Like many of you – I hate that question. Mostly because it means we have to highlight the fact that we are unemployed. Depending on the person we get either a pity response “Oh I’m sure you’ll find something soon.” or “The market is really bad.” or something a little more helpful like “What area of the law are you in?”
Now, it is this last question that should make us perk up a little and actually provide an intelligent response rather than just mumbling our way out of the conversation. This is where you need to have your elevator speech ready to go. The best way to avoid a pity response is to sound confident and let people know you’ve got your unemployment under control.
Here is an example of what I’ve been saying which actually worked yesterday in the elevator and the individual gave me his business card to email him so he could connect me with some of his lawyer contacts (really – I’m not making this up).
If you are working part-time or have a background in something then start with that. Also, if you are looking in a specific area throw that out as well:
“I have a background in business and looking to move to DC.”
Then move into what you are specifically interested in:
“I am primarily interested in __________.” (ex: intellectual property law)
Then point out a more general area that could provide you good experience:
“But given the market, I would love to gain experience doing _______.” (ex: litigation)
This format would provide someone with a clear idea of what you are looking for and chances are they might know someone in the city or area of law you are considering. Most of all, it might open up a conversation. So, craft your pitch now and practice saying it so you don’t fall all over yourself next time you meet a potential contact.