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Legal Job Search Basics

Find the right opportunity

Advance Your Legal Career

The legal job market can be a tough one to crack. If you graduated at the top of your class from Harvard Law, clerked for a Supreme Court justice and have several close relatives on Fortune 500 boards, you can probably write your own ticket. But for most mere mortals, finding the right job in the legal field can be a daunting task. Here are five things you can do to succeed in your legal job search.

Customize your resume

This document is likely to be the first impression you make on any prospective employer, yet too many candidates give it only cursory attention. Using the same cookie-cutter resume for every application is not smart. Tailor yours to the company and job for which you are applying. Play up the skills and background you have that best correlate with the job description.

Follow up

Sending a resume is not enough – you have to follow up on it. When a position opens up, employers are often barraged by hundreds of resumes. You want yours to stand out from the crowd. All it takes is a simple phone call or email to communicate that you’re really interested.


Build relationships. Join industry associations. Make yourself known to employers in the legal arena. Most employers prefer to hire people they know or who come recommended by people they know. You need to cultivate relationships with other lawyers who can provide you with information and access. At the same time, don’t overlook the nonlawyers. Friends, relatives, your doctor, your building manager: anyone could have contacts at a firm you want to work for.

Target your applications.

Sending out resumes to every law firm in the phone book is a waste of time. Make the effort to research employers that fit your skills and interests. Using resources such as Martindale-Hubbell (online at, you can search for law firms by practice area, size and location. From there, you can visit the firms' web sites and begin to track down suitable positions.

Law school resources

Take advantage of the career resources available from your law school. Most offer free employment-related services to their students. Contact the career center and meet with a counselor who can review your resume, help with your search strategy, make suggestions for networking and provide moral support.

Beyond Job Search Basics

After exploring these five options, search for a legal job.



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