Ok, so we made it through our first year of law school. There were many challenges. (To drink, or not to drink? That is the question?) For those of you who are full time, you experienced a workload that was surprisingly huge. As a part timer, I often gaped in awe at the amount reading that the regular full time students had to do. Also, for those of us who are working full time and embarking on the adventure that is law, we juggled work, school, babies, baby sitters, meetings with bosses and deans, and the other priorities that come along with being financially and socially part of a family.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk to several returning students about there first year, and first summer, of law school. The very bright and talented students that got judicial clerkships on all levels told me the importance of writing. No judge wanted to deal with a clerk that could not write effectively. The lucky souls who got other government internships told how specific the law could be. They expressed how a seemingly small area of law could be vast and complex. I guess the old saying that a lawyer's knowledge is usually one inch across and one mile deep has some validity. Then there were the students who got the big firm summer associate-ships. Though none directly spoke on it, I heard the pay was great, but more importantly, these experiences showed some students that the big firm environment was for them. It taught some students the importance of being on time. What I heard from most of these students however was that legal research is important! No firm wants a summer associate giving out bad advice or information!
The one thread that ran through most of the stories I head from the first summer in law school was about networking. The student who got a job offer at the firm she really wanted to get in because she had a conversation at a bar association luncheon with a senior partner and "wowed" him is a prime example. Also, a 2l told me how he got a job offer with a prosecutor's office in a very similar way.
Now that the first year is out of the way, and hopefully most of the fear is gone, now is the time to market yourself. Get out there at the luncheons, CLE classes, mixers, and events and talk to people.
Here are three tips I got from students who I consider to have had the most success at networking:
1. Talk to everybody. The young lady who got the job offer at the big firm she really wanted to work at did not know that it was a senior partner she was talking to. In fact, she did not know that he worked at the firm she was interested in at all. The two simply started talking about an area of legal interest and the door simply opened up.
2. Be informed. If you have an area of expertise or an interest, make sure you know what you are talking about and that you can articulate current issues on the subject well. Chances are, you aren't going dazzle these attorneys with smooth talking (they probably have the same ability charm people as you, so it will be easy to spot).
3. Network or party. Many networking events have some form of spirits or alcoholic refreshments provided, especially those held at night. If you are so engulfed in the refreshments, you will miss your opportunity to shine.
The students who gave me this advise have all been given either a job offer for after they graduate, or a guarantee of a summer internship next year because of there networking skills. I cannot wait to put these things to the test. So, get out there and Network Young Man/Woman Network!