Networking means nothing more than building relationships. It is a vital part of a successful job search in law school and will play an on-going and even more important role in your legal career after graduation. Networking includes contacting professionals with whom you are already acquainted, as well as making new contacts who may be able to help you secure job opportunities – either by putting in a good word for you to a potential employer or keeping you apprised of jobs that are not advertised or openings that may be about to occur. It is not simply asking someone if they are hiring or if they know of a job opening. Successful networking often results in the creation of meaningful relationships in which the contact becomes emotionally invested in your professional success and serves as a personal advocate on your behalf.
Download the complete Networking Guide.
- Networking With Notre Dame Lawyers
NDLS students have access to one of the strongest and most loyal alumni bases in the country. Notre Dame Lawyers include NDLS graduates as well as Notre Dame undergraduates who attended law school elsewhere. They serve as invaluable resource for NDLS students, offering them insights into the legal market in a particular city and connecting them with professionals who may be able to assist them in their job search. You can search for Notre Dame Lawyers by class, location and more in the alumni directory at http://mynotredame.nd.edu/ .
- Notre Dame Clubs
Joining the Notre Dame Club in the area in which you wish to practice provides you access to a contact list of local ND alumni and social networking events throughout the summer. You can search for your local Notre Dame Club at http://mynotredame.nd.edu/ .
- Local Bar Associations (Student Membership)
Taking advantage of the bar association’s student membership in the geographic area in which you wish to practice will provide you access to networking events and seminars and will connect you with individual attorneys practicing throughout the city.
To help keep track of your contacts, consider preparing a spreadsheet identifying the name and contact information for each person you have met. This may seem cumbersome, but such a spreadsheet can be a helpful tool in managing your network as it grows and determining with whom you need to follow up. Download a sample spreadsheet template.
Informational interviewing is a useful tool that allows students to build their knowledge about a practice area while providing an effective networking opportunity. The goal is not to interview for a specific job; rather, it is to make contacts and learn what it means to practice in a particular field or geographic area. This is an opportunity to ask a practicing attorney questions about: a) the day to day practice in a particular field; b) the various career paths successful attorneys have taken in that field; and c) the skills necessary for success. This information can be used to craft an effective cover letter and to articulate clearly your interest and applicable skills during an interview.
Individuals to Contact
- Notre Dame Lawyers or attorneys from your undergraduate institution who practice in the field of law in which you are interested,
- Attorneys you have met or have read about that have a tie to your geographic or other areas of interest, and,
- Attorneys suggested to you by your professors, staff members, family and friends.
How to Reach Out
Students should reach out to attorneys to introduce themselves and inquire as to the attorney’s availability for a short meeting (20-30 minutes) at a convenient time and place. If you have a choice of location, you may suggest having the meeting held in his or her office to make it as convenient as possible. Below you will find a document that includes email templates for informational interviews.
Topics for Discussion
State why you sought the attorney out and your reasons for asking for their advice, which may include:
- Your desire to learn more about a particular practice area,
- Your particular professional goals and desire to learn about avenues that could help you reach those goals, and,
- Your desire for feedback as to whether your goals are realistic.
Prepare questions in advance and be sure to ask for information and not a job. Questions may include:
- What courses to take that would prepare you to practice in that particular field,
- Qualifications generally sought when hiring,
- Extracurricular and professional experiences that are particularly helpful, and
- Any additional advice they have for you that you haven’t thought to ask.