Advice For Women Looking Into Legal Careers
Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:32pm | by jennaleesmith1
The legal profession, all jokes aside, is a noble one. It is also a highly competitive field, one in which it is difficult to make a name for yourself. It is not, however, impossible to get in there and really shine. Here are some tips to help you do that.
As soon as you feel even an inkling that you’d like to become an attorney, start doing your research. You don’t have to make a commitment to the profession right now, but you should start learning more about it. There are a lot of articles and books out there that describe the realities of the profession. It’s better, however, to meet with an actual legal professional and get a firsthand account of what it would be like as well as the work required to become an attorney yourself.
Call around to different law firms in your local area and ask about job shadowing programs. These programs are exactly what it sounds like. You would shadow someone at the firm and see what they do all day every day. This is a step you really shouldn’t skip because, unfortunately, the legal profession is still very much a boy’s club and, as a woman, you need every advantage and reference you can get. Job shadowing is a great way to start building up your references and experience—you can start as early as high school.
The internship is highly important. An internship in a large firm, particularly if it is headed by someone who is prominent within the legal profession is even better. Major firms stand out when future employers skim your resume. More importantly, internships often lead to employment at the same firm once you’ve graduated. Start applying for them as early as you possibly can. Do not wait until your junior or senior year of undergrad to start looking for these coveted positions. Start applying for them as soon as you get to college (or even the summer before your freshman year).
Volunteer your time. Remember: every other legal hopeful is going to have undergrad and grad degrees, internships and job shadowing on their resumes too. Your community service is where you can really stand out. Work with kids. Head up neighborhood and city beautification projects. Feed the hungry. Volunteer for a local church. Your volunteer work shows dedication even when it isn’t monetarily rewarded. It can also help you demonstrate leadership and communication skills, both of which are priorities for every law firm when it comes to new hires.
The simple fact is that, while much work has been done, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to level the playing field for women in the legal profession. You’re going to have to put in more time, get better grades, etc to prove that you are just as dedicated as the men are to becoming a successful attorney. But don’t get discouraged! If you work hard, you’ll get there!