On Exploring Alternative Legal Career Opportunities

Published: Jan 11, 2011

Topics: Law  

Yesterday I wrote a post in response to David Segal’s New York Times article Is Law School a Losing Game? In that post, I urged law schools to branch out and provide students with resources for alternative legal careers. I’ve received some feedback that there are no jobs in any legal sectors, and even if there are, the abundance of unemployed lawyers makes those jobs ultra-competitive. And you’re right. I didn’t mean to suggest that non-BigLaw is a promised land of legal career success.

The legal job market is tough. Period.

That being said, if you’re in law school or are an unemployed lawyer, focusing on one area of the legal field (like BigLaw) in this economic climate may limit any opportunities that do exist (there aren’t many, but there are some). When I was in law school, most of the career resources were centered on BigLaw. With BigLaw’s ongoing metamorphosis, smaller class sizes, and layoffs, far fewer law students will be lacing up those white shoes.

So preparing students solely for BigLaw job searches may not expose students and alumni to 1. other areas to search for employment, 2. interview techniques and resume preparation for alternative legal jobs, 3. networking opportunities with non-BigLaw attorneys, 4. internship opportunities, 5. a sense of the competition for alternative legal jobs and 6. the candidate requirements for these jobs.

Providing such resources will not open a floodgate of legal jobs. As I said earlier, the legal job market is challenging. Now that there are less BigLaw jobs, more would-be-law-firm attorneys are searching for alternative legal careers, making these jobs (the few that are out there) even more competitive. But offering diverse career resources may provide law students (and those considering law school) a more transparent view of the entire legal market. And while jobs are scarce, broader knowledge of the market will give attorneys and law students an understanding of opportunities that do exist, how competitive these opportunities are, realistic salary ranges, and the qualifications required. This transparency can help prospective students decide if law school is the right move and can help law students and lawyers make connections, consider various career options, and be prepared should any opportunities arise.

Stay tuned to Vault Law over the next few weeks for more information on alternative legal careers. If you are in the midst of your legal job search and aren’t sure where to look, check out some of these resources:
Vault.com Job Board
LinkedIn Job Board
The Ladders
Lateral Link
indeed.com & simplyhired.com (both sites search across multiple job listings).

[NYT Article]

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