A recent report from the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) confirms that the legal marketplace is changing. Traditional private practice positions with large firms remain scarce; but, there is legal work available to those lucky enough to find it, and even for those brave enough to begin their professional experience as a solo practitioner.
For law graduates looking for a job, legal or non-legal, the YLD Member Service Team will publish a series of articles in The Young Lawyer this year, designed to highlight traditional job search necessities such as editing your resume, refining your interviewing style, and avoiding common job search pitfalls. The series will also include helpful articles on topics such as current hot practice areas, using your JD in a non-legal position, and increasing your networking prowess.
There is a new dynamic occurring in the legal marketplace that is best highlighted by the recent NALP report on employment rates for the class of 2011. The NALP reports that as of February 15, 2012, overall employment for 2011 legal graduates was 85.6 percent. Of those 2011 graduates whose employment status was known, 65.4 percent found jobs requiring bar passage, and 49.5 percent found jobs in law firms. Of the jobs secured by 2011 graduates, private practice continues to be where the majority of attorneys secure employment.
The data show a distinct trend of new graduates finding employment in small firms (defined by NALP as firms with 2–10 attorneys). As of February 15, 2012, small firms employed 44 percent of the 2011 graduates, while large firms employed 27.7 percent. The current trend of increased employment in smaller firms coincides with an increase in the percentage of law firm jobs reported as solo practice.
Your ability to secure employment with a small firm or legal department is usually tied to more than your resume and interview skills. Your attitude and the amount of time you spend looking for a job can affect your ability to find it. Attorneys who find work in this market have to be methodical in their approach to secure these positions. Be interactive and optimistic. Get out and engage others in person as much as possible. Often, this will lead to “being in the right place at the right time.” Also, make sure to do a reality check and be open to changing your idea of the “perfect” job. While looking for a job can be a frustrating process, keep a positive attitude, which will make people look at you positively. Job hunting in this market is difficult, and it is best to have support. Treat your job search as a full-time job and get to know your resources for a successful search. Whether your search is for a legal position with a small firm, a non-profit, or with the government, or even if you are searching for a non-legal job, the amount of time you commit to securing a job and your attitude about job hunting will affect your ability to secure a position. Keep reading future editions The Young Lawyer for more articles aimed at assisting you in your job search.