legal-career

As the song goes, it’s a jungle out there and every fresh law graduate can attest how difficult it is these days to get a firm footing in the legal world. For starters, it’s very difficult to land a job after graduation from law school. Add to that a debt burden right out of the school’s gate and no wonder, new lawyers have it bad.

Be that as it may, there are still opportunities to carve out a niche for one’s self in a cutthroat field such as the practice of law. The secret is in making the legal skills trifecta to work for you—building meaningful relationships, networking and professionalism.

Building Relationships and Communities

No man is an island and nowhere is this truer than in the legal space. Every person that you encounter is a potential client, employer or lead. But don’t look at people with dollar signs in your eyes but as potential friends and acquaintances whom you can help. By approaching relationship-building from this angle, you’ll be able to establish an image of genuine warmth and friendliness that draws people in.

Make sure that you nurture new acquaintances and friendships. While it’s important to store contact details into a notebook or smartphone immediately, include interesting details about each person you meet, then make it a point to connect with them based on these keen observations. The ways you reach out to them can be varied: a forwarded blog post, an invitation to a community gathering, a text message—sent along lines of common interests. Keeping in touch once every three months is a good rule to observe.

Networking

Although networking as an activity is often lumped with aggressive marketing and sales, it is still one of the more valuable activities that new lawyers can engage in to improve career chances. It is perhaps the one activity that goes before relationship-building—how do you acquire new friendships and acquaintances if you don’t go out there?

Networking is, first of all, a friendly act—you meet people, get to know them, what their life is like, and situate them where they are in the community. Your network is a good source of industry news and job leads. Of course, you don’t go into networking already a pro. One good technique when you’re just starting out is and getting yourself remembered is by connecting people with each other. For example, when a lawyer you know needs the help of an accountant you know, then you can easily become their conduit. This way, you’re effectively keeping yourself firmly within their circle.

Professionalism

You can stand heads and shoulders above your peers by showing in your manner and dress how much you esteem the legal profession.

In clothing, you avoid flamboyance (unless it is an image you’d rather cultivate). In behavior, you are encouraging and open. In dealing with others, you are respectful and considerate. In interactions, you are thoughtful and insightful. Carefully cultivated, this open, inoffensive, approachable persona will easily win hearts and minds and open career doors—you’ll be surprised to be remembered for your professionalism and panache.

A new lawyer doesn’t have it easy right after graduation. The market’s competitive and difficult to break into. But by working these three pillars into your job search strategy, you’re likely to get your new position or career boost sooner than you expected.