I Need a Job

QWhat is your best advice for someone trying to find a job now?  I graduated in May from a 2nd tier school in the top 30%, and I still don’t have a job. Also, I’m not a social moron, so that’s not the reason.

AThe primary reason you’re still in job hell is that the economy sucks.  When corporate deals begin to disappear, the easiest way for firms to save money is to decrease the number of first-year associates they hire.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t quality jobs out there.  You just have to work harder and more creatively to find them.  Right now, you’re an average looking dude looking to hook up with a hot chick at a bar.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.  You just have to be clever about your approach.  Brad Pitt—Editor of the Harvard Law Review—can just wink at one of ‘em, and boom, he’s out the door and back at his apartment, drinking wine and having sex.  Not you.

First thing to do is broaden the scope of your search.  Unless you’re absolutely committed to one city, send out resumes to firms in different places.  New York, Boston, D.C., Chicago, L.A., San Francisco.  Also consider applying for jobs in the public sector.  If you’re interested in corporate law, think about the SEC, the FDIC, etc. If you’re interested in being a litigator, think about the Justice Department, the FTC, the New York Corporation Counsel, etc.  You also need to take advantage of any and all contacts you might have.  Family friends, second cousins, “that guy” from college whose father is a big-shot lawyer.  And be aggressive about it.  Call them, email them, invite them out to lunch.  You never know where a job tip might come from, so stay active.  In the interim, you should also consider finding interesting part-time work.  But make sure it’s at a place that enhances your resume, not just your bank account.

Finally, stay positive.  You’ll find a job.  No doubt about it.  It’s easier said than done, I know.  But you need to remain optimistic and diligent.  Remember this: Right now, your job is to find a job.  So get up early and work hard.  Eight hours a day minimum.  Just like you would if you were working at a firm.  Good luck!

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.


  1. happyDA

    August 27, 2008 at 7:03 am

    You definitely wont make the money you would in a BF, but try public law or clerk for a year. You’ll learn a lot, make a lot of contacts, and have waaaay more fun than you would at a BF. AND they may even pay your student loans if you agree to stay for a while! Good luck. I don’t miss being in your shoes one bit.

  2. Brett

    September 14, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Do what I did when I was in your situation…check out the DA’s offices.  I live in Phoenix and the County Attorney’s Office here hires about 35 newbies every 6 months (mostly due to attrition).  The pay isn’t the best, but if you need a job and the loan payments are kicking in; $56K a year is better than nothing.  Plus, if you’re a half-way decent trial attorney, you’ll eventually start earning a good reputation.

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