Marketing and networking are keys to success after graduation, and it is never too soon to think about these topics. While marketing isn’t a subject found in the law school curriculum, there’s no better time than the present to get started. The third year of law school offers plenty of opportunities to initiate best practices that will endure and pay off during your entire career. Thankfully, what qualifies as “marketing” may be simpler than you think, as the following straightforward steps reveal.
First, get involved in organizations that provide you exposure outside of your law school environment. In an organization like the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, for example, there are numerous committees looking for active law students. Each committee constantly strives to develop new content on its websites, newsletters, or podcasts. Law students can easily join monthly calls of committees, where there will be requests for volunteers. Because no previous experience is necessary to contribute, this is the kind of first step that you can take even before you begin practicing. Similarly, if you are already focused on a particular industry, look for professional groups in those industries. Get familiar with the concerns those industries have so that you are ready to respond to their business and legal needs in the future.
After you are involved, be the one that steps up. Whether you are marketing with the goal of finding a job or being hired by a client, it pays to be known as the one who steps up. Many volunteer opportunities are left undone because no one takes responsibility for them. You can easily be the one to make a difference. Plus, you’d be surprised how many lawyers meet someone at a bar event, networking event, or interview and fail to make any additional contact. Make a practice of jotting down a note about something that stood out in any conversation you have with a new contact at a networking event. Or, send yourself an e-mail or text with the information so that you’ll be reminded of the conversation when you are back at home. You’ll immediately stand out in the crowd by the simple step of sending a short e-mail with your contact information and a note about the conversation you shared. Even better, stand out from the crowd and drop a note by snail mail with a more personal touch.
Once you have gotten involved, deliver on what you promised. Your work in any legal or community organization is one of your first opportunities to market what you have to offer potential clients or employers. Every committee depends upon volunteers. And, with any volunteer activity, the quality of the product is directly related to the quality of its volunteers. Don’t underestimate the value of doing good work and being responsive. If you accept a responsibility and fail to complete the task in a timely and high-quality manner, you are missing the opportunity to make a positive impact. Therefore, don’t accept task on which you can’t follow through sufficiently. Once you do that, no level of law school academic success will overcome the impression that you aren’t giving a task your all. But, on the other hand, if you follow through and produce outstanding work product, your name will rise to the top of any list for future responsibilities. Even the most mundane of tasks completed in a timely and professional manner can put your name top of mind when a larger opportunity comes along.
Right now, as a law student, you have a wealth of marketing and networking opportunities all around you. In fact, you likely have more opportunities to market and network right now than you will ever have again. Your classmates will spread out in many different directions, taking on legal responsibilities in private practice, in-house, government, and pro bono environments. Further, their first steps are unlikely to be their last ones in their own legal careers. They’ll take with them the impressions they have of you as a law student. Therefore, the connections you are making now are bound to be fruitful ones as you move on. Look for opportunities to help your classmates as they are starting their careers. Treat everyone with respect and remember that your law school rank often has little to do with future success in law or business. You never know where your classmates will end up and you want to be remembered by them as being an honest, competent, and responsible person. Before you go your separate ways, find reliable ways to stay connected as you spread out. Jot down notes about each of your colleague’s interests, strengths, and goals so that you’ll have something to jog your memory when you are no longer seeing each other daily. This will be an invaluable resource as you start off your career and find yourself and your classmates in positions to help each other.
Simply stated, taking small steps today can prove to be positive and fulfilling marketing as you round out your law school years.