This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of TYL, a publication of the ABA Young Lawyers Division. Authored by Sarah Breen, the division director of permanent placement/recruiting at Parker + Lynch Legal in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Angie Rentz, the attorney search & placement director at Parker + Lynch Legal in Chicago, Illinois.
Who among us is not on the quest to find a dream job, that elusive opportunity where we are challenged daily, have a great work-life balance, see a clear path for advancement, and are generally happy to get up and go to work in the morning? Sometimes we get lucky, and the perfect opportunity presents itself at the perfect time. Other times, we need to find our dream job when we aren’t in a great work situation, or worse yet, when we are unemployed. Between the two of us, we have navigated both of these scenarios in our legal careers and have lived to tell the tale. You can, too.
Here we offer a variety of tips to help you navigate the legal market and interview process. For those of you who feel unhappy or uncertain about your current situation, and even for those of you who have lost your job and are unemployed, we promise, hope is not lost. It may not be easy, but if you put in the effort, you too can get there.
Whichever boat you are in—the one with the tiny leak or the one that feels like it is sinking—the first step toward your next great opportunity is getting to know the market. The legal job market is just that: a market. It has its highs and lows, and this is true in terms of both geographic location and practice area. If you are fortunate enough to wait to change jobs until the market in your location and practice area is “hot,” or what we would call a “candidate-driven market,” you can use the demand for your skillset in your favor when it comes to selecting your next position and negotiating your compensation. However, if you need to make a move when the market isn’t exactly booming, there are options to help you swing the pendulum back in your favor.