Top 3 Lessons from my Legal Mentor
I have a novel idea. Let's abandon the idea that you have to navigate law school all by yourself. Yes, legal hypotheticals will pursue you like nobody's business. But that doesn't mean you can't pursue alternative solutions to navigating law school or addressing questions such as I have no idea what I'm doing, or how do I land my dream job in the private or public sector? Help is on the way, dear! Especially since hiring a legal mentor isn't always affordable, here are the three key takeaways from my legal mentor.
1. Consider what work environment you thrive in
Although it might be tempting, this is not a choose-your-own-adventure approach to your career goals. There are careers that we've all fantasised about working in. Such as this job that my Facebook algorithm regularly features in my newsfeed. I want to think Facebook cares enough about my well-being to subliminally ask, 'is there any reason you're still up at 3.00 AM?'
Part of considering what kind of work environment you thrive in also involves asking yourself if there's any real urgency or need to apply for a round of clerkships if you have no intention of working in corporate law. Are there other ways to get experience in your chosen industry that you haven't considered? Create a best-case scenario game plan to figure out what your ideal workday looks like for you. Is work wherever the wifi is? Do you enjoy the 9-5? How far are you willing to travel? How many meetings in a day are too many? What I loved about this exercise is that it encourages you to be honest with yourself whilst also revealing your highest ambitions- broken down into small achievable goals.
2. What area of law are you interested in?
Even though law students are collectively interested in law, there are a few questions to consider asking yourself. Do you want to work in the public sector or the private sector? If you're reading this and wondering what the difference between those sectors is, let's break it down.
The public sector is concerned with the relationship between government and individuals and governmental institutions. By contrast, the private sector is concerned with relationships between individuals (for example, those that arise in tort or contract).
3. Is your resume helping or hindering you?
Although I won't defend my resume to the grave, I will die on a hill proclaiming that I hate writing cover letters. The idea of having to write a different cover letter and or resume for each job application sounds genuinely heinous, and it is. But we are a new generation of lawyers, and we don't quit. I can't promise that this mantra will help everyone, but life isn't supposed to be easy- however, if you are trying to make strides towards your dream career, there are services available that will help you improve your resume. Resume writers are available for hire on Airtasker or Jobscan.
Alternatively, are you looking for a legal mentor? If so, I would highly recommend Law School Success. Law School Success addresses the education gap perpetuated by law schools. Although they focus on teaching you "the law", they often fail to pinpoint what it takes to do well at law school and find a career outside of commercial practice- much less make the perfect resume.
However, since some of those services are paid, many universities offer to revise your resume for free. Alternatively, they offer resume seminars where you can collectively critique your resume's as a group. What's great about those services is that they remove the burden of navigating your resume. You have support available, and you can do this.