If you talk to recruiters, they’ll tell you that lawyers are terrible networkers. There just seems to be something about the personality of lawyers that makes them either afraid to strike up conversations with contacts or unable to proceed like normal humans when they do.
Some people I’ve talked to suspect that the problem comes from legal training: the adversarial nature of law makes people look at networking as a zero sum game instead of a mutually beneficial relationship.
I think there’s also something to be said about the way this generation communicates. If they send you an email or a text, they expect a response, immediately. If you don’t respond, that must mean you didn’t receive the message. So they either don’t follow up, or resort to networking by badgering.
I’ll tell you one thing, though — “badgering” won’t get you anywhere with the administration at Yale Law School. That’s a lesson a prospective student learned the hard way…
Already this summer, we’ve seen a Cardozo law student try to educate Judge Jed Rakoff on evidence by passing him notes during a trial. But pestering people isn’t just reserved for Cardozo students.
A tipster reports that a prospective applicant at Yale Law school received a rebuke after a summer letter seeking advice. From the tipster:
A very gifted friend of mine who was applying to JD programs asked YLS for advice because a federal judge had hired her as a law clerk even before she had gotten into law school (for after JD)… All other law schools were really kind to her but YLS treated her pretty badly by basically telling her “you’re not one of us! get lost!”
What strikes me is that this friend is a prospective student who hasn’t been admitted to Yale. Part of the awesome part of being admitted to Yale is that you get to do things like get advice from Yale people. That’s one of the “perks.” They’re not in the habit of giving that advice away to just anybody; it’s freaking Yale Law School, not the Education Connection.
In any event, here’s the Yale response:
We received word from many of our colleagues in the building that you have reached out to them about various issues and concerns. Please know that we are a very small school and reserve our faculty and administrative resources for our admitted students. In the event you are admitted, you will have access to the various resources available at our school.
Wishing you the best,
JD Admissions Office
Yale Law School
I think the key phrases in this email are “from many of our colleagues” and “about various issues.” Instead of reaching out to one or two professors after being introduced by a connection, which is generally the safest way to network, it seems like this prospective applicant carpet-bombed the YLS faculty with irritating emails seeking advice about numerous subjects. And it sounds like Yale gently scolded her — in a nice, Yale sort of way.
The other way of scolding this woman would be to reject her application. I imagine that email isn’t far behind.
Of course, that’s the problem with emailing Yale Law asking for advice when you are not a member of Yale Law. Other schools might be selling you the size of their library or their beautiful weather or… whatever the hell Cooley is selling. Yale is selling you the opportunity to be around a bunch of Yale people (and a very special dog). The opportunity to ask them questions and generally be in their presence is the heart of the experience.
Does that sound pretentious? Sure. Have people been paying for that privilege for more than a century? Yes, and they will continue to do so.
Yale Law is run by legal academics, not businesspeople. But even Yalies know it’s bad business to take what you’re trying to sell and give it away to strangers for free.
If you want Yale advice, first you should get into Yale.