Getting into law school is tough. Graduating is harder. Passing the bar is a massive hurdle. But if you do all of that, you still have to get hired, ideally in a field of law that you find rewarding.

In law, like in business generally, it’s great to have a niche. This helps you stand out. That doesn’t mean you have to practice in that niche, or if you do, to focus solely on that niche. But having a topic you love and getting to practice, at least partially in that area, can make your career more rewarding. It also helps you stand out, since you’ll be intrinsically motivated to excel in a field where you have an interest.

So how do you find attorneys and law firms hiring that will help you get a foot in the door to practice in this area? Here are my tips.

  1. Remember, attorneys, particularly experts, tend to be busy, and guard their email and phones against time wasters.
  2. Students seeking out jobs are much like sales people, and we all put up a wall when we feel like we’re being pitched.
  3. But experts love their field of expertise and appreciate it when others show an interest in the topic they love, and
  4. This is doubly true for people who teach or write papers in that field. Also,
  5. Law is very collegial, and attorneys enjoy opportunities to give good referrals.

Here is a strategy you can do in one evening that will get you valuable contacts in one day, and phone calls or email connects in two days.

Learn enough about a topic to carry an intelligent conversation

Go to ChatGPT, Claude, or Gemini and ask this question:

What are some common tasks that ____ attorneys work on?

For example, I am a small business attorney, so let’s pretend you want to practice small business law too.

What are some common tasks that small business attorneys work on?

ChatGPT will give us a list of topics. Read all of these and pick a couple that you think are interesting. Copy and paste them into a note so you can come back to them.

One of the responses to that initial prompt was “Employment Law Issues: Advising on various aspects of employment law, including drafting employment agreements, handling employee disputes, advising on termination and disciplinary actions, and ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations.” Let’s say that’s an interesting topic.

We’ll use ChatGPT to dig into it further with a prompt like this:

I'm interviewing an attorney who focuses on small business issues, particularly employment law problems. What are some good questions I can use to start a discussion with the attorney?

Our goal is to be able to carry a conversation on this topic. Pick a couple of the questions and make a note of them. For example, one of the responses to the above prompt was “hiring and termination,” and a potential question in that category was, “What is the right way to handle terminations or layoffs to minimize legal risks and maintain a positive workplace environment?”

We want to sound like we know a little bit about that topic, so let’s ask ChatGPT to tell us more using a prompt like this:

If I ask an attorney "What is the right way to handle terminations or layoffs to minimize legal risks and maintain a positive workplace environment?" what are some likely responses I will get, and what can I say to continue the conversation?

The answers to this will be amazing. After repeating this a few times, you’ll start to have a good survey of the topics that a small business attorney may face.

How to find people to talk to

You are now prepared to have a conversation with an attorney in the field that you like. But who should you talk to? Also, how do you ensure your request to talk gets noticed?

Remember, if you’re looking for a job, then you’re essential working in sales. The product you’re selling is yourself. People tend to resist talking to a salesperson, so you’ll struggle to make connections.

The trick is to not sell to the person you’re reaching out to. Using the technique below, you’ll find people who are knowledgable and connected in the field you’re interested in. Then, talk to them about the thing that they love. Once you build report and show them that you are knowledgable and interested in the topic, ask them for attorneys or firms who may be hiring.

Start by searching the web for attorneys who practice in the field that you like. If you want to be in a certain geographic area, expand your search radius at least a little beyond that area. For example, I’m in the Des Moines metro area, so I’d include Minneapolis, Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis, all are within 5 hours drive of my city.

In your expanded area, search for law schools that have a class on your topic and make a note of the professors who teach those classes.

Go to SSRN’s Legal Scholarship page and search for papers in the field of your interest.

You now have a list of resources, but let’s start with SSRN. See what kinds of articles are written on your topic and find a few that are recent and on topics you are interested in. You may struggle with SSRN’s search feature, so in that case, use Google to search for SSRN {topic}, for example “SSRN law employee termination.” As an example, I found an interesting article by William R. Corbet, published by University of Louisiana Law Center in 2020. Sadly, I don’t have access to this journal (I’m no longer a student), so I can’t read it. I presume it’s on point and fascinating.

You should read the article and, if it is a subject you’re interested in, write down a few questions you may have about the topic.

You can generally find the email addresses online for published authors and professors. You should now have about three or more published authors in the field who live somewhere in the US (this should work in your country if you’re not in the US). You also have a few professors from local universities. And you have a list of questions from the journal articles.

How to start a conversation with interesting practitioners

First, remember the goals:

  1. To get an opportunity to practice the area of law that you find interesting, which means you should also
  2. Learn more about the area of law you find interesting, and
  3. Get connections with those who may be hiring people like you, who are new to the practice but are interested in this area of law.

