A great way to gain experience if you are looking for a job as an attorney or looking to go out on your own is to be an appearance attorney. An appearance attorney will go to court and handle a case for another attorney who couldn’t make the appearance for a multiplicity of reasons. An appearance attorney can make between $75-$250 for each appearance. Being an appearance attorney is valuable experience. Not only do you not have to worry about the day-to-day client interaction, but you get the opportunity to go into different court rooms in different cities and meet different court staff. This is certainly more experience than you would get as a first year associate in a large law firm, plus those large law firms look at real life court experience as a big plus.
Young, new attorneys do not realize how valuable appearance attorneys are. Now that our law firm has been up and running for close to a year and we have been growing at a moderate pace, we understand the need to use appearance attorneys. Having only Taylor and myself to do court appearance, sometimes the need arises for someone else to cover an appearance, especially if it is merely to request a continuance. While we have a group of close friends that we rely on to handle appearances on a favor basis, we do not want to over-use this option, especially if we aren’t able to return the favors quickly for our friends. So, we are started to put together a list of reliable appearance attorneys to hire for appearances we cannot go to.
As part of our business vision, we strive to give back to the community. Therefore, the type of attorneys we hire as appearance attorneys are ones that want to gain experience and get their foot in the door. In college and while waiting for my bar results, I remember the feeling of reading job descriptions that already required work experience to apply. I remember thinking how am I supposed to get work experience if no one is willing to give me a chance to work for them? Now, as a result of that experience, I will only hire new attorneys for appearances -unless specialized knowledge is required.
So the moral of the story is: Use appearance attorneys. They can save you so much time! Take a chance on a new, young appearance attorney. If they do not have a plethora of work experience, it does not mean that they are not capable. Give them a chance, you'll be impressed!