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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2009

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A drive for justice

Plaintiffs' firms do not recruit heavily on law school campuses and look extremely favorably on any prior litigation experience. While it is difficult to generalize in this regard, many plaintiffs' attorneys contacted say they feel committed to the cause of helping victims of discrimination find justice and usually look for the same philosophical drive in new hires. When seeking a position at a plaintiffs' firm you should demonstrate a commitment specifically to the plaintiffs' side of the employment bar, not just employment litigation in general.

Plaintiffs' attorneys suggest that a good way to demonstrate a commitment to the plaintiffs' bar and to network with lawyers is to join an association for plaintiffs' attorneys in the employment practice. These organizations are like local bar associations, but more specialized. The most prominent association for plaintiffs' attorneys in the employment area is the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). Another valuable resource is the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), the world's largest trial bar, which has an employment rights section.

Most states also have associations for litigators on the plaintiffs' side of the employment bar, such as the NELA-New York and the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). (A list of associations for plaintiffs' attorneys in the employment area for each state can be found on NELA's web site, at www.nela.org/about/about_affiliates.htm.) Nearly all of these associations have law student memberships with reduced fees. Taking advantage of the networking opportunities these organizations provide will help with the difficult task of finding positions on the plaintiffs' side.

Legwork and determination

Once you have located well-respected plaintiffs' firms in your area, be proactive and contact these firms directly. Again, in communicating with these firms, clearly highlight any litigation-related activity and your interest in employment practice on the plaintiffs' side of the bar. As in any area of the employment field, taking law school classes that cover Title VII and state anti-discrimination statutes is recommended because it will expose you to the general concepts in employment discrimination law and enable you to have informed discussions with practitioners. The key to finding a position on the plaintiff's side of the bar is to be proactive.

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