In this blog post, Shringar Bhattrai from Amity Law School, Gurgaon and pursuing a Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws from NUJS, Kolkata, describes the importance of networking for lawyers.
If you are absolutely determined to become a lawyer, you will do whatever it takes to become a lawyer and half the work is done but the another half is about working until you no longer have to introduce yourself. To start out as a lawyer and to achieve a good pace for your practice, you will require to broaden your network with efficient people who will turn up to advise you on complex legal issues, to help you develop your skills and to establish you. The skill that is often imputed to successful lawyers is networking skills. Networking isn’t about accumulating contacts, it’s like planting flowers for bringing up a beautiful garden. Very often it is thought that the act of establishing networks is onerous or awkward or rather unpalatable, as it generally bears a negative connotation of insincerity. But, it isn’t always concomitant with selfish or disingenuous nature, it acts both ways. Where among the web of contacts across the industry, a lawyer counts on someone for advice on complex issues and then in return lets that person confide to him for anything that may cross the path in future.
What is Networking?
Networking isn’t about accumulating contacts, it’s like planting flowers for bringing up a beautiful garden. Very often it is thought that the act of establishing networks is onerous or awkward or rather unpalatable, as it generally bears a negative connotation of insincerity. But, it isn’t always concomitant with selfish or disingenuous nature, it acts both ways. Where among the web of contacts across the industry, a lawyer counts on someone for advice on complex issues and then in return lets that person confide to him for anything that may cross the path in future.
Networking is particularly about magnanimity and contemplation, where you form networks and sustain them while being considerate and liberal and in return expect for their reciprocity. Networking is an act of maintaining and developing purposeful and fruitful relationships. In this process of nurturing relationships, you gain knowledge, ideologies, information, support and opportunities. Establishing and retaining a group of profitable networks is an important and crucial aspect of a lawyer’s career developing strategy. Not every lawyer possesses the art of being natural networker or owns a movie-star like confidence or is extroverted but this can gradually develop by indulging in numerous social or volunteering activities. Every person has a set of goals to accomplish, having effective networking is a step forward to form a clear portrait of what you aim to achieve and to plan systematically using your strength to accomplish them. Networking is about taking a stride towards the journey of achieving your goals, wherein the journey itself can be more exciting than the expected destination. Networking is about getting a new perspective, learning and improving through the ideas bounced by others. Creating and cultivating professional relations will certainly broaden the scope of your professional life.
Networking is a way to reach out to more people from the industry, create healthy and beneficial relationships with these like-minded people. While we are in college, we meet a clique of people with the similar enthusiasm of achieving far-reaching goals and also a faction of people who are less desirous about their ambitions but one way or the other every law student ends up developing a few connections. These connections are formed from the snowstorm of networking opportunities through legal events they have attended throughout their academic lives. As a student, if we develop a habit of meeting lawyers and attending networking events, we will certainly gain knowledge which can be invaluable while applying for internships and traineeships. Furthermore, you will start drawing a picture of your professional career by familiarizing with them and learn the technique to stand out in the crowd where millions of people are contesting to achieve the best. It might seem daunting for many to undertake this act of networking especially with a senior in that fraternity but if the ambition is to make a serious career in the legal profession, there is obviously a necessity to make connections which are highly beneficial for uplifting the career. You may have all the skills that will make you a good lawyer, you may have cracked the code which the predominance of people is still struggling to, but networking is about making an impression, a chance to place yourself into the minds of potential employers. Networking will create an environment where your strengths and accomplishments will be visible to people in decision-making positions. These networks that you have gained are the potentials that will guide you in your race for a long term, it’s like planting a seed expecting the delight of fruit that it bears.
Obviously modifying and improving your C.V. to form an impressive image might help your career or job opportunities but it is not always the case where a potential employer would look out for your grade points or experiences. A sheet of paper can’t work better than the way you can represent yourself personally or through the compliments that you have garnered or the impression that sets from your networking. Making others aware of your expertise is highly essential so that you may hit their mind at first instance when it comes to referrals. For any employer, it is easier to have faith upon the recommendation made among his circles of qualified individuals rather than to prefer to rely upon a newcomer. Most of the referrals are made by your relations who can verify your integrity and competence. Not only for jobs, but referrals are also important in legal profession when it comes to establishing a lawyer-client relationship. The more you engage in networking, the larger the pool of potential client will be. Thus, networking is an easy attempt to establish yourself and essential component for differentiating you and your work from others in the competitive legal market where the legal services are becoming commoditized.
Process of building a Network
In the process of building a proper network as a student:
- Discover yourself: Just being a law student or walking out of the University with a degree in hand doesn’t make you capable enough to be looked out for. At the very first instance, you need to identify yourself and know what the things which you wish to accomplish in life, your areas of interest, the sections where you can perform the best and abilities that you perceive are important. Targeting aimlessly will lead you nowhere, and you cannot expect others to help you when you cannot help yourself. After having a clear picture of your goals, you may make a strategy to target a list of people or events which might help you to proceed further.
- Participate in legal events: While you are in college, you will come across a series of opportunities such as moots, conferences, workshops, research work, writing and publishing articles and much more, where you can experience the practical aspects as well as polish your areas of expertise and gain knowledge. By engaging in these activities will not only improve your skills but will make you discoverable in the crowd. Your ability and aptitude will receive creditability, and gradually your work will be appreciated by a maximum number of people. Published articles are read by a majority of sections, and if it happens to be influential, it would be recommended to more readers. Building networks with peers, seniors or legal personalities will help you to shape your career in the right directions. A distinguished talent is always looked for in every field, and your exposure in these events will pave a path for better networking.
- Blogging and Social Networking: Lawyers are efficient in doing research work, writing articles and publishing them. If you develop a habit of having a blog of your own where you can regularly put on updates with your perception, understanding, and appreciation of legal issues or publish your articles in highly read blogs then gradually your work will be credited and appreciated massively. Moderately this will increase your networking with the people having similar interest. Following the trends and sharing your insights on the social media, especially relating to sensitive legal issues will gather attention towards you and your views. Social media is a platform where billions of people across the globe are participating, even if you are able to influence a few that will make a huge difference to your career. Social media helps you to stay connected with people, with whom you need not correspond regularly but will certainly acknowledge your presence at the time of need. Being active on LinkedIn which is a professional network building platform, following a list of influential people having similar areas of interest as you have, adopting their mantras for success and staying associated with them will highly benefit you in the long run. You may even publish your articles on LinkedIn, which will be read by professional and other people in your area of work. These activities will significantly improve your reference among the potentials employers or recruiters.
- Internships: It is not only about learning and getting practical exposure from your seniors, but an internship is also about developing a network with the seniors at work, making the best use of the opportunity to land yourself in the better field for exposure. Through an internship, you can develop relations with influential people in the industry, show them your expertise and make an impression. It is not always necessary to have an internship at bigger firms; the smart decision would be landing at the place where you will be a step closer to accomplish your ambitions. While building networks at internships be genuine and authentic about your interest, a few rejections will not harm your career rather than getting humiliated in future.
Networking is not just about increasing the frequency of relation, it is about having productive and efficient relations. It is necessary to be genuine and authentic while building networks and have realistic expectations rather than being too ambitious. It will definitely get you better opportunities and eventually enhance your career. Ascertain your goal in life and target the group of people who might influence your career to have effective networking.