How to Land a Job at a Top Tier Law Firm

It is the ultimate goal of every lawyer to work with a top tier law firm. The road toward this goal starts when you are still a Juris Doctor student. Academic performance during your Bachelor’s degree and law studies are benchmarks for acceptance to the top law firms in the country. Here is what you need to do to ensure you get that much-coveted job in one of the top tier law firms in the country.

1. Specialize in one area of law

When you are employed in a small law firm, it is just right to be a jack of all trades. When employed in a large top tier law firm, you will need to have an area of specialization and perhaps one sub-group of that area of law. You need to work on being an expert in your chosen area of law. While still employed in a small law firm, develop enthusiasm in a specialized area of law. Do and learn everything you need in that field.

Many lawyers say that being a transactional lawyer in a small law firm makes it easy to transition to a top tier law firm because he is focused on one area of law. If you want to focus on being a litigation lawyer, it is best to have experience in a subgroup such as insolvency, construction, intellectual property, or insurance litigation or other subgroups. This is easier than gaining experience in general litigation.

2. Consider taking further studies

Taking further studies such as a Masters in Law can improve your qualifications. You can also opt to take specialized studies in such areas as Insolvency or Tax. There are postgraduate studies in the different areas of law that might give you the edge when applying in top tier law firms.

3. Have an impressive Curriculum Vitae

Prepare your CV in a format top tier law firms are used to. Your CV will show an example of your written and drafting work. You must get it right because you need to make a first impression and you only have one chance for every top tier law firm you are applying.

4. Attend as many functions and events as you can

Attending functions and events is an opportunity to widen your network. Use this opportunity to meet fellow lawyers and other people who matter. The following day, follow-up your initial contact with a LinkedIn contact along with a short personal note.

5. Be active in working and committee groups

Joining and being active in these groups at a Law Society of your chosen area of law specialty or other non-profit organizations will help you get the connections you need. You will most likely meet fellow lawyers from other law firms who can give you a heads up on top tier law firms searching for someone with your specialty or caliber.

6. Do some volunteer work

Giving back to the community through volunteer work will not only benefit the community you are a part of but will allow you to interact with fellow lawyers who may not be part of your immediate circle. This will widen your network and you may need their help in the future.

7. Find a good job placement agency

A good recruiter that you trust and like can help you with some advice on how to get employed in a top tier law firm. Ask them to keep you in mind when there is an available position in a top tier law firm requiring your area of specialization.

More importantly, closely watch the job market and be ready to grab the opportunity when you see there is a shortage of lawyers in your area of law specialization. When there is a shortage of candidates in a particular area of law, most top tier law firms tap lawyers from small law firms to file in their vacancy.

Qualifications to Land a Job at a Top Tier Law Firm

1. Graduates of Top-Tier Law Schools

Top tier law firms are enticing to most new lawyers because of the six-figure salaries they are most likely to receive even for first-year associates. The law school you attended for your Juris Doctor degree helps a lot in your dream of landing a job in top tier law firms. Incoming law students are aware of this trend thus they make it a point to attend high-ranking law schools.

Many top tier law firms prefer hiring alumni of law schools that are included in the Top 15 List of the Best Law Schools in the country. Your chances of getting employed in top tier law firms increases if you graduated from the top 5 or top 10 high-ranked Juris Doctor degree schools.

Graduates of top tier law schools have so to speak more indications that they can be successful in a large law firm. They most likely had high grades in the Bachelor’s degree and LSAT qualifying them to get accepted in the highly competitive Ivy League law schools.

The experience they learned in law school shows not just their intelligence but being able to perform well under immense pressure. Graduating from among the best law schools also means they were exposed to the best law professors and associated with the highly accomplished law students.

The business connections of graduates of top law schools are also another reason top tier law firms are most likely to consider them for employment. Many alumni of elite law schools have personal connections with influential members of the business community who need legal representation. Hiring these alumni will, therefore, help expand the firm’s client list.  Top tier law firms often receive an abundance of applicants. This gives top tier law firms the luxury of having a highly selective hiring process to make sure they hire only the best first-year associates.

To initially shorten the list of applicants, they often start with keeping the CVs of premier law school graduates.

The irony of this process is that most of the top lawyers who make the decisions to focus on graduates of top law schools never attended these schools themselves.

It is however still highly possible to work with a top tier law firm even if you are not an alumnus of any elite law school and do not get an associate immediately after completing your law studies.

The law school you attended is only important for your first job. It is what you do as a practicing lawyer that will set the stage for your future career.

2. Graduates of Non-Top Tier law Schools

This is not to say that lawyers who graduated from lower-ranked law schools do not have the chance of being hired by top tier law firms as associates after graduation. Graduates of these law schools can increase their chances if they have extraordinary high law school grades.

Top tier law firms also give premium to law graduates who participate in their law review. Most large law firms consider this as a given for hiring new associates. Including this credential in their CV gives new lawyers more chances of being hired by top tier law firms even if they did graduate from elite law schools.

Lawyers who are not graduates of prestigious law schools can also choose to gain experience in corporate litigation. Experience in this area of law makes them more marketable for jobs at top tier law firms.

While there is a set of criteria and qualifications to get hired by a top tier law firm, there are always exceptions. If you have set your mind into working with a top tier-law firm the work starts in law school and continues way after you have achieved success in your law career.

Martin Vermaak

The Lawyer Marketing Pro Digital Marketing Agency for Lawyers and Law Firms.

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