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How to Network for Aspiring Lawyers

by Charles Nwabueze
Reading Time: 6 minutes

When I sat down to write this post, I reflected upon how I got some of my jobs in the past, and I can honestly say that I have had a fair stint of job roles as a result of successfully networking. I once received the responsibility of working as a bar supervisor as a result of talking to the hotel owner at my local gym. During my university days, I was employed as a research assistant in the law department as a result of asking one of my lecturers if there was a position that I could fill in the department. In more recent memory, I got the opportunity to successfully apply and receive an offer to work in a law firm because I struck up a pleasant conversation with a stranger at an ATM. The stranger happened to be one of the partners at the firm, who told me they were currently looking for a lawyer and encouraged me to apply. It so happened to be that the partner I met was the second in command in the firm’s hierarchy, and his decision helped determined who would be employed. If you aspire to be a lawyer you must embrace networking, if you want to keep your relevance as a lawyer you must network. Networking is very important in the law profession, whether it is as a barrister, solicitor or other alternative legal careers. 

Tip 1 Change Your Perspective on Networking

Networking simply means the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts – the result of interacting and engaging with them is the mutual benefit of both parties. When the layers have been discarded, what networking is is just social interaction, talking to another person or persons. As my above examples have indicated, as an aspiring lawyer you can network at the gym, a bar, religious gathering, school events, law firm-hosted events, basically any place that it is legal to talk you can network (talk). So what makes people fearful of networking or all of a sudden lose confidence in the willingness to live one moment longer when networking is brought up? It might stem from the way they think of networking. As an aspiring lawyer, the first tip is if you are fearful about the word ‘networking’ or have attached negative connotations to that word then just substitute the word with the words ‘talking’ or ‘social interaction’. You are just talking to another individual, a human being that was created just like you.

Tip 2: Connection 

Networking is about genuinely displaying an interest in people – connecting with people. Regardless of whom the person is, whether he is the richest man or woman in the world, or the president of a nation, or a managing partner, a newly qualified solicitor or a trainee we all like to be the recipient of genuine interest. We will also respond well to people who display a genuine interest in us. Let’s paint a picture. Imagine you were a partner at a top firm and two different people came to you at a networking event. Student A talking to you deciphers that you are a Manchester United fan, and playfully jabs you about your team’s recent lack of success or has a little bet that your team would lose to his. Or he notices that you are into fitness, and comments that you look ‘buff’ or asks how you keep up with working out while practising. Conversely, Individual B walks up to you and starts telling you how great he is that he’s better than sliced bread and butter, that he has worked at so many law firms (he even has his CV to prove it) and how your firm would be lucky to have him. He then asks for your complimentary card so he can email you – perhaps to bore you to death about how incredible he is. Chances are that you will want to put a great distance between you, your firm and Student B while you’d want Student A in your firm. The reason for your choice is because Student A connected with you by displaying a genuine interest in you, and it’s unique. Thus, when talking to someone at a networking event display genuine interest in them. 

Tip 3 Develop a Plan

Before each event that networking might take place, prepare. Find out who is organizing the event, is it your university or a law firm or a Chambers. If it’s a law firm you can dig into our company profiles section to get a feel of the firm, their practice areas, what it’s like to work at the firm, their reputation in the industry, and how they are different from other law firms. It would be quite embarrassing when talking to a senior lawyer of the firm hosting the event, and your lack of background research into the firm is revealed. Part of having a plan is also researching what you want at the end of your law degree, do you want to be a London-based lawyer or do you want to reside in regional law firms. Knowing what you want will help you get the best out of networking. 

Tip 4 First Impression Counts

Whether you believe this or not first impressions matter, they can make or mar any opportunity to get good results at the networking event. It takes just a few seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the legal person has formed an opinion about you based on your appearance, and how you are dressed. It simply will not speak well of you if you were talking to one of those senior lawyers, and he or she is uncomfortable around you because you had not taken the liberty to run a bath, or get that Pringles stuck in your teeth out of the way. So yes before any event you may attend, as much as possible make sure that you look your best.  

Tip 5 Be Confident

Going to your first networking event might be intimidating especially for those who are not confident about speaking to strangers but you will have to overcome this to make the most of networking. Earlier on we talked about being evaluated based on physical appearance, and how you have dressed; newsflash, you will be evaluated on your demeanour, mannerisms and body language – think about it, part of a lawyer’s role is to observe/analyze. So be confident, hold your head high, and politely introduce yourself to people, you have gotten nothing to be afraid of. If you are scared of talking to people, you can practise in front of a mirror. The reason for coming to a networking event is that you have something to accomplish, you’ll need to be confident and brave to get that goal. 

Tip 6 Be Creative

If you have been following this post closely, you’ll have concluded that all networking does not happen at an event, like we said earlier it could happen at any place – any place that it is legal to talk. So be creative, if you like working out get to talking to people [not in an intrusive way] at your gym. If you are in a volunteering-related work talk to people; if you are at some extra-curricular interact with people. Essentially, I am encouraging you to be creative in your approach to networking as networking can and does happen at any given time.

Tip 7 Practice Post-Networking 

After you have practised the abovementioned tips and you have been very successful at the event or talked with the other lawyer. Do not fail to keep networking after the event has ended. For those who you have connected to, endeavour to ask for a mode by which you can reach them – it could be their email or phone numbers. In your communication with them after you have collected their contact details, be thankful. If you were promised something – perhaps a vacation scheme or a mini-pupillage – gently remind them of their promise/favour. If you are also unsure of how soon you should be communicating with someone after talking to them at a networking event; I’ll advise that you send the first communication within a day of your meeting. That way you’d still be fresh in their memory.   


Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)


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