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What Law Firms Look For in Recent Graduates

Finding a job. That’s the goal, right–the whole reason you went to law school in the first place.

So how do you do that? How do you impress the partners and human resources professionals at law firms?

Here are four key things that law firms look for in recent graduates:

PerformanceWhat Law Firms Look For in Recent Graduates
As with any profession, those looking for entry level jobs who have a track record of performing well are more likely to catch an employer’s eye than those who haven’t done so well. So the best way to make sure your resume makes it past the initial screening is to finish in the top 10 percent of your class.

But being a top performer goes beyond coursework. Employers also look for applicants who have some real-world experience. This means writing for a law review or journal, working with real clients in a clinic and working in an externship–and doing it all well.

Your resume and cover letter are your calling cards. Make sure they read well and are typo-free. When it comes to lawyering, attention to detail matters.

And when you get to the interview, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Wear a suit. Have it dry cleaned. Shine your shoes. It matters to employers because they’re looking for someone who will not only be working for the firm but representing the firm as well.

People Skills
It’s been said that finding a job is more about who you know than what you know. This is largely true, especially in today’s competitive legal job market.

So start networking as soon as possible. Take every opportunity to talk to and impress alumni at your law school. Ask smart questions. Demonstrate your sincere interest in the law. And treat every interaction as a job interview.

One of the key things to remember is that law firms are looking to hire the right people as well as people who will be a good fit with their firm.

Research firms. Find out what their cultures are like. Apply to those in which your personality will be a good fit. And then demonstrate to their partners and HR people that you’re eager to join their team.

You have energy, ambition and a work ethic; otherwise you wouldn’t have gone to law school in the first place. Let is show through and you might find that a firm is willing to give you a shot.

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