How Do I Get My First Job?

2On The Fence

On The Fence On How To Get That Job?


If you recently graduated and have had difficulty getting responses to your resume and cover letter, don’t be discouraged. Many attorneys won’t bother to respond to resumes and cover letters sent “To Whom It May Concern” because it won’t concern anyone. . . .

I tell students seeking references that if they want a letter sent TWIMC, I won’t send it because it is a waste of time for them and for me.

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

– Thomas Jefferson

Go To Court

Go to the local courts and meet with the court clerks. Dress well, but don’t overdress. Bring copies of your resume and wait until they are not busy. Explain that you are going to be working in the area and want to work for someone who treats others well and has a good reputation with the courts. You will know when it is time to ask to leave a couple copies of your resume with them when they give you eye contact and really seem interested in you. Be honest. Tell them that you need the work, but try not to appear desperate. If at all possible find out something about the person to connect you with them by being genuinely interested and ask them about themselves. As they talk, look for parallels with your own life. It could be schools, friends, hobbies, or any of their interests. The minute you find common points of interest or connections, you become different and more closely associated with that person. The tone of the conversation changes and that person becomes you allied in a way they were not before you made the linkage. That is what LinkedIn is all about.

There is no substitute for interpersonal contact. Think about it, when you seek a service are you willing to contact someone “in the blind” without looking for reviews or references? Probably not. And now with the internet, many attorneys will use linked in or listservs to post openings and seek new associates from other attorneys who will recommend a person.

Many ads look for someone with 1-3 years experience and you are not in that category if you are a recent grad. Hopefully, you participated in a clinical program in law school to gain practice experience The supervisor of that program is the best reference you could get because they can speak to your ability to engage live clients in a meaningful way.

If you want to find a job, remember; it is all numbers. What I mean is the more contacts you make, the greater the likelihood that you will make a connection to link you to someone who will help you get your first job.

Be Out There Where Attorneys Gather

Attend local Bar meetings, bring resumes just in case someone is willing to take one to forward to someone else. If you find that someone offers to assist you, get their business card and send them a thank you card, not an email.

Volunteer at legal aid but they would need to get a commitment from you concerning days and times that you will be available. Be consistent and fulfill your commitment. What will impress them the most that you are a person of your word and that will be very important as opportunities arise. Employers are not looking for grads who will “blind the judges with their brilliance”. They are looking for “work-horses”who have staying power and the ability to get along with others. Your volunteer work becomes a working interview builds your frame of reference working with the courts and with clients. Do not sit at home transmitting copies of your resumes to people you do not know. You are better off getting out where attorneys gather and connect with them whenever you can.

Finally, consider writing about a topic that is of interest to you in a local publication, bar journal or on the internet. What is currently in the news and how does the law apply?  How might consumers, attorneys, courts or businesses be affected about recent changes in the law? Writing general information pieces in 500 words or less can go a long way to help you get attention from potential employers or potential clients. Even if you haven’t passed the Bar, that doesn’t mean you can’t write about legal issues. You can’t give legal advice until you pass the Bar, but until then you can refer potential clients to other attorneys with consent. What would be a better point of reference than your ability to generate potential business?

Whatever you do, don’t waste your time waiting for someone to call you. Get out there and become actively engaged. Good luck!

Posted in For Law Students, For Recent Graduates.

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