Post-Law School FAQs
How do I get a big Law Job?
Big Law jobs are some of the toughest jobs to come by. They obviously pay the highest with the most prestigious firms paying upwards of $190,000 for a first year’s salary. You need to graduate from some of the top schools, have impeccable grades, and in most cases, have participated on law review and/or clerked for a Federal Judge. For further reading, check out Breaking into Big Law.
How much are big law jobs paying?
Big Law (firms with more than 500 attorneys) can range wildely depending on the prestigie of the firm, and of course the billable rate. Some large firms may pay as little as $100,000 for a first year associate, while others may go as high as $190,000 for a first year associate, plus a year end bonus. One of the best websites that tracks this information is Abovethelaw.com
How can I tell if I my offer is the market rate?
One of the hardest things to do is to get an offer from a law firm, and to know whether they are offering you a competitive rate, or low-balling. There are a few good resources though that can help you determine if it is market. We’ve put together a database of lawyer salaries from the Federal Government for each state, by local market. You can check it out here!
How many applications should I send out?
The short answer is “as many as it takes.” Job searching is a full time job so to speak. However, do not blindly send out applications. Be strategic about it, and make sure that you garner your relationships.
What is the best way to get a job after law school?
Grow your network! Make sure that you are staying competitive by seeking out all avenues of job opportunity! Most people tend to hire either people they know, or people who they meet through other people. Check out our guide on the Hustle!
How should I prepare for an On Campus Interview?
First, research who you are meeting with. Ask your career counselor if they have been to the school to interview before. What helped others succeed before you. What mistakes did they make that you should avoid. For further tips on nailing your interview. Check out our guide.
Should I hire a recruiter?
The best answer is maybe. Recruiters for newly graduated individuals cost money. If you are someone who is making a lateral transition, and has a large book of business, then that is different (because you suddenly have become valuable to that recruiter, and they can make a fee off of you).
Should I clerk for a judge?
If you have the opportunity, yes, absolutely! It is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. The view from the bench allows you to see how two different sides interact. In addition, if you obtain a federal clerkship after law school, many firms will pay you a bonus, as it increases your marketability to their clients.
How should I craft my resume?
Your resume should not be just a standard resume. It should be crafted to fit the job post. Many companies nowadays use parsing software for resumes, in order to weed out unwanted candidates. Check out our guide on tips for crafting the perfect resume here.
Should I create more than one resume?
Absolutely, think about it. You are going to have multiple jobs, companies that you are going to be applying to. In addition, you are also going to be most likely applying to jobs in a variety of practice areas. Some will be for big law, others might be for clerking for judges. Your audience varies, and so is what they are looking for from you!
How do I draft the perfect cover letter?
The cover letter is just one part of your overall application package. Nowadays, most firms and companies use software to parse out the resumes first, and then go to the cover letter after the initial set of resumes are culled. Customization in that cover letter is key. You want to tell them a little bit about yourself, but also that you’ve done the research. Yale Law School has a great guide on this as well.
Should I write a thank you note after my interview?
Yes, it doesn’t have to be long or drawn out, but it should be done to show your appreciation of the interviewers time, as well as your knowledge of the conversation (show you were paying attention!)
How long should I wait before following up after an interview?
Do it within 24-hours.
When should I start looking to do a lateral hire?
You should really only be doing a lateral transfer when you have something to significantly gain (such as higher pay, or you are on the wrong side of a political climate, or there is a better, more prestigious firm out there for you. BCG Search.com, a recruiting company can be a great resource, and has written extensively on the subject.
How do I increase my marketability as a lawyer?
Your marketability as a lawyer depends on your ability to bring in jobs, bring in clients, and bring in a book of business. Increasing your marketability can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Winning cases/closing deals to show a consistent track record
- Writing articles to raise awareness around your skillset
- Networking (just because you got the job, doesn’t mean you’re done!)
- Getting referrals from existing clients.
For more on the subject, see Ryan Johnson’s guide to increasing your marketability as a junior associate.
Should I work a document review job?
Most likely you will be fine working on a document review job. The pay is definitely lower, but most firms nowadays recognize that most people may need to take a document review job before making it into law. Just note that you should continue to look, while working at a document review position (don’t become complacent).
Should I look for work, while on a contract position?
Similar to the above, you should always be looking for work, if you are either in a temporary position, or conducting document review (unless this is the chosen career path for you).