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Waiting on the bar

Q. I attended law school at night while working in higher education. I decided to leave my job to participate in a battered women's clinic through law school assisting victims of domestic violence. I had enough savings to get me through 10 months of being unemployed while obtaining court experience. I thought I could pick up temp positions while I wait for the bar exam results but I am having difficulty finding long term temp positions. And now my savings are dwindling. Any suggestions?

A. Congratulations on all you have accomplished. You have demonstrated drive, risk taking, self confidence, planning, dedication and so many other skills employers want. You have a goal, and you are going after it.

You now have a broad set of skills to call upon in any kind of temporary, permanent, or part time work you pursue. Targeting the right kinds of positions, in industries where your experience will be most highly valued, will be the best place to start. You worked in higher education, but I don't know what kind of role. Many colleges and universities have "seasonal" employee needs. Are there student orientation programs, or open houses, admissions fairs, or summer camp programs looking for staff? Return first to your former employer to see what needs they may have. Using your "old" skills may not be your first choice, but many employers are looking for experienced people who can walk into an environment they are comfortable with and effective in the day they start.

Have you spoken to human resources in your law school? Are there opportunities for someone with your higher education experience? I'm sure you have considered roles at other local law schools, and schools with paralegal programs.

Networking with your faculty members will also be vital to your success in this job search and in your future. They may be able to refer you to former students who are employed in law firms, corporate or organizational roles where temporary roles may be available. While these may start in non-attorney roles, you may find that their positive experiences with you (and great bar results) lead to a new role.

Alumni from your law school are also great networking contacts. I'm sure the alumni have a group on LinkedIn, which you should join. Posting a question about opportunities available for a student with many skills waiting for bar results may get you new opportunities.

Does the school have a career services office? Often employers will list job opportunities in these offices which might be posted on their site, or the career services staff may be aware of opportunities which they may be asked not to post.

Have you contacted legal recruiters? Make sure you know who they are, and review the information listed on their web sites. Though you may think it is too soon, developing these relationships now can offer you insight into the culture of various law firms, and the array of legal jobs outside of law firms.

Don't forget to work with general contract recruiters. Be willing to look at a broad range of opportunities, roles, and industries. They will be looking for positions you can walk right into - exactly what they are being paid to find for the companies who hire them.

Hopefully all these methods will get you closer to the success you are looking for pre and post bar results.

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