Finding a job largely depends on your personal contacts. Nationwide, 70 percent of all legal jobs are acquired through professional networking or personal referrals. Despite this statistic, many students think of networking as a daunting process. However, by thinking of the networking process as nothing more than meeting people who have valuable information to share, the process becomes more manageable.
Networking or “meeting people” early in your legal career will help you establish and create relationships with colleagues and legal professionals that may pay dividends in the future. Not only are you more likely to be offered a job if you have a personal connection, people in your network can help you learn about available opportunities before they hit the “open market.”
In addition to the vital role networking may play in helping you secure a job, it can also be an important tool for learning more about a legal specialty, especially when you are still trying on different practice options.
The Office of Career Development offers students many opportunities to network at Delaware Law, including the mock interview and panel discussions.
Your contacts can include anyone you know who has anything to do with the legal profession or with a business-related connection to your areas of interest. This may include people you know who are lawyers or are in business, former professors, parents of friends, neighbors, friends of friends, etc. Your network can never be too large!
If you think you do not have any contacts, think again! Delaware Law alumni are remarkably supportive of our students and are a great resource. Lawyers in general but specifically Delaware Law alumni are often willing to informally talk with students about their work. The Office of Alumni Relations maintains Alumni Connect, a database that makes it easy to connect with alumni in certain practice areas or regions, and we hope you will join after you graduate and serve as resource to future law students.
You may hesitate to make time demands, but your contact may be more enthusiastic about sharing his or her knowledge and experience than you expect. Imagine yourself ten years from now when you are more established. You might be willing to spend a little time to give some guidance to an upcoming lawyer. Moreover, if you approach networking correctly, it should not be awkward because you are not asking your contact for a job, instead you are requesting advice. Almost everyone enjoys giving advice and talking about his or her experience.
Conducting an informational interview can be the best way to effectively connect with a contact. For more information on how to conduct an informational interview, review the NALP Information Interviewing Guide (pdf).
Networking can sometimes appear ineffective in the short-term but often pays dividends in the long run. Many times a contact will remember you and recommend you or offer you a job in the future. Networking can help with job opportunities here and abroad.
Ultimately, throughout your career, you will need to network to generate business and opportunities for your future employer. Now is the ideal time to get started.