Many good attorney job opportunities aren’t advertised, so you need dig further. Obvious sources are online job boards and law firm and company websites. You also can pick up leads by reading legal and business trade papers, utilizing undergraduate and law school career services, and good old-fashioned networking. Mass mailings aren’t recommended. It’s much more effective to target your résumés and cover letters to particular firms and lawyers with a statement of why and how your background would be of benefit to their organization.
You might find some good legal employment leads on general online job boards such as www.careerbuilder.com, www.monster.com, www.indeed.com, or the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com listings. But you probably will have better luck at sites aimed specifically at the legal profession such as www.lawjobs.com, or Heiros Gamos at www.hg.org. Numerous Internet sites cater to the legal profession, and virtually all of them have job listings.
Additionally, almost every major law firm and corporation includes on its website a page devoted to recruiting and hiring needs. If you are interested in a particular type of lawyer position, check out niche websites. For example, for opportunities with public interest organizations or government agencies, consider www.usajobs.gov, www.psjd.org, www.equaljusticeworks.org, or www.idealist.org. For in-house positions, check www.goinhouse.com or the American Corporate Counsel website at www.acc.com. Although it doesn’t cater specifically to the legal profession, don’t forget the lawyer job listings on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com.
If you’re looking for a position in the private sector, even if there’s no specific job opening, you can attempt to create a role with a firm that has a practice that interests you. To identify targets, you can research Martindale-Hubbell at www.martindale.com and Prentice Hall’s Law and Business Directory of Corporate Counsel, which comes in book form only. Martindale-Hubbell includes brief narrative descriptions of many of the firms it lists, which can be particularly helpful. The NALP Directory of Legal Employers www.nalpdirectory.com also includes practice area information and brief descriptions. Once you clarify your practice and geographical preferences, look for firms that meet those parameters. You can even narrow your search to firms within a particular size range. Although a particular law firm or company isn’t advertising, it might be interested in an excellent candidate who makes a good pitch and fills a need.
Bar association and relevant professional organization websites also are good places to look. Many post job listings on their websites and some send out regular newsletters including new job openings. Attend continuing legal education programs involving your preferred area of practice, or events sponsored by bar committees or legal organizations where you expect to find practitioners in your target areas. You can find out about these organizations and their activities online or through your local legal newspaper. Even if you don’t attend the programs, you can identify firms and lawyers who specialize in your areas of interest by researching specialized bar sections and committees, and then contact them directly.
The legal community is in constant flux, and a savvy job seeker must keep abreast of these changes in order to target boutique firms, spin-offs, new local offices, new firms, new companies or divisions, and emerging practice areas. For national information, the American Lawyer at www.amlaw.com and the National Law Journal at www.nlj.com are particularly informative, as well as being good reading. For local news, many cities have legal newspapers that include information on business developments in the legal community and law practice, such as law firm break-ups, mergers, and the movement of lawyers from firm to firm. These newspapers also include sections that report on in-house developments. If you’re particularly interested in a corporate counsel position, American Lawyer Media’s Corporate Counsel at www.corpcounsel.com is recommended reading. Expand your research to include general news and business trade papers, as well, because they cover business and economic trends that may create job openings. Many of these publications will send you e-mail alerts weekly or every business day with law-related headlines.
Don’t forget to use the resources available at your law school and undergraduate institutions. Contact their career services offices, which may offer job postings for alumni, career workshops or local social events for you to attend, career counseling, and mentoring programs. As a result of job losses during the recession, many colleges and law schools hired additional career services staff especially to assist alumni. You also can refine your online research further by seeking out graduates from your college or law school in your preferred geographical and practice areas to contact. Often, the alumni relations office can provide you with that information. Usually, alumni are receptive to approaches by fellow graduates. They may either have a need to hire someone themselves, or can recommend someone else for you to contact.
Also ask whether your alma maters have reciprocal arrangements with career services offices at institutions closer to your current location if you moved since graduation or your desired location if you wish to relocate. While college and law schools don’t generally have sufficient staff to offer career counseling appointments to graduates of other institutions, they sometimes have reciprocal arrangements which would allow you to use their other career services resources.
Social media is an additional weapon to add to your job search arsenal. Utilize LinkedIn www.linkedin.com, Facebook www.facebook.com, Twitter www.twitter.com, and their ilk to extend your reach. Complete and polish your professional bio at these sites and work at growing your contact lists. Keep your image businesslike and consistent throughout these platforms. Indicate you’re interested in hearing about new opportunities and, if you’re not concerned about keeping your search confidential, use the status function to keep your contacts current with your job search activities. Check the sites’ job listings and follow law firms and companies that interest you so you can get their updates. Connect with people in your extended network who work at your target employers. Don’t ask for a job; rather, say something like “I’m interested in breaking into [type of employment]. Is there someone you can refer me to?” Join job hunting, alumni, and lawyer groups on LinkedIn. Post and comment appropriately, and retweet and forward interesting items to keep yourself on readers’ radar screens. You might even post your video résumé on YouTube www.youtube.com.
Even your email signature can serve as a billboard. Include your firm name and links to your website, LinkedIn profile, and other social media sites. Perhaps add a tagline with your expertise such as, “Effective business litigator.” That way, every email you send out reminds your contacts what you do and where to find more information about your expertise. In the interconnected world we live in, the next person who crosses your path might know someone who has the job opening you seek. And, of course, reaching out to a reputable legal recruiter is another way to source excellent job opportunities!