Four Useful Tips for Legal Networking on a Budget

Jenny L. MaxeyIf you’re looking for a legal job, you know you need to network. Right? Well, that can get expensive — which is tricky when you have no income!

We’re thrilled to welcome Jenny L. Maxey, author of “Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank” who’s here to share some tips for networking on a budget. Take it away!

Maybe you’ve just taken the bar exam, but you still haven’t found a job. Or, maybe you are a rising 3L just beginning your search. Either way, unemployment is more common now than ever, but there are still ways to find employment and it’s never too early to position yourself for better employment potential.

One key strategy is to broaden your network.

In good times, as the saying goes who you know is more important than what you know. In the legal profession you need both, but during a recession the “who” becomes critical.

Better yet, you can expand your network without racking up out-of-control expenses.

Here are a few tips:

Four Budget-Friendly Networking Tips
  1. Sign up for state and local bar associations. Student rates and newly bar-admitted attorneys can acquire membership for a nominal fee or free. As a member, you can sign up for committees that involve the practice areas that interest you. Arrive early and stay late. Get to know the attorneys; they are the leading professionals in that field in your local area. Keep business cards on hand and follow up your interactions with a note or email.
  2. Volunteer. You can volunteer on a bar association committee. Research various issues and ask to give reports to the committees. If you become the go-to person on the committee, you will surely increase your network. As many law firms and government organizations cut back on employees, they are more than happy to take on free help. Become a valuable resource that they feel they cannot do without, and this will lead to superb references, introductions to others, and maybe even a job.
  3. Join a mentorship program. For newly minted attorneys, many admissions committees and bar associations offer new attorney or mentorship programs. Mentors are an important bridge for a new attorney. Every professional needs someone you can trust to go to for advice. Additionally, participation in these programs can allow you to interact with other freshly minted attorneys, including new associates who might have their own networks.
  4. Tap into alumni resources. If you were a member of a club or law fraternity during law school, most have some sort of alumni record. Contacting members on local or national levels can be really helpful. If your organization has ways to get involved as alum, take the opportunity to do so. Your law school career office should also have an alumni contact list to help you with your networking endeavors.

Keep in mind that networking should focus primarily on forming relationships and secondarily on acquiring a job. If you go in “guns blazing,” you’re more likely to lose more opportunities than you gain.

You want luck, defined as preparation meeting opportunity.

Build relationships, and see if those bring you opportunities.

— – —

Thanks, Jenny!

Jenny L. Maxey is the author of “Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank,” which will be available for Kindle and Nook on August 15, 2013. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a J.D. and is licensed to practice law in Ohio. Jenny served as associate editor for the Law Review and applied many of the techniques in Barrister on a Budget to earn her J.D. with manageable debt. For more about Jenny, please visit JennyLMaxey.com

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Comments

  1. Great tips! I’d add one more: Don’t forget your undergrad alma mater! An increasing number of colleges and universities offer law-specific alumni groups. Find them through your alumni association, your university’s pre-law office, or on LinkedIn.

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