One of the most rewarding things I have the honor of doing is visiting law schools.
I get to go into large law school classes or open sessions and tap into the existing passion these young people have. It’s incredible.
When I talk about the Internet providing each and every student the ability to make their dreams come alive, eyes open. You can see the fire.
When I share the story of Pat Ellis going from an average student at Michigan State Law School to Honigman in Detroit to inhouse counsel and business planner for the General Counsel and EVP of Public Policy at General Motors, all in a couple years, on the back of a blog, Twitter, drive and a dream, you can see students thinking, “That’s me.”
Students come down and engage me afterwards. They tell me where they’re from and where they want to go.
Some students have niches they’re passionate about. My being there got them to realize they really could do the type of work they dream of and for the type of clients they want to serve.
Other students almost apologize that they haven’t figured out their niche. I tell them that’s absolutely okay, most lawyers never figure out what fuels their passion. “Just figure out what would be fun to learn and who’d like to meet in the field. Now make it happen with the effective use of blogging and social media.”
What’s sad is that career services in many schools isn’t prepared to help their law students realize their dreams.
People communicate and connect on the Internet today. A working understanding of how to use the Internet for professional development and getting a job is critical for law students.
Yet career services is often led and staffed by people who have never used the Internet to build professional relationships nor to build a name for themselves. Their knowledge of using the net professionally often comes from misguided peers.
Facebook is the most widely used communication and connection medium in the world. Smart business professionals, including most of the legal industry leaders I know, use Facebook to engage and share on personal and professional matters.
Yet I recently heard that one career services professional advised law students not to engage professionally on Facebook, and if they do to keep two separate Facebook accounts. That’s nuts. Made me wonder what other bum advice they may have shared with students.
Blogging, Twitter and networking on LinkedIn are powerful tools. Those law students who use them strategically and effectively for learning, networking and building a name are going to have opportunities to do the things they dream of when they graduate.
But who’s teaching law students how to use social media? Where are the role models and mentors in their law school when it comes to blogging? Who is career services reaching out to for help, being vulnerable by acknowledging they don’t understand it all?
Law students are paying $150,000 or more to their school, many going into debt, and all forgoing income for three years.
The students are told to use career services. “We’re here to help you.”
But are you? Can you fuel the passion of your law students? Or might you drown it out?
There are exceptions, career services teaching and empowering law students to use social media to build a name for themselves. But I fear they are the exception.