Are you looking toward small firm life after law school? Does your career services office focus on large firms? Here are some tips to jump start your job search.
Know What You Want
The key to any successful job search is to know your target job. After all, how can you find something, if you don’t know what you are looking for? Thus, you should assess your life goals, your personality, and your interests, and decide whether small firm life is good for you. One great blog on this subject is Small Firm Life by Ray Dowd.
Grasp the Timeline
If you are a person who loves to have a well-defined timeline to work with, small firm hiring will be a thorn in your side. While large firms have a fairly set timeline, small firms cannot normally predict their needs very far in advance. Thus, the timeline is not as well-defined.
Generally, small firms being to know their needs in the spring (for people starting that fall). I have also learned that it is not uncommon for small firms to still be giving offers as late as May. The key: be patient.
Research Is Our Friend
Two great resources for learning about small firms are Martindale-Hubbell and the West Legal Directory (also accessible via Westlaw. These give you a broad overview of firms, but not much detail about their actual practices. Thus, you will need to do some actual research on the ground.
Networks Are Not Just For Computers
If you are like me, you are probably timid, especially when it comes to meeting new people. In this instance, you need to break out of your shell and network.
Many small firm jobs are unadvertised, and if you do not have connections to firms, you might be out of the running for the otherwise perfect job. Knowing the right person might not get you the job, but it can help you know about the job. The rest is up to you and your resume.
Contacts for Networking Abound
Yes, networking is difficult. But you can do it. A couple good places to start are alumni of your law school and undergraduate university. Also try professors, relatives, and family friends. At this point, the key is to make contacts, learn from people, understand the job market, and let people know about you. People like to help others, if you just give them the chance.
Never, Never, Never, Ever Give Up
There are tons of small law firms in this world. Even if a few are not hiring, many others will be. Even if a firm is not hiring in October, their needs might change by March. If you keep working (and networking), someone will hire you. After all, you’re going to a great lawyer, right?
Do you have any tips for the small law firm job search? Please share them; post a comment or drop me a line.
[tags]legal andrew, law firm, job search, jobs, career, networking[/tags]
Get more legal tips