By Shauna C. Bryce
Are you a law student or newly minted lawyer who is having trouble landing an associate position in a law firm?
If so, be assured that you’re not alone.
Scarcity of entry-level attorney roles is an endemic problem of the current legal hiring market.
Why is it so hard to land that first job out of law school? And, even more importantly, what can you do about it?
Law students and recent graduates may turn to contract attorney work, predominately e-discovery and document review, even though, unfortunately, legal employers place little value on that work.
There is another way…
Now comes the good news: there are places to build technical and real world skills necessary to succeed as a lawyer outside traditional law firms -- management consulting.
These management consulting firms:
Management consulting firms usually offer a wide variety of experiences and options for new lawyers who are unsure what type of law they’d like to practice. They can take the time to explore before making the commitment that many law firms require.
As bonuses, those same employers also often value international and multicultural backgrounds -- including language and cultural influences. They may offer domestic and international travel and can be the place where non-traditional or second-career law students are more successful than in the traditional hierarchy of many law firms.
Something to remember when considering working at a management consulting firm: you won’t be practicing law.
By working in a management consulting firm, you will learn:
This is, of course, just a brief listing, but I hope is sufficient to show why launching your legal career in a management consulting firm can make you a more attractive candidate for law firms (and corporate legal departments) and help you later compete in the job market as a lawyer.
At the risk of oversimplifying, management consulting firms help other businesses run better. They analyze a business’s problems, develop a plan to address those problems and move the business forward, and then help implement that solution.
Those businesses can be in any industry, from healthcare to entertainment to real estate management. They can be any size, from Global 100 / Fortune 500 companies to regional players.
The business models range from massive public companies traded in multiple stock markets to closely held, family-owned businesses. Some have sprawling, de-centralized networks of subsidiaries, joint ventures, and business alliances with vertical and lateral presences. Others are tightly-focused centralized singular entities.
Like any business, these organizations may be growing or shrinking. They can be any business with any problem—and that’s exactly why management consulting companies hire and train many types of professionals at different levels and skill sets, including entry-level lawyers and graduating law students.
Some of the biggest consulting companies are names you’re likely already familiar with: Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, EY, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, McKinsey, Booz Allen, Capgemini, and Accenture, to name a few. Guess what? They hire attorneys.
The first step to working in a management consulting firm as an attorney or law school graduate is to find a firm that is a good fit for you. You’ll want to do some research:
Once you’ve investigated, apply! At a management consulting firm, you will have gained an invaluable inside look at companies -- a perspective your former classmates who went directly to law firms will not have. That perspective and experience will not only open law firm doors, but other potential career paths.
Starting your legal career by working for a management consulting firm can be a very good option that serves as a prelude to your career in a law firm or as a corporate counsel for a business. Or, once you launch your career in consulting, you may never look back -- leveraging your legal education for a career in an interesting field which values that knowledge outside of a traditional law career.
With more than 20 years in law and legal hiring and degrees from Harvard Law School and Johns Hopkins University, Attorney Job Search Expert Shauna C. Bryce is a nationally recognized expert in career development, career transition, social media, and resumes for lawyers. As a former practicing attorney and member of a law firm hiring committee, she knows what it takes for lawyers to build successful careers. She’s worked with some of the nation’s top attorneys -- at places like Global 100 law firms, Google, Dreamworks, Major League Baseball, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the White House. Follow Shauna on Twitter at @brycelegal and also on LinkedIn and Facebook.