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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Job Search Strategies for New and Seasoned Attorneys


By Sara Ayazi, BASF Bulletin Contributor


Today’s economy has been tough on everyone. In particular, job seekers have confronted the challenges of finding employment as a result of this economic downturn. If you are a newly licensed attorney looking for your first legal position out of law school or a seasoned attorney trying to transition into a different practice area, look into these job search strategies to assist you to find the right job.

Legal Experience

For recent law school graduates, it is important to build the skills necessary to succeed as a lawyer. It is not enough to rely on your law school experiences to illustrate your legal skills. Legal employers want to see that you are doing something now. For more experienced attorneys, it is crucial to show your interest and experience in the field that you are looking to transition into. For example, it may be hard for a law firm to determine why a real estate attorney with ten years of experience would now want to practice labor and employment law.

You can develop your skills and show a commitment to a practice area by volunteering your legal services at a nonprofit organization. A wonderful resource that can help you connect to organizations that are in need of such services is, which includes opportunities with BASF’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP). This website can help you locate opportunities in the practice area that you are interested in or explore an area of law that you were always curious about.

Get Involved

In addition to volunteering, get involved with The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF). BASF provides excellent opportunities for networking and professional development. For example, the Barristers Club is aimed at attorneys in their first ten years of practice. It holds continuing legal education seminars, networking events, and socials throughout the year. Involvement with BASF will help you meet and develop relation-ships with other attorneys, and will give you exposure to different areas of law through committees, seminars and presentations.

Be Flexible

At some point during the job search process, you may hit a brick wall. “Why won’t anyone hire me?” is a common question asked by both newly licensed attorneys and well established lawyers who are looking to change fields.

You may need to do a series of self-assessments to determine what you want in a job and where you want to work. Is your priority to live in San Francisco or to work at a law firm? If it is the latter, then conduct your job search in geographic areas where there is less competition. You can always move back to the Bay Area after you have gained the skills that will make you more marketable. Being flexible will open up opportunities that you did not know existed.

Networking, patience, and hard work are all ingredients for successful job searches in this economy.


Sara Ayazi recently relocated to San Francisco after working as an attorney for the University of Connecticut. She received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and her bachelors of arts in sociology from Vassar College.

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