Today we welcome to the Law School Toolbox Jenny L. Maxey, author of Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank. The book will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on November 17, 2014. Jenny offers a few suggestions for finding a job after law school in a non-traditional way. Welcome, Jenny!
Recently, the National Association of Legal Placement (NALP) released its annual employment study, reporting that 64.4% of the Class of 2013 was able to find employment requiring bar passage within nine months after graduation. While this is an improvement over the past several years, employment prospects haven’t returned to pre-recession days; especially the jobs everyone is usually gunning for – Biglaw.
How can you avoid becoming part of the 34.5% that were still searching for a job?
Think outside of the box! There are many jobs to be had if you take a chance in a unique practice area or reevaluate personal preferences such as location.
For instance, try to find a niche area of the law and become an expert. Do you love fashion? Look into fashion law, which involves a mix of international trade, intellectual property, and even real property law. What about an interest in horses? Surprisingly, racehorses have a variety of legal issues such as partnership disputes, misrepresentation, and syndication of interests all of which make up equine law. And, there’s always the final frontier – space! Space law is in need of attention as legal questions arise like asteroid ownership rights, mineral rights, deed filings, and even issues for the colonization of mars if that were to happen.
But, can you become an expert before you graduate to make it a viable employment opportunity? Yes!
Of course, you will have to carve out extra time to do it. Look at elective classes that you can use to build your skills. If you’re on Law Review or your school has a journal that you can submit to, write a specialized article on your niche field. Look into student memberships to groups that may discuss your practice of interest or student memberships to your local bar associations. Once you’re a member, attend committee meetings that relate to your specialty. You can also volunteer to do a presentation or paper for the committee. As you form your craft, you’ll also start to see others come to seek your advice. Before you know it, you’re a go-to expert that an employer will want to acquire.
If building a niche practice isn’t your thing, then reexamine your intent for a certain location. Many students are unable to find employment because they are determined to live in an area that is already ravaged by attorneys – mostly big cities. Consider living in a rural area. According to the National Association of Counties, 20% of U.S. citizens live in rural areas, but only 2% of law practices operate from these locations. These communities are so desperate to find attorneys they are offering perks such as subsidies, loan repayment assistance, and scholarships. If you decide to do this, even for a few years, you will have a guaranteed job, potential financial assistance (besides, your dollar stretches further in rural areas), and experience if you decide to move to a more ideal location later.
Sometimes it’s easy to follow the path already well-walked by the many attorneys before you. Law student personalities tend to prefer logical steps and concrete plans, but the recession has changed the game and sometimes a small diversion from that battered path can lead you to greater job satisfaction or simply a job!
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Thanks, Jenny! Can’t wait to read your book!
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