Recruiters can help young JDs bridge the gap between academia and the practice of law.

An aspiring lawyer going to law school needs a useful map to navigate the terrain from earning a JD to building a career after graduation. However, at most schools, there is a large gap between academia and the actual practice of law. Most law schools have dedicated career counselors attempting to bridge this gap, but in most cases, these efforts focus on landing a first job and lend little insight into the long-term building of a purposeful legal career. Law school career counseling may offer generalized networking and interviewing guidance, but it often fails to provide clear knowledge on the different areas of legal professions. This leaves graduates on their own to research professional paths and alternative careers for lawyers. Therefore, many JDs leave school without any clear idea of specific career opportunities, and many JDs simply fall into a litigation practice by default.

With unclear career counsel as preparation for a huge, binding choice at a young age, many graduates find themselves pigeon-holed in very defined careers for lawyers once they enter the job force. It’s often inescapable to move away from such specialized positions and transition to other sorts of practices. When I chose to become a litigator, I was highly informed on the substance of the law, but woefully unaware of the procedure of legal careers. Entering the job force with little to no career path guidance often leads to job dissatisfaction down the road. As a recruiter, I often work with legal professionals who are looking for alternative, new directions for their careers.

So, how does a young JD take a purposeful, positive first step into their legal career? My advice would be to find lawyers in varying practices and get as clear of a sense of their day-to-day and month-to-month routines as possible. I also strongly recommend talking to a knowledgeable legal recruiter. Most recruiters have real-life experience practicing law, but unlike career counselors, they see not only entry-level professionals beginning their careers but also seasoned candidates make subsequent moves down the road. Recruiters understand the market and can help you understand your place in it. With a wider and more detailed view of longer career arcs in the legal profession, recruiters can help you make purposeful choices that will positively impact your career for years to come.

Offering more practical advice, recruiters can assist law school graduates in navigating the first steps in their professional careers. Are you a recent graduate looking for legal career counsel? Or are you a lawyer seeking a career change? We want to hear from you.