Most law students quickly realize that law school is so much more than attending classes and studying. While your schoolwork is a critical component (and obviously the primary purpose of your being there), law school truly is the beginning of your legal career and, more importantly, your network. Each day and every interaction can be an opportunity to build meaningful relationships. So where do you start?
I took a part-time job while in law school to help defray the cost of tuition and to get to know some of the administration. I went to happy hours with my classmates. I joined law review. I spent my first summer participating in a travel abroad program with my fellow law classmates and forged some of my strongest relationships there. (I’m not going to lie, perpetually finding ourselves on the bottom of a set of stairs in the Monte Mario neighborhood of Rome in the hottest summer in 100 years while trying to find that “pizzeria with the very best crust” with my roommate created a special bond.)
Get to know your professors and other lawyers
They can be invaluable in your network on top of helping you shape your career. If you are able to snag a summer associate role, get to know the other summer associates as well as the associates and partners for whom you are doing work. Once you start practicing, you’ll have your law school network to build from now with the new collection of your colleagues, opposing counsels and bosses. They are all interconnected.
Take advantage of social media
Social media makes staying connected so much easier. LinkedIn and Twitter are dynamic tools that you should begin exploring while in law school. Use them to grow and develop your network as well as your own personal identity as a lawyer. You have the opportunity to start leaving your mark on the legal community. By that same token, the things you say on the Internet likely will follow your career. So post carefully and keep your personal accounts separate from your professional ones!
Networking can be a huge key to your success both professionally and personally. It is never too early to begin building those vital relationships. The more established your network is, the more likely you will have the connections you want—and need—to advance in your career down the road.