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How technology has changed first impressions

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Networking

It’s no surprise that technology has had a huge impact on the way that we do business, and this impact extends to first impressions, both those you will have with potential employers and with future clients. Because of these changes, it makes sense to focus some of your efforts in ensuring that your online reputation is carefully curated so that anyone searching for you online will see what you’d like them to see.

When my friend Jabez LeBret was with consultancy GNGF (he is currently the co-founder of Sisu Academy), they did a study that revealed that people go online to research their lawyer/law firm before they ever step foot into the firm itself. You can be sure that this is the same for firms looking at prospective lawyers as well. That means the first impression of you as a candidate is NOT your resume—it’s your search results. So, there are two things to be conscientious of:

  • Do you have a website? For current lawyers, this would obviously be their firm’s site, where their profile page is one of the most visited pages on the site. But as a law student, you may have a personal or even professional site that you’ve created to showcase your work and credentials. If this is the case, make sure that it’s sending the right message to those you want to network with—does it match what you want them to think about you? Also, is it mobile-ready? Doe you have a professional and up-to-date photo included, and do you also showcase your personality outside of being a law student? What are some hobbies and projects that may highlight transferrable skills that would be valuable to your career as a lawyer?
  • Review your social profiles. Do a private search on Google to see what comes up when the user is anonymous—are these the results you’d prefer to see? Are potential employers seeing a robust LinkedIn profile that contains links to thought leadership pieces (yes, you can write these even as a law student), relevant articles that you’re sharing within your area of interest, links to the latest news and updates in the industry? Are you following the law firms that you’re interviewing with to stay up to date on what they’re latest news might be, and connecting with potential future colleagues? Do they see a Twitter feed that shows you’re connected to and engaged with other legal thought leaders, which reveal you to be proactive about your education and connected to the right people? What else comes up?

While it’s unlikely someone will hire you based solely on a website or social media presence (this extends to future client engagements as well!), what DOES happen is that when you’ve been referred to them, or submit your resume to them, they will Google you. If all that comes up is a limited LinkedIn profile, and potentially your undergrad record, you may be the smartest lawyer in your class, but it’s not going to reinforce their hiring decisions.

You want your online reputation to support your resume as strongly as possible, so take the time to do a little due diligence to ensure that it matches the first impression you’re looking to achieve.

Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s director of global relationship management. In this capacity, she works with the network’s executive director to identify and implement marketing opportunities both internally and externally and develop new approaches to business development needs. She regularly blogs at Zen & the Art of Legal Networking.