According to the National Law Journal, only about “55% of [recent] law grads found full-time legal employment” in the nine months following graduation.
To make yourself a more competitive candidate for employment, consider developing the qualities of successful law students: keep your GPA high, gain experience and network. There are plenty of resources, both online and in-school, to help you develop these qualities.
Keep Your GPA Up
The successful law student knows that competition is fierce upon graduation, and will work diligently to keep their GPA high. Make good use of legal databases, like LexisNexis, JStor and Heinonline, which provide useful research material for law students.
These major databases house thousands of cases and other important legal information (like federal regulations and congressional documents). Students shouldn’t discount social media sites, like Facebook, to set up study groups with other students.
Students can access the United States Department of Justice for more information on internships and volunteer opportunities. The USDOJ volunteer page offers volunteer opportunities in a wide variety of practices, include Constitutional Law, Family Law, Criminal Law and Employment Law.
Departments offering volunteer positions include the Drug Enforcement Administration, Ofﬁce of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Attorneys’ Ofﬁces, Civil Rights Division and Ofﬁce of the Solicitor General.
Always Work on Your Resume
According to the United States Department of Commerce “Second- and third-year law students are encouraged to apply for internships during the fall and spring semester.”
The Department also posts internship listings. Legal internships, especially those with prestigious firms, can be competitive and students are encouraged to complete their application (and polish up their resume) ahead of time.
Students interested in International or Human Rights Law may need to look for internship opportunities through international organizations, like the United Nations (students interested in these positions should note that ideal candidates will be proficient/fluent in at least two languages).
Consider using social media sites, like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, to connect with students and legal professionals. LinkedIn groups ABA Young Lawyers Division, a great group for law students and lawyers alike, which boasts over 13,000 members.
LawJobs is another LinkedIn group. Boasting 15,000 members, this group will prove useful for the third year student looking to start a career.
Don’t discount the power of meeting a colleague in-person. Most law schools will have annual career fairs, where students can meet with prospective employers and learn more about career opportunities. Check with your department or see your college advisor about upcoming events.
Think About Your Interests
If you’re in law school, you hopefully have come to the conclusion that you love learning about law. However, with so many opportunities in the legal field, it can be difficult (and stressful) to make a decision about your career.
Consider taking some time to think about your interests. A career as an attorney for a major corporation is sure to offer an enviable salary, but it’s hardly a good idea if corporate law does not interest you at all.
Love sports? Consider working in the legal department for a major sports corporation. Sporting agencies also need lawyers to review contracts for clients. There are numerous fields of law for students to explore, including family law, divorce mediation, education law and criminal law.
While internships and volunteer opportunities will help you gain insight to these fields, students should never underestimate the usefulness of some of their closest (and most readily available) resources: their professors. Often it’s who you know—not what you know.
Visit faculty during office hours or chat with them after class to get some of your most important questions answered. Most importantly, remember that while it is important to keep your GPA up and network, being passionate about what you do will lead to true success in the long term.