SciTech Job Search Strategies for a Challenging Economy
SciTech Leaders Share Job Search Strategies at Rutgers School of Law - Newark
On November 10, 2009, the ABA Section of Science & Technology Law held a panel at Rutgers School of Law – Newark entitled Job Search Strategies for a Challenging Economy. The event was attended by over fifty people including current students, recent law graduates, and local practitioners.
The panel was led by the Section of Science & Technology Law Section Chair Christine Grant, who is also an alumnus of Rutgers School of Law – Newark. She was accompanied by Section members Richard L. Field and Sean F. Kane. Although they could provide no panacea for the pitiless job market of this current recession, the panelists offered advice on maximizing your attractiveness to employers. To this end, panelists stressed the importance of flexibility, specialization, and networking.
Grant, a former Commissioner of Health and Senior Services for the State of New Jersey, reminded students to keep their goals but remain “flexible, adaptable, and nimble” in their job search. For example, Grant noted that the area’s major law firms have a web of outposts in smaller markets throughout the country. Despite a satellite office’s distance from the firm’s nucleus, it remains closely integrated within the organization. After distinguishing yourself at the satellite office, there is the possibility of moving laterally within the firm back to this area.
Kane, a graduate of Fordham University School of Law during a similar economic downturn, echoed this advice. Shortly before taking the bar examinations, the firm Kane had accepted an offer from had dissolved. Despite this unfortunate turn of events, Kane was able to find a job by expanding his search and nimbly reaching out to every potential contact he had. “The key,” Kane said, “is to remain entrepreneurial.”
Another tip the panel recommended to increase your employment value was to find a niche. Kane, founder of Kane & Associates LLC , recommended specializing in areas not already “overrun by lawyers” and publishing as much as possible. For example, Kane has become an expert in the burgeoning legal areas of videogames and virtual worlds. Kane put the specialization process in Gladwellian terms : “You have to be prepared to commit thousands of hours doing work that you don’t expect to be paid for.”
Field is a solo practitioner, who specializes in financial systems, information technology law and policy. He suggested that the niche may also find you. “Sometimes you’re the only one in the office when the call comes in,” Field said, “and you end up becoming the expert.”
Finally, the panelists touted the virtues of various types of networking. “Because of the Internet,” Grant reminded, “face time is now at a premium.” Professional organizations like the American Bar Association provide students and practitioners opportunities to meet and share ideas. The Section of Science & Technology Law offers several leadership opportunities for students to partner with industry experts. Field recalled that attending meetings and observing a practice area’s leading members helped hone his craft.
Less formal networking venues can also be invaluable as a young practitioner. As an associate, Kane was invited to a regular meeting with a group of senior partners because he enjoyed the same cigars and single-malts as the partners. Similarly, Field regularly ate lunch with other junior lawyers from the financial sector.
Participating in a broad range of networking events allows others in your field to get to know you professionally and personally. Effective networking is about making deep and lasting connections with colleagues. “Once people start seeing you in several different places—” Field advised “—people will vouch for you.”
J.D. Candidate, 2010
Rutgers School of Law | Newark
President, Student Bar Association