Knowing first hand, and via the success of law grads and young lawyers, how powerful the Internet is for networking — for learning, for building relationships, for getting a dream job and growing a book a business, it’s demoralizing to read the advice of a career services officer at a good law school.
First, network. Yes, I know this is starting to sound repetitive, and no, I do not have a bet going as to how many consecutive weeks I can mention networking. The reason I keep harping on networking in these e-pages is that it truly can be the one action that lands you a job. Early on in your law school career, it is perfectly acceptable to engage in what might be called passive networking, i.e., sending out some emails and striking up an infrequent conversation. But, if you are about to graduate and need a permanent position ASAP, try active networking. Set up coffee meetings. Find attorneys who will meet you in their office. Go to every legal networking event you can attend. In fact, even events that are not necessarily branded as networking, but might have a number of attorneys in attendance (e.g., CLE programming), are worth your time, just in case it leads to a connection. Not surprisingly, this active networking is easier to do if you are residing in the geographic area where you want to practice. If you lack any sort of geographic preference for where you want to start your career, gravitate to those markets which have the highest concentration of alumni from your law school. Also, if you are worried about the potential outcome of the bar exam, you might want to consider states whose exam has a high passage rate.
All good stuff, and well intentioned, but a not word on networking through the Internet. Identifying a niche, if you didn’t two or three years ago, and getting out and building a name and meeting the people you want to meet at the places you want to work via Facebook, Twitter, a blog and LinkedIn.
Everyone a law student or law grad is ever going to meet has a computer in their pocket or purse. The same is true for anyone who is going to turn them on to opportunities. The number one thing all these people use that pocket computer for is networking – hours a day.
Engaging a lawyer on something meaningful who you have in your tailored Twitter list is a heck of a lot easier — and a lot more likely to happen than via emailing and calling for coffee.
Heck, get the lawyer to ask you to meet for coffee because you are a heck of a lot more intriguing by demonstrating your passion by networking via the Internet than doing what every other student is doing. People hire the exceptional, especially if you didn’t clerk for a federal judge last summer or serve as editor of the law review.
To be fair to Alexiou and Vanderbilt, which is building a reputation for innovation, the school may have any number of student programs on using the Internet for professional development and role model administrators and professors effectively using the net – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – for learning and professional development.
In addition to the law schools themselves, most students have no interest in using the Internet for networking, building a name and getting a job. Seriously.
Prowess using the Internet is not an item on the fast track for getting the high paying law job in a name firm, whether a large firm in a big city or a small/medium size firm of stature in a smaller city.
Law students see the fast track as being get in a good college, get high grades, get in a good law school, get high grades, get on law review, get on moot court, clerk for a judge and do every other traditional thing to pad that resume. Yes, a resume that’s fine tuned many times over down at the career services office.
The law students I have met in my cross country touring are scared to death to do anything different. Many, like their law schools, see using the Internet for networking as only having downside.
So even if the law school puts together programs on the use of the net to help students, most students won’t pay any attention.
All a little sad.