Why You’re Having a Hard Time Finding a Law Job
There are so many factors which can determine why you’re having a hard time finding a law job. In particular, many law students, law graduates and early career lawyers vastly underestimate the effort involved in finding, researching and applying to law firms in a way designed to maximize the opportunities of gaining an interview.
I work with many lawyers (of all levels) who become increasingly frustrated when they are unable to secure a position relatively immediately, it’s a heavy blow to someone’s self-esteem, especially when they are used to being in a position which derives respect. They watch friends and colleagues secure their “Dream” jobs, whilst they seem to get stuck in an endless cycle of job applications with no end in sight.
If a law firm decides not to interview or hire you, don’t take it personally. A law firm will consider key factors to determine if you are the best person for the job. This consists of not only your technical legal skills but also how they think you match as a cultural fit within the team.
Here are Some Common Reasons Why You’re Not Finding a Law Job
1. You’re Only Applying to Top-Tier & Mid-Tier Law Firms
These law firms receive incredible amounts of applications and not only from the local market. They also receive many applicants from interstate and internationally. This can make securing a law job at such a firm a difficult task, it may not have anything to do with you not being a great applicant for the role, it simply comes down to it being incredibly difficult to stand out in such an overwhelming number of legal candidates.
To secure a role as a graduate lawyer in one of these firms, in addition to the academic requirements, you may need to have:
- completed their clerkship program
- graduated with your admission date inline with their graduate intake for the year
- great legal experience obtained whilst studying
- actively engaged in community legal support
- actively engaged in law school initiatives
- excellent interpersonal and communication skills and are able to impress the interviewer
Solution: Apply at the specialist and boutique law firms as well. The salaries in today’s legal market are often very comparable, you’ll have the opportunity to gain excellent hands-on training, work with great clients and enjoy some level of work/life balance.
Relevant Article: How to Find a Legal Job After Law School?
2. You’re Applying for Law Jobs in an Oversaturated Legal Market
If you’re applying for law jobs at law firms located within the main CBD areas or larger regionals areas, there will typically be more competition for the law jobs that are available. Yes, there are more jobs available in these areas, however, they also draw more candidates.
Consider looking for law jobs outside of these main legal markets, you’ll find less competition and more opportunities. If you have the option to relocate, there are some great regional areas located throughout Australia where law firms are eager to find and employ legal candidates.
3. You’re Not Tailoring Your Resume
Many people think that tailoring your cover letter is all that’s needed. It’s also a great idea to tailor your resume so that it is targeted to the practice area and position that you are applying to. In most cases, you only need to make subtle changes. Essentially what you should do is ensure your resume highlights your relevant skills and experience that make you a great applicant for the role being applied to.
Internal recruitment teams and hiring managers will not often have the time to decipher your resume in order to find the skills and experience that make you relevant to the position. It’s advisable (and smart) to make their job easier by presenting your information so that it’s targeted specifically to the role.
4. You’re Only Applying to Law Firms with Advertised Jobs
If you’re only applying to law firms with advertised jobs, you’re competing with the main legal market and every other active legal candidate. Generally, most law firms will only advertise a position as a last resort, this is after they’ve searched their own internal database and referral network. To find a law job, you ideally want to get in early by registering for opportunities with law firms. This way, you will be considered for future legal positions prior to any public job advertisement being placed. Doing so means you will face less competition for the position.
As a strategy, consider approaching law firms that have no legal positions advertised which are located outside of the major legal markets in your area (main CBD areas). Enquire as to whether there are any legal job opportunities, if not, ask if you can provide your cover letter and resume and be considered for any future positions.
The great thing about this strategy, you never know what positions may be coming available. By submitting your details the law firm will have your details on hand and will be able to review your details without the influx of other candidates. There may be internal promotions or other factors at play which could lead to an opening at the law firm in the very near future.
5. You’re Not Applying to Enough Law Firms
Being an effective legal job-seeker requires a methodical approach to sourcing, applying to and following up legal job applications. Many legal candidates take an unsystematic approach to applying for legal positions which results in many lost opportunities.
Relevant Article: Get Serious About Your Job Search
6. Your Interview Skills Need Some Work
Many opportunities are lost during the interview stage, this can be very disheartening considering the time invested in finding and applying to the role.
During an interview, the interviewer is assessing many factors to determine if you’re the best applicant for the legal position on offer. You may have exceptional experience and great technical legal skills but if the interviewer feels that you may not be the best cultural fit for the team then the opportunity will most likely be lost.
This is why it’s crucial you research the law firm and practice area and if possible talk to any professional colleagues that may have feedback about the firm and their values. This information is highly important so that you are able to ask good questions and build rapport with the interviewer.
Relevant Article: What Questions Should You Ask During An Interview?
Don’t underestimate how much competition you are up against, especially in the busier legal markets. Ideally, you want to avoid the CBD areas and look for opportunities outside of the bigger legal markets. Register your details with law firms that are not currently recruiting, this is an easy way to avoid candidate competition and access job opportunities before they become advertised. Lastly, work with legal recruiters who have strong relationships with the internal recruitment teams and hiring managers within the law firms, they’ll also be able to find your job opportunities before they become advertised online.