Expanding your network

Let’s face it, networking is hard! Between knowing where to meet people and saying the right thing, there are a million ways a good networking event can be lackluster or even downright bad. Unfortunately, networking is one job that is never done and finding new places to meet people, where they are clients, other attorneys, or just other professionals, can be difficult. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to expand your network and make a name for yourself.

LinkedIn: It’s the first place people think of when they think of online networking. LinkedIn is a great resource to use to find people in a specific field or location. The search function is easy and the new app update with your connections makes it easier to find common ground to reach out on. Now a days, almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile so finding old coworkers or bosses to connect with is simple.

Bar association: The bar association is the first place lawyers suggest networking. Bar associations are tasked with bringing together attorneys for the betterment of the profession. Here, our bar association has committees for almost every practice area and puts on tons of events. The bar association committee meetings are sparsely attended so going to even one meeting puts you on other attorney’s radar.

Non-legal groups: Frequently, lawyers tend to band together and with busy work schedules, it’s easy to forget to do outside activities. But, these activities can be a great place to meet new contacts. There are groups for almost every interest and the regulars of the group are usually happy to teach you the ropes. Activities like Junior League or intramural at your local YMCA put you in reach of other young adults in a fun, non-legal context and makes it easier to connect with others.

Volunteering: There’s no greater feeling than knowing you helped someone else. Volunteering is two-fold: you help others and yourself. Because there are so many volunteer opportunities in some many different areas, you’re bound to end up working with people who have a similar mindset to yourself. In my experience, volunteering is where you meet some of the most kind-hearted, genuine individuals that can become more than just networking acquaintances.

Social media: Aside from LinkedIn, social media is a great way to reach out to people. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest there are plenty of ways to network. Each of these networks (and all the others, too!) have different ways to start the networking process and of course, have pros and cons.  By using social media, it incorporates who you are as a person along with who you are as a professional. In addition to local connections, you can find connections across the country, or even across the world, to exchange ideas and collaborate on issues.

Professional development organizations: Professional development organizations are groups that are dedicated to advancing the careers and lives of their members, usually a specific group of people. Many of these organizations are similar or the same as the ones you might find in law school. Groups like Christian Legal Society and National Association of Women Lawyers put on different events and webinars that give an inside look as how to be successful in your industry. Many members of groups such as these are experienced in their field and more than willing to share their knowledge.

When in doubt, reach out! How have you expanded your network?


Networking, School

The importance of pro bono

I’m a firm believer in giving back to your community. Ever since I was little, I wanted to get involved and make the world a better place. I constantly told my mom I was going to change the world. I got mad I couldn’t volunteer with Habitat for Humanity when I was 9 or 10 and got mad again when I couldn’t volunteer at a domestic violence shelter when I was 16. Now, I’m in a position to change the world and I think the community that welcomes us with open arms deserves some help.

Pro bono work in law school is so important. Currently, I’m the Executive Vice President of Administration for the law school’s Volunteer Student Law Project. We work to pair students up with lawyer in the area through clinics and their regular offices and provide pro bono opportunities for students. I’m lucky with UD. For 50 hours of pro bono work, you get an award at graduation and a notation on your transcript. They truly encourage pro bono work here and I’m glad I’m at a school that does.

Doing pro bono work is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I’ve met people from all walks of life, helped solve problems, met attorneys, and saw different types of law I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Not only is pro bono work good for the community, it gives you work experience without having to go through the process of finding a job. Most attorneys love to have students come in and learn from them and do some pro bono work. It’s a win-win. You meet attorneys and you get experience. I’m so grateful for the attorneys I’ve met through pro bono work and what they’ve taught me.

Another benefit to pro bono work is it just plain looks good on your resume. This is totally a superficial reason to do pro bono work but it is true. There have been OCIs on campus who want students that are highly involved in their community and pro bono work. I’ve been asked about it in every single interview I’ve done. Showing you have a commitment not only to your education but also to the community shows an employer a lot about you.

There are plenty of ways to get involved with pro bono work. See if there is a group that works with students like our VSLP group does. Reach out to the local bar associations or see if there is a local volunteer lawyers project. Talk to the public defenders office. Reach out to attorneys in general. Pro bono work isn’t just great for the community, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride doing work for people who need your help.