networking

Make It A Great Year

So you started law school this year. Yay!

You’ve finished 1L orientation. *whew*

(Wait for it)

Have the nerves started to set in yet? Well, STOP!

Before you let your emotions take over and put you into a stress-induced panic attack, take the time to review these simple tips that may seem straightforward, but are often overlooked by first year law students each year:

    1. Start thinking about your law career path. Criminal law. Family law. Tax law. Corporate law. The law practice areas of today seem endless, don’t they? Make your transition from college to career as seamless as possible by thinking about what area of practice would best suit you. Start thinking about your strengths and interests. Research different areas of practice online and write notes about each one. This tool can give you an idea of what’s out there. Would you like to represent large corporations or individual clients? Is land use & zoning up your alley or is insurance law more your thing? Do you think you’ll work best in a small firm or a large firm? Get your ideas flowing.  Schedule an appointment with your career advisor to brainstorm about options and get detailed career insight for your personal strengths and interests.

    2. Network. Network. Network. Some 1L students make the mistake of not doing this the first semester and miss out on great available help. Meet professors during office hours. Go to networking events. Apply to on-campus interviews. Connect with the Office of Career and Professional Development. Network with whomever possible during first semester, especially different alumni: Alumni now at law firms, alumni at firms in which you are interested in working, alumni you know in your neighborhood, etc. Even a small connection can give you a huge leg up in looking for 1L or 2L summer employment, and best part? People are naturally willing to help! A simple conversation about their experiences on campus or their careers after graduation can lead into the formation of the core base of contacts that will help you in your future law career.

    3. Health is wealth. Maintain a balanced diet. Get regular exercise. Drink plenty of water. Sounds like an elementary school lecture on the food pyramid, right? Healthy living isn’t just instilled in young children anymore. It’s preached throughout your lifespan. So why stop while attending law school? Keeping a proper diet, exercising regularly, and having a regular sleep schedule will give you more energy than that caffeine-laced energy drink. Good health is long-term. Quick fixes like espresso, sugar, and brief cat naps before exams will only work short-term. Before you know it, those late afternoon runs to the coffee shop and stacks of take-out boxes will be taking a toll on your body and mind.  Use the gym on campus. Take a walk with an audiobook. Ditch the greasy food for some quinoa and greens. Mmmmmm.

    4. Be kind and courteous to your classmates. Everyone already feels that it is one big competition in law school, which can create pointless tension. Instead, practice kindness, consideration, and helpfulness each day. Sounds so easy, right? Try it then — EVERY day. The legal community is small so it’s good to be known as a genuine and pleasant person. Your classmates are the first group of contacts you will make in your law career, so be sure to get your reputation in the legal world off on the right foot. Don’t forget that you’ll be around the same group of people on a daily basis for over a year, so be sure to be nice to your new family of 100+. Offer to share notes or outlines. Make sure you try and get to know 2Ls and 3Ls, too. They are great allies when it comes to advice and tricks of the trade. They might even give away their old outlines and study aids, or even give advice on specific professors’ teaching or grading style.

    5. Have Fun! Be sure to take some time out for yourself each week and enjoy the benefits and opportunities that are in store for you at Wake Forest University. Walking paths, world-class gyms, adventure trips, sporting events, and so many more activities are waiting to fill your (albeit limited) free time and reduce the stress levels in your body. Get involved with the various social clubs on campus, SBA fundraisers, and happy hours which can be fun and relaxing as well as circle back to the all-powerful networking rule.

You’ve made it this far along the long law school path, so keep on trucking! Congratulations to you. Excitement and fun (and yes, lots of studying) await you this year. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride each step of the way!

Great Advice from Speed Networking 101

Our speed networking program last night was a huge success! Twenty-five law students met with twenty local attorneys from various firms and businesses.  Modeled on the “speed dating” concept, the room was set up with numbered stations, and each student was matched with one or two attorneys. They were given five minutes to meet, ask questions, and give their “elevator speeches” before the bell was rung and the students shifted to the next station.

Participants (both students and attorneys) raved about this event.  The format gave students an opportunity to hone their networking skills in a structured environment, while also meeting and developing relationships with practicing attorneys.  There was an opportunity for additional informal networking following the timed portion.

After each group of students circled the room, the attorneys offered insightful advice and feedback to the students, including:

  • Networking is a skill that can be learned.  Even if you consider yourself shy or introverted, you can become a successful networker with practice.
  • The best way to start is to ask questions of the other person. Try to find common ground – similar schools, interests, hobbies, etc., and then let the conversation flow from there.
  • Listening skills are important! Try not to always be thinking about what you are going to say next.
  • Show interest in the other person. Be careful not to make the conversation all about you.
  • Do your research. Know something about the company or firm the person you’re speaking with works for.
  • Employers hire based on likeability – when looking at a group of applicants who all have similar credentials, they will remember (and probably hire) the person with whom they most want to work on a daily basis.
  • Networking is essential, and not just for your job search.  This is a skill that you will use in practice, whether to gain clients, develop relationships with other attorneys, or grow within the firm.
  • Follow up! After you meet someone, jot down where you met him/her and something about your conversation. Then send an email (it’s always a good idea to remind them where you met) and reiterate that you enjoyed speaking with him/her.
  • You never know who will become a valuable business contact – always act professionally.

