How to nail down a lawyer job before loans come due

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The ABA recently released statistics showing which law schools have the highest percentage of unemployed recent graduates. Now, ideally, you’ll score well on the LSAT and have more secure options available to you than any of those schools (I’m not trying to be dismissive of any of the listed institutions… but your odds of getting a return on investment are higher betting $150,000 on a single hand of blackjack… and that won’t take 3 years of your life). Putting the option of getting a higher LSAT score aside, this post is going to focus on the best ways to maximize your chances of getting a job while you’re actually in law school.

1.) Get Good Grades

Just as your LSAT is the single most important factor in your law school applications, your grades in law school (and more specifically the first semester of law school) are the single most important aspect of your job applications once you’re in law school. Firms often have grade cutoffs for candidates that they’ll consider; if your GPA is beneath the cutoff, it is very hard to overcome. To put yourself in the best position to receive the offer you want, you need to put your utmost effort into getting good grades during your first year.

2.) Network

As many a frat star has said, “It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.” Cultivating connections and building a good reputation among your peers is a great way to increase your chances of getting a job. Many legal communities are small enough that a strong recommendation from an important practitioner will go a long way. During law school, you should attend firm events, speak to attorneys, and create ties that you can leverage in the future. As Machiavellian as that may sound, it is a smart strategy and it will serve you going forward.

3.) Build Your Resume

The legal field is highly achievement-oriented. Law schools are ranked, law students within law schools are ranked, law journals are hierarchized, and law firms are closely rated and analyzed by myriad sites and services. If you want to become a marketable candidate in this highly achievement-oriented field, you need to make yourself stand out from the pack. Whether it is participating in relevant organizations at your law school, serving as a research assistant for a professor, or anything else, look for the “gold stars” that can help your resume reach the top of the stack.

If you focus on getting good grades, networking, and building your resume, you’ll put yourself in an excellent position to attain a job after graduation. If you’re putting three years of your life and three years worth of tuition dollars into a legal education, you should do everything to make sure that you don’t come out of school with nothing more to show from it than some grey hairs and empty pockets.

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