Legal professionals are in demand. A Reuters article on the legal talent war that began in 2020 reveals no signs of slowing down. The sudden rise in client demand and a shortage of lawyers prompted this talent war, making firms raise salaries and offer multiple bonuses to attract prospective employees. In fact, this increased associate moves between law firms by 51% in 2021. Given this, now is a great time to apply for a job in the legal industry.
Whether you want to take advantage of competitive salaries and bonuses or land your first job, here’s a guide to help you with the application process.
Find firms to apply for
The first thing to do is to look for open positions. There are many places where a legal professional can work, including firms, private practices, and companies. To narrow your search, you can look through legal professional job search sites like FindLaw, LawCrossing, and Lawjobs.
Thoroughly read the descriptions of positions you’re interested in. Look for education requirements, required skills, and past experiences to see if you qualify. Usually, you can reach out to the hiring manager to ask more questions about their openings.
Construct a good resume
After finding open positions you’re interested in, create a good resume. A resume-creating article from Lewis and Clark Law School notes that a powerful, legal resume is concise and uses active verbs.
To keep your resume concise, stick to one page. This single page should contain the highlights of your legal education and experiences—not your whole life story. List your most relevant experiences for the position and remove unnecessary articles like “the” and “a/an” to keep things short. Headers, bold font, and bullet points contribute to conciseness by separating sections and making them easier to read. Finally, using active verbs shows ownership of your accomplishments. Start each bullet point with an active verb like “produced,” “launched,” or “created.” These qualities make a good resume that leaves an impression on the hiring manager.
Write a great cover letter
Aside from a resume, jobs usually ask for a cover letter. This helps the hiring manager better understand how your skills and accomplishments fit the role and what your motivations for applying are. As a legal professional, your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your legal writing skills.
LHH outlines how a great cover letter should be able to persuade your potential employer to give you a closer look. This will involve acknowledging your potential employer’s needs, then leading into how your qualifications match them. For instance, if they’re looking for a problem solver, you can list your experience as the first person to find a solution in a former job or internship. Finally, end your cover letter with strong closing remarks. Reiterate your skills and finish off with an open-ended statement indicating you expect an interview. A great cover letter sets you apart from the competition, increasing your chances of getting the job.
Prepare well for interviews
Interviews for legal professionals differ from regular interviews. The legal industry deals with the study, development, and application of the law, so it's only fitting for its professionals to be of the highest skill.
Before your interview schedule, ensure you’ve researched the firm to show you want to work for them. Next, prepare to answer competency questions. These questions gauge your skills, so focus on making your answers relevant to the position you're applying for. For example, you might be asked how you’ll deal with a challenging client as an associate, so answer with the skills you have. Preparing for the interview shows your determination and increases your chances of getting the job.
Send a follow-up email
While you might think that after the interview comes the waiting game, a follow-up email does you good. Our post ‘Writing a Job Interview Follow-Up Email’ notes that this leaves a good impression and makes you stand out from the other applicants.
First, thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you. Then, demonstrate your strong interest in the position by emphasizing how your strengths match the position and how you look forward to getting the job. Write this in a professional tone and a formal style to keep things coherent. Send the email as soon as you can to guarantee it reaches the hiring manager before they choose someone for the position.
The legal industry is competitive, but it’s possible to land a job. Use our tips to increase your chances of establishing your career as a legal professional.