Networking and Informational Interviewing
Many Saint Louis University School of Law students and graduates obtain employment through contacts and referrals. Law school is your entry into the legal profession and will provide many opportunities to make contacts in the legal profession. Begin developing contacts where you want to practice while in law school by:
- Attending law school programs offered during the year and meeting the speakers.
- Asking for business cards from attorneys you meet and creating a database of contacts. Contact these individuals when you need to gather more information about positions and opportunities.
- Getting to know your classmates, including those in the classes ahead of you. Your classmates may know of positions available with their employers.
- Contacting friends, friends of your parents, relatives and colleagues. Make sure that they know that you are in law school and will be looking for employment.
- Joining and being active in organizations and bar associations whose members are practicing attorneys. Many organizations will have free or reduced student membership fees.
- Joining sections and committees of bar associations in which you have an interest.
- Joining charitable organizations in which you have a genuine interest. Many lawyers are members of charitable organizations.
- Updating your social networking sites to use as a marketing tool for yourself. Make sure to edit the content of your page to include only material that is appropriate for professional contacts.
- Meeting with the Career Services Office so they can assist you in developing contacts.
Informational interviewing is an important step in the job search process and is a product of effective networking. It is not a formal job interview, but, rather, an opportunity to learn from individuals already established in their fields by interviewing them for 20-30 minutes. You can gain information about the legal market, their job responsibilities, the rewards and issues facing attorneys in their particular practice and geographic area.
Tips for Informational Interviewing:
- You are not asking for a job. You are asking for information and advice.
- Contact the person to set up an appointment and be specific about why you are calling, how you got their name, and what would like to discuss (e.g. their area of law, nature of the market, career planning advice, etc.).
- Dress professionally for the informational interview.
- Prepare for the interview by researching the individual and having a list of questions to ask him or her. Some examples of questions to ask:
- How did you obtain your job?
- What career track did you follow? Did you have any summer jobs or internships?
- What advice can you give me on how to break into the field?
- What type of training is necessary to enter this area of law?
- Are there any law school classes that are particularly helpful in your field of law?
- What types of projects have you worked on recently?
- What type of person or skill set does your office look for when hiring someone?
- Are there any professional organizations that you would recommend that I join?
- Do you know anyone else in the field whom I could contact?
- Listen attentively to the