Job Advice to Law Students: Write a Law Job Into Your Future

The news is full of gloom and doom for law students. Job prospects suck. Pay sucks. Student loans suck. If you listen hard enough you might even conclude that finding a decent law job out of law school is like winning the lottery. And being a realist, you might resign yourself to taking your J.D. on a career path that is more “settling” than inspiration.

How to get a job as a lawyer without good grades

The conventional wisdom is that grades and class rank are the best ways to earn a good law job out of school. While this may still be the prevailing wisdom, I have another suggestion.

As a lawyer who has hired many law school graduates since earning my own law degree, both in the law and technology sectors, I can say that grades don’t impress me much. Grades indicate that a student is good at taking tests, has a good work ethic, and probably both. But to me they hold little correlation to doing the things that matter when it comes to the practice and business of law.

Here’s what matters to me, and I bet I’m not the only lawyer who feels this way.

  1. Demonstrate an ability to solve problems creatively, and to invent solutions. I’d take focused creativity over rote memorization of codes, statues and caselaw any time. Creative application of knowledge wins clients, wins cases and grows businesses. But it often times does not win the battle for law school grades.
  2. Demonstrate a willingness to put yourself “out there.” I’m not talking about being a gunner or a blow hard. I’m talking about sharing ideas that may differ from the prevailing wisdom. I’m talking about a willingness to jump in and have a conversation, a debate. Debating is what made the legal profession great. Unfortunately, there’s less and less debate to go around, and a lot more jumping through hoops. One way to put yourself out there is to start blogging. Take contrary positions. Challenge your law professors. Challenge judges. Challenge yourself.

Doing these two things is an overtly public way is easier than ever. And it’s really easy to get noticed. Thanks to the available of thought-channels like blogging and social media, there are unlimited opportunities to be seen and heard, even as a 1L.

Advice to law students for getting a job out of law school

If I were a 1L starting law school this fall, here’s what I would do to ensure that I come out of law school with a job, or the ability to start my own practice and attract new clients the moment I get my bar card:

  1. Start a blog on or before your first day of law school. The blog doesn’t have to be fancy. But make sure you use a URL that you own and control. Register your name as your domain name if possible. If not, get a variation. Don’t get too creative in choosing your URL, because you’ll need it to transcend your career as a law student into your career as a lawyer.
  2. Blog every day. Start by blogging about your expectations about going into law school. Develop your impressions, your ideas, your learnings as you navigate through the first weeks of school. Blog about the contract cases you are studying. See if you can add a new twist to Hawkins vs. McGee or Palsgraf. See if you can spot the biases of your professors and fellow students, and call them out. In short, create a quiet and permanent online record of your thought-leadership.
  3. As you progress through your law school career, continue blogging. And do it every day. The posts need not be long, but they should have something meaningful to add to the world of lawyers and law students. As you get deeper into your studies and start to develop particular interests (especially surrounding areas that you think you might want to practice as a lawyer), start to dive deeper into those areas. Do extra research. Raise new ideas. Challenge attorneys and law students alike.
  4. Participate in other lawyers blogs that interest you. Comment often. Lawyers will start to reciprocate. Become active in legal groups on various social media platforms.
  5. Keep this up, every day, until you graduate and pass the bar.

After you’ve passed the bar you should have well over 1,000 blog posts. You should have readership. You should have traffic to your blog. And you will have something far more valuable.

Not only will you have established your voice and a reputation that precedes you into bar, you will also have cultivated a resource that you own that can produce revenue. You alone are a commodity like the thousands of surplus newly admitted lawyers. You with an established online reputation and platform are more than a commodity, you are an asset.

With a blog that is established and can generate publicity, interest, new readers and new clients, you will have a definitive advantage over your classmates who have not done this. This advantage can make up for magnitudes of difference in grades and other accolades. And it will set the tone. You’ll start your legal career in charge of your destiny, rather than grateful for the scraps that any employer might decide to throw you in a buyer’s market.

About The Author

Attorney Dan Jaffe previously built successful small law practices in WA and AZ. He currently serves as the CEO of LawLytics.

Other posts by Dan.