At first glance, this article in the Houston Chronicle is somewhat depressing/discouraging. It kicks off with a student who is graduating from University of Houston Law Center but doesn’t yet have a job. According to the article:
“He’s making cold calls. He’s introducing himself to lawyers who come to the school for lectures. He’s even dropped in unannounced at law firms, something he discovered is frowned upon in the white-shoe world.”
Okay, hold on… let’s unpack that a little. First of all, I think at any law firm, white-shoe or otherwise, big no-no on the dropping in “unannounced.” Nobody wants to hire someone who spends time lurking in the lobby with no appointment. So I’m hoping that didn’t really happen.
Also, I am not sure about “cold calling” to get a job at a law firm. You aren’t selling fax machines. You’re seeking professional employment. Sure, you do need to put yourself out there and get in front of people who make sense based on what you want and the connections you’ve made, and perhaps you could get lucky by calling the right place at the right time even if you don’t have a connection to the place, but I don’t see how “cold calling” without some kind of strategy is going to do anything but frustrate you. Firms don’t hire that way. People don’t hire that way.
So what am I suggesting? Well, here is what I did:
I didn’t have family connections to help me break into BigLaw and I didn’t really know any lawyers prior to attending law school. Still, I figured someone I knew or had a connection to (if I didn’t actually know them) would know someone who could help me. I created a massive spreadsheet of firms where I wanted to work based on my research into those firms. My list didn’t just name the firms, it also cross-referenced people who worked at those firms with alumni from my law school, my college, work colleagues, professors, bosses, family and friends. This unwieldy document included years of cross-referenced contacts from my entire life, and contacts of contacts. And yes, I reached out to every single person on that list, to see who could help me, or knew someone who could help me. This may have been my version of a harassment campaign but it certainly wasn’t anything like cold calling. Because I always had some kind of identified connection when I was reaching out. It’s just easier that way and in my experience, more fruitful.
So don’t be depressed/discouraged about your prospects. As the Houston Chronicle article notes, there is a slow and steady increase in hiring (not just in Texas, I think this is true in most markets) but you have to work hard for these opportunities and always be strategic. I don’t think anyone should rely solely on their law school career services office or on OCI to get a job. These resources can be helpful and should be utilized but there is so much more you should be doing every day from day one.
Get in touch with me if you want to know more. I am always happy to help people trying to kick it into high gear and get a good job: