SOS: 3Ls Without Jobs

Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

3Ls – classes are in session

Hey 3Ls, the hustle and bustle of law school life has started up and along with it, the chatter of summer job offers. You’re happy for your 3L friends and peers who’ve landed jobs already, but internally you’re starting to freak out because you don’t have one yourself! What do you do?! How are you going to pay your student loans off? Will your parents be disappointed?

First, take a deep breath, it’s going to be fine.

There is an entire year of law school left, you’ve got time! With that said, start planning now. There may be a year left but jobs get snatched up quick and you don’t want to miss a potential hiring spree.

  1. Begin with the obvious:

    Talking to your school counselor or employment office. They may seem useless at times, but they’re there for a reason, 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).

  2. Draft a firm application plan:

    Research a wide range of law firms in your desired geographic areas (remember New York hires the most, but other states still exist). Consider big firms, medium firms, small firms, and boutique or specialty firms. Document the firm names, practice areas, strengths, recruiting contact information and application deadlines. Most importantly, set a timeline for applying.

      • If you strike out, expand your geographic search.
  3. Law firms may be the most popular career avenue, but they’re not the only one.

    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.

      • Again, consider expanding your geographic search if your initial search doesn’t yield results after a reasonable period of time.
  4. Since you’re already mass emailing recruiters, why not apply to some clerkships as well!

    The Chancery Courts and Supreme Court clerkships may be gone, but 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.

  5. Non-traditional Job 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, then 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.

3Ls, job hunting can be stressful! Especially when people around you have already secured employment. 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 of 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.