Biglaw, Boutique Law Firms, Headhunters / Recruiters, In-House Counsel, Job Searches, Midsize Firms / Regional Firms, Solo Practitioners, Unemployment

Back In The Race: Checkpoint

It has been three months since I re-entered the race so I thought now would be a good time to give a progress report. During this time, I figured out what I wanted to do, got back in touch with my career development office to find leads and even made a few contacts at a conference. I also reached out to recruiters, law firms and the legal departments of mid-size and large companies.

The results were encouraging. I met many supportive people who introduced me to others, provided useful advice and inside job information. I am beginning to think that the legal community is not as gloomy and cutthroat as I was led to believe.

After the jump, I will share how many interviews I received and the job offers I am currently considering.

Unfortunately, my efforts did not result in a partnership offer nor a partnership-track position at Biglaw with benefits and bonuses. What I did get was two phone interviews with recruiters. One represented a large semi-legal firm with offices in major cities. Another was with a recruiter representing some local small and mid-size law firms. One of these interviews resulted in a job offer for a seasonal position in the West Coast. But I had to turn it down because the temporary nature of the job and its uncertain future prospects did not justify a move to a different time zone and disrupting my current practice.

OK, so I got no meaningful results after networking and applying to all of the positions that fit my interests and skill sets. It was like living my 3L year all over again.

At this point, I feel like I hit a brick wall and job inertia begins to set in. Some of you know this feeling. You are broke because you spent a ton of money joining organizations, going to mixers, conferences and buying lunches for people. As a result, you have to defer student loans and other bills making you feel anxious. You lose motivation as relevant job openings seldom appear and people start to forget you. And after reaching out to all of your contacts, you feel like there is no one left to turn to.

But the worst part is waiting. Waiting for someone to acknowledge you exist. Waiting for someone to give you job leads. And waiting for any hiring decisions or the ding letter. As the waiting gets longer, you question why you are working so hard and whether it is all worth it.

Eventually, you stop looking and drop out of the race.

Most people in a similar situation will do one or more of the following: Accept any legal position and hope something good comes out of it. Take a temporary non-legal position which somehow ends up being a permanent one. Maybe start a solo practice and dabble in a few areas. Or get angry and depressed. I should know because I have done all four. Now there is nothing wrong with any of the above choices. You have to do what you have to do sometimes and make the best of it. Even being depressed and angry can act as a catalyst for beneficial change so long as you keep the moping to a minimum and get professional help if needed.

Am I discouraged? Absolutely. But it helps to see that this not just a race to find a job. It is also a journey in self-improvement. My shortcomings will be exposed and I will fix them. And despite the inevitable setbacks and failures along the way, the journey itself can be just as fulfilling as reaching the finish line.

I learned a few things so far. First, there are people who want to help you succeed. They will do more than just give empty clichés and platitudes. Find them. Show them what you are capable of. If they give you an opportunity, don’t screw it up. Most importantly, be grateful for their help.

Second, unless you make an impression, people forget you quickly, especially if they just met you. Follow up with relevant contacts and stay in touch regularly without being pushy. Or creepy.

Overcoming inertia requires action. I will continue my solo practice and wait for new job openings to appear and new opportunities to arise. I will keep networking even though I loathe it sometimes. But I have to differentiate myself somehow or I won’t be noticed.

I want to thank all of the readers who emailed me offering to help. I ask that you reach out to someone you know who is looking for a job. Forward her leads and introduce her to potential employers. Give her constructive criticism as needed. If she is shy, go to networking events together and share a cosmo. Give her sisterly support when she is at her lowest. If all of your friends are gainfully employed, you can forward job opportunities to your school’s career development office or to your network. Or volunteer to be a mentor. Because there is a chance that the person you help is me.

Finally, for those who are also searching for a job, hang in there. This is a journey with a goal but no map showing how to get there. So be persistent and patient. If all else fails, email me. I’m here for you. While I can’t be your career counselor or your therapist, I promise I will listen.

(hidden for your protection)

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