Kicking It Into High Gear: Job Searching After the Bar

By: Maria Hibbard and Steve Grumm

Congratulations! You’re done with the bar! Your three years of hard work, countless hours in the library, and thousands of pages of reading have paid off. Now that you can officially set aside BarBri books and study plans, it’s time take a deep breath and focus on your job search in order to find your next step. We have some leads to highlight:

  • Job Search Fundamentals: Even though you may think you know how to write an awesome cover letter and focus your resume, it never hurts to review the basics. Besides actually earning your J.D., what has changed on your resume since your last internship? How does your previous work reflect your skills and areas of interest? Visit our Job Search Fundamentals page for advice on cover letters, interviewing, and resume development.  Also, check out this two-part public interest job search webinar, with Part I focusing on cover letter and resume drafting, and Part II focusing on interviewing and networking.  (The webinar was geared toward the summer job search, but the main principles still apply to the postgrad search.)  Oh, and speaking of networking…
  • Using your network:Remember to “water the plants!”  Reconnecting with previous employers – even from 1L summer or before law school – could potentially lead to conversations about available positions. If an employer has seen your work before, you immediately have a step ahead in the hunt for permanent employment.
    • Previous employers are not the only people it may be worth getting in touch with again – professors whose classes you’ve enjoyed or did well in or attorneys with whom you may have done volunteering also may be open to talking with you about your job search. Continuing the conversation with people you’ve connected with in the past – and maintaining these relationships – could lead to potential recommendations or referrals in the future.
    • Government Positions:Check out PSLawNet’s Government Careers page for more information on federal, state, and local government positions. With the advent of the Obama administration’s hiring reform, the new Pathways Program promises increased transparency for entry level hiring. Now, you are eligible to apply for the Presidential Management Fellowship Program and for Pathways Recent Graduates positions for up to two years after receiving your degree. Keep checking PSLawNet and USAJobs for opportunities for recent graduates.
    • Fellowships: One way many non-profit and legal aid organizations recruit entry-level is through post-graduate fellowships. You may think it’s too late to apply for fellowships – although many organizations recruit for fellows a year in advance, quite a few others recruit during the summer for positions starting that fall. Check out PSLawNet’s Postgraduate Fellowships page for more information. Although many “Sponsoring” organization deadlines may have already passed, running a “Fellowship – Legal” search on PSLawNet’s job search page can help you find relevant organization – based fellowships. You’re also eligible to apply for Equal Justice Works fellowships even after law school graduation.
    • Equal Justice Corps/Americorps Positions: One fellowship program worth highlighting is the EJW/Americorps program. All of these positions are based at civil legal aid organizations, and these 1-2 year placements recruit annually in the summer for positions starting that fall. Running a search on PSLawNet for “EJW/Americorps” or visiting EJW’s Americorps page will help you learn more about these positions.
    • Read for fun! Amidst all of this job searching, don’t forget – you finally don’t have to read bar review material! Take a look at our Summer Reading List for some suggestions on relevant – and fun! – reading. Who knows – maybe one of your interviewers will have read some of the same books.

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