Ways to Jump Start Your Legal Career

Your legal career is likely to be one full of highly-competitive individuals all trying to get a “leg up” or individuals trying to be the best at what they do. In a competitive field such as the legal world, you will have to have to prove what your credentials are and why you stand out of the dozens of other candidates trying to apply for the same few select jobs.

When it comes to landing yourself a job it will all come down two things a) how you present yourself to your potential employers and 2) the qualifications you have for the job you are applying for.

The following are some key things to keep in mind when you are out to get a job that you are going to need to jump start your legal career:

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Mastering the Interview Process:

This is probably the most crucial, yet overlooked part of a getting a job in virtually any legal field of work. First impressions will be a huge part of whether you get the job you are applying for or not. First impressions will include everything from how you carry yourself to how you dress and how well you articulate your qualifications and desires to have this specific job.

Punctuality will also be key. Nothing will turn a prospective employer off more than someone who casually walks into the interview 15 minutes late looking like they just rolled out of bed.

You will generally get two interviews to see if you qualify for a position. The first interview will be for screening purposes and will usually take about 20-30 minutes to complete and can be done either in person or over the phone. If you qualify for the call-back there will be another interview that, in most cases, will allow you to meet with at least several different attorneys as the will learn more about your expertise and past experience and qualifications for the job. Providing them with a rich variety of information on your qualifications, internships, and legal experiences will help them determine that you are the person they wish to hire.

First Impressions & Necessary Skills:

As stated above, first impressions will be huge in determining if you get a job with the law firm or legal team you are wishing to work with. First impressions may seem daunting but some of these basics will help you ensure that you are making the right impressions from the minute you walk in the door:

  • arrive early for your interview so you are ready to begin when the interviewers are ready. (Remember as they say: Early is on time and on time is late and late is also late.)

  • while you are free to keep it simple (dress pants and a collared shirt) dressing professionally gives the impression that you take this seriously and want to be ready to do the job to the best of your ability.

  • look the interviewers firmly in the eye and shake their hands when introducing yourself, it’s not only professional its also courteous.

  • have several copies of your resume and qualifications ready to share with the interviewers (if there is more than one person interviewing you are prepared to provide everyone their own copy of your pertinent information).

  • answer all questions succinctly yet thoroughly and be honest as you have no intentions to mislead anyone or try to make yourself seem more or less qualified than you are.

  • let the interviewer do the talking and you do the answering (you will likely have an opportunity to ask any questions you have at the end).

  • finally, be confident in your abilities to do well and make a great impression on your interview. Remember you have to believe in yourself for someone else to do the same.

Making these key first impressions and showing that you have basic people skills shows that you are serious about the job you want to acquire. Showing that you are well-put-together and professional can go a long way in making that key first impression. Then, your qualifications and your past experiences in the field can do the rest of the talking and speak for themselves.

Career Options Outside the Courtroom:

If all else fails and despite your best intentions you are not successful landing a job in the courtroom itself, you may feel like your dreams of a legal career are over. Not so!

Considering positions in the legal field outside the main courtroom can still offer you a great annual salary, a complete benefits package, and a desirable career in the legal industry. Other job options can include a variety of options include a career as a paralegal, court reporter, or legal secretary to name a few.

In the end, remember, no matter which career path you choose to take in the legal industry, it’s all about finding something that fits right and feels right to you. There is no “one way” to make a legal career for yourself and there is no “right” and “wrong” job to have. In the end, it’s about finding your niche and something you are passionate about and making it into a career that works for you!

Sharron Lawson