How Can Law Students Relocate to Other Parts of The Country with No Contacts |

How Can Law Students Relocate to Other Parts of The Country with No Contacts


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Summary: When it seems like all hope is lost in the legal industry, as lawyers, we need to take time for ourselves to look for opportunities. Here are some strategies to stay motivated and achieve success.

So you have decided to look for opportunities beyond your current law school’s typical geographic footprint. Or you’ve become so passionate about a practice focus that you are willing to go anywhere to practice. Here’s some practical tips for helping you figure that out.

The first thing you need to do is articulate why you want to work elsewhere. The “I’ve always wanted to live there since I was a teenager” comes across about the same as “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer.” Unfortunately, neither sounds reasoned and often will be greeted with an eyebrow of skepticism. There are a lot of great places to visit that are much more difficult to live in and would encompass drastic changes in lifestyle, such as trading a 30-minute commute in a car for 3 hours via public transportation. And vice versa. If you have not had a driver’s license, or barely used it, this can be just as big of an adjustment as living without a car to the suburbanite. A couple of visits with your career advisor at your law school can help you craft this message.

Demonstrate Your Interest

Many state, local, and specialty bar associations allow students to become members for free or at reduced rates. But simply joining and placing your membership on the résumé is not sufficient. “Get involved,” recommended Margann Bennett, director of professional development and pro bono at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. “Offer to help with social media outreach or write articles for the bar magazine. Both can be done remotely, and the latter allows you to the network by interviewing experts.”

Work In Destination City During Summer

One of the ways to make sure you can fill out the story of why you want to live somewhere is to actually live and work there both summers in law school. Will you have two leases? Maybe. But this enables you to show prospective employers not only do you want to do the work of their organization, but you will be personally happy and understand both the joys and challenges of working in a place so different from where you are attending law school. “Especially when you are applying to a place with plenty of law schools, like Texas or California, spend your summers there,” said Katie Dilks, assistant director in the office of public interest and community service at Georgetown University Law Center.

“Spending both summers lets you fully test out your new home, and shows a potential employer that you are committed to the market.” Spending both summers enables you tell an employer why this is not only the best place to practice law, but also create a life.” By working where you want to live, your lifelong dream of living there is bolstered by the enthusiasm of sharing what you love taking advantage of in the city, and shows the skeptical that you really do enjoy living there.

Use All Available Tools to Network

When you are physically remote from a location, it can be tricky to stay in touch. “Use your technology tools,” advised Cybele Smith, director of the Public Service Law Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. “Most students have access to Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg, and you can set up alerts based on their practice areas and geographic preferences. Use those alerts to drop a line to the people you have met during your internships, any alumni, and at bar association meetings.”

Start with alumni and then do bar directory search to make sure you keep meeting more people in your target practice areas. Using a networking sheet to track how often you touch base with your contacts can help and if the location you are targeting has a daily or weekly newspaper, subscribe to it. As you read articles, reach out to attorneys who have been profiled and ask for a quick conversation over the phone to learn more about how they built their practice. These are small steps that will allow you to build your networking sheet over time.

Pursue Passions but Be Flexible

So you have decided you want to pursue an intellectual property or a public service career, wherever that might take you. “Be focused, but flexible,” said William Penn, director of public interest law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. “Geographic flexibility will depend on your interests too. If you want to be a public defender, applying across the country makes sense, and you should plan to attend the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair.

If you’re focused on policy options, focusing on fellowships and government options, and utilizing the Public Service Jobs Directory site with your career advisor, it creates a slightly different focus.” Make sure to look deep in the bar admissions rules for different states too, since many allow different kinds of public interest attorneys to practice there once you have passed the bar elsewhere. For public sector careers, Penn said, “Geographic flexibility should include a willingness to look at small towns and rural areas where need can be great and application pools can be smaller.” [Turn to page 26 for more on job opportunities in rural areas.]

Have a Plan

A geographically remote job search takes diligence and dedication. You may have to explain where your law school is located, and you should always be ready to talk about your law school’s strengths and how you have taken advantage of them. With a plan, flexibility, and determination, these job searches will be successful. Good luck!

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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