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How to get your First Law Job

Ladder and sky

Breaking into the legal industry is not the easiest thing to do, but once you’re in (and have that all important experience) you’ll be on the path to a bright and bubbling career. Getting your first law job can be difficult so here are a few tips to get you going!

Make yourself stand out

There will be many smart law students with excellent grades. Therefore, to get your foot in the door you’ll need to make yourself more desirable to future employers. Don’t go around begging for a job, any job. No one will give you a job as a favor or to “give you a go”. They’ll only hire you if they can see that you have something that will be of value to them. Present yourself as a person with a focus. Show that you have at least some idea of what you would like to do with your life. A statement of career objectives can get the reader’s attention, as long as it is not too general. And this is also a good starting point for job seeking. Have you really thought about what sort of career do you want? How can you get there?

Don’t send generic applications

It’s easy to tell if someone has just wacked a new date on a cover letter they’ve sent out to one hundred different law firms.

Don’t shout for attention

Colored paper, unusual fonts, fancy borders, etc can make your application more difficult to read. And you don’t want to be pre-judged as someone who “wouldn’t fit in.”

Networking. Get out there in the legal community!

There’s a hidden job market that can only be unlocked by speaking to those people in charge of hiring students. However, badgering people for jobs will not be the best way to have your name out there. Instead, use your networking to seek career advice, information about practice areas and hiring trends, assistance in formulating an action plan for a specific organisation or field, and referrals to others who might be able to assist you. If you network well, you could even find yourself a mentor!

Getting experience

Finding your first law job is hard when most advertised roles are seeking students with prior experience. In some cases it may be necessary for you to lower your expectations and take up opportunities that would lead into your dream job. This may mean working at a law firm as a legal secretary of office junior rather than as a paralegal.

Participating in law school competitions and free legal clinics are a great way to gain experience and focus your attention towards what else you need to do to reach your ultimate goal.

No matter where you want to work, remember that everyone starts at the bottom. Landing your first law job may not be easy but if you hang in there you will make it. Keep your end goal in mind and be on the look out for experiences at university that can bring you closer to it. Putting your hand up for everything isn’t always the way to go; instead channel your energy into a few activities that will best serve you in the job-hunt.

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