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Monday, May 23, 2011

Networking to Find Post-Graduate Employment

By now you have heard about the importance of networking in any job search. But what exactly does networking entail? In their “Beating Unemployment” series, the Lawyer Mentor defines the networking process in a few basic steps:

  • Meeting people, online and in person;
  • Making real connections with those people (not just collecting names and business cards);
  • Collecting information about those people and keeping that information updated;
  • Maintaining contact with those people; and
  • Helping people as much as possible, and thanking them appropriately when they help you. [The Lawyer Mentor]
So, where do you start? There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to networking. Below are a number of the different resources for making contacts within the legal community. Decide which outlets work best for you and begin to incorporate them into your job search today.

Past Employers – Even if you know they are not hiring, contacting past employers can still be beneficial. As graduation approaches, update former colleagues and supervisors of your progress. Let them know what areas and fields you are interested in, send them an updated copy of your resume, and ask them for advice about your search.

Alumni – Use the “Contact Alumni” tab in Symplicity to contact alumni working in your area of interest and ask for advice. To search for additional law school connections as well as alumni from your undergraduate school use an on-line legal directory such as Martindale-Hubbell.

Bar Associations – A bar association is a perfect place to make connections. Bar activities such as section meetings, mentor programs, and social events provide excellent opportunities to meet lawyers and get your name circulating in the legal community. Most young lawyers divisions include attorneys who have been in the field for up to ten years, so don’t assume you will only be meeting new graduates who are also seeking employment.

LinkedIn – Use LinkedIn to highlight your accomplishments while connecting with fellow classmates, old friends, professors, family, former colleagues, and law professionals. Also join “Groups” to widen your network even more. For tips on how to create a professional profile and make yourself standout, read NALP’s e-guide “LinkedIn: Facebook for Lawyers”.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) – CLEs not only broaden your education in a particular area of law or legal issue, but they also provide easy opportunities to meet leaders in the field. Most CLE programs also provide needs based scholarships to assist with the program costs.

Volunteering/Pro Bono – Connect with your local bar association for on-going volunteer and pro bono opportunities. Volunteering in the community and providing pro bono assistance is an excellent way to meet fellow attorneys in the field while also building your own experience.

The hope is that the more connections you make (and maintain) the more likely you are to hear of job opportunities. There is also the possibility that the people you meet through this process may act as recommenders when applying for future positions.

Still have questions about networking? For further reading:

Other Networking Articles on Our Blog
Beating Unemployment: Networking in Person (The Lawyer Mentor)
Tips to Finding a Job After Graduation (Lawline)
LinkedIn: Facebook for Lawyers (NALP e-Guide)

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