Article Written by James Tonge, Philosophy Undergraduate at The University of Manchester.
Networking is a crucial part of life in the legal profession, whether you are a student or an experienced professional. But what is networking? To put it simply, it is speaking and interacting with individuals in order to establish contacts. Through talking to individuals at events and exchanging contact information like LinkedIn profiles and emails, you can forge connections with like-minded people and establish a network of useful connections. By creating either long or short term professional connections, you establish relationships to help your professional or business ambitions.
To reach your desired goals, it always helps to meet and interact with those who have already been there. The majority of established lawyers, solicitors, barristers, and other legal professionals will tell you how networking has been beneficial for them because regardless of the person’s speciality, networking is an essential part of any career. But whether you are a new student or a seasoned lawyer, the following benefits are applicable.
Building trust and exchanging contacts, knowledge, and information with one another through networking is the key to achieving those crucial professional objectives. By consistently offering to help your connections with chances, you’ll build relationships and lay the groundwork for a time when you may need their aid.
Meeting new people will probably introduce you to additional people who are aware of job openings or recruiters looking for talented people interested in your line of work. Keep up with your active networking on a regular basis to boost your chances of meeting someone who might be useful.
The capacity to consult with knowledgeable industry peers is a significant advantage of networking. You can talk about common problems and current job opportunities, even becoming specific about what topics they studied in high school or what extracurricular activities they participate in to improve their CVs or resumes. Building solid foundations for a supportive relationship that you can rely on throughout your professional years means you always have a helping hand for guidance and advice as you navigate your legal journey.
Networking is not restricted to specific events and situations, however, there are some opportunities to practice networking where you might find it easier. The first place to look is specific law events. It is likely that the calendar will be completely filled with legal firms interested in visiting your university for a conversation during the entire year. These gatherings on your university campus, are made expressly to put you at ease and give you access to a diverse group of people like trainees, partners, HR representatives, recruiters and successful alumni which links nicely into the next point. Most universities have a strong alumni network that makes it simple to contact lawyers, judges, and other professionals. If your law school doesn’t have its own alumni database, log onto LinkedIn and look up other alumni who are currently employed in the legal industry. The benefit of networking with alumni is that you already share a relationship with them, which breaks the ice and increases their likelihood of assisting you.
Networking from individual to individual is going to be different, but there are a lot of useful guides out there which will help you practice and perfect the art of conversation.
When networking, there are some good questions to ask. The correct questions demonstrate your interest in learning more, your enthusiasm for a legal career, and your ability to pay attention to what others have to say. Questions like ‘Why did you choose this law firm?’ or ‘How did you get into law?’ are easy questions which allow a conversation to develop.
Like anything, practice is an essential part of becoming good at networking. One way of practicing is to make a brief, 30-second elevator speech about yourself and, possibly, a legal speciality that interests you. Perfecting this simple technique will allow you to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
Many law students who effectively network will immediately forget about the interaction and any contact information. The goal of networking is to develop a lasting relationship with others, so the best course of action is to follow up. After your exchange send a quick follow-up email to thank them for their time, remind them of what you discussed, and then suggest some potential next steps. For example, arrange a phone call, meet up for a chat in the future, or just offer your help with something at a later date.