Now that you have completed law school, or are in the process of completing law school, you are faced with the inevitability of finding an articling position. Due to the Covid pandemic and the current market conditions, some have found it difficult to secure this 10-month placement. However, you should know that regardless of the situation now, law firms are still hiring students. Therefore, it is up to you to be proactive and take the necessary steps. Here are three tips that will definitely help you in your search.
1. Network during law school.
This is probably the single most important action that you can take in regards to both finding an articling position as well as advancing your overall legal career. While at law school there are numerous opportunities to network and get your name out there. Schools host a plethora of social events where students, alumni, professors, and industry leaders come to speak about current legal topics and there is usually a question and answer period afterwards. This does not mean you need to go to every event, but you should at least attend some. If you show that you are interested, most people will be happy to give your contact information, and sometimes an opportunity to do some work may present itself right there! Although the pandemic has made it very difficult to meet people in real life, this should not be an excuse. There are more than enough webinars, fireside chats and online workshops that have sprung up recently. Also, it is important to note that you do not need to confine your networking to within your law school. You can easily call local firms and see if there are any opportunities to volunteer, or even ask a lawyer if they are interested in chatting with you. You will be surprised to see how receptive your senior colleagues can be.
2. Know what kind of law you want to practice.
This does not mean you should refine your search to just one area of law, as having an absolute idea of what you want to do is not practical, nor is it usually expected from hiring lawyers. However, you should have some idea of what you want to do. Every area of law has certain nuances, and during law school, you would have been exposed to such differences. If you find that the courses at school have not given you any direction, it may be helpful to volunteer for a firm, or even work for a law clinic. This can be a win-win situation, as you will be providing free work and in return, you will be exposed to the real-life practice of a certain field of law. Telling the hiring lawyer that are you interested in all areas of law, or that you are still figuring things out is not necessarily a bad thing, however, for some people, it can come across as disingenuous.
3. Have a well-polished LinkedIn profile.
One of the most overlooked tools, today is LinkedIn. This does not replace your resume, but it does definitely supplement it. I have heard from many hiring lawyers that after someone applies to their firm, they check LinkedIn to see the candidate’s profile. It is important to note that your profile needs to be maintained and up to date. If there is old information on your profile, it can actually hinder your opportunities, as employers will take note that you are not proactive. In regards to the first tip (above), LinkedIn is a great tool for networking. There are many articles online that explain how to approach prospective colleagues and employers. LinkedIn is also a really good tool for finding online networking events, especially in the legal industry.
Overall, it is critical that you take initiative when looking for an articling position. This starts from the first day you start law school. If you keep consistent with your search and are patient, you are bound to find an articling job.