic areas (remember New York hires the most, yet other states still exist you know). Consider big firms, medium firms, small firms, and boutique or specialty firms. The wider the net you can cast, the better. Document the firm names, practice areas, strengths, recruiting contact information, and application deadlines. Most importantly, set a timeline for applying. If you strike out, simply keep expanding your geographic search.
Think beyond law firms
It’s a numbers game. The deeper the talent pool, the more challenging to stand out and snatch an offer. Think beyond law firms. You’re not compromising. You’re being smart. Begin compiling a list of governmental agencies, businesses, and public interest entities that hire new graduates, even if just for a fellowship year. Set a timeline for applying and stick to it.
Email recruiters, apply to clerkships
The Chancery Courts and Supreme Court clerkships may be gone, however, lower courts and courts in smaller states may still be hiring. When applying, keep in mind most judges prefer snail mail to email. It’s understandable that you want a quick response, but when possible send a physical letter or supplement your email with one.
When to go for non-traditional options
If, at this point, you’ve applied to every traditional law job you can think of and you’re still not getting favorable responses, it may be time to consider non-traditional job options.
Some ideas include: lawyers without borders; in-house representation at a small startup; legal administrative positions; legal recruiting positions; local bar administration positions; arbitrator or union jobs; university jobs such as a legal librarian or legal counselor; research positions and fellowships; legal database representative, etc.
The 3L job hunt can be stressful. Especially when people around you have already secured employment. You can take back some control if you have a plan. Try to tune the noise out and focus on your own strengths and goals. Utilize the connections you’ve made thus far and don’t be scared to step outside the box. You never know, you may end up finding your dream job. And if you don’t, there’s nothing stopping you from job hunting down the road.