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Networking Guide for Law School Students & New Attorneys

I. Law School Student Networking

As law students start the new year, many are using the break from school to find a law job for after they graduate. Networking plays an important role in helping law students obtain jobs. Skills in networking also help after being hired as new attorneys seek to acquire clients for their firm, something they will do for the remainder of their careers.

How do you start? Networking involves three steps:

  1. learning where to network
  2. learning how to do it the right way
  3. going out and doing it

This article focuses on the first step with a few ideas to get you going. The second step is the most important. That is, networking is about having a genuine interest in people, focusing on their needs, and staying focused on how you can give rather than what you can get. This point is discussed more fully in some of the additional resources listed at the end of this article. The third step — go do it — is obviously up to you.

II. Where to Network

Whether you are a law school student or attorney, preparation for networking requires asking yourself three questions:

  1. Who do you want to meet?
  2. How could you possibly meet them?
  3. Of those ways to meet them, which would cast you in the best light?

For example, start by listing all the people you want to meet. If you are a law student looking for a job, write down the names of the firms you want to work at along with any people you know at those firms.

Next, brainstorm ways you could meet them. Do your professors, family members, or friends know people at those firms? Do those firms host any events that you could attend? Do those firms have attorneys who are members of organizations you could participate in, such as the local Bar chapter, legal aid, or a special interest group? Build a list of ideas using part III (for law students) and IV (for new attorneys) of this article.
Finally, prioritize the ways you could meet these people in a way that would cast you in the best light. Often this will be the circumstances in which you would feel most comfortable meeting them. For example, if you attend an event, you should attend one that interests you, so you can discuss your common interests when you talk with people there.

III. Ideas for Law School Students

Here are a few ways to meet attorneys in firms where you would like to work.

Ask people you know for referrals:

  • Law school professors you know well
  • Friends who have graduated and now work in the law firms that interest you
  • Relatives
  • Your parents’ friends
  • Former associates, coworkers, and bosses
  • Other friends from high school, college, your neighborhood, church, or community involvements
  • Your friends’ parents

Attend an event or join a group:

  • Legal groups: Local Bar chapters, legal aid efforts, special interest groups, law school student groups, etc.
  • Community groups: Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, etc.
  • Attorney groups: Issue oriented groups, local campaigns, etc.

Get published:

  • With a law review article
  • In your local Bar publication

Volunteer. Often volunteer opportunities in the field that interests you will provide time to meet other attorneys in that field.

IV. Ideas for New Attorneys

Once you are hired, you will seek ways to acquire new clients for the firm. Here are a few ideas to meet potential clients.

Join a group:

  • Legal groups: Local Bar chapters, legal aid efforts, special interest groups, etc.
  • Community groups: Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, etc.
  • Political groups: Political party, issue oriented groups, local campaigns, etc.
  • Groups where your potential clients might gather: Small business groups, local groups on www.meetup.com, etc.

Teach a class about your area of law to educate and meet potential clients:

  • In a community education group
  • At a local community college or college
  • A local high school for a civics class or career day

Speak at events your potential clients attend:

  • Professional associations’ annual events
  • Community groups
  • Educational seminars
  • Training required to obtain continuing education credits

Market yourself online:

  • Get a website
  • Create a profile on LinkedIn.com (this is like MySpace, but for professionals)
  • Create a profile on MySpace.com (many people search MySpace for old friends)
  • Start a blog on a topic of interest to potential clients (like “Small Business Blog” or “Car Accident Injuries Advice Blog”)
  • Start a podcast on a topic of interest to potential clients

Get published:

  • With a law review article
  • In your local Bar publication
  • In local newspapers

Stay in touch with old friends:

  • Send them Christmas cards
  • Coordinate your school reunions
  • Attend alumni games, weddings, funerals, and other important events

Finally, earn referrals from current clients by doing good work.

V. Other Resources

These resources relate specifically to attorneys:

These resources relate to professionals in general:

UPDATE: For a good article on lawyer marketing visit What Does Marketing Have to Do with Practicing Law?

This article is part of the Networking Carnival series hosted by Legal Andrew.

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