This month is all about mindset at the Law School Toolbox. As part of having on open mindset, we encourage you to seek out opportunities that will allow you to meet and learn from interesting people.
These opportunities are all around you in law school. It might be a lunchtime speaker. Or it might be something cool like hearing Justice Scalia speak (which Alison and I did a few weeks back at the University of San Francisco). It might be going to a happy hour, where you can network (we have hosted one and gone to a few of our friends’ happy hours such as those hosted by Above the Law).
“But I am tired and don’t want to go to events!”
If you really feel this way, are you sure you want to be a lawyer and part of the legal profession? Because after graduation, you are joining the legal community. This community is one where you will want to continue growing and learning—and you will be compelled to by Continuing Legal Education requirements. The law is a business where relationships are critical and going to events allows you to meet people and network. Going to law school events and other conferences is an important building block in your career. That is because your career doesn’t start when you graduate from law school; your career is starting right now.
“But going to events can be expensive.”
Sure, sometimes events cost money. But many events around your community may be free or discounted (bar associations often have free or discounted law student tickets). Some are even subsidized (did you know your law school may help you pay to attend conferences?). You should investigate whether you can get assistance in paying to attend an event that you find interesting. You can also at times volunteer to help out at the event for a discount. The important thing is that you get to these events one way or another and try not to let simple price tags stand in your way.
“But what if it is a waste of time?”
Alison and I go to a lot of stuff. Not all are awesome or interesting. Not all result in networking success or business opportunities. But some do. Actually, to be honest, most of them do. And even the ones that aren’t interesting can be learning experiences. (Alison and I decided to throw the inaugural Catapult conference while attending another conference and discussing what we would have done differently.) You never know exactly where you will meet someone that may change your business future (remember Alison and I met on Twitter, which isn’t exactly the most common way to find a business partner). But you will never have the opportunity to meet people if you don’t get off the couch, put down the casebook, throw on some professional clothes, and get out there to meet people.
Don’t believe me?
Well, we hear from students about the tangible benefits they’ve received from attending conferences. Here is one such story from an attendee from our Catapult conference a few years ago.
Attending Catapult was one of the best decisions I made in 2013. I walked into the conference feeling uncertain about the future of my legal career — I was waiting for bar results and had been questioning whether the practice of law was really for me. At Catapult, I saw happy and successful attorneys whose relationship to their law degrees (and bar admissions) had continued to evolve as they constructed the careers that they wanted. That experience, along with some of the specific tools and insights I learned about during the panels and breakout sessions, fanned the fire that made me attend law school in the first place. Thanks to the push that I got from Catapult, I am now happily on the path to opening my own solo immigration practice — and to practicing law on my own terms. – Elizabeth Euresti
And I have plenty of my own stories about meeting interesting people and being inspired at conferences. You never know when saying “yes” to an event could change your professional life. Who knows, you may be really glad you spent your Saturday at an event instead of at the library.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Hey, Law Students: Here’s How You Network
- Did You Know Your Law School May Pay for Conferences?
- When Networking, Ask for Help!
- Say “YES!”
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