Law school can be frightening enough, but those years after when you are just beginning, your practice can be uncertain in the current economy. You should take advantage of every possible means of advancing your career and your practice to ensure you gain a foothold in the field. These are a few tips that you can follow to help your career take off.
1. Get early experience
While in law school, you should consider participating in internships and law clinics to get practical experience while still in law school. The Innocence Project of California, in particular, can provide excellent training in the field of law as you work to free wrongfully convicted inmates from prison. A program like this will not only look great on a resume, but will provide rewarding experience. That can be helpful when you undertake extra work while also carrying your law school course load.
You probably heard this in law school, and it may be how you got your very first internship or job. Networking is something that goes hand-in-hand with being an lawyer. If you want to get a job at your dream firm, you had better get to know the partners. If you want to get more referrals from your colleagues, get to know them well enough that they are comfortable recommending you to others.
3. Be fair
Some lawyers do not take this to heart, and that isn’t surprising. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in the adversarial air of the courtroom, but if you do, it will reflect poorly on you. Lawyers can quickly get reputations among judges and their peers for being uncooperative, and if you have that sort of reputation, you will find people unwilling to work with you, whether it be for a scheduling issue, a missed deadline, client referrals, or court appointments.
4. Be proactive
Whether you are still in law school, clerking or are working at a smaller law office than your dream firm, take some initiative. Visit the offices of some of the big-name firms where you would like to work and inquire if they have any open positions. If you are polite and make a good connection with their staff, some may remember you and your initiative when they do have an opening available.
5. Use the internet
Don’t underestimate the power of social networking. Sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook are great sources to make connections and to demonstrate your skills. Neglecting these could cost you networking opportunities. These are also some of the first places that employers will look after interviewing you, so they should give a good impression (not only does that mean promoting yourself, but it might mean cleaning up those pictures celebrating the last day at the bar).
Perhaps the most important advice you can get from all of these: don’t be passive. If you want your career to take off, you need to take action. Seek the jobs you want, promote yourself, make connections and be kind to your peers because they will remember you, for good or for ill.
How useful did you find these tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo: Paige / Flickr