As you have likely learned, the legal profession is highly dependent on developing a large network to provide you a strong group of colleagues and a source for clients. It’s also very important for the aspiring lawyer to consistently take opportunities to build skills and learn new things from real-world examples and those who are experienced within the profession.
When you enter law school, what you do in your early years in the legal profession can significantly increase your likelihood of finding meaningful employment following graduation.
Beyond the basics like working on your resume, here are a few tips for increasing your employability during law school:
Embrace Experiential Learning
Experiential learning is exactly what it sounds like: learning through experience. Educati0n is no longer just about sitting in a classroom and being passive recipients of others’ knowledge through lectures and readings. A true and effective education is all about getting out there and trying new things in new and diverse contexts where your legal knowledge can be applied, beyond the mandatory articling in a legal education.
For instance, you may choose to participate in faculty-led programs that integrate real case work into your curriculum, or you may find an opportunity to volunteer with a local legal or advocacy organization where you can see your legal education come to life. Get out there, and get experience now, so that when graduation hits, your resume already looks attractive, robust and well-developed.
Find a Mentor
One of the best ways to get to know the law is to have the benefit of those who are experienced within it to show you the ropes and pass on knowledge they have received through their experience. Perhaps there was someone who inspired you to go into law in the first place. Do they practice in an area that you can shadow them in? Will they let you sit in on meetings or observe them in court?
Perhaps you are interested in a certain area of law, but you’re not entirely sure if you want to specialize in that area. Take the opportunity to visit different attorneys and hear their stories, gain their wisdom, and find out from their experiences how you want to take your own legal career. Many busy and successful attorneys are not too giving of their time, but on the same token, many are eager to pass on what they know to young lawyers.
Higher education institutions offer students some of the most exciting opportunities to get engaged with a variety of activities and initiatives that can enhance the legal student’s portfolio. For instance, clubs systems in colleges and universities allow students to get together with like-minded students with similar goals to work towards a common goal such as advocacy, public education or outreach.
There are often legal clubs, community legal clinics, or clubs that are aligned with specific non-profits or parent organizations that will provide the legal student the opportunity to test their legal knowledge while gaining practical experience. Many opportunities will give the student avenues to pursue specific areas of law such as international law, human rights or family law to name a few due to the various links between campus clubs and community-based groups and initiatives.
It is no longer that easy for legal students to emerge from law school with just their legal degree under their belts. Now, firms and employers who hire people in legal-related roles look for a diverse resume that provides evidence that their prospective employee has been proactive in building their professional portfolios throughout their education.
No matter whether you’ve just been accepted to law school or you’re already months into your studies, you can never start too early in making yourself employable after graduation. The little steps you take now may just help you take a large leap beyond your cohorts when it comes to after-graduation career success.