Friday, March 27, 2009

When the going gets tough...

Well, I can't claim to know it all, but here are some thoughts that might help find a job in a tough economy...

* Network, network, network! Go to events, join organizations, shake hands & hand out business cards. As a student, membership in most professional organizations is much less expensive. For instance, the Massachusetts Bar Association has student memberships at $35 per year. And they have a joint membership deal with the ABA that covers multiple years. Besides offering a slew of discount deals from Lexis and LimoLiner to Hertz and the Celtics and SportsClubs L.A, your Mass Bar membership also entitles you to a mentor program, an online forum (like a listserve) and free membership in one section or practice group. These sections or practice groups are the key part of the membership if you want to network and build relations among the practitioners in your topic area.

One of the cleverest ways I've seen a law student look for a job was just this. She was a stay-at-home mom, who had not had the chance for clinic, internships or summer jobs. She joined the Mass Bar in her last year of evening division, and chose the section in her interest area, Elder Law. She volunteered to register the folks attending a CLE for the Section and talked to them as they registered. She made some connections and a good impression, and voila -- job offer! You do not know when a job opening will appear -- but if you have made some connections and left a good impression, people may think to call you and tell you to send in your resume before the job gets posted. Therefore: NETWORK!!

* On a similar theme, exploit your existing connections. If you are a member of a community, a church/temple/synagogue group, an ethnic group, any interest group of some kind, that group may well pay off for you in terms of networking. Let people know you are looking for work and what kind of job you hope to find. Again, have those business cards ready. You can get them printed at a Kinko's, but our BLSA offers the service each year, to fellow students -- it's a great fund raiser and a good service.

* Look for opportunities for training. You may think this sounds strange in law school, but law school really doesn't get you ready for law practice. Suffolk includes an office called Advanced Legal Studies, which produces continuing legal education programs. This office has won national awards for the quality of its programming, that the programs are FREE to current students. Our students can locate the current and upcoming programs on the Suffolk website here. Outside of Suffolk, there are CLE programs advertised at bar associations. If your school has an internship program, like Suffolk has, here, or clinical programs, like here, those are also good opportunities for real-life training. There are a very few law firms that also offer internships and mentoring outside of law schools. I only know of one, but I hope the idea spreads -- it's desperately needed in the tough job market!

The amazing cover of the book Get Tough is apparently at a dead web page. Thank you, Major W.E. Fairbairn, as the author of the book, and whoever posted the image to the web, at

1 comment:

Rebecca Woodworth Brodie said...

Thank you for linking this blog to my firm's mentoring program.

As a Massachusetts attorney and mentor to new attorneys, I was (and continue to be) concerned with the current employment climate. Not only are newer attorneys having a difficult time securing positions, more experienced attorneys are losing jobs and being laid off. (See Time Magazine Article, link below)

However, new attorneys have never had an easy time. Big firms work new attorneys 70 hours a week. Smaller firms don’t have the resources to mentor. Legal aid can’t pay new attorneys and some unscrupulous firms try to get Newbies to do things they know they shouldn’t.

With this bad economy, my best advice for newer attorneys during this time is to “build your arsenal”. What do I mean by that? Simply put, USE THIS TIME WISELY!

New attorneys are now competing with more experienced attorneys for jobs. As I tell my new attorneys, “Why should someone hire a new attorney when they can get someone with experience that can “hit the ground running…?”

My firm, Brodie and Brodie ( currently offers a mentoring program for new attorneys. Every month, I receive 10-15 applications (and I am not even hiring currently). When I was hiring in January, I received 120+ applications for five spots and my web page was getting 500 hits a week. Many of the applicants were experienced attorneys, some owned their own firms.

So, how should new (or newer) attorneys use their time while looking for a job? Well, my best advice is to gain experience and network. Now the problem becomes how to get the best experience while also seeking a job....
Well, I can’t mentor everyone but, due to a huge demand, I have created a networking page on my website and also set up a blog for new attorneys in Massachusetts(

I hope this blog will provide some good advice, suggestions, and upcoming opportunities to all of you seeking to advance your careers… as well as allow me the opportunity to share my insight into the hiring process from the employer’s point of view… Well, at least my point of view!

Rebecca Woodworth Brodie, Esq.