Ok, so I've met a couple people that are important lawyers and stuff. I want to keep in touch with them I guess.
I guess my "relationship" with each of them is very different.
Person 1 - Partner at a mid-law firm that has offices in my hometown (that I don't want to go back to) and is headquartered Atlanta (I go to Emory). Nice guy that I know through family (although don't know all that well). He has been trying to "mentor" me. He works in business litigation and he said his firm is doing really well. This would be exactly the ideal job for me.
Anyway, I was thinking about sending him an e-mail and telling him what I did over the summer, and then asking a couple questions at the end. But, I don't know what questions to ask. And I'm not positive that this is a great idea. I think his firm OCI's at my school
Person 2 - (I have several "contacts" I met that are similar to this one) I met this guy when I was eating lunch at court with my boss. He works for another mid-size law firm and gave me his business card and said to stay in touch. Yeah, so exactly do I stay in touch?
I also know a couple people pretty well that go to my gym (it's one of those small, close-knit gyms) that are associates at biglaw firms. I guess I'm just supposed to keep talking to them and ask law-related little questions here and there?
It is frustrating that I need to write this. I am not an awkward person and I get along with people well, but I guess I haven't made "professional friends" before.
The e-mail thing is a good idea, but you also need some face time. Ask them out to lunch (or breakfast works well too) on your dime. Ask them general questions about law school, law practice, advice etc. The key is to keep in regular contact, try and set something up once a month. Ask them if you can go with them to a bar association function or something they do law related. Make connections with things you have in common outside of law too, sports, activities.
Genuinely act like youíre interested. But do NOT ask for a job or help finding a job, yet. You need to formally establish your relationship and trust before that. The next year or so should be spent doing this.
Donít be afraid to flat out say Iím looking for a mentor to meet with every 30 to 45 days for lunch and get general advice. Some folks will say no, some will say yes and be half hearted, but a few will say yes and do it, those are gold. So donít be discouraged if it takes time to find a core set of mentors, keep at it. Good conversation starters are: we are learning X in law school, but how does that really work in practice? What skills donít they teach me in law school that you advise I learn on my own? How does someone get started in your practice area? What was your best/worse case? Anything you would do differently in law school to help prepare for what practice is really like? So all this evidence stuff Iím learning does not make a lot of sense, could I come watch you in court someday and see how it works in real life?
And ask you mentors to introduce to their friends to expand your network. Donít be afraid to set something up, like if you can afford it, take 2-3 of them to a baseball game. More often than not they will pay, but you should offer. If your mentor invites you to something: GO. I met a judge once and he mentioned he was going to the Opera with some lawyer friends in a few weeks. I told him I had never seen an Opera. He said why donít you join us. I said I would, and if he recommended any place to rent a tux. He said give me your address and Iíll pick you up Friday and take you to a store I know. He did, we had lunch, then went to a mens consignment store where I was able to buy a $1200 tux for less than $200. That judge is now one of my closet friends, been to his house for dinner, he came to my graduation, we have breakfast once a week. Just keep in contact, and find reasons to do so. Search the net for networking websites. Ask your career services office, just keep at it and it will pay off HUGE by the time you graduate.