January/February 2011

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UNSOLICITED ADVICE from Cletus M. Weber How to Find a Job as an Immigration Lawyer (When so Few Exist) F inding your first job as an immigration lawyer requires hard work and discipline, especially with the economy underwater, Comprehensive Immigration Reform on seemingly eternal hold, and only a few jobs available—all requiring years of experience you don’t have. Gaining a deeper understanding of your future employers, yourself, and your strategic choices can help. Understanding the Employer Te vast majority of immigration lawyers practice solo or in small firms, and most of what we know about business and hiring we learned the hard way. Most of us fear having to fire employees, especially other lawyers. We frequently feel overwhelmed, but the minute we gain control of the workload, we fear we’re going broke. When we finally decide to hire, we usually need someone who is 20 to 60 percent attorney (experienced), 10 to 70 percent paralegal, 10 to 50 percent legal assistant, 10 to 30 percent secretary, and 10 to 40 percent receptionist. WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY? Understanding Yourself In terrible markets, job seekers sometimes abandon their own needs and expectations. Don’t! Knowing yourself well prepares you better and increases confidence and perspective. You should know where you want to work, what you want to do, how much you want to be paid, on what you’re willing to compromise. You needn’t disclose everything, but you must know it. Self-awareness guides your job-search strategy. Vague knowledge begets vague—and ineffective—strategies. Considering Strategies No law school graduate wants to start below the level of attorney. Some advisors say “Never stoop.” Others say, “Be real.” You need to decide for yourself. Te chart featured below shows graphically the fundamental strategic choices: • “Ideal Only”: You want an associate (or compa- rable government/nonprofit) position in immi- gration law—and nothing less. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011 11 GRAPHIC BY BRADLEY AMBURN/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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