Do you have any tips for networking with members of the legal profession?
Bill: The relationships you have when you enter the profession and those you build along the way are extremely valuable sources of contacts and information. A good portion of jobs are still obtained the old fashioned way: by calling on an acquaintance who helps point you in the right direction.
The "old boy" network is not exactly what we have in mind, except all of us, boys and girls, have such a network to a greater or lesser degree. Begin constructing your network early and maintain it throughout your career. Everyone you meet along the way is a future resource. This seems a simple notion, but it is an extremely valuable one. Your career will have many twists, turns, peaks, and valleys, but you will not go it alone.
This starts in law school. Your professors are a source of advice and information, as well as knowledge. That source does not end with graduation. Many professors maintain extensive contacts within the practice community and can thus be very helpful when looking for a job within their field of expertise.
Fellow students are another source of contacts and information. They represent contacts throughout the legal community. Thus, staying in touch with your fellow alums and attending reunions and alumni association meetings is an important way of maintaining your network. As time passes, you will be surprised by the strength of the bond forged by your alma mater.
Once in practice, you will obviously meet many people from lawyers to judges to people in business. Some of these you will work with, some you will appear before, some will be clients, and some will be adversaries. All will be contacts and potentially valuable resources.
Make a list of the 10 most valuable contacts and write them or give them a phone call, explaining your interests and asking their advice. They can lead you to other contacts and you will be surprised at how quickly your resources will multiply.
Remember, your contacts expect you to act on their suggestions. They may pave the way for you with a call of their own, and you don't want to leave them in an awkward situation. Follow up and acknowledge all your leads.