August 12, 2020
Five Ways to Help New Lawyers With the Job Search
By Noel Courage
Many lawyers recently called to the bar have found themselves without a job in hand. I have seen many down job markets in my 20+ years of practice. I was starting my career in one of them many years ago, and recently reflected on this in a podcast, which got me thinking about today’s job seekers. To state the obvious, it is a difficult job market now for new lawyers in many areas of practice. Law firms and companies are sandwiched between a global pandemic and a weak economy. They are still a bit shell-shocked, worried about revenue, expenses and debt. Hiring freezes are often the norm. This Dilbert cartoon captures a little of the frustration of a job search. During this precarious period, freshly minted lawyers are using cold e-mails, and trying to arrange phone or video calls to seek job help.
Calls can start awkwardly – by nature, lawyers like to solve problems, and a struggling job market doesn’t have a ready solution. Suggesting directions for a new lawyer to pursue feels like pointing at a few different hills in a dessert: “climb them all, maybe you will find water on the other side, I really don’t know, I’m sorry.” Even though we may have little to offer in terms of immediate job opportunities, it is still important to take these calls. Keep in mind that job seekers get a lot of gratuitous advice from all sides, but are specifically seeking your advice. My practice is to never ignore a call or an e-mail, and I encourage other established lawyers to do the same. If someone else at my firm is better equipped to answer the call, I will make an introduction.
How to Become an Effective Ally to New Lawyers – Key Takeaways
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to assisting new lawyers, since we all have different backgrounds and interests. Here are my top five suggestions on how to make your ‘call with a new call’ productive:
A simple call or email reply is a very helpful act of “micro-mentoring” if it solves a problem or gets the job-seeker a couple of steps farther ahead. I recalled in my podcast that I had two professors in university whose simple acts of mentoring still remain important to my own career. An English professor once told me that I wrote well and encouraged me to write more. His positive words gave me confidence in my writing. Also, my biochemistry prof told me about career opportunities for scientists in patent law. Before that day, I did not even know that my future career path existed.
All things considered, the cold-calling job seeker knows that we probably don’t have a job for them, so you can get that out of the way early if that is the case. A realistic new lawyer isn’t asking us to tell them where the oasis is, but just to help them prepare to find it. We have all benefitted from advice from a more senior lawyer when starting out, so take time to pay it forward, and make your own lasting impact.
This article was first published by The Lawyer's Daily on July 31, 2020. Click here to read original article.
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