Is it important to network in law school?
Many students define success in law school by grade point average or class ranking. However, one of the best ways to create opportunities for yourself is networking. Networking is not, in and of itself, likely to land you a prestigious job in a position straight out of law school that otherwise requires a high class rank. But, it is a way to increase opportunities for yourself both during and after law school.
What is networking?
Networking is just a fancy way to say “building relationships.” And, networking does not have to be done solely at networking events.
In law school, you should aim to network with:
- Law school classmates
- Law school professors
- Law school faculty
We discuss each of these categories below.
Law school classmates
Law school classmates are one of the most underlooked categories of people to network with! You may feel like you are all in the same position, competing for the same jobs. However, connecting with your law school classmates can provide infinite benefits. For example:
- You can exchange outlines or study tips with classmates, thereby helping both you and your classmates.
- Your law school classmates may recommend you for a position either during or after law school (and you may have the opportunity to return the favor).
- Your law school classmates may become your lifelong friends.
In law school, especially during my second and third years, my law school classmates and I would use one another as resources for study tips, outlines, etc.
After law school—even several years later—I have recommended multiple former law school classmates for positions, and they have been accepted and excelled at those positions. I also ask former law school classmates to connect me with potential clients, and they willingly do so.
Lastly, a few of my law school classmates are still great friends of mine. Going through something as challenging and interesting as law school has the potential to create lifelong relationships.
Law school professors
I am surprised by the amount that law school professors help students during and after law school. They can be sources of great advice and provide a different perspective to students. If you feel especially close with a professor, get to know them during law school. I got my first job from a professor right out of law school! And now, one of my former professors works with me! A good relationship with the right professor can make a big difference.
Law school faculty
Faculty such as career advisors or student advisors should not be overlooked. They can help you both during and after law school. Career advisors can be a great resource in preparing you for interviews, helping you with your resumes, and connecting you with the right potential future employer. Student advisors can advise you on classes, the bar exam, and other resources.
Stepping outside of your law school comfort zone
It is also worth it to get involved in a club or activity that you feel strongly about. Don’t try to be part of everything—you will spread yourself too thin and not make a good impression or a meaningful impact! Instead, invest your time in one or two things that are really meaningful to you. For example, you may find the women’s lawyers and law student associations really impactful. Or, you may be passionate about a certain topic, like refugee’s rights, and find a way to get involved. When you get involved, give it your 100%. Know beforehand what you can commit to.
Building real relationships around causes you care about is a great way to network with people that are not your peers or faculty. So, remember that networking in law school is important. It can play a great role in your present and future successes!
How do I network in law school?
The best way to network in law school is to remember you are building relationships. This means a few things.
First, be nice to everyone.
If you are rude, word gets around. Law school students, faculty, and professors talk. You do not want a reputation for being rude! Instead, be nice to everyone and treat everyone with respect.
Second, aim to be useful to others.
Do not think, “What can I get out of this relationship?” Instead, ask yourself what value you can add to the other person’s life. Can you let a fellow student borrow your class notes from a day they missed? Can you volunteer when a professor is obviously having trouble getting any class discussion going? Can you connect someone with a person they might find helpful? Helping others starts the relationship on the right foot. So, give before you ask!
Third, strike up a conversation!
It is easy to keep to yourself when you are so busy in law school. But, when you are around others, strike up a conversation, even if it is just brief. If you do not know what to say, ask the other person about themselves. People generally enjoy talking about themselves so this can be a helpful way to get a discussion going! Even a short conversation can be memorable and leave a good impression!
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