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Networking and Informational Interviewing

What is Networking and Why Should You Do It?

You’ve heard of “Networking” (also referred to as “Informational Interviewing”), but really don’t know what these words mean. You worry that you will have to attend cocktail parties and schmooze with lawyers you don’t know! Fear not - this kind of contact is just another way to learn from practicing lawyers. Networking is using your contacts to learn about options in the job market which will help you to ultimately find the job you want. These contacts will not be total strangers to you because they will be part of your network.

Once they learn that networking is not schmoozing, students are often still reluctant to start networking because they say: I don’t know any lawyers. My parents don’t know any either. So, who can I possibly create a network? You need to consider all of the people in your life who might know a lawyer. (Don’t forget about all of those people you grew up with - some of them might have gone to law school just like you did!) Many students overlook the largest links in their network: alumni of their undergraduate institutions and Cornell. Plus, don’t forget people that you see every day like your classmates and faculty. Once you put your mind to it, creating a network is actually not too hard.

Why should you network, since it seems like everyone gets their jobs from on-campus interviews? Actually, nationwide, it is estimated that as few as five to ten percent of law jobs are ever advertised in any formal way. (The recruiting of second and third year law students through career offices is the exception to the rule.) Certainly anyone who is not interested in large law firms in major cities needs to learn how to network to find positions with all those employers who don’t interview on-campus or at job fairs: mid/sized small firms, public interest organizations, government agencies, especially at the state and municipal levels, and judges. Further, even if you do get your first job out of law school through on-site interviews, there are no OCIs or job fairs for your second job. Networking can make the difference when you are looking to transition. Out there in the “real world” most people get jobs through people who know people who need to hire someone. This makes networking a lifetime skill worth developing.

If you are ready to get started with networking, visit our links to the left to learn how to identify networking contacts, make initial outreach, and conduct informational interviews.