Legal Career

The job search journey

I think we can all agree that job searching is a stressful and discouraging experience. Add to that school debt and a desire  to keep professional skills sharp, and you have the perfect recipe for complete despair. Before embarking on my law school career I at least had an

Interview ready Photo courtesy of: shehasawaywithwords.wordpress.com
Interview ready
Photo courtesy of: shehasawaywithwords.wordpress.com

idea of what I was getting myself into, and I also had a very good idea of what I wanted out of the whole experience. What were those things? I wanted to give back to the community and make an impact on the world. I didn’t want big law–I wanted time to raise a family with my husband, and I didn’t want my career to define who I was. Money was not a significant selling point for me either (this can be tied into big law I guess). So with those core values in my head I ended up filling my resume with public sector government work, and I fell in love. I love that the public sector continually threw me in. I was amazed at how much I was trusted to do a good job. I was getting way more experience than my private sector law school colleagues, and the atmospheres were much more laid back, there were no billing requirements, and there was an essence of stability that I loved. At the CTA for example, I argued in court, I handled my own arbitration from start to finish, I researched and wrote memorandum on a wide range of law–everything from education law to torts and through employment law. On top of that, my supervising attorneys were phenomenal. This is where I wanted to be. So why aren’t I there now? Budgeting is the simple answer. That, and I missed the boat on a lot of the hiring. The good news is that I have faith something will open at some point in time. Until then, I have a very good idea of what I’m looking for after all of my experiences in law school. I have a feeling I will probably end up in the private sector to begin with, but I hope at some point in my career to fall back into public sector work. As long as the job aligns up with what I value my job should hopefully be a rewarding experience.

Since sitting for the bar I’ve applied for a vast array of jobs. Everything from insurance defense to immigration law. Sometimes I allow desperation to push me, but my husband reminds me that I’m allowed to be a little picky. I also try to trust my intuition, and listen to my heart during interviews. I went to one interview and felt undeniably uncomfortable through the entire conversation.  At another interview the partner asked me if I would feel comfortable kicking people out of their homes since I’d more than likely be assigned to their foreclosure unit. My heart sunk. Could I really do that? I mean, I could, but it would be really, really hard. I could also see it wearing at me emotionally. That’s what I get for being really sensitive and compassionate naturally. I get emotionally invested and just lose myself. I can’t hide from my heart, and I certainly cannot hide from God’s plan for me.

I’ve found it incredibly difficult to adjust according to the attorneys and partners who are interviewing me. People are so different. I’ve been on interviews that have lasted 5 minutes and others that have lasted 45 minutes. I’ve found that rapport is crucial in determining whether you make it to the next round. I know everyone has heard this one, but knowing your resume stone cold is probably the most important preparation you can do. I remember attending one interview while I was in law school, and I was grilled into the ground on my research tactics for certain legal issues I placed on my resume. I thank the Lord that my legal writing professors were amazing, and I was able to lay out my research techniques in a way the two attorneys interviewing me could follow. I ended up getting the offer, but I decided to go back to the CTA instead for other reasons.

The hardest part for me right now is acknowledging the fact that I am a workaholic. I have gone a million miles a minute since high school, and this lull in my life has resulted in workaholic withdrawals. In lots of ways, I recognize that this time is good for me. This time has been amazing. I’ve been able to volunteer, network, and I’ve been able to get back the summer vacation I lost while studying for the bar exam. Job searching is awful, no doubt, but I’ve also been given the opportunity to learn more about myself and more about what I want out of my career. I’m also surrounded by some truly amazing people who lift me up and remind me that all I need to do is to keep fighting. I’ve stayed in touch with all the attorneys I’ve worked with in the past, and they all have  their eyes peeled for me. It’s such a great feeling knowing that I left an impression like that on my supervising attorneys. I’m humbled when they reach out to me on their own accord. I know in the end I’ll end up where I’m supposed to.

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4 thoughts on “The job search journey

  1. ” I wanted to give back to the community and make an impact on the world”… I feel the same way, but just don’t know how best to go about doing that. All the best to you!

    1. I totally understand how you feel, and I think a lot of people think in terms of needing to do something big in order to make a difference in the world. The truth is, I’ve discovered that the smallest actions can make the biggest difference. When I volunteer at the courthouse to help people that don’t have a lot of money I have noticed that just listening to their stories is probably one of the greatest things I can do for them. So many just want someone to listen to them. There are literately hundreds of ways to help, big and small. A couple of ideas: talk to the homeless man on the corner of the street, donating old clothing or furniture, or volunteering at a soup kitchen if you have free time. Hope that helps :)

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