The Silent Majority: The Other 98%, The Truth about Where the Legal Jobs Are

The Silent Majority: The Other 98%, The Truth about Where the Legal Jobs Are

“It’s not who you know, but who knows you.” That was the theme of The Silent Majority: The Other 98%, The Truth about Where the Legal Jobs Are, an event held on Tuesday, April 5, 2005, at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Successful attorneys representing different practice areas gathered to give current law students advice on job search strategies, the interview process, and hiring timetables.

Moderator Derryl Zimmerman, New York State Assistant Attorney General and the Chair of the Committee on Law Student Perspectives for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, introduced the panelists: Marnie L. Glaeberman, Director of Public Service Initiatives, NALP; Arthur W. Grieg, The Law Offices of Arthur W. Grieg; Rashidah S. Siddiqui, Serpico, Serpico & Siddiqui P.C.; Gurpreet M. Singh, Judiciary Affirmative Action Officer, The New Jersey Judiciary; and Stuart D. Smith, Director of Legal Recruitment and Development, New York City Law Department. The panelists shared a common theme that networking and strong preparation are critical to obtaining legal positions.

The panelists agreed that, when seeking jobs, law students have often overlooked opportunities that were right in front of them. One such opportunity is working for the City of New York. There are hundreds of lawyers working for the New York City Law Department, as well as many others who work for other city agencies. Joining one of these entities could mean more responsibility early on for a young lawyer. Smith’s key advice: “If you don’t hear back, don’t give up. Be persistent. Persistence will get you a job.” Persistence and getting your name out in the marketplace would make people aware of who you are and what you are looking for.

Siddiqui used her persistence and positive energy, along with an opportunity created by a temp agency, to get her first job at the Attorney General’s office. She emphasized her background in contract work to impress employers. Siddiqui also took advantage of every opportunity to tell everyone that she was looking for a job. Through her networking and great attitude, Siddiqui landed her current job in a small real estate firm. Although she did not have any previous real estate experience, her confidence that she would be able to learn quickly helped her convince the firm that she was right for the position.

Another avenue less explored by law students is working for a judge. A judicial internship or clerkship can be a great experience. It can also open doors to job opportunities since judges come from diverse legal backgrounds and tend to have countless contacts. Singh maintained that while grades are important, a judge looking for an intern or clerk would typically take all of the student’s experience into consideration. She suggested that the importance of setting yourself apart by demonstrating to a judge or any potential employer what skills and experience you bring to them, rather than what you expect to get out of the job or experience.

According to “Jobs and JDs,” a publication put out by NALP, the top three methods of finding a job for law graduates are: (1) self-initiated contact with an employer, (2) responding to a job posting, and (3) a job referral. The third relates to this event’s theme of networking.

Glaeberman is Acting Director of NALP, an organization that, among other things, runs the website, This website consists of a network of 12,000 law-related public interest organizations around the U.S. and worldwide. Glaeberman reminded the audience that some organizations will not hire law students until they have passed the bar exam, due to the reduced funding and fewer resources of such organizations. She also noted that some areas of law would have distinct hiring periods and that other non-law-related areas, where a JD may not be required, might hire year-round. All this information and more can be found at

Keeping an open mind about employment possibilities is also important,. While having a clear idea of what direction you want to go in is helpful, it is critical not to close doors. Grieg wound-up in election law circuitously, explaining he got there because he kept an open mind and took advantage of opportunities presented to him. Grieg also told the audience that presentation and public speaking skills are important for a lawyer and can lead to more opportunities. Grieg ended by saying that it was imperative to be able to relate to people and to connect with them on a personal level.

Moderator Zimmerman concluded the evening with a discussion on fellowships. He himself wrote a proposal to fulfill a need in the community, and thus received a fellowship. Fellowships are a great way to network, and some even provide students with money towards their loans. Fellowship opportunities are also available at

Zimmerman also promoted the idea that students should get involved in extracurricular activities, both at their schools and in the legal community. He repeated the importance of setting yourself apart by gaining skills and experience you could discuss in interviews.

Job opportunities can present themselves at any time, and the panelists stressed that it is always important to be prepared. This can be accomplished by following the panelists’ advice: keeping an open mind, maintaining a positive attitude, being persistent, and making an effort to relate to people. Just remember, it’s not who you know, but who knows you.

1. Anna Zampino is a law student at New York University and student member of the Committee on Law Student Perspectives.

Anna Zampino 1