Nicholas Alcock, Attorney at Law January 9, 2012
Every day I get a resume from a law school student. I think that career services gives them all the same letter and they copy/paste it onto their home address letterhead. It reads, in part, “I look forward to meeting with you so that we can discuss employment opportunities at your law firm.” In general, those applicants emailing me said letter do not get an opportunity to meet with me.
I’m sure that if I did meet with these fine people I would be impressed by their earnestness and willingness to help move my law firm forward. I just don’t have the time. A few of these resumes stand out, however. In general their writing reflects a positive willingness to do what ever it takes to be successful. It’s hard to quantify precisely, but here are some considerations that might help put you in a position to be hired by a law firm in Phoenix.
The attorney applicant who sends me ten resumes is going to get my attention. Yes, there is a possibility that this individual will irritate me, but at lease they are getting noticed. This is more than half the battle. If I am getting a resume a day, it all starts to get blurry after a while. Furthermore, when I see that someone is persistent, this gives me a reason to think that they will be similarly diligent when advocating for my client’s position. Aggression is good.
If you are looking for a job as a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, get your rear down to the Superior Court and watch some jury trials. It doesn’t cost anything to watch real attorneys in action. You can sit in the City of Phoenix Municipal Court and watch bench trials all day long. No one will ask you a question. Take notes. Learn something. If I had to pick between two equal candidates and one watched 25 trials and the other zero, guess which one I would pick.
If you want to work for me I need to know that you aren’t going to be someone who will constantly be asking our staff questions about the law. You are a lawyer. You went to school to know the law. At a minimum you need to know where to find the answer and attempt to get it from that source before you ask another person. If you are applying for a job at my firm, you need to be able to communicate to me that you are that type of person.
I feel much more comfortable hiring somebody if another person vouches for them. Join organizations that will get you in front of other attorneys who might know of someone who is hiring. That’s how I always got a job. I knew someone who knew someone.
We all know the person who was in a good relationship with a perfectly good person. That person broke up with their partner in the hopes that the perfect lover would come along. In my opinion any job is better than no job. When I was in law school I waited tables, worked at an athletic club folding towels and I detailed used cars for a Mercedes dealer. All those experiences made me a better lawyer.
You can always break up with your employer if a better thing comes along. If you work for me you don’t have to marry me. You should not worry one bit about what your classmates will say if you take some job that you think is beneath your and their expectations. I went to law school with a bunch of people. I don’t know where 95% of them are today. It doesn’t matter.
Keep your shoes shined and your shirts pressed. Guys–light starch, Brooks Brothers, regular collar shirts. They cost seventy bucks but they are worth it. Ladies, I don’t know what to tell you. You have it tougher when it comes to work clothes. Regardless, whatever you do, don’t send me a resume every day because I told you to.
Attorney Nick Alcock is the owner of the Phoenix Law Firm Alcock and Associates.