- Delays in bar exams and fixed start dates amid the ongoing COVID 19 crisis are on the career path of law.
- Business Insider spoke to legal recruiters for advice on how graduates and job changers can improve their skills and use opportunities to improve their legal prospects.
- Finding pro bono jobs and employees, and developing your network are some of her top tips.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
While the coronavirus pandemic continues to bring career plans to their knees, many prospective lawyers are in a state of limbo.
Bar exams are postponed, and a number of top law firms postpone their start dates in the fall. The youngest law graduates are unsure of how to fill up their time to start work – if they have a job – or how to go about finding one in an already unstable economy if they don't.
Business Insider spoke to four recruiters in the legal industry about how to improve their skills, leverage relationships at law schools and law firms, and how to manage this time of uncertainty.
Here are their top tips to keep track of your game:
1. Work on a voluntary basis
The most popular advice among experts was to find pro bono work, either through the law firm you work for or through a nonprofit organization near you.
"There is really no shortage of volunteer work," said Jacqueline Bokser LeFebvre, executive director of Major, Lindsey & Africa, the recruitment agency. "It is a mutually beneficial situation: it enables younger graduates to develop and improve their skills, and it enables under-served parts of society to get legal representation."
She also gave some good news at a time of uncertainty about the country's bar exams: potential lawyers do not have to pass the bar exam before volunteering as long as they work under the supervision of a licensed lawyer.
In fact, some states have bar approvals, like in New Yorkhave a pro bono requirement. "Pro bono experience only helps with the approval process," said Bokser LeFebvre.
During the last economic downturn in 2008, many law firms used their pro bono clients to get their new employees to work, said Thomas O & # 39; Donnell, Parker + Lynch Legal department manager.
"It is something that helps them gain experience and deal with areas of law that they might not otherwise have been exposed to," he said. "It also helps build relationships with both the company and its pro bono customers."
Continue reading: Top law firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day postponed their associate courses in the first year. Here you will find everything we know about new start dates, payment and benefits.
2. Pursue a legal clerkship, short-term work or an LLM degree
A legal clerkship, job opportunities in other niches, or a master's degree in law (LLM) would not only close the time gap before you find or start full-time employment, but also advance your career.
"I think it might be a good time to turn around and consider an alternate trajectory as a springboard," said Bokser LeFebvre. "This could be a really good time for individuals to consider an LLM program, or if they want to focus on a particular niche, such as taxes or bankruptcy, for individuals to complete a legal clerkship and gain extensive government experience."
For those looking to join a law firm, O & # 39; Donnell told Business Insider that some law schools offer programs to connect students and graduates with entrepreneurs who may not have enough funds to hire a law firm. This gives them the transaction law experience they need to do business.
Finding short-term work is useful when you are out of a job, said Erica V. Cesaro, attorney search manager at Parker + Lynch Legal. "If you are frustrated with the lack of movement in a certain direction, apply for positions that enable contractual or temporary work in a legal role and that can sometimes give you a foot in the door."
Continue reading: Some young lawyers who take the bar exam online can cancel their score if they touch their face, wriggle or twist their hair
3. Double networking and soft skills
Now is a good time to build your network and develop soft skills, such as finding mentors, that will advance your career – especially since lawyers are likely to respond more quickly from home, said Nathan Peart, general manager at Major, Lindsey & Africa.
"For those lucky enough to have a job, keep in constant dialogue with your department, the company's partners, and get your ideas to see if it affects your livelihood," Cesaro advised . "And if you are looking for work … I would try to put sensors out there."
If you network virtually, Peart and Bokser LeFebvre recommend using LinkedIn.
"Connect with everyone you meet virtually, including others in your class, alumni, etc.," advised Peart. "Start a group, share experiences, engage with content and ask questions. Ask people to spend time with a virtual coffee / call to understand their experiences and get their tips. Be great proactive, even if it feels uncomfortable. "
Given the uncertainty caused by delays in bar exams and launch dates, it is also important to keep an eye on developments in both companies and the larger legal industry.
"You want to make sure that you are involved and have heard your voice to speed up your admission to practice as a lawyer," said Cesaro.