So, Some Law Grads Actually Get Jobs—But How?

mizzou lawWHEN THE TIMING IS RIGHT 
Like many law school students, Rob, who didn’t want to be identified in this article, started off with political aspirations.
He’d interned for state senator and attorney Jack Goodman, and he saw himself taking a similar path: going into private practice, or taking any role where he’d make enough to support himself and eventually run for state office. Accordingly, he enrolled in Mizzou’s Juris Doctor/Masters of Public Affairs dual degree program.
But Rob, who graduated last December, eventually became disenchanted with politics. “Really, by the time I graduated from law school, my only goal for finding a job was to do something I’m proud of and make enough money to provide for myself,” he says.
During law school, Rob zeroed in on a job that fit the bill. “I started doing an internship in prosecution the summer after what would’ve been my 3L year and wound up enjoying that a whole lot and wanting to go that route,” he says. The seven-month internship took place in a municipal court, and Rob felt like a lawyer in every sense of the word—he just wasn’t getting paid.
He didn’t really know how lawyers found jobs, so he went out on a limb and sent a letter to each county prosecutor within an hour of his hometown. “I didn’t really get any sort of positive response doing that,” he says. “Most of the counties around here are pretty rural. They usually have one assistant prosecuting attorney that’s been doing it as a career, and there’s not a whole lot of turnover.”
This method finally worked once a personal connection came into play. His father had worked with one of the county prosecutors; Rob had already sent a resume and cover letter four months before, but after his father mentioned him, the prosecutor agreed to give Rob a call. They set up an appointment, and Rob came out of it with a standing offer contingent on his bar results.
Why did things suddenly move so quickly? Part of it was timing. There happened to be an opening, and Rob got the sense that there weren’t many recent law school graduates interested in prosecution. Plus, as with most interviews, there was a subjective element: The prosecutor was a fellow Mizzou graduate. “I think going to the same law school and both of us sort of having experience in politics kind of played into it,” he says.
Rob’s advice for undergrads is to make connections as early as possible. “Try to have a job before you go to law school,” he says. “Know somebody who can help you out somewhere down the line.”
Of course, he wouldn’t have actually gotten the job without relevant experience, so Rob also recommends narrowing your focus early on and gaining as much hands-on training as you can. “Missouri has ‘Rule 13’ certification, which allows law students doing internships in public service to gain courtroom experience as long as they are supervised by a licensed attorney,“ he says.
Ultimately, though, Rob was lucky enough to want a job that few of his peers were after. From his interview, he “kind of got the idea from him that there weren’t many recent law school graduates that were interested in prosecution,” he says—not that he’s complaining.

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