College seems tough enough for most people. For others, trying to get into law school is a bigger challenge after just going through an undergrad degree. Halfway through law school, you’ll worry about getting accepted for an internship in the district’s, if not the country’s, most reputable firms. Then you’ll have the bar exams to worry about next, that you’ll barely have time to breathe right after graduation. As if one step after another part of the journey is completed, it seems like every time you pass one phase of the process, there’s another one waiting because you have one major challenge left to conquer and that’s getting hired.
You have competition and getting noticed, let alone getting hired by the one you’re determined to work in, is one difficult test. For law school graduates, the market doesn’t look great and it has been like that for almost a decade.
The National Association for Law Placement reported last year that there were only 87.6 % of graduates who were employed straight out of law school. Furthermore, getting hired doesn’t necessarily mean earning enough money for representing clients because lawyers, especially young ones in practice have a lower salary rate since the mid 90’s.
The legal job market for new lawyers doesn’t only mean making a good impression in an interview but also stand out from a crowd. It goes without saying that dressing professionally is one of them and also showing up on time.
Also, you may think your CV is just part of a lengthy application process, and, in a way it is, but it’s also the key document which will help you score the perfect job so it’s important to spend your time and effort getting it right. Here is a helpful guide of what your CV should include, but you also have to remember that the content will be absolutely down to you. Before you make a draft, consider the following points:
Format. It’s better if your CV is formatted using Microsoft Word. You can put it into a readable font style so it makes it easier for formatting and then keep a PDF copy once you have it finalized. Make sure you properly check grammar and spelling, edit, and read it.
You should put your job experience in order of reverse chronology and there should be no exceptions. Assuming you’re currently employed in your first job will mean it counts as your first real job experience. As consultants and the company go through your CV, they will see a catalogue of your career, going as far back to your training experience. It will be better if you use bullet points in listing these down so that you can make sure that your job experience is easier to read through and see for the reader. Try avoiding lengthy paragraphs as much as possible.
By nature, lawyers should be well-versed with the English language, and to be fair, most lawyers are. As such, it is imperative that you dedicate a good amount of time in ensuring that your CV, no matter how filled with legalese it is, makes sense and is written professionally and formatted properly. Again, use make use of bullet points and put 1.25 spacing between lines.
If the job vacancy is specified, then obviously, it’s worth customizing your CV to ensure you put emphasis on skills that are relevant and required as well as experience which is defined on the job specification.
Generally, partner CVs are similar to those of associates except they should include the client basics located near the top of your document. This also means you have to make a business plan outline eventually but the CV should already provide a general idea of your experience and your relationships with past and present clients.
It’s also worth stating your references. Usually, you can highlight a certain partner or someone from the recruitment team from the current firm you’re working for as well as the one prior to that, if you have one. It’s standard for your character and job references to be taken up towards the end of the hiring process so the names you give will not yet be contacted until after you have already bid the company goodbye.
If you’re serious about doing employment law, you don’t just apply to any and every firm with an employment department looking for a new member. You also need too consider the number of people currently working in that team. For example, if there’s one partner with one junior on the side, there’s a good chance that you’re not gonna earn yourself a training position there, so let it go. Learn to look for firms that have enough areas of activity in the same area you are interested to develop in. In this case, doing enough research about firms that interests you would be very helpful. You see, when a candidate doesn’t think about the area they want to practice in, it shows.
Remember that law is very competitive,and if you have made it this far, despite your current challenges, you should still be grateful because many others don’t even make it through law school, so give yourself the credit you’re due. You may have friends who have been offered contracts already while you’re still waiting for a firm to consider you for an interview, but you have to keep trying. Don’t limit your search for employment to glossy firm brochures and try reflecting why you have been rejected. There are also firms who are hiring all your round and that’s probably what you should look for. If there’s an opportunity for feedback and constructive criticism, by all means, take it and plan your action. If they still don’t think you’re worth the role, then move on. That’s not your firm but there definitely is one for you, just waiting to be found.