Networking is a fancy word that apparently scares many people off. It shouldn’t. It’s not complicated. And I think we should rename it. I don’t know what the new name should be, but let me show you what networking is with an email I sent on June 12 in the summer going into 2L year:
*It turns out I was not actually interested in that particular partner’s area of law. While some people may find that area of the law intriguing, a job offer was more intriguing to me during that summer. (Remember what this is all about – getting an offer).
It’s a Numbers Game
I sent several emails like this to many different alums across the country. I always expressed an interest in their practice group. As a rising 2L, I didn’t know litigation from corporate from white collar – but I knew I was interested in an offer. It may seem disingenuous – and it was – but I found it equally disingenuous for a 1L to claim an allegiance for an area of legal practice after taking intro to doctrinal courses for two semesters.
One time I sent this standard email, with the appropriate area of law per the firm website, to an associate at a biglaw firm. She responded by saying that her practice area has changed and she is actually working in X instead of Y. Well it turns out I was also (now) interested in Y and not just X area of law. That email exchange led to a call, then an interview, then an offer to be a summer associate, and finally led to me starting as a first year associate. I paid back my student loans in a couple of years and actually like my job.
Good Things Can Happen
Back to the above email I sent to a biglaw partner in June of my post-1L summer. I received a reply from this partner 4 days after I sent the initial email. We had coffee the following week. A few more emails back and forth about the recruitment process – then after on-campus interviews and a callback – an offer.
Yes we “hit it off” over coffee but you can find that person for you. People are willing to help. Sometimes you just have to let them know how to help you. Jerry Maguire said it best:
Courtesy: Radical Candor
Rejection is Your Friend
This is not rocket science. It’s very easy for you to take this form email and send it off to people who went to the same schools as you. That said, brace yourself for failure. It will come and it could come often. So many emails I sent went unanswered. So many calls I had were awkward, forced, and plainly obvious that the person on the other end of the phone did not want to be on that call.
It Only Takes One Yes
Of course they didn’t! They are busy and they’re trying to meet a deadline and get home and pick up food and close a deal or write a brief or go to happy hour or just do anything…but talk to a law student. As an associate, I get that. But through all the rejections, there are opportunities. It is so corny to say, but like many corny idioms and platitudes, it is absolutely correct: it only takes one yes.
It Will Not Always Be Smooth
One of the most awkward calls I had during that rising 2L summer was with someone who would later become my boss and my friend. It’s not always going to start out so smoothly. There will be growing pains with each email and each call and each coffee and each lunch. But those are necessary components to increasing your chances of getting a job offer, connecting with alums who will go to bat for you during recruiting season, and becoming a master at the fine art of “networking.”