Young and newly licensed attorneys receive endless career advice from well-meaning individuals. This advice ranges from job search techniques, interview etiquette, and the all-time favorite – how best to network. In the midst of all this chatter, young attorneys often forget about his or her most valuable investment: themselves. The reality is that the economy is tough, legal jobs are scarce, and even experienced practitioners are looking for ways to reinvent themselves to get an edge over the competition. Young lawyers scouring job posts should think about how to make themselves more attractive to potential employers. Here are some tips that can help you get started:
1. Do Pro Bono Work
Many employers do not want to invest in a new attorney who doesn’t have legal experience. You are expensive and time-consuming to train and law firms want an attorney who can hit the ground running. Pro bono work allows inexperienced attorneys to gain hands-on, invaluable legal experience while also performing public service work. Pro bono work develops case management skills, provides litigation experience, and allows you to practice legal writing.
2. Acquire New Skills
This piece of advice can apply to young lawyers and experienced lawyers alike, who may need to freshen their skill set. Lawyers with foreign language skills are increasingly in demand, due to changing demographics in the legal field. Recent studies indicate that need is greatest for Spanish and Chinese, depending on the area of law. Learning a new language can allow attorneys to become more competitive and tap into areas of law where language skills are highly desirable.
3. Practice Your Legal Writing
A recent article in the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal concludes that lawyers are terrible writers. While not based on clinical studies, the author suggests that lawyers suffer from the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect – they think they are great writers when they really are not. And the effect is much greater among newly licensed attorneys than experienced ones. Writing is integral to the legal profession and is a skill that should not be undervalued or overlooked. Learn how to write clearly and effectively. Practice writing legal documents and drafting letters.
Most importantly, don’t give up. We have been in the business of Family Law since 2001, but it took us a while to get started and every day we learn something new from attorneys just getting started.