The media tell us the economy is on the mend. For many young lawyers who graduated law school during or after the recession, we'll believe it when we see it. Jobs for new lawyers are scarce and when they do exist they are fiercely competitive. It isn't uncommon to see a junior position or even a contract lawyer job that requires five-plus years of experience.
So, there is a dearth of jobs, but that's only half the story. Even when new lawyers bag a job, it is often part-time, trial, paralegal or temporary. Maybe even as troubling, many employers can't or won't train new lawyers. Months or years out of law school, it is a tough pill to swallow when we realize law school did not really prepare us for the actual practice of lawyering. Mentoring is crucial, but also hard to come by.
So, what are new lawyers to do when jobs, training and mentoring are unavailable? They get creative. Newer lawyers are making jobs for themselves by going solo earlier in their careers. But, they aren't going about it in the same way.
New lawyers are trying to find a window. With older lawyers retiring later and later, new lawyers are looking for a new opportunity within the practice of law. We are making room for ourselves with new and emerging areas of law ... fringe, you might say. I know lawyers carving out practice areas in microenterprise law, yoga law, social media law and pot law ("cannabis" law, to be precise).
But even within these new areas of law, new lawyers are getting creative about how and where they market themselves. It shouldn't be a surprise that phone book ads are a thing of the past. Paying for advertising or marketing is becoming rare for many new lawyers.
Though new lawyers face a lot of challenges, our great advantage is technology. Lawyers used to have to actually purchase law books, have tons of space for file cabinets and boxes of paper, have a brick-and-mortar office, and pay for advertising. Now legal resources, data storage and even marketing can all be stored and maintained in a laptop or online. New lawyers are going paperless and using the cloud to store files. All case law, statutes and court rules can be found online, too.
I consider the Internet the great equalizer when it comes to new lawyers hanging a shingle. If you know what you are doing, even a new law grad can cast a large footprint on the Internet.
New lawyers aren't just embracing social media such as Facebook and Twitter; we are maximizing our use of Yelp, LinkedIn, Google+ and Avvo. We know about Google Analytics and email marketing. We blog, we tweet, we send e-newsletters and we track the use of our websites.
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