We are going to reach out to authors and professors and ask them for information and referrals. We are not selling ourselves to them, so these people are less likely to have defenses up.

The important thing to remember about this audience is that they care about sharing knowledge. They’re either an author of a paper that they wanted the world to know more about, or they’re a professor, either full time or adjunct.

Your communication with this people is going to ask them to do the thing that they love to do. Imagine if you loved chocolate cake and someone kindly asked you to eat a piece of chocolate cake. It doesn’t take much arm twisting!

But this is an important point: People do not like to be manipulated, and therefore do not game them. You need to be up front with your goals.

Dear ______, I read your article on ______ and enjoyed it. I am a law student considering practicing in the field of ___ once I pass the bar and am trying to learn more about the topic and what it's like to be an attorney in that field. I'm also trying to figure out how to connect with attorneys who may be hiring. I'm not looking to work in ____ (author's geographic location) but thought you may know how I can meet people closer to me.

Do you have time for a phone call or zoom meeting to talk about ____ (the subject of the paper) and this area of the law? Here are some times my calendar is open______.

One note: If the author is a teacher, be very careful about connecting during or shortly after finals. Instructors are very busy grading paper and everyone is angry that they’re not done yet.

You can and should adapt this to your own voice, but here is what you should keep in mind:

  1. Keep it short
  2. Provide a genuine complement in the form of, “I read your article and I enjoyed it.” Authors always wonder if anyone reads their work. Saying you have read it and that it got you thinking is one of the highest complements you can make.
  3. Make it clear that you want to practice in the field and are looking for connections

This works with authors because they care about the topic enough to write about it and therefore will talk about it. They also likely care about the next generation of practitioners and see their writing as a legacy to advance the profession.

Also, the practice of law is very collegial. Attorneys usually like to give referrals to each other. It is a way to build rapport. Passing on a potential client or new hire to someone who is looking helps the person who is making the referral.

For the professor, you’ll alter your email slightly to focus on their local connections.

Dear Professor ____, I am a student with an interest in the field of ____ and would like to practice in this area some day. I see that you teach on the subject and you're in the same general area where I'd like to practice.

I'm hoping to learn more about the field. I've recently read some papers on the subject, including (briefly mention one or two).

I'm curious if you can answer some questions about what it's like to practice ____ law in ____ (region). I'm also curious if you know of firms who may be hiring or willing to talk to me about a summer clerkship.

Do you have time to meet? I can meet by phone or Zoom (if you can visit in person, mention that too). Here are some times I have available.

Ask for connections

I’ve had great results with emails like this. I had one author call me from her cell phone in an airport while she was waiting for a flight. She spent 15 min talking to me and gave me a ton of helpful advice.

Note that you should not be manipulative—if you don’t actually like the area of law, pick one that you do. This only works if you’re talking to people about a subject you care about it and want to learn about.

When you are talking, use the information from your ChatGPT research to carry a conversation. Don’t act like an expert! You’re talking to an expert, you just want to know enough to ask interesting questions. Also, don’t drag it on and on.

Get to the question about practicing in the field. Ask the speaker who they respect as a practitioner in the field. Ask if they know anyone who may be hiring in the future. Ask them if they’d be willing to give you an introduction or to pass your contact info on.

Talking to a firm about a job

Your goal is to get a job interview. You’ve talked to some experts, you’ve gained some knowledge, and hopefully you are genuinely interested in the topic. These are excellent ways to start a relationship with a firm that is hiring. You also have an intro, which is at least a little advantage.

Aim for an informal meeting and make it clear what you want. “I’m interested in practicing ____ law. I read some great articles on the subject and talked to ____ (author) and professor ____ (professor). They suggested I talk to you. Do you think you’ll be hiring summer associates soon? If so, what are some ways I can stand out in the application process?”

If they are not hiring or it looks like you are not a good fit, that’s fine. Ask who they know and ask for a reference. Remember, attorneys like to give references!

I hope this method has given some inspiration and helped. Good luck in your search!


Can news be factual and biased? Yes, absolutely! In the modern era of “fake news” and information sources trying to stand out as reputable, there is a growing trend to highlight fact-based research methods. This is great, and definitely a trend I hope continues, but touting something as factual, to imply it is therefore unbiased, is greatly misleading.


Those born in the mid-1970s will see the world’s population double in their lifetime, from 4 billion, in 1974, to 8 billion, in 2023 (Worldometers, 2017). There is no shortage of discussions on what the maximum sustainable population of the world is, but two things are not debated: Our world’s population is growing at an unprecedented rate, and we need to further increase agricultural production capacity. Our current food production practices will not keep up with the growing demand. Our inability to increase production levels in pace with population expansion is a growing problem, caused in large part by the slowing rate of yield increases due to technological and scientific advancement, environmental issues such as weather patterns, and waste due to poor infrastructure and corruption.

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