Sadly, being a legal assistant is nothing like Suits, but I consider myself very fortunate to be able to snag a full time job immediately after college. The job hunt might have taken the entire school year, but it paid off and I’m working at a law firm as a legal assistant. Here’s a little bit about my job, the hunt for it and some advice.
Catching a glimpse of my future isn’t the only benefit of this job. I’ve learned that I do not want to be sitting in an office all day for the rest of my life, the head attorney is a woman and very much a great example of a “boss lady”, and the work the office does is not cold or dehumanizing.
In general, my position is not very far from the typical office assistant with more legal knowledge and responsibilities thrown in. The position is, of course, entry level so I knew I wouldn’t be on the Rachel Zane level. It’s more like Rachel and Donna mixed together. I remember when I interviewed for the position I asked the head attorney what responsibilities would be expected of me and in general. It’s everything you’d expect from an entry level position. What I did and what I recommend everyone do is ask if there’s an opportunity for more responsibilities. She answered me with an eager yes after I’ve gained enough experience and I’m pretty sure she was happy with my enthusiasm. I’m sure any employer would be happy with that type of enthusiasm so do it. It shows your desire to do more, your motivation and your intent to continue moving forward.
Some very important skills I often use and know I will continue to use in the future is customer service, effective communication, organization and time management skills. These are skills many would think you don’t need training for at all. Trust me when I say that I’ve seen many college interns fail at selling themselves over the phone, act really awkward or timid towards customers and co-workers, and not be able to handle a simple workload. If you don’t have these foundational skills refined to the level of Rachel Zane’s pencil skirts, find a job that will before you graduate.
During the job hunt I was aware of the limited choices I had. I was seeking an entry level legal assistant position and 99% of job openings required a minimum of 3-5 years of experience. Be aware of your limitations. I knew I would have to start searching for a job very early if I wanted a job by the time I graduated, but I was also confident in my past experience and myself that I wasn’t discouraged from my job hunt. Here’s my timeline. I was working at my previous job since April 2015, I started job hunting September 2015, got rejected from many job openings, received many rejection emails after interviews I thought I slayed until the end of May 2016 where I am working now. I spent about 8 months going on interview, after interview, after interview and received more rejections in my life combined, but it just kept building me up for the next interview. It wasn’t easy, but it all worked out. This is also something you should keep in mind because the job market for students is so competitive. Many students are working just as hard, if not, harder than you.
Bottom line, it all takes planning and patience to get where you want to be.
Hopefully this helped many of you looking for a job or plan to in the future. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments!