How to Maintain your Law School Connections

How to maintain your law school connectionsThis week we welcome back guest writer and 2L Tiffany Lo to talk about keeping up with your law school connections.

Making and maintaining connections during law school are important. The legal profession is a small universe, and you may encounter your classmates as the opposing counsel, as a client, as a judge, as an academic, or as a public servant. Having a personal connection with people in the legal field can help you develop business, craft a litigation or negotiation strategy, and find new career opportunities.

Making connections might be easy, but maintaining them takes work. Here are my thoughts on how to do that:

1. Have a broad definition of “connections” and treat everyone kindly

Before I discuss maintaining connections, it is important to explain what “connections” mean to me. I mentioned law school classmates earlier, who are easiest to connect with because of the shared campus and courses, but they are just one of the many groups that you should build relationships with in law school.

Connections should encompass every person that you encounter throughout your law school career. The obvious ones are your professors, attorneys, and guest speakers. But don’t forget the recruiters who managed your interview process, the IT and HR support staff at your internship, the paralegals at your summer job, or the administrators at school. They are part of the backbone of their organization, and have a thorough understanding of the norms and practices that others may not be privy to. When you see them outside of the interview, the training, or the mandatory appointment, don’t forget to ask how they are doing and acknowledge their work. A small token of appreciation, like a fresh batch of cookies or handwritten thank-you notes can make their day.

2. When you leave your job or internship, send an email.

On my last day of work (especially in this virtual world, where I can’t say my farewells in person or over lunch), I send emails to each person who I worked with or shadowed during my time at the organization. I personalize each message, mentioning that I appreciated their feedback or was encouraged to learn more about a subject after completing their assignment, or asking follow-up questions. I also include my contact information and say that I would love to keep in touch. I’ve gotten good feedback on this practice, and as a receiver of these emails, I definitely feel special and recognized.

3. Connect on LinkedIn

I find LinkedIn to be a great social media platform for legal networking. When I scroll through my feed, I get to learn about different people’s new roles and milestones. In addition to congratulating them, I often take the opportunity to catch up, ask questions, and offer to be helpful. If they have posted something, I make a comment. And if you follow certain organizations, like news publishers or law firms, you can also see reports and articles about recent legal developments.

After chatting or working with someone, I send a request to connect, along with a message. In my farewell message (mentioned above), I also include the link to my LinkedIn profile.

4. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you think of someone

If you see a birthday, or if the holidays are coming up, or if you think of someone for whatever reason, don’t hold back on sending a quick message! Recently, I’ve gotten to catch up with many old friends, sharing great conversations that grew out of my simple message checking in on them during the pandemic. I really enjoy catching up with old friends and co-workers— it is a real delight when I hear from someone who I’ve lost touch with. It is okay to ask for a favor, but phrase it artfully and consider how you should ask. If you know the person quite well, they may not mind if you open with the request. But if you are less familiar with them, start by asking how they are doing and any other natural conversation topic, before making the request.

5. Be authentic

It is important to be respectful to everyone you meet along the way in law school, and of course beyond. Disagreements in opinions, procedures, and other things are inevitable (sometimes they are manufactured by being put on opposing sides in a situation). But there remain unpleasant personalities and bigoted views in the legal profession. While there are times for compromise, I believe that a crucial piece to making and maintaining connections is staying true to yourself and making your voice heard. People can see through a façade, and inauthenticity, for even benign reasons, could come back to hurt you. If you are not ready to share or speak up, ask for space and understanding, or look to others for help and mentorship. I have seen first-hand how vulnerability can build strong connections, and I believe that empathy is something that everyone, including lawyers, can build more of.

6. Build social-professional relationships

I have been told many times that informal relationships are often the best mentorship relationships. Structure and rules can help people connect initially, but it is up to the individuals themselves to continue the conversation and learn about one another. I also believe that strong professional relationships build on solid social connections. Effective business is not really just business; it involves a sense of trust and comfort around each other. Shared hobbies, common experiences, and lighthearted conversations can help you get there. As you build your network of connections, I hope that you also gain some lifelong friends and confidants.


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About Tiffany Gee Ching Lo

Tiffany Gee Ching Lo is a student at Stanford Law School. She spent her 1L year at the New York University School of Law, where she was involved with Alternative Breaks, Women of Color Collective, and Law Revue, and worked as research assistant. Tiffany received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, graduating magna cum laude with double majors in Political Science and Rhetoric. Tiffany developed an interest in the law from a young age, and have worked in law firms and courthouses in Hong Kong–where she grew up, around the San Francisco Bay Area, and in New York. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys painting, playing the piano and cello, trying out new recipes, and watching late night talk shows.

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