When it comes to finding a legal job, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
By Erik J. Heels
First published 4/1/1996; Student Lawyer magazine, “Online” column; publisher: American Bar Association
How do I find a job online? What technology organizations should I join? How do I stay connected with the online community after graduating? These are among the most frequently asked questions asked by readers of this Online column. In this column, I’ll discuss how to get and stay connected to the legal/Internet community, and I’ll suggest some traditional and nontraditional ways to look for jobs in this field.
Job Hunting Online
As more law firms register their own domain names and publish information via Web sites, searching for a legal job on the Internet will become more commonplace. Of the nation’s top 100 law firms, 91 have registered domain names, and 30 have Web sites. But Web sites that are exclusively for legal job-hunting are still few and far between.
One Web site for lawyers and law students who are looking for jobs is the Law Employment Center (http://www.lawjobs.com), which is run by the New York Law Publishing Company (publishers of the National Law Journal and the Law Journal EXTRA! Web site). This site contains articles about the legal job market as well as job listings by area of practice. The listings are taken from the pages of the New York Law Journal and the National Law Journal. Listings from Law Technology Product News are scheduled to be added to this site. This Web site appears to be the first specifically dedicated to finding law-related jobs; and it has its own domain name, which makes it easier to find on the Internet and indicates the publisher’s serious commitment to this service. Those looking for law-related jobs on the Internet should definitely check www.lawjobs.com first.
Another Web site with law-related jobs is the Attorney Job Network (http://www.sover.net/~jurisjob/), which is run by the Washington DC-based legal search firm Klein, Landau, Romm & North. Like all legal search firms, this firm will assist you with resume and interview preparation. The job listings at this site are generic; the name and address of the employers are not provided. Detailed information is available directly from Klein, Landau, Romm & North. This Web site is useful, but not as useful as it could be. For example, this site requires the user to contact the legal search firm (by phone or mail) to get the detailed information. This is cumbersome to Internet users who are used to getting everything they need in one simple package. Users who use the same phone line for Internet access and for the telephone will have to disconnect from their Internet service provider and make a separate phone call. The Web is a powerful medium that makes this kind of awkward transaction unnecessary. The user could just as easily enter his/her e-mail address, and that information could be sent directly to the potential employer. Also, since the site lacks its own domain name, it is more difficult to find than www.lawjobs.com.
There are also established Web sites that do not specialize in the legal job market but that do contain job listings in this area. King of these is The Monster Board (http://www.monster.com). With over 48,000 listings, The Monster Board claims to be the number one career site on the Web. I searched for “law OR legal OR attorney OR lawyer” and found 98 different listings, including listings for patent attorneys and tax attorneys. Other sites that contain a handful of legal jobs include Career Mosaic (http://www.careermosaic.com), helpwanted.com (http://www.helpwanted.com), The Interactive Employment Network (http://www.espan.com), Jobweb (http://www.jobweb.com), and The Online Career Center (http://www.occ.com/occ).
Other online job databases include those available on Westlaw, Lexis-Nexis, and Law Students Online. Of these, Law Students Online (LSO) is the newest. LSO (which should be available from your school’s Lexis-Nexis representative) is a version of Lexis Counsel Connect (the online service for lawyers from American Lawyer Media) for law students. In addition to providing listings from American Lawyer Media’s regional legal newspapers, LSO provides law students with access to the Internet via the built-in Netscape Navigator Web browser. If you’re a law student without access to the Web, LSO may be just what you’re looking for. And even if your law school does provide you with Web access, you might want to try LSO to search for a job or to communicate with other law students.
Other ways of using the Internet to help you with your job search include participating in online discussions (either listserv lists or Usenet newsgroups) on topics that interest you. You’d be surprised to know how many potential employers “lurk” (i.e. join the group as a listener only) on such groups. (There are several lurkers on StudentLawTech@listserv.law.cornell.edu, for example.) If you have a personal Web page, you can include the URL for that page in your signature file; potential employers may stop by your home page. From your personal home page, you can link to your resume. I encourage you to try the methods listed above as a means to supplement — not supplant — traditional job hunting methods.
Ultimately, your best bet for finding a job may be via the traditional method: networking with law students, law professors, and lawyers in your area. Although I communicated extensively with my first employer extensively via Internet e-mail, my first communication was via telephone and was the result of traditional networking. (A professor at my law school who knew of my interest in law and technology had told me about an attorney who practiced in this field. I called that attorney, interviewed, followed up with e-mail, and later worked for him as a patent law clerk.)
After you have graduated found your ideal job, you may want to stay connected with the legal/Internet community. The best way to do so is to join various organizations, read their publications, and attend their meetings. First and foremost, I encourage you to renew your membership with the American Bar Association. Within the ABA, the Law Practice Management Section focuses in part on the application of technology to the practice of law. All kinds of legal/technology types hang out in the LPMS. Other sections that focus on the legal issues related to technology include the Science and Technology Section and the Intellectual Property Section.
To keep connected with other lawyers, it is also helpful to get listed in major lawyer directories, including Martindale-Hubbell and West’s Legal Directory. Your state, county, and local bar associations may also have similar directories. Almost all of the above will give you a small listing for free. You should get listed in these directories so that others can more easily find you. For the same reason, you should consider registering your own domain name on the Internet (as I have done with heels-dot-com). Registering your own domain name is relatively easy; your Internet service provider will most likely provide this option to you. Low cost options are available, such a dial-up accounts (e.g. POP or UUCP) for about the price of basic cable TV. Your domain name should be simple and guessable. For a list of Internet service providers, see The List at http://www.thelist.com. You should also take a serious look at joining Lexis Counsel Connect, the largest online service for lawyers. Lexis Counsel Connect provides access to over 300 topical discussion areas, as well as news, e-mail, the Web, and legal research databases. Whether you are looking for a job or looking for new business, you will have more success if you are easier to find online and off.
In addition to the publications offered by the ABA and other bar associations, several commercial publications frequently contain good articles about the legal issues related to technology and the Internet. These include MIT’s Technology Review (http://web.mit.edu/techreview/www/), Internet World, (http://www.iw.com) and Wired (http://www.hotwired.com).
There are no easy answers when it comes to finding a job or finding cases to work on after you’ve found one. But if you use all of the tools available to you (including the Internet, online services, bar associations, and legal directories) you will increase your chances of success. Good luck, and see you on the Net!