Growing your network as a law student

So, who here hates networking? Generally speaking, the concept of “networking” tends to carry negative connotations, probably due to the fact that most people are just downright bad at it. However, there is truth to the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know”. While networking is not really a skill that is taught in law school, it’s important that early career legal professionals are mindful that they need to be able to communicate effectively about how they add value to the legal industry. Hint: you can't turn up to one “meet the profession” evening and expect to get a clerkship. There are heaps of awesome ways to grow your network, and on that note, we are going to run you through a few right now.

Join a student society
Our top tip for growing your network is to join a student society. Every university has a law society, which is a perfect opportunity to meet other law students and legal professionals and compete in moots, client interviews and negotiation exercises. However, don't just join the law society... If you are interested in business, join an entrepreneurship society. If you are interested in technology, join a coding society. By doing so, there are real gains in terms of your employability - the skills, qualities and knowledge you offer, as well as the people you will meet!

Look to external groups
One huge tip we have for law students looking to mix with the profession is to head to events of external groups who are making waves within the law, such as The Legal Forecast or the Centre for Legal Innovation. The Legal Forecast holds Disrupting Law (a hackathon), runs monthly meet-ups and provides a myriad of opportunities for law students to mix with legal professionals from all over Australia.

Ask for coffee
Make sure that when you meet new people and they give you their contact details, you follow up with them. Ask whether they are free to have a coffee. It's all good and well to connect with someone on LinkedIn, but if you don't make a genuine effort to connect with new people, you will struggle to grow your network effectively. Think about it like this: quality over quantity. It's better to have a few great connections that you can call on for advice or who will think of you when clerkships roll around, over 500+ LinkedIn connections who wouldn't recognise you in the street.

The concept of networking is easy, but it’s also an intimidating process. We could write all day about what you should do to grow your network and how great networking can be, but all we can say in the end is... get out there! Take the first step. Go to that event tonight. Contact the lawyer who gave you their card a few months ago. Apply for that moot. For most people, it’s the fear of rejection that stops them taking this leap. We promise though, if you do, it will pay off.

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