Networking

I had lunch recently with a guy who’s looking for an in-house job. He was complaining about how tough this is: “Recruiters don’t do you any good. They’re focused almost entirely on moving lawyers between law firms; they don’t know about in-house jobs. The recruiters who get retained to do job searches for corporations are working for the corporation, not you. If you don’t match the criteria the corporation laid out, they don’t want to talk to you. How the heck does one land an in-house job?”

Surprisingly, I’d never thought about this issue. (I wasn’t looking for an in-house job — or, indeed, any job at all — when I landed in my current position.) Because I’d never considered how one obtains an in-house job, I had no idea what the answer was. So — always thinking of you (and searching for blog fodder) — I picked the brain of a headhunter-friend.

How, I asked the headhunter, should a lawyer go about looking for an in-house job?

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One of the benefits of presenting to large groups of in-house lawyers is meeting large groups of in-house lawyers. I am happily ensconced here in my job, but I have never stopped networking. I never miss an opportunity to make a connection, or to make a friend. I try very hard not to burn bridges, and I always examine job opportunities when they come to me. You read that right. Look, things happen, things change, and things can go bad. If you haven’t kept up your networking simply because the economy sucks and the job market stinks, you’ve been doing yourself a huge disservice. I’ll say just two words: Kodak and Dewey. It sounds like a bad horror film ad but “no one is safe.”

When I started practicing law, the paradigm of one job for one career was already long gone. Most commercial lawyers today engage in a sort of pinball training, bouncing from one gig to the next, and picking up whatever knowledge they can before settling into a position with some semblance of permanence. I am very fortunate to have landed here, but even so, I am a much better in-house counsel now than when I started.

Let’s say that it takes a year to two to become fully capable of handling the job you have. If you have been practicing more than ten years, as I have, that’s around five or six years of hard core ability. I am not referencing simple knowledge of the rule against perpetuities, but the ability to use the RAP like Ginger Rogers — backwards and in heels. But, that’s the actual practice of law, and networking experience should only get better by the year. So, I have about twice as much experience networking as I do practicing. And so should you….

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It is hardly shocking that a woman who chooses to operate under a pseudonym is an introvert. If left to my own devices, I would stay at home watching television and looking out my window. I am talking Boo Radley here.

Unfortunately, momma’s got to earn the money to pay the cable bill, so I must force myself out into the world. Oh, and momma needs a new job, so I have to do the single most painful thing a girl like me must do. No, not hook. I must… NETWORK.

In the past, when attending networking events, I would bring a friend, get drunk on cheap chardonnay, and leave without speaking to anyone new. That is apparently the wrong way to network. So, recently, I decided to really put myself out there: I have started attending networking events (well, at least one networking event) alone. I got there late, hung alone in the corner awkwardly playing with my phone, drank cheap chardonnay, and left without speaking to anyone new. Alas, it was time for me to ask for help…

Luckily for me, I did not have to search far for advice on networking. There are thousands of listicles about how to network. Most of them were useless (e.g., they suggested foregoing chardonnay), and most were geared towards people who did not consider “fear of public speaking” as a scarier thing than death. (Yes, I am one of those people.) Thanks to my LinkedIn news suggestions, I discovered a subset of networking articles geared towards introverts. The advice was earth-shattering….

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Networking in law school usually conjures up the image of students desperately trying to hand out their résumés to a room full of uninterested attorneys. But networking doesn’t have to be that awkward, and it isn’t only limited to finding a job.

Networking is simply about connecting with people, and if your goal is to have a flourishing career as a lawyer, start building your network and acquiring networking skills now. If you haven’t realized it yet, your law school offers numerous resources at your fingertips. Not sure where to start? Read on for Lateral Link’s top three tips on how to effectively build your network as a law student…

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Networking isn’t just for job seekers. And it isn’t even just for the rainmakers who bring in business. It’s what every attorney (and attorney-to-be) should be doing right now — whether you’re a first-year associate at a Biglaw firm or a senior attorney at a small regional firm. Too often, attorneys wait until they need something before they start networking. But by then, it’s too late to build an effective network from scratch. If you really want to make a go of having any kind of a long and successful legal career, learning how to network early on and effectively is key.

If you already have a network in place, don’t assume you are done because you keep in touch with a few friends from law school and attend MCLE seminars once every three years. Today’s tips, brought to you by the experienced recruiters at Lateral Link, will give you ways to improve your network….

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Although lawyers make up 43 percent of Congress, and 60 percent of the U.S. Senate, according to Governing magazine, “[s]ince 1976, the number of lawyers in legislatures has declined by nearly a quarter, from more than 22 percent of all lawmakers to less than 17 percent.”

There, of course, is a natural path from lawyer to legislator. But the low pay, travel, time commitment, and mud slinging that we see on TV and the internet turn many lawyers away from public service.

The current political landscape also causes lawyers to be uninterested in participating in politics at any level, whether it means lobbying, running campaigns, fundraising, or attending political functions.

It’s a mistake…

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In case you haven’t noticed, 2012 is going to be the year where I try to take a more critical look at the level of career service that law students are receiving from their law schools. The legal job market has been crappy for a long enough time that law schools and career service officers should have adjusted their game plan. Rolling into 2012 with 2007 career service programs is simply unacceptable.

A couple of days ago, I offered some networking advice to the functional alcoholics in the audience. Sure, my thoughts were a little bit outside the box, but they were better than the kind of standard networking tripe most law students get from their overmatched CSO administrators.

Case in point, take a look as some networking advice sent around by the Dean of Students at a New York-area law school just last week. The advice was perfect if the dean was trying to ensure that the students made no impression, and left all employers wondering why they bothered to show up for a silly networking event in the first place….

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This is a real drink in a real glass with enough ice that it'll be appropriately watered down for networking.

There’s a list that’s been going around the past two days that purports to be A Drink-by-Drink Guide for networking events.

Don’t get your hopes up. It’s not really drinking advice for legal networking events. It’s regular advice for legal networking events that happens to use the word “drink” — instead of “level” or “number” — to demarcate the five tips in the article.

It’s fine advice, especially if you are so awkward socially that you can cool off a hot craps table simply with your inability to execute a high-five.

However, as a functioning alcoholic (emphasis on FUNction), I’ve got some real advice on how alcohol can help get you through these painful and boring networking events without being so terrified of not getting a job that your scent of desperation makes everybody want to stand three feet away from you.

Here’s how to look cool and confident while knocking back a few without getting so sloshed you end up on Above the Law in the morning….

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Eat healthy, workout, stop procrastinating, learn Spanish — it’s 2012 and time to make your New Year’s resolutions. One big resolution you should add to your list is to improve your legal career. Lucky for you, the recruiting professionals at Lateral Link have written articles that will help you with your career resolutions.

If you are clueless about your career goals and lack direction at work, you are not alone. For most, life at a Biglaw firm is not panning out as expected. There are ridiculous deadlines, inconsiderate co-workers, useless politicking, and no clear path towards professional nirvana. With the start of the new year, now is the time to define your career plan and outline your professional goals….

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Most of us correlate this time of year with holiday cheer, happiness, and general festivity. However, if you find yourself looking for a job in December, it can be a little disheartening. Employers, if they are not taking time off, focus their efforts on end of the year wrap-up. Although hiring may seem slow during the holiday season, don’t consider it a total loss.

Check out these holiday job-hunting tips from Lateral Link that will be sure to help you keep your chin up, and your hope of landing a new job alive….

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