Networking

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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With the holiday season in full swing, ‘tis the season for parties. In today’s Career Center post, the recruiters at Lateral Link provide you with tips on how to work a room and expand your network while mingling with co-workers, family, and friends.

1. First, research the guest list. Come up with a list of people attending the party you want to meet and talking points for each of them.

2. Develop and memorize a short personal introduction (your elevator pitch) containing information on who you are, what you do, and why you are here.

Keep reading for more valuable tips to use this holiday season….

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Being a small firm lawyer usually means that you’re not a cog in the wheel of some multi-national corporation while enjoying their stream of business sent to your firm because of someone on another floor. Small firm lawyers either have to blow their brains out on ads featuring their angry mugs (arms crossed in aggressive, “fight-for-you” anger), direct mail, or the art and science of talking to people and developing relationships, otherwise known as networking.

In this arena, there are two types of lawyers: Those that “don’t do networking,” and those that do it because it is required to establish a word of mouth practice. I know you think there’s a third — those that love networking, but those lawyers are to be avoided at all costs. Lawyers that love going out after work and eating bar food, drinking low-level vodka, and asking “so, where’s your office,” are rejects. Ignore them. They just want to give you their business card the minute they lay eyes on you and tell you to “call (me) whenever you have a (usually PI or real estate) matter.”

For those that want the word of mouth practice, and the reputation in the community as a go-to person (assuming you are a competent lawyer, and these days, that’s a big assumption), here are some things to consider….

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Specialty bar associations can be great opportunities for in-house lawyers to grow their network and develop their careers. Unlike some mega bar associations, they tend to feel more intimate and collegial, even if their membership numbers are pretty large, because the members share a common interest.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association) convention in Atlanta. This organization represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and about 65 local bar associations. And let me tell you, they had a lot going on at their annual gathering. And I don’t just mean the after-hours partying….

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