This Guide is intended to provide Vanderbilt Law students with a one stop shop for networking resources.
So you have been invited to a dinner or cocktails with judges or with lawyers, some of whom work at a firm that you have been investigating, because it is a firm that you would like to work at. What the heck do you talk about? Beyond discussing your shared law school experience, it’s probably good for you to be able to discuss the latest news. You should know who is the Governor of Tennessee, and who is the Mayor of Nashville, and what they look like. You might also consider following them on social media so that you can passively receive information about them that reminds you who they are and what they are up to.
Attending classes in law school does not make you a lawyer. Beyond the bar exam, you need to remember that you are becoming part of a local legal community. The community has a shared history, and has its own celebrities. I am not talking about Lohan, Spears and Hilton although that sounds like the name of a law firm. I am talking about local legal celebrities and pariahs. The way to have something interesting to say to lawyers is to read the news about legal issues, especially about legal issues that local or national impact.
But before your speak, the most important thing to do is to listen.
Most of the legal history of the community is local knowledge that is only known to other lawyers and judges. The most important part of networking is listening to lawyers talk about themselves, each other and the judges. You should always be more interested in learning about other lawyers and what they do than you should be about telling them about yourself.
This is your future profession. Give yourself a fighting chance when competing against other job candidates, by being able to impress your potential employers with your understanding of the lay of the land.
To make it easy for you to keep up with current events in local law, I have created a Resource Guide for you where you can go to read legal news online with your morning coffee. If you can find a way to work current awareness into your day, you will be a much stronger candidate when standing next to the summer associate or judicial intern who can only talk to the lawyers and judges about their substantive academic accomplishments.
You need to be consistent about paying attention to what is going on in your State and your city. Putting in the effort now to make current awareness part of your day makes you an informed individual. This means that when it’s time to network you can just be yourself, because you will have plenty of things to talk about.
The Good News
If you haven’t been reading up on legal and political news, do not despair, you may not be able to come across as someone who knows about these kinds of things, but you can still be impressive.
Be Fun and Interesting
Lawyers don’t necessarily want to talk about legal and political news all the time. Get a hobby so you have something non-legal that you can talk about with passion with lawyers who have similar hobbies. This could be as easy as making sure you budget time in your study schedule to catch that Ball Game.
Remember, partners are not just looking for associates who can Am Jur their Torts class, they are looking for rainmakers who know how to network. If you are interesting to them, you will probably be interesting to clients. If you are not a natural extrovert, you may want to join Toastmasters or take an Improv theater class, these are the kinds of activities that will give you the skills you need to be able to impress others when networking.
To make it easy for you to keep up on the legal news and local Tennessee Politics, I have created this Resource Guide for you. You should know what I look like too so you can come and ask me for when you need legal research help. Below is a list of other Web resources on networking for law students.