Starting a Legal Career in a Virtual World
July 11, 2023
As attorneys nationwide continue to work remotely, new approaches to networking are required for law students to stand out in a virtual working environment for the foreseeable future. A panel of legal analysts discussed pandemic-induced obstacles as well as opportunities for law students. See the conversation in full on our on-demand videos or check out the key takeaways below.
Narrow Your Focus
Since 2020, there has been rapid growth and transformation in the legal industry. Increasingly, law students need to learn how to leverage new tools to stay competitive and land their first job.
An explosion of artificial intelligence has allowed legal entrants to eliminate more rote tasks, thereby freeing up more time to think critically and take on advisory responsibilities to key research questions, which is a huge value add to legal firms and organizations.
However, the virtual world presents unique challenges for job seekers, including getting your foot in the door. To stand out among other candidates on employment websites, law students must be even more self-directed and engage in intentional outreach.
It is advised against taking a scattershot approach – aka mass-emailing prospects. Instead, job seekers should narrow their focus by learning about companies that align with their interests and then doing a deep dive on those selected firms.
Understand the Firm
Job seekers must persuasively articulate their intent in joining a firm. Hiring managers want to know why entrants want to be part of their organization and what they can bring to the table.
Persuasiveness hinges on speaking from the law firm’s perspective – and not that of the job seeker. This is often a pain point for entrants. Job seekers should discuss what they can bring to the firm and not how the firm fits into their broader career plan.
It is most effective to say, “I’m interested in this practice areas, because I’ve developed the skill sets that can help the clients of your organization.”
Showcase Emotional Intelligence
Since much communication is done virtually, job seekers cannot rely as heavily on social cues and must hone the craft of emotional literary while writing to prospective employers.
For example, entrants should avoid appeals to prospects with any hint of a transactional undertone. Instead, communication should be genuine.
To display genuine communication, you should keep detailed notes of conversations in a Word Doc or spreadsheet, in which you can reference in follow up interviews. Personalized touches help to make a favorable impression.
Keep It Brief
Respect people’s time by keeping things brief during an interview. 15 to 20 minutes is ideal. Brevity also keeps a conversation focused.
Similarly, when constructing an outreach or follow up email, condense your main points.
As the job search gets underway, students must find ways to embrace ambiguity, which may prove challenging for those who are Type A. Be patient and flexible.
As virtual work environments continue to shapeshift, legal entrants must be adaptable to changes along the way.