How to get a big-firm job when the chances are slim

By: September 1, 2015

3 tips to start your plan of attack

With Bay Street offering fewer summer jobs and articling gigs than ever, students need a new game plan to win over recruiters. Here are three tips for landing a big-firm job in today’s market.

Be a detectiveMagnifying glass

Before applying to a firm, find out which practice areas have openings, says Joanne Schaefer, a career coach and the former national director of student programs at Bennett Jones LLP. Go to recruitment events at firms, and ask lawyers straight up: what are the “sexy,” up-and-coming practice areas at your firm? Asking direct questions, she adds, is “the only way to get answers that are useful.”

Be flexiblePencil

If you can’t figure out where the openings are at a given firm, then go into interviews with an open mind, happy to work in any field. With the profession in flux, firms need students who can thrive no matter where they end up, says Shannon Leo, the director of student programs at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. “This might sound simple, but it’s really important.”

Work somewhere else — for nowSign

You don’t have to article on Bay Street to have a Bay Street career, says Lana Driscoll, a senior consultant at ZSA Legal Recruitment. Large firms in Toronto often hire mid-level associates. “Go to a boutique or a mid-size firm,” she says. “Learn a lot, and apply to Bay Street in a few years.”

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