Job Searching Through Affinity Organizations
Law schools do a great job of providing plenty of job postings – the downside is that every student has access to them. As an alternative, consider diversifying your job search with affinity organizations. These organizations are a great way to job search because the opportunities you find will be tailored to your interests and less students will have access to them. Look in particular for organizations that have practicing lawyers as members because those lawyers are going to be a source of jobs. As a law student, your membership in most of these organizations is free, so take advantage of it and join.
Organizations generally have a shared personal characteristic, value, or interest. WLALA is an example of an affinity organization. WLALA members share the characteristic of being women lawyers in the Los Angeles area. Bar associations are a good way to job search geographically. Other organizations may be based on a common interest, such as environmental law, or common value: interest in pro bono work. By looking for organizations that match your interests, you can connect with lawyers in that field.
Here are several ways affinity organizations post job opportunities.
- Mailing Lists or Newsletters. When you sign up for an organization, you will be added to a monthly newsletter or regular mailing list. Those emails may include job listings that have been referred by other members. This is the most efficient way to job search because job postings will show up regularly in your inbox.
- Events. Organizations may have events for general networking or panels on specific topics. These events are generally free for law students and they are a good way to network. Speakers will often offer to speak with students further which can lead to more information about that field or even job opportunities. Additionally, some events will have job postings in their brochure.
- Networking. You can reach out to a lawyer in the organization and ask for an informational interview. This can give you ideas about the field you are interested in. Some lawyers may refer you to other lawyers who can give you more information. Through networking, you may get access to job opportunities.
If you apply for a job you found through an organization, make sure you mention the affinity organization in your cover letter as the source of the job posting. Doing so creates a connection with the employer by indicating a common trait. It also demonstrates some initiative and experience with networking, both important qualities in a lawyer. Affinity organizations are also a good way to identify an interest or characteristic about yourself that wouldn’t be apparent from your cover letter or resume. If you were unable to take a class or volunteer with an organization for a specific niche of law, you can still show your interest in that field.