The third year of law school is many things: lots of work, not enough work, practical clinical experience working with actual clients with real problems, complicated decision-making about where to practice, a frantic scramble for a job, and a constant concern that you are forgetting something. One thing that it is not is a sprint.
Here are 5 tips for the 3L marathon.
1. Job search skills are life skills: don’t put them in separate boxes.
2. Look at all of your experience and acknowledge what you have learned.
Review your work (paid, volunteer, clinic, probono). Consider how the people with whom you have worked have demonstrated professionalism, ethics, excellent client service, and top-notch management and mentoring skills. Do not ignore the flip side. Every time you have been poorly supervised, badly managed and not mentored at all, you should have said to yourself, “I’ll never do that.”
3. Evaluate each experience.
Each experience helps you answer “Do you have any questions?” so that you can continue to find good work sites and to avoid what you know will make you miserable.
4. Your network: Find it. Work it. Give Back to it.
- Get out of your house. Dust bunnies under the bed are not hiring.
- Tell everyone you know that you are hunting for a job and give them meaningful specific information about what you are looking for. Telepathy is not a job search tool.
5. Become an expert.
Interview lawyers who are doing what you want to do. Research. Blog. It is easier to hire someone who is on her way to becoming an expert on her on dime and in her own time than it is to hire someone who says “Train me. I’m yours.”
You may change your focus. If you have met with 10 lawyers who describe work that sounds like the 7th Level of Hell, explore another practice.
- Join a bar association that is relevant to your interests. Find a committee and contribute.
- Volunteer. Build skills. Decide in real time whether you want to work for individual clients, to do policy work, or to do something else, entirely.
- Keep up your part-time job. Always do your best work. You will need glowing references. You may find that this job becomes full time.
- Review your resume. Write it for the job you want, not for the one you have. Having met with multiple lawyers in your goal area, you will be able to do this correctly.
- Polish your presentation skills. Banish “ummmm” and “I’m like, you know” from your vocabulary. You won’t know when they keep you from getting a second interview.
- Actively manage your electronic profile. Use LinkedIn and other tools wisely and well.