Many law students believe that networking begins after graduation. Networking begins in law school, and it continues throughout your legal career.
Actually, networking is easier when you are in law school.
You’re surrounded with professors and administrators who have deep ties to the legal community. Furthermore, experienced lawyers are happy to share their knowledge with bright-eyed future attorneys.
How do you get started in networking at law school?
These are five networking tips that will help you succeed in law school and beyond.
- Tip 1 – Find networking opportunities
It is important to remember that networking takes place everywhere. Although it might seem impossible to believe, the people in your law school classrooms could be your peers in legal work. Some will work for the government, while others for non-profits. Others will be employed in private practice.
Your former classmates from law school will be your first choice when you are looking for a referral case or a career change. It’s important to show respect to your classmates and make a good impression.
Your focus may be right now on getting a job after law school. Let’s now take a look at the various networking opportunities available.
Alumni. Law schools try to maintain contact with alumni. Your law school may have an alumni directory with contact information and information about employment. Alumni are involved in your law school’s life. They host events for students, give talks, and help with mock interviews. Ask your career service department to talk about the law area you are interested in, and if they know of any alumni in the field.
Events at the state bar. It is never too late to join your state bar. Many law students make the mistake of believing that just because they aren’t yet admitted to the bar, the state bar cannot help them. This is simply false. Many state bars hold periodic events that are geared towards helping law students. Many state bars also allow law students to register for specialty sections. This is a great way to meet leaders in a specific field of law.
Networking events. A list of events should be available at your law school. Check with your state bar to find out about local events. If you’re nervous about attending a networking event, consider volunteering. Volunteering can be a great way for you to get to know leaders in your field and have the distraction of a specific role.
Professors. Professors can be a great link to the legal community. Invite a professor to lunch to discuss your area of interest. Tell the professor that you are interested in establishing a relationship with local lawyers.
- Tip 2: Do your research
Do your research before meeting with an attorney who specializes in your area of interest. There are two purposes to learning about the person you plan to meet.
First, research is key to making meetings less awkward. Talking too much can be painful. Doing research prior to your meeting will help you prepare a variety of talking points and avoid awkward silences. Do not focus only on the professional achievements of the person you are meeting. Find a deeper connection with them. Are they from the same area as your favorite football team? Did they attend law school in their home state?
Second, it won’t make you feel like you are wasting your time if you do your research. Let’s take as an example:
- Tip 3: Do not focus on your own shortcomings
Many law students mistakenly believe they must ask for a job. That’s why networking is so important. Although your long-term goal may be to find a job or a career, asking for a job is not the best way to go (even though they know it’s your ultimate goal).
Networking is essential for law students. It involves gathering information and building a network of people within the legal community who are highly regarded and willing to help you find job opportunities.
This is why you should spend the majority of your networking meetings listening. Are you unsure of the right questions to ask? These ideas can help you get the conversation started.
- Tip 4: Make an elevator speech
While you should not be focusing on your own self-interest when networking, it is likely that the conversation will turn to you at one point. You’ll need to be ready for it when it happens.
Prepare a brief elevator pitch to answer the most common questions that you will be asked before your networking event.
Please tell me about yourself.
What is it that you are interested in?
Be authentic and genuine. It’s important to be articulate and professional, but people don’t like feeling like they’re talking to robots.
- Tip 5 – Don’t expect instant results and don’t stop networking
It is a process. It is highly unlikely that your first networking event will lead to a job. Most of your networking events won’t lead you to a job. However, they will all provide knowledge and experience. Eventually you will become a better networker and this skill will be valuable throughout your career.