The sudden rise in interest in law, that was witnessed during 2009-10 when more than 171,000 individuals – an all-time high – sat in LSAT, finally seems to be ebbing. This year only a little over 105,000 students have taken the test. These figures can be read in two ways:
Fewer law students will let in a breath of fresh air in the already crowded profession; which is a good news for those applying to the law school now.
The declining number of students is a harbinger of fewer jobs, lower salaries, and more intense competition in the years to come.
I do not claim to know which of the two interpretations will hold true three or four years from now. But there is one thing I know: things that you can do to stay ahead of the curve and find that coveted job with a large law firm that offers you your dream salary.
This hub shares with you four techniques – from the time you enter the school to finding your first firm – that will help you pull ahead and become the successful lawyer you have always dream of.
Focus on First-year Grades
Many students, on finding admission into their dream law school, lose the incentive to study. The argument goes that the job is still three years away so they can slack off a bit. This is dangerous. First-year grades are crucial if you want to secure a summer associate position. Many times these summer positions eventually morph into permanent jobs. And this does not end here. When you finish your school and go out to hunt a job, most firms and companies ask you to show them your entire law school transcript. Do not let it slip out of your mind that grades have a tendency to follow you around, so if you start strong you can plan for a strong finish.
Check Out the Bar Requirements for the States You Plan to Work In
Bar requirements vary between the states. For instance, New York requires you to take the multistate portion of the bar exam and the essay portion simultaneously. It means you cannot just wake up one day and decide to prepare for the essay portion – while forgetting about the multistate part. You will have to take them both at the same time. Other states have similar requirements. Check out the requisites for the states you plan to work in and then prepare accordingly.
Federal Clerkship is for Litigators
Consider strongly partaking into a federal clerkship if you eventually plan to become a litigator. Although there is an alternative: you can opt to do a clerkship after your have found a job. But it will mean taking a break from your career. Therefore this is not recommended because only few lawyers can afford to work for a marginal income instead of a full-fledged job. Opt for a federal clerkship while you are still in school.
Law Firm Prestige Matters
Although the prestige of a law firm is not the only consideration to take into account when you are applying for an internship or a summer job, it is very important. Many times smaller firms offer a better hands-on experience. But many prospective employers have a penchant to favor candidates from reputed and prestigious firms. Start making a list of prestigious firms while you are still in school.
Despite the fewer number of individuals taking the LSAT, the legal profession remains one of the most competitive in the U.S. You cannot afford to slack off if you plan to become a successful lawyer. Study diligently from the first day at school, keep an eye on bar requirements, do federal clerkship (if you plan to become a litigator), and prefer to an internship at a prestigious law firm.