In law school, you have or will spend a considerable amount of time with your classmates. Between hours in classes and study groups and the occasional happy hour, law students inevitably are constantly around each other. But, what happens when you finish law school? It may be easy to go your separate ways, but even if you weren’t best friends with a lot of students, it’s important to maintain your classmate connections. Your classmates will go on to perform jobs or field client requests that could be extraordinarily valuable to you and your own practice.
Here are three reasons why maintaining those law school classmate connections can be hugely advantageous for your career.
In my entire professional life I have never worked a job that was advertised. I have always been hired because I knew somebody who knew a job was available. Usually these connections were in the community, but the more relationships you cultivate, the more opportunities you will have.
Law school classmates are no exception. They have their own networks and can inform you of job opportunities that may not be publically advertised and that you may not have otherwise heard about. Maintain your classmate connections because you never know when one of them may know of an opportunity right up your alley!
Whether you go into business for yourself or join a firm, small or large, you will need to bring in new and more clients to your firm. Your law school classmates may not be able to handle a potential client’s case and instead look to refer that case to another attorney. When you maintain your relationship with your classmates, you have a greater chance of receiving case referrals from them.
Those referrals can amount to significant business. Ten years after graduating law school, I honestly can’t count the number of times someone has reached out to me about a legal issue that wasn’t part of my specialty or in a jurisdiction in which I am not licensed. Each time I wasn’t able to handle a client’s case, I referred that client to another attorney. The attorneys in which I referred cases were the ones which I had the closest relationships with and who I thought could competently handle the case. Being able to refer cases to quality attorneys helps clients feel secure in my judgment. That client may then come back to me for an issue that is within my specialty.
Referrals definitely work both ways. Maintain your classmate connections so that you can not only refer cases to attorneys you trust but also receive referrals, which can enhance your business.
A few months ago, I began accepting referrals for no-fault divorces from a legal nonprofit organization. I’ve handled plenty of no-fault divorces before. But, it’s been several years since I had such a case. When I received my first referral, I was nervous and anxious about being able to properly handle it.
Because of professional connections, I was able to reach out to an attorney I knew who provided templates for the complaints, a checklist for all the steps in handling a no-fault divorce in that jurisdiction, and a sample letter to the court to include with all of the paperwork. Having these documents ensures that I’m using the most up-to-date legal language and providing top-quality service to my clients. But, I wouldn’t have these templates if I didn’t maintain the relationship with my colleague who provided those documents.
Law school classmates can be equally valuable in this way. Not only could a classmate be able to assist you on one of your cases, but you might be able to assist a classmate. The more you’re able to provide insight to your colleagues, the more business they may then refer to you. It’s a beautiful cycle of support.
Networking Is Valuable
It may not seem like it while in law school, but your classmates will go on to do a huge range of legal jobs. Some may work for nonprofits. Some may run for political office. Others will work for large firms or in-house for large corporations. Still others will work for small firms or go into business for themselves. They may become academics and teach law. They’ll practice about every kind of law that exists in the industry and ones that may not even be recognized yet. And, you never ever know when you might need assistance with a particular case or need to drum up more business.
Being able to lean on these classmate connections will help you achieve your own professional goals. Just remember that part of successful networking is also making yourself available to assist others. Be a good professional connection and reap the rewards of successful networking with your law school classmates, even after law school.
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