You finished the bar exam. Hooray! And congrats! And wow! Now you can enjoy the sun, but don’t sit on your laurels until the results are announced. If you don’t have a job lined up and you want to know what is next, here are some ideas:
- Work on your vision and your mission. Vision is where you will be in however many months or years. Mission is what you will accomplish, who you will help, and what cause you will champion. A great way to ferret this out is to start writing. Call it a business plan, if that doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies. (Call it brainstorming or free-writing, if it does.) If you are looking for a job, call it your elevator pitch. Whatever you call it, zero in and drill down on what makes you tick and where you are going.
- Do a budget. Get real about how much money you need to make, wherever you land. If you haven’t done this already, you very plausibly need a reality check.
This is not meant to freak you out, but it is meant to help you ask for what you’re worth when you apply for positions or when you offer to take care of a legal matter.
- Network your tail off. This is a great time to meet people doing what you want to be doing and learn more about how they are successful. I believe everybody needs mentors and colleagues. Even if you have a job with lots of cool lawyers to show you the ropes, it’s healthy to stay in touch with your law school comrades and develop more relationships in the legal community. Aim to have three to four mentors in each of your practice areas. Meet and cultivate relationships with people who impress you and talk with them about how they work, what they did right, and (maybe most importantly) what they did wrong. Try to have three meetings a week.
- Get in the know. Sign up for the WSBA’s “Mission Possible: Choose the Future of Your Practice.” This isn’t just for solos or those already practicing. Join online with a group or on your own to hear great minds like Jordan Furlong of Evolutionary Road: A Strategic Guide to Your Law Firm’s Future and Sam Glover of The Lawyerist talk about what makes today the best time to be practicing law. Hear how to market your firm and yourself better. (Yes, this helps even if you are at a firm. Many firms agree the best attorneys are those who drum up business and rock at the law.) Get a sense for new, innovative practice models.
- Start a startup in your spare time. A law firm is a startup, but you may have other ideas, too. If the law firm is your startup, join the Law Office Management Assistance Program’s Seattle Roadshow CLE (streamed online), where we will be talking about alternative models of practice that you can apply to your firm, how to completely paperless, IOLTA s made easy, and how to buy a practice. If you want to try a startup of another kind, join the Legal Hacker’s Group, which has several founders of legal-related startups like Vizibid and Tracklight.