One thing I Wish I Would Have Known before starting law school: Finding a Job After Law School is Harder Than You Think.
I am finishing up my first semester of my second year, so while I have had to do a summer job search and I am now starting to try to figure out if I can get an internship and job for next semester and the upcoming summer, I have not yet had to go through the nightmare of finding employment after graduation. Before I came to law school I had this naive impression that you go to law school for 3 years, you pass the bar, and then *Poof* you become an attorney with a $90,000+ paycheck.
Oh how wrong I was. It's great if you are in the top 10% and can get an OCI job that turns into a job offer for after graduation before you even start your last year of law school (not to mention the paycheck that goes with these jobs is pretty hefty). But what if you aren't in the top 10%? I know I have said it before and I will say it again: 90% of your class will NOT be in the top 10%. It seems simple enough, but it is oh so easy to forget.
So if you are going to law school thinking that you will put in your 3 years and come out with a fantastic job, think again. It is totally possible to find a great job, but the jobs are not just going to land in your lap. In addition to surviving 3 years of law school you will also have to be ready to embark upon some serious networking and job hunting while you are in school. Trying to balance everything can be a challenge. Those who work hard tend to find jobs either before or right after graduating and passing the bar, but those who think that because they have a law degree they should be able to just have a job handed to them are usually in for a rude awakening, and it really sucks if your first student loan bill comes while you are still unemployed.
So how do I know all of this if I'm just a 2L? Well, I have friends who are 3Ls and I have never seen them so stressed out before. November 1 really seemed to be the signal to all of the 3Ls without job offers to kick the stress into high gear. I hope that I won't be in their position next year, but I likely will be. I really don't think anyone can emphasize enough the importance of making connections with practicing attorneys and getting practical experience while you are in law school (internships, clinics, law clerking, etc). It is a lot easier to find a job if you know people in the field and you have some legal experience on your resume. Career services tells students this kind of stuff all of the time and yet a lot of people don't seem to listen. There is always a handful of people who make it to their 3rd year having never really worked in a law related job and who know nobody in the profession.
If you are really sure that you want to go to law school don't let the horror stories of unemployed recent graduates scare you away, just be prepared going in to work hard in school and to be diligent about taking the necessary steps to get a job well before graduation day finally arrives.