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Job resources for the unemployed, underemployed and unappeasable

By Andrew Hoag

Andrew HoagCalifornia’s bar passage rate for the February 2015 exam was the lowest it’s been in the last five years. Nonetheless, in recent years over 6,000 people annually take the California Bar Examination. Approximately 50 percent are passing the examination, creating approximately 3,000 new licensees in California. The legal market has not kept pace. Many prognosticators boldly predict a prospective upsurge in employment numbers, but whether 2010-2011 represented the worst of the recent glut in employment numbers for newly-minted lawyers in the Golden State remains to be seen. And even if the bottom is behind us, that is not much solace to the unemployed and underemployed — more of whom we see now than ever before. Irrespective of the current state of the job market, resources exist to help the unemployed, underemployed and unappeasable:

  • Career centers. Often mocked and ridiculed and often inappropriately so, the suggestion to visit a career center might be anathema to many and sound too obvious to most. But many recent alumni fail to take advantage of post-graduation services offered by their alma maters. Many career centers have reciprocity agreements with schools in other geographical locales to assist recent graduates looking for jobs in other jurisdictions.
  • Third-party recruiters. The Catch-22 of third-party recruiters is that their personal financial incentive is to place lawyers at firms that pay market rate. Firms that pay market rate tend to look for distinguishing characteristics or pedigree such as Order of the Coif membership, law review publication, American Jurisprudence Award or federal clerkship. And those types of people tend not to find themselves reading articles about job resources for the unemployed and underemployed (hence my reference to “unappeasable,” though also for the alliteration effect). Nonetheless, smaller third-party recruiters are becoming more adventurous with untraditional candidates. If you do not have recruiters constantly calling and emailing you because of the virtue of your online biography on a big law website, rub elbows with your colleagues who are inundated with these awkward telephone calls and emails. Ask them to pass along recruiter names and contact information. And start inundating recruiters with the same unsolicited contact. It may just work. After all, at some point, the job search becomes a numbers game.
  • Social media. Various social media platforms are good networking tools, but do not overlook the employers who are actively posting advertisements and announcements on social media. Of course, staying out of trouble on social media can be just as important as positively networking on social media. In any event, many firms and other legal employers are actively using social media not to vet candidates (and all of the employment-law implications therewith) but to advertise and solicit candidates. Take advantage of this new trend.
  • Publications. Traditional forums such as print publications are often ripe avenues for job seekers. The Daily Journal publishes legal job openings, as do many other publications, most of which are readily available at local county law libraries or law school libraries free of charge.
  • Bar associations. Not only a great place to network in the hunt to find a job, bar associations and their publications and websites are often fertile ground for advertising job openings. For instance, the Los Angeles County Bar Association maintains a “Career Center” database with job listings from all over the city, county, state and country. Indeed, the search function gives “Austin, Texas” as an example.
  • Stay (or alter) the course. Searching for a job can be exhausting. It can often seem like a job unto itself. Make a plan and stick to it. Depending on the level of desperation, set aside one hour per day – or two or three – for networking, job searching, applying, etc. Utilize the resources that are out there. Do not shy away from asking friends for help. Often the best job openings are word-of-mouth openings that are gobbled up before they are openly advertised. Many law firms reward current associates with sizable referral bonuses for recommending a friend. And the best part is, the sizable referral bonuses exist whether the “friend” part of that last sentence applies. So contact a number of acquaintances. It is hard to say which one might just develop into the financial symbiotic relationship that is the referral program. Publish articles. Volunteer when needed. And keep going until results blossom.

Andrew Hoag practices labor and employment law. He is vice chairman of the State Bar of California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA). CYLA is the nation's largest association of young lawyers with more than 55,000 members. For more information about CYLA go to http://dnn-cyla. This article originally appeared in the winter issue of the 2015 CYLA eNews and is reprinted here with permission.