Monday, May 5, 2008

Job Search Strategies for Law School Graduates and Students

So Let me just start by being upfront about one thing. I was in the bottom half of the graduating class. I never imagined that this would be the case because of how successful I had been at earlier stages in education, but it happened. And it killed my self-confidence and motivation and creativity and everything else! I think if I had to do it all over again, I would have done many things differently, but that's not the point. The point is that my grades are what they are. I worked throughout law school to try to make it financially and there was nothing I could do about that.

One year out of law school and I still don't have a job. I have gone through phases of hopefulness versus hopelessness and feeling like I should apply for unemployment benefits. But overall, I am in a very good place right now. I have realized that the mass mailing services like Legal Authority just didn't cut it for me. What I really needed to do was do some soul-searching about what type of law I want to practice, and then network! The one thing that I had been truly avoiding throughout law school and afterwards and it seems like the only avenue left!

So I have settled on practicing immigration law, or at least working primarily with immigrants. Even though my law clerk experiences are all over the place from real estate to IP/Copyright, immigration really lights me up. I actually enjoy reading the literature on immigration law and like the idea of having primarily immigrant clients. Another bonus is the fact that I never have to take another bar exam regardless of where I move! How did I decide on a field? I went to the CLE seminars on the topic. I joined the local bar association groups. I called people in the practice and I got off the computer! I volunteered with organizations that practice immigration.

So I have only been networking for about a month. It has been fantastic just to know the field, even though I have still not found a job. I somehow feel that I am closer to it than I ever felt before. Still crossing my fingers!


Francie said...

Yay immigration law! I went to law school after getting bit by the immigration law bug while working at a non-profit legal services office. Best of luck to you - we need more good immigration lawyers.

A Modern Woman said...

Thank you! I certainly hope to be a good immigration lawyer!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was passing by and wanted to leave a message b/c I'm kind of in the same situation. I passed my state bar after a few tries, but now I'm in a different state. I want to work in immigration law also. I'm hoping I don't have to take the bar exam again, given the difficulty I had. Can you really work as an immigration lawyer w/o the state specific license?

A Modern Woman said...

I appreciate your comment. Congrats on passing the bar and on choosing immigration law.

From what I know, you can practice immigration law without a state specific license, BUT you have to make sure that you are with a firm that does *only* immigration law or that allows you to practice only immigration law. If your firm practices other types of law in addition to immigration law or if you want to keep more options open, it is probably a good idea to give the illinois bar.

If you need help with the IL bar, I highly highly suggest taking MLER along with any other preparation materials.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing back! I appreciate blogs like yours... It helps me realize that I am not alone and it gives me the strength to keep going. So how is your job search going? Would love to read a blog entry about your job search process.

Anonymous said...

I see immigration law vacancies all the time. It seems like you have to have foreign language skills for most immigration law employers, though. I was just wondering if you have those skills?

A Modern Woman said...

Hello, thank you for the comments. As for immigration law opps, I think much depends on where you are. I do know foreign languages. Since this post, I have made several updates on my job search. Read the newest posts to figure out where I am currently. I have worked at a job for immigration law for a short stint and quit for valid reasons. I'd love to hear more feedback once you read the updated entries!