How To Get A Job At A Law Firm – Summary: Find out what you need to do to get your next legal job after gaining experience in a federal clerkship.
Working in a judge’s chambers is far, far different than working in a law firm with more aggressive people, lots of deadlines and higher expectations of quality and working hours.
How To Get A Job At A Law Firm
No law firm comes out and says “Hey! We want one of our 1,000+ federal district judge clerks!” However, most are looking for laterals from major law firms who have what it takes to do the job, work with clients and fit into a competitive environment. This is how it works and you need to market yourself widely.
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As a preliminary matter, it is important to understand that federal law officers also have some drawbacks. They tend—more so than lawyers who go straight to a big law firm out of law school—to be less polished and not as motivated and paranoid as needed to be in a big law firm.
Also, federal judges are generally better than state judges (in terms of education and pedigree), but not always. They often don’t have law firm experience, may be small-town prosecutors, academics, or return to various government jobs. Many (but not all) are not the type of individuals that a major law firm would hire. They can’t manage clients, attract business, work 100-hour weeks, or do any of the other things that lawyers at big law firms have to do.
The training that federal law enforcement officers do under their tutelage is “all over the map” and not always good. A federal judge’s intellect isn’t always very good either—but more often than not. Federal law officers often pick up and are indoctrinated into bad work habits when working with judges that law firms don’t like. More times than I can count, I have seen federal law clerks hired by law firms and fired like a virus. Their work is considered to be of low quality and they pick up bad habits that they cannot do for a long time.
What I am saying is that federal law clerks are not always as attractive to law firms as they think. There is more need for laterals with experience in law firms than there is for clerks. It is much harder to get a job at a major law firm right out of law school as a litigator than as a federal law clerk. It is also very competitive in litigation—more competitive than any other practice area. Virtually anyone can be a litigator; However, things like tax law, ERISA, patent law and others require completely different skill sets. This lawyer is always in high demand. Anyone who has graduated from law school can write. Just being a scribe and writing more is great—but it doesn’t make you special.
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Many clerks, for example, think they can easily make the transition to intellectual property rights litigation or white-collar crime-related positions. Despite clerking for a federal judge, you don’t have the requisite background to get into really doing this at a high level. This means your best shot will be entering a law firm as a general commercial litigator. If federal law enforcement officers “apply” for white-collar openings or IP litigation, they probably won’t get very far—at least not with high-paying major corporations. But I sure hope I’m wrong.
See, I was a federal law clerk before I started my career at Quinn Emanuel—a firm that loves clerks. I’m not saying clerkship is a bad thing. That’s a good thing. The training, insight and depth it gives you will take you far. However, you should still know that just because you are a clerk doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for a hard job.
I know countless law clerks who actually asked judges to do it years after clerking because they couldn’t find work. I know others who looked a year or more (without my help) in major markets like Boston, New York and others because they couldn’t find work after becoming clerks.
I would recommend taking some time and checking out this article titled Worst Attorney Job Search Advice for more information. This explains, to some extent, the approach that should be taken in the market. Law clerks don’t apply much for “positions” because they are law firms.
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You must apply to the company and do not have to work. Sitting down to apply for jobs on a site like LawCrossing.com is a useful strategy; However, law firms generally do not post jobs for legal officers. As a legal clerk, you should apply to as many companies as possible.
Harrison Barnes conducts a free weekly webinar with live Q&A for lawyers and law students every Wednesday at 10:00am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or other legal career-related topics. You can register for weekly webinars here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also conducts a free weekly webinar with live Q&A for law firms, corporations, and others hiring attorneys every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. PST. You can register for weekly webinars here: Register on Zoom
Harrison Barnes is a mentor to the legal profession and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your potential and what you need to do to grow as a lawyer – no matter how painful it is. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas to beautiful concepts, you and Harrison will get along. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
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Great mentors are parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, etc. because in order to help you they have to share your pain and reveal your weaknesses. But let’s say you act on the advice and pain that your mentor has created. If you do, you’ll be a better person: a better lawyer, a better employee, a better boss, knowing where you’re going, and appreciating where you’ve been–you’ll also be a happier, better person. When you learn from Harrison, he hopes to become your mentor.
When you use BCG Attorney Search you will have an unfair advantage because you will be using the best legal placement company in the world to find permanent law firm positions. Law is a diverse industry with many job options. Each legal post has different responsibilities that require the candidates to succeed in the field as a legal professional. You may have all the knowledge, skills, education, and ambition to make an immediate positive impact. Still, the experience is valued and is the key to getting a lucrative job.
Now comes the main concern; “What is the best way to gain experience in the legal field?” Fortunately, there are many options in the legal industry from working as a paralegal to becoming a high court judge.
While choosing the best position that suits your interests and understanding is the most genuine way to start your legal career.
How To Get A Job At A Law Firm
There are many ways to get a job at a law firm, but following a specific plan is essential.
The obvious first step to entering the legal field is to study law. There is no way to get a job at a law firm without a professional certification or law degree. Pursuing a career as a legal consultant or paralegal only requires certification in a specific domain.
But the most important concern is how to get a job as a lawyer? That will specifically require a Law degree, and depends on the area of law; Additional education increases employability in fields such as LLM and tax. However, law firms do not rely solely on law school degrees when selecting candidates; in-depth research closely related to practice is a factor leaned. So, it is better to study and practice together instead of relying on exams and getting a degree. A law degree with no experience and practice is just a piece of paper. It is better to understand the meaning and purpose of your study and how to apply it in law.
Improving and practicing your skills is the most important thing. Choose a niche area and build a strong foundation. How to do it?
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Don’t forget to spend some time on self-evaluation before starting a career in the legal department. This will help you evaluate whether the upcoming department matches your abilities and interests. Start by making a list of your weaknesses and strengths. Then spend time improving your weaknesses and strengthening your strengths. It will also come in handy when you create yours
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