You may think that getting accepted for a law degree is tough enough. But then you are faced with many, many days, months and years of study. Not to mention the daunting prospect of taking the bar exam.
Then, of course, once you have successfully passed the bar, you are left with the little matter of securing yourself that all-important first law job. And for many law graduates, this is where the hard work well and truly begins.
Getting your dream role straight out of university is very difficult, as it often demands – and you are usually competing with peers who have – several years of relevant field experience.
For many graduates then, entry-level opportunities are the way to go. Typically, this could include everything from associate positions in small-scale law firms, and staff attorneys in government or business departments, to judicial clerkships, and fellowships. If this is the type of entry-level law job you are currently searching for, you will no doubt be fully aware of how competitive the market is.
So, in this article, we will try and help you with your search, by highlighting 10 tips for getting an entry-level law job. Put these actionable tips into practice, and you should have a fully-fledged professional, law-related job in no time.
Tip 1 – Get a USP
As the graduate job market is so competitive you are going to need a USP.
Obviously one of the best ways to stand out is to graduate with distinction, or at least as good a grade as you can possibly get. But as this is something many of your peers would also have done, you will also need to have another point of difference too.
Consider entering competitions, because if you win one that is obviously quite an achievement for you. Also, think about doing pro bono work. Or write a blog or publish articles in relevant publications.
You may even try and secure a leadership role within a law association. Anything that will make you stand out as a candidate.
Tip 2 – Get yourself a graduate coach
A graduate coach is someone who basically helps graduates find an entry-level job.
They do this by helping young adults to fully appreciate their pool of knowledge, skills, values and interest. Once they have done this, they then set about helping them secure a job in an industry that is best aligned to that pool.
Typically, they are able to do this by helping their clients to convey the best possible versions of themselves through their CVs, cover letters and interview techniques.
Once they have helped you to secure a job, these coaches can also assist you to perform at a high level to attract opportunities for further progression.
Tip 3 – Network
Networking is a very important thing to do. But especially so if you are struggling to gain employment.
To increase your chances, try and put yourself out there by introducing yourself to volunteer programs and Alumni associations. Both of which usually create decent job shadowing and internship opportunities.
Also, be sure to attend conferences, talks and other presentations – both online and in person – and connect with law firms like LegalVision UK or any other special committees within the realms of law that interest you.
It is also a good idea to ask your professors, and previous law firms you might have done work experience or summer jobs with, for recommendations too.
Tip 4 – Tap into Someone Else’s Network
While building your network can take a lot of time, you can speed up this process by tapping into other people’s networks.
The likes of LinkedIn and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are perfect for this, as you can simply just follow, the followers, of the people you follow!
If you are selective about the people you connect with – focusing on quality, not quantity – you can quite rapidly find yourself with a much bigger network of potential employers than you previously had.
Tip 5 – Consider Non-Traditional Jobs
Graduate-level legal jobs don’t just mean roles in law firms, so it is worth being strategic and thinking laterally about where else you can apply.
Law graduates are actually presented with a diverse range of law-related fields they can enter. These can include positions in everything from data privacy specialists, accountancy firms and corporate communications to legal content writers, and various other legal service providers.
These kinds of jobs usually require skills in problem-solving, analytical thinking, writing, research, negotiation, client management, and building relationships. All of which will provide you with solid experience to take to your next role.
Tip 6 – Keep abreast of all the latest legal trends and technologies
This one is a no-brainer really. The legal world is constantly changing, both in terms of laws but also technology.
Where possible it is important to keep up to date with these changing trends, as failure to do so could be the difference between being offered a particular role or not.
Be sure to keep abreast of new laws, or changes to the law, particularly in your niche, as well as understanding what legal technology tools are currently being adopted.
Tip 7 – Sign up to all of the big 5
There are five main legal recruitment agencies in the UK. These include Austen Lloyd, eNL Legal, Law Support Group, QC Legal and Search Consultancy.
Between them, they have hundreds of entry-level law jobs available all over the country.
Do yourself a huge favour and sign up to all five of them. You’ll suddenly find a lot more job opportunities available to you.
Tip 8 – Be resilient, persistent and positive
As hard as the knockbacks and rejections might be, it is important to keep being resilient, persistent and positive in your search for a job.
Try and get feedback from every interview you have, and in particular what the interviewer(s) felt you might have been lacking as a candidate.
Use this knowledge as fuel for your future applications. Make sure to address it in your CV and cover letter and be sure to raise it, if relevant, for your next interview.
Tip 9 – Apply for jobs that also offer training opportunities
A graduate job, in any field, that has an element of training and supervision is worth its weight in gold. Quite simply because it can provide invaluable experience for future job opportunities.
Therefore, where possible, apply for jobs that will provide you with firm foundations to move on to bigger and better things.
Tip 10 – Don’t be afraid to move to another part of the country
It is surprising how many graduates are afraid to move in search of a job.
But unless you have a specific reason to remain in one geographic location this is something you should seriously consider doing.
For instance, if you live in London, competition for graduate-level law jobs is likely to be fierce. So, you might have more luck if you were open to a move to Exeter, Ipswich or Carlisle.
Sure, the pay might be less, than in London. But so will the cost of living. And you may even be able to progress your career quicker working for a law firm based in one of these places.