Job Search Tips for Young Lawyers

Matthew C. McCann

The following are lessons I learned about attorney job searching and networking during my recent six-month job hunt.

Job Boards

A significant portion of my job search involved applying to jobs online. I received interviews using the following platforms:

Zip Recruiter. This was one of the newer platforms and the clear winner for streamlined direct applications via a smartphone application. I appreciated that it would keep you posted on how many times your application was viewed. I also appreciated that it was a user-friendly experience provided free of charge.

LinkedIn. Upgrading to the premium membership during your job search can help highlight your application. Some listings are direct applications for which you indicate interest in the position, link the person seeking to fill the position with your LinkedIn profile, and attach a resume. A helpful search tool was the ability to search for positions within a geographic area, then limit that by certain keywords (attorney, litigation, etc.) and sort the results so that the most recent job listing fitting that criteria come up first.

Indeed. This site had the best options for saving job criteria and included salary information, which was good for weeding out non-starters. For example, if I searched for litigation attorney positions within 25 miles of my home zip code that paid 150K plus, that search would be saved when I logged back in, and any new positions meeting those criteria would be highlighted.

Law School Career Services. Learn what functions your law school career services platform may have. My law school uses Symplicity, which syncs with your LinkedIn account, and allows you to upload documents specifically tailored to opportunities available.

Develop a habit of checking all platforms on a regular basis.


My prior positions did not directly result from networking, but networking is crucial for building relationships. Here's what worked for me in my recent job search:

Contact a core group and be frank. I reached out personally and individually to a core group of a dozen attorneys. I had close relationships with each one, and I was totally frank regarding why I was leaving my job and what jobs I was seeking. I asked them directly to look within their firms and keep an eye out in their networks for suitable opportunities.

Draft messages for different target audiences. I drafted two LinkedIn messages with different target audiences: (1) lawyers and executives who worked at or with financial institutions and (2) attorneys and other executive staff within law firms. I kept up with these people but not as closely as those in the previous group. Each message was similar but I highlighted experiences suitable for in-house versus law firm positions, based on the audience. I also prepared two versions of resumes for each target group.

Remain active in professional networking groups. I continued to refer business through professional networking groups, but I asked members to help me search for a new position instead of keeping me in mind for client referrals. In response, members generously reached out on my behalf to hiring managers at law firms and financial institutions where they worked or had strong connections.

Find a contact at the company and reach out. If I was interested in a position, company, or firm, I reached out to the person or people there with whom I had the strongest connection. I would make my initial contact by email and get right to the point: I was looking for a new position, why I was attracted to the firm or country, and why I would be attractive to the company. If I was applying for a specific position, usually, my contacts offered to make sure my application got into the right person’s hands. This approach also led to lunches, coffees, and in-office meetings with HR directors, law firm partners, and other individuals to discuss what possibilities might exist or become available even though they were not specifically looking at the time or my profile did not meet the criteria of the listed needs they were looking to fill.

Your self-doubt and anxiety can permeate an interview. Keep them in check through healthy and positive thinking. Never stop believing in yourself and what you have to offer your next employer and role. While you are going through a great deal of effort and some turmoil during the process, still concentrate on putting your best foot forward.


Matthew C. McCann


Matthew C. McCann is an associate with Liddle & Robinson, LLP in New York City.