Building Your Professional Network: Tips for Young Lawyers

Building Your Professional Network: Tips for Young Lawyers

Networking is vital in every field, but especially in law. If you are an up-and-coming lawyer, these tips can give you a leg up against your peers.

Law is a highly competitive profession. From getting into law school to landing your first job with a firm, you will contend against many qualified applicants.

Are you feeling the pressure? Don’t let anxiety overwhelm you just yet. Whatever point you are at in your career, you can take one critical step now to set yourself apart from the competition: build your professional network.

Networking is important because it provides contacts who can vouch for your credentials, offer recommendations, let you know of job openings, share their expertise, and introduce you to other important contacts. Interactions with your network can provide valuable insights and lead to meaningful collaborations.

Below, we will discuss ways you can build your professional network as a law student, online, at events, charitably, and via professional organizations

The Student Experience

Your time as a student is your first introduction to the legal landscape. Your professors are well-established in the field, and some of your classmates will no doubt go on to become influential lawyers, judges, or politicians. Create relationships with them now. Ensure the continuity of the contact by connecting with them on LinkedIn.

You can also join student groups that put you into contact with like-minded individuals and those who are passionate about the same issues as you.

After graduation, continue to leverage your alumni network by attending alumni events or contributing to alumni publications.

Does this type of networking have to wait until you are in law school? Of course not! Even as early as high school and junior high, debate teams and special interest groups can connect you with students who, in time, will form the foundation of your burgeoning professional network.

Internships and job shadowing can also be an important part of your student experience. We will discuss them more below.

Internships and Job Shadowing

During your university education, you may have the opportunity to complete an internship at a law office or with another legal entity. In so doing, you will be able to work alongside and get to know established legal professionals. You will also gain hands-on work experience and glimpse the office’s day-to-day happenings.

You can include your internship or shadowing experience on your resume. Such experience is invaluable, especially if you are entering the field with no other work experience.

Leverage LinkedIn

We’ve already mentioned LinkedIn as a way of keeping in touch with your professional contacts. But you can also leverage the site to grow your professional network. How?

Be an active user. Write articles and compose posts. Update your profile regularly. You may thus come to the attention of other valuable contacts.

You can also reach out to other professionals whom you would like to network with, even if separated geographically.

Attend Events

If you want to build your professional network, go where others in your field gather. Conferences, seminars, and other events offer opportunities to mingle with other professionals. You can also meet keynote speakers, who are often at the forefront of the legal field. After the event, follow up the contact with an email or a message on LinkedIn.

So far, we’ve talked about networking with other lawyers, but networking with potential clients can be just as important. Attend community and charitable events. Get to know people—not just the mayor and the police force, but average citizens as well. A brief but genuine encounter will build trust, and community members will be eager to seek you out in the future when they require legal services.

Offer Charitable Services

Above, we mentioned attending charitable community events. You can also give back to the community by engaging in pro bono work. You will meet clients, organizations, judges, and fellow lawyers with an interest in social justice and other topics.

Join a Professional Organization

When you join a Bar Association, you will be able to connect with your colleagues at meetings and events. Volunteering for committees can highlight your abilities and help you get noticed by others. You can also expand your network when you participate in continuing legal education (CLE) programs sponsored by the Bar Association.

Pay It Forward

Networking isn’t just about what you can get out of it; it is a two-way street. Make a habit of engaging with your network. Respond to messages. Personalize your communications. Provide assistance when requested, including sharing your knowledge, providing referrals, and helping others connect.

Key Takeaways

The importance of networking can’t be denied. Start early, even during your secondary education if possible. Connect with classmates and professors. Glimpse the profession through internships, job shadowing, or entry-level work.

But don’t stop there. Use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals and keep past connections alive. Attend industry and community events, offer charitable services, and join professional organizations. Your expansive professional network will help you reach your goals in the legal field.

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