Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Tips for The Jobless Lawyer This Holiday Season

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You’re already feeling the pressure.  Six months since graduation, five since you took the bar – even less since you passed.  Your student loan grace periods are ending.  And on top of it all, it’s the holidays and you still don’t have a job as an attorney!  Try to keep your Grinch at bay, and try these tips to get you through this holiday season.

1.      Take Advantage of Temporary Employment:  Part-time work is abundant during the holidays.  Yes, the whole point of getting an advanced degree was so you wouldn’t have to fold one more sweater, but hear me out.  It is imperative that you can pay your upcoming bar membership fees and CLEs so you can keep an active license.  Going inactive will not get you a job as an attorney.  These things add up and stowing away as much income from a holiday job can really help.  The bonus – it’s temporary!  You aren’t committed.  You will have time to look for your career job, and it’s less likely that there will be hurt feelings if you quit the temp job on short notice.
2.      Gifts:  This is a two-sided tip.  Don’t spend money that you don’t have.  Talk to your friends and family and explain that you may only be able to give something small or nothing at all this year.  You can always offer a helping hand (best if kept non-legal) with something around the house or babysitting for a friend as a gift instead.  On the other side, if your friends and family are cool with not getting something from you and are feeling generous any way, ask for them to chip in towards bar association memberships, an online CLE course, a student loan payment, or a ream of paper so you can print more résumés.  Do you really need a blender or an iPod?  No, you need a job.
3.      Holiday Events:  If you’re a member of a bar association, there may be a holiday gathering you can attend for free or at little cost.  Maybe you have a friend who is working at a firm.  If their firm is having a holiday party, see if you can go as a date.  Use the opportunity to mingle and expand your network.  Avoid going in guns blazing for that job; it will turn people off.  Just relax and try to get to know people, expecting nothing in return.  Make a good impression – dress appropriately and don’t overdo it on the cocktails.
4.      Prevent Gaps:  It’s very important to keep the gaps out of your résumé and to keep your skills sharp.  Volunteer on a bar association committee or offer to do a presentation.  See if a firm needs help with a pro bono case.  Get your Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) certification and sign up with the court to offer your services.
5.      Keep Searching:  People tend to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit, slowing down and humming Christmas tunes, and that spirit is starting earlier each year.  Take advantage of that lag when others aren’t putting forth effort.  Plus, why waste any moment not looking?  Sometimes all it takes is lucky timing.

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