Post-Bar Penumbra: Advice for Navigating Life and Career After the Exam

Written by Adrienne Moss

By this time, you have emerged from the world of practice exams and study materials and, hopefully, taken the much-needed rest and relaxation that every law student deserves following the Bar Exam (and, quite frankly, law school in general). Many of you may have jobs you are either returning to or just beginning, and some may still be looking for a job. In any event, there are certain things that you can all do to make use of the time between now and when you receive your results.

  1. Keep in touch with your fellow alumni.

Many of your law school colleagues may be at different firms or working in different areas of law. Some of them may be working in clerkships or other externships. Regardless, it is important to stay in contact with them. Go to lunch, meet up after work, swap war stories, and ask questions. Not every interaction needs to revolve around the legal field, but it’s important to maintain these connections. You are all going through similar experiences and can help each other through the various trials and tribulations of your career beginnings. Needless to say, the relationships you form with your colleagues now will continue with you for the duration of your career and even beyond.

  1. Join and stay involved in legal and business associations.

A big part of your career involves networking and being involved in the legal community. Part of that can be done simply by joining local legal and business associations and attending events held by those associations. If you are interested in a particular area of law, join a group that specifically caters to that area. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and to meet attorneys and other legal professionals who practice in that area. Many memberships and/or events are free for law students and young lawyers, so take advantage of that.

  1. Find a mentor.

I put this suggestion last, but I believe it is the most important piece of advice for all law school graduates and young lawyers. Finding a mentor can help ease the transition between law school and your law practice and even help you throughout all career stages. Many law students are the first in their family to attend law school, so taking that leap from law school graduate to young lawyer can seem trepidatious, but it need not be. Even graduates who come from a long line of attorneys can face challenges that their family members may not be equipped to advise, especially if those family members do not practice in the same area of law as them. While you may understand the importance of mentors, finding one isn’t always easy, but plenty of resources are available that simply require some proactivity. Along with joining and participating in associations, reach out to the lawyers in your firm or who are already in your network and ask them to be your mentor. Alternatively, contact your law school career services office and ask them if a mentoring program is available. Even if there isn’t one available, they can still provide you with information and other resources to help you find a mentor. There are also many local and national legal mentoring programs that are available to you with a quick online search.

Remember, every lawyer was once exactly where you are right now, and while this experience is new to you, you don’t have to face it alone. The legal community is more than willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take these steps; you will be all the better for it. Good luck to you all, and I hope to see you around.

Adrienne A. Moss