One of the biggest initial concerns of new attorneys is how to get a job in a law firm that you want. After I passed the bar, I did not have a job lined up. I began looking for employment by applying for every attorney position I saw advertised on Craigslist.com. I soon realized that I was applying for the same jobs as hundreds, if not thousands, of other young lawyers many of whom were much more qualified than me. After about five months, I was applying for even paralegal and assistants positions. I was willing to do anything and travel great distances to get my foot in the door. After a dozen or so interviews it was painfully evident that I was over qualified for any of the support positions and I was under qualified for the attorney positions. It was the famous problem: you need experience to get a job but you need a job to gain experience. I decided I had to get creative. What I came up with is a sure fire way to start working in a top law firm, immediately.
Here is what I did and here is what you can replicate: I went to an office supply store and purchased the nicest folders I could find…black and glossy. On one side I put my resume and a writing sample of my best graded project in law school. On the other side….and here is the key…I created a flyer which read “The Free Legal Assistant You Never Knew You Needed.” (I do offer a sample of the flyer I created and used through our website but it certainly something you can create yourself.) Underneath, I put in bullet points my passion for the law, a few highlights of my accomplishments, and an offer to work 1 day a week for the law firm preparing briefs, researching, and performing any necessary task in exchange for being able to shadow the attorney to court and ask questions about the practice of law.
Next, I found my ideal area of practice, the best free employment advice law firms, in the location that was ideal for me and I created a cover letter specifically addressed to each attorney that I would be approaching. I found all of the information I needed through online searches: The attorneys’ names, addresses, and firm websites where I could read attorney profiles and reference some of their specific background information in my customized cover letters. Another great way to find out your top choices is to 1) go to your local courthouse and introduce yourself to the court clerks. Let them know you are just starting out and you figured they would have a great opinion about who the top attorneys to work with are, and 2) You can search the web for your local bar association. Contact the President (who, by the way, is just a local attorney – and I tell you how I became the youngest president of my local bar association in the program offered through our website) but call them up or email them. Let him or her know that you are just starting out and you would really appreciate some referrals of top firms in your practice area so that you may offer to work at their firms for free. You will get some great referrals and you may just get an invite, and possible introduction by the bar president, at their next luncheon! Sky’s the limit and there are so many ways to get creative with your contacts. But I digress…So…
Once I had prepared my top 10 folders, with personalized cover letters, I next spent the only $300 I had available on a credit card and purchased the best suit that I could get for my money. I told my boss at the time (working at a computer company) that I needed a personal day off the following Monday. I woke up early, got dressed like the best attorney I could imagine, and I began driving to each and every one of my top 10 law firms.