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The Thread Starter

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The networking questions thread
« on: February 06, 2009, 09:11:24 AM »
So people talk a lot about how networking is important for career success.  A couple of questions about how it's done.

Meeting people's fairly easy.  But how exactly are you supposed to maintain those relationships?  What kind of follow-on interactions do you want to generate?  How often do you need to communicate with your contacts?

More questions to follow.

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2009, 10:17:05 AM »
Networking is merely marginally useful as a law student, IMO.  You don't have the book of business or work record that would lead someone to want to speak you.  You're some kid who wants a favor.  Focus on something closer to your control, like grades and school rank.

Jake_MONDATTA

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2009, 10:28:07 AM »
I would say that it's immensely useful as a law student, but difficult to figure out how to use it.  If you can successfully network, you'll be more likely to find a job and more likely to keep it.  You'll be much more likely to hear about the job you want when and if it opens up and people who know you, even a little, will likely view you in a more favorable light than people they don't know.  Not fair, not even rational... but reality.

What Wally says about law students is semi-correct:  it's hard to network before you specialize and know which net to work.  If you're lucky enough to already know your specialty (say, if you're in IP, for example), you'll likely find that it's relatively easy to identify key players.  Figuring out how to contact them without harrassing them is a trick, talent and art.  Yet, even large sub-fields of law like intellectual property are relatively smallish communities of professionals and ability to network is hugely important.

'blueskies

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2009, 12:53:41 PM »
I would like to hear  thoughts on how often you should maintain contact with people and what kind (strictly email? Occasional call?)
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linquest

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2009, 12:58:02 PM »
Networking can be immensely important to law students, but even more so for those that don't have great grades or are not aiming for BigLaw.  The majority of students don't get jobs through OCI, and the majority of legal jobs are not posted-that is where networking can really come in handy.  You can also use it as a tool to figure out which specialty or type of employer you want to work with.

You may not have a lot to offer immediately as a law student, but you'd be surprised at how willing most attorneys are to talk.  Honestly, it's a bit of an ego boost for the attorney to have someone approach them wanting to learn more about their practice and their career.  I do a lot of networking through the ABA (I have a leadership position) and am often the only student at events.  The hardest part is simply working up the courage to initiate conversation.

As far as maintaining contact, you should do that by whichever method of communication the other person prefers.  That will be email in most cases.  Aim for at least once a month.  
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M_Cool

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2009, 06:58:22 PM »
Networking is invaluable.  It's not like you have to be best friends with someone.  All you have to do is show them that you are a nice and _normal_.  When your resume comes across their desk, they'll go "oh, that guy was nice and someone I could talk with.  I'll interview him."  I think a lot of times people brush networking off as not being important because they are afraid of social situations.

There is a back door into EVERYWHERE.  I got into my school through a back door and got my first OCI interview through a back door.  Just about everyone you talk to has at least one story of "oh yeah, I got my job here because I knew such and such."  You just gotta find a few back doors and you can do well even if your grades are mediocre.

Eugene Young

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2009, 10:39:29 PM »
If you are at a T14, the top 1/3 at a T25, or the top 10% at any T1, you can ignore networking.  Otherwise, Wally is completely wrong (and that would probably include the majority of law students).

I don't fit into any of the categories I listed above.  I have a job for this summer.  'Nuff said.

Yep. Same here, and I have two offers for the summer. Attorneys LOVE talking to law students. I mean LOVE. But you have to get out there. Join the local ABA, the section(s) you're interested in , or any practice area specialty organizations and GO TO THE MEETINGS. Trust me, you'll be the only law student there. Have a pitch prepared, go up to someone, and start talking. Feed their ego's a bit - tell them you're a law student and want advice. Check out the bios of someone you might be interested in. If you have some basic facts about them (where the went to school, recent case they worked on, etc.) They'll be really impressed. It also helps if you have some business cards to exchange, it raises eyebrows and makes you look professional. Follow up a couple of days later. Offer to take them to lunch, or to meet with them at their office. DON'T ASK FOR A JOB. DON'T EVEN BRING A RESUME. At this point, you just want to develop a relationship. Thank them for their time, send a follow up email. If you find an interesting article related to their practice area, send it to them. Call or drop by their office about once a month. Again, you want to develop a relationship, it takes time.

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2009, 11:00:41 PM »
I'm at a T14 and I don't have a job.  I don't think that networking will help me too much at this point.

santropez

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2009, 12:41:22 AM »
Ok... sending an article every once in a while is fine.  But calling or dropping by their office once a month?  That's psycho.  Especially the dropping by the office thing; I wouldn't even do this with my good friends. 

nealric

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Re: The networking questions thread
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2009, 01:39:34 AM »
My opinion of networking:

Basically the only way to work if you want to be very successful. Yes, you can get your Biglaw job on grades alone, but that does not mean that it will not pay huge dividends to be well connected. If going solo, or small firm routs, probably more or less imperative.

BUT: In many cases, telling a socially awkward person to just get out there and network is akin to telling a low LSAT scorer to just get better at the LSAT. Sure, both those people can do something to improve, but such comments are often unhelpful.
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