chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

After the Bar

Career Resources

How to Have a Legal Career You Love

Jena Emory

How to Have a Legal Career You Love
JLco - Julia Amaral via iStock

Jump to:

Having a career you love is an important goal and is achievable. While you may not be in your dream job now, you can begin planning and preparing for the day you land your dream job. Traci Ray, executive director of Barran Liebman, and Rachelle J. Canter, president of RJC Associates, recommend the following three tools for obtaining your dream job:

  1. create a career plan
  2. draft a competitive resume
  3. network

Creating a Career Plan

A career plan is a road map toward a career goal. A career plan can be as basic as answering three questions: First, what are your career goals? Second, what are your plans to increase your marketability in the next year? Finally, how do you plan to increase your skills and marketability in the next three to five years? With that simple framework in mind, you can fill in the details. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with multiple long-term goals, focus on one manageable, measurable step at a time. As you complete each step, you will gain momentum toward your long-term goal.

Keep Your Career Plan Updated

Your career plan is a living document, and you can update it as your plans and desires change. Find people to discuss your career plan with and hold you accountable. These people may be able to help or provide referrals.

Use Your Calendar

Use your calendar as a tool to document your career steps. After completing each step, note on your calendar whether the meeting or project furthered your career goals. Document both your successes and failures to learn from both.

Drafting a Resume

A powerful resume depends on results, not responsibilities. There will always be a candidate from a better law school and a better firm. Highlighting your accomplishments will differentiate you from your competition.

Creating an accomplishment-oriented resume will take time. Consider the following tips.

  • Update your resume often to reflect your most recent accomplishments and quantify your accomplishments (e.g., number of motions drafted, number of cases tried).
  • Keep a living document where you record your successes during the week.
  • Record the projects you completed in record time and the results you achieved. This will help you when you are updating your resume.
  • Tailor your resume to show that you are uniquely qualified for the job you are applying for, and it should not be more than two pages long.
  • When you are trying to get ideas for your career and resume, look at people's resumes with the jobs you want. This will help you plan out your next career steps to get to the same place.


Remember to have fun while networking. If you are enjoying yourself, you can build genuine relationships and connections. Networking should also be reciprocal. Instead of only focusing on what other people have to offer you, look for ways to help other people. If you are not reaping any benefits from networking in a particular situation or organization, seek other opportunities.

Use LinkedIn

Networking is also a transferable skill. You can network for clients or network within your community to get a job. The best networking opportunities for clients will be determined by your practice area. If your clients are businesses, you need to find opportunities to connect with business leaders and owners. If most of your business comes from referrals, you need to network with other lawyers. LinkedIn is an invaluable resource to assist with networking. Connect with new people you meet on LinkedIn. Research shows that 70–80 percent of jobs come from your network; therefore, LinkedIn can be a way to leverage your connections to obtain a job.

These three tools can help you plan for your career years down the road and reach your career goals. With careful planning, accountability, and networking, your dream job can become a reality.