To see pictures from this event, visit our Facebook page. The next Speed Networking event with the NCBA Government & Public Sector Section will be on Tuesday, November 13 at noon. Registration is limited, so stay tuned for details!

Use Thanksgiving to Help Your Job Search…

If you’re going home for Thanksgiving, here are three effortless things you can do to further your job search.

You might be asking, how can Thanksgiving dinner help with my job search? Can’t I just enjoy my turkey and football and not think about the job market for one day? Of course you can.  But there are a couple of simple things you can do that don’t require leaving the comfort of your home – you never know what might pay off!

First, tell people that you are looking for a job. You should be doing this anyway.  Your kooky Aunt Sally might just happen to know someone in the field of your interest.

Second, share what you’ve been learning.  You can pull this off without seeming obnoxious.  For example, if the turkey is dry, don’t start talking about what section of the UCC you can sue under.  But if there’s a subject you enjoy, getting into a debate with your cousins about it might just highlight an area of practice that interests you and help you focus your job search.

Finally, manage the expectations of your family and friends. Are you feeling pressure from them about the job search? Do their expectations seem unrealistic? Be up front about your plan and tell them about your strategy.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the holiday! Take the time to listen to what’s going on in other people’s lives and get some perspective on life outside of law school.

More information is included in the OCPD weekly newsletters, available here:

1L Newsletter2

2L Newsletter9

3L Newsletter9

Networking 101

This is a recent article from our OCPD Weekly Newsletter, sent to 2Ls and 3Ls.

You’ve heard it over and over again.  Networking is the key to success. Networking will help you find a job.

If one more person tells you networking will solve all your problems, you’ll scream!

Take a step back. Think about all that networking entails.  It is a skill – much like analyzing a case or presenting an argument.  Like all skills, these take education, practice, and time to develop.

Networking is not just about finding a job. It’s about building relationships.  This is a skill that you will use throughout your professional career.  Employers – whether law firms, government, or public interest – expect law graduates to not only have excellent analytical skills and writing ability, but also be able to develop connections with coworkers, clients, and potential clients.  By building rapport with colleagues, community members, and other professionals, you begin to establish the trust that is the foundation of a business relationship.

You already do a lot of networking. Are you on Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? These sites are about building relationships.  People who are active in social networking generally enjoy personal engagement, enjoy getting to know people.

Nevertheless, you’re not going to get very far if you limit yourself to online networking.  You have to get out there, attend professional events, volunteer, take part in community activities.  Just show up.

Once you’re there, here are some tips for “working the room.”  The more events you attend and the more actively you participate, the more skills you will build.  As you get more comfortable in this type of environment, you will see that building relationships gets easier. Who knows, it might even turn out to be fun!

Have something to talk about. If you’re going to an event sponsored by a specific group, see if that group has been in the news lately (it’s easy to run a news search on Lexis or WestLaw). If you know who is going to be there, read up on their bios. Keep up on what’s going on locally – what are people talking about outside of the law school bubble?  None of these things may come up in conversation, but you’ll feel more at ease knowing you have something to break an awkward silence.

LISTEN.  This may be the most obvious, but hardest to do. You’re nervous, you’re thinking about the next thing you want to say in the conversation. Focus on what the person is saying and let the conversation flow naturally.

Get over your distaste for “small talk.” Small talk is the foundation of any relationship. How did you meet your significant other? Chances are you didn’t immediately start out with discussion of serious issues like money and children. Small talk allows you to find the connection on which you will build a deeper relationship.

Finally, DON’T check your Blackberry/iPhone, text anyone, or look at your phone in the middle of a conversation. Nothing says “I’m not interested in what you’re saying” more than this.  If you check your messages out of nervous habit, leave the phone at home (or in the car, at the very least).

This week’s student newsletters are available in their entirety here:

 

3L Newsletter6

2L Newsletter6

 

WFU Law Networking Reception in Washington, D.C.

Students are invited to attend the Wake Forest School of Law D.C. Reception, to be held during Fall Break in Washington D.C.

Don’t miss this opportunity to network with D.C. alumni and other attorneys practicing in the area!

Details:

Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar available

Bar Code Restaurant, Bar, Lounge
1101 17th Street NW
(Entrance Located on L Street)
Washington, DC 20036-4704

Register online by visiting http://alumni.law.wfu.edu/contact/alumni-reception-registration/
by October 17

2L Job Search Myths

MYTH: All my friends have jobs already.

TRUTH: Very few students have summer jobs lined up this early in the year. Many 3Ls will tell you that at spring finals, they still did not have a job for the summer.  The summer job search can be a long process for many reasons: smaller firms and businesses may not know their hiring needs yet; organizations may not be able to predict future demand for services; some nonprofits may be waiting for funding.  The key is to be patient and methodical. Keep checking in with your contacts. Don’t give up!

MYTH: I want to work out of state but can’t get anything without connections.

TRUTH: There is a big difference between “connections” and “contacts.” Yes, it’s nice when a parent or family friend can put you directly into a job, but this is unusual.  You are far more likely to succeed by making contacts in the legal community in which you want to work.  Join the local bar association. Call local alumni and ask their advice.  Attend a career fair in that state.

MYTH: I want to stay in NC but I’m not from here so no one will hire me.

TRUTH: You’re already in school in North Carolina—this means something! Employers want to see that you are committed to the state, so give them reason to believe this. Emphasize your involvement in the community, your knowledge of current local and state events, your interest in remaining here.  You are not the first Wake Forest student who has come to NC and decided to stay.

MYTH: I didn’t get an offer through OCI so I’m out of options.

TRUTH: Only a small percentage of students get summer jobs through OCI, because only a small percentage of employers participate in OCI.  There are numerous other avenues to pursue.  This is where networking is key—contact firms and alumni who practice the type of law you are interested in. Consider seeking out judicial externships, government internships, volunteer work with nonprofit organizations.  OCPD updates Symplicity regularly with job postings.  Your OCPD career advisor can help you identify resources to find options in your area of interest.

MYTH: There are no advertised jobs that interest me.

TRUTH: Don’t limit yourself to posted job listings. Plenty of firms and organizations do not advertise positions. Networking is essential.  Talk to lawyers, alumni, anyone you know. Let them know you are looking and what you’re interested in.  Some firms have work to be done, and would be happy to have a competent student available.  Your willingness to work is a foot in the door, and your quality of work may mean a future job.

MYTH: Networking is useless. People won’t respond if I just call them up out of the blue.

TRUTH: There is one universal truth in networking: people love to talk about themselves.  Success is all in the approach. Be polite. Ask if this is a good time.  Offer to take them out for lunch or coffee.  Have a list in mind of what you want to learn from them.  Show your appreciation with a written note.  Follow up if you can—mention a CLE or recent article that relates to something you discussed.

MYTH: I’m just going to wait tables and enjoy one last summer of freedom.

TRUTH: Your 2L summer is an important opportunity to get valuable work experience.  Not only are you building professional skills for your resume, but you also have an opportunity to “test the waters” in different practice areas, types of work, and even locations.  Use this opportunity, it will benefit you in long-term career planning

Using Social Media in your Job Search

Are you currently using social media in your job search?  If not, you are missing an opportunity to expand your pool of potential networking contacts.  While this doesn’t replace the importance of in-person networking, it does offer the opportunity to network with people beyond your local area.  Once connections are made, don’t forget to take the online connection offline to develop the relationship.  If it’s not possible to meet in person, you can talk on the phone or via private email. 

If you want to learn more about how to maximize use of social media in your job search, come to the program we are hosting on Friday, November 12th from 12:00-12:50 p.m. in Room 1312.  Chuck Hester, a LinkedIn expert, will discuss the benefits and methods of using social media tools to enhance your job search. Register in Symplicity by Wednesday at noon to reserve a lunch.

Discover the PATH to Becoming a Public Defender

Public Defender Advocacy, Training & Hiring Conference (PATH) will take place at Georgetown University Law Center on Saturday, July 31, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Immediately following the conference, there will be a networking happy hour at a local venue.

PATH is designed to provide law students considering or planning careers in indigent criminal defense representation information and guidance about how public defender offices hire, train and provide advocacy to indigent defendants. You have the opportunity to choose from 12 sessions on the different PATH tracks, all of which are calculated to help you understand what it means to be a public defender. No registration fee. LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE – If interested, register ASAP!

It's Never Too Early To Raise Your Profile As A Lawyer

Young lawyers oftentimes feel they don’t have time for “networking, raising their profile and creating a personal brand”, but in an article today in The Legal Intelligencer Debra L. Bruce notes that these activities “can help you keep your job, get a new job and develop business.”  Read her article to find out why you should strive to be more visible in the community and get some great examples of methods that work.

LexisNexis Job Search Webinar

Lexis is offering a webinar on Monday, November 9 from 3-4:00 pm entitled “Getting the Job: Using LexisNexis to Secure Employment”.  You will learn how to use the professional networking, job finding and interview preparation resources available to you through LexisNexis® and Martindale-Hubbell.  Register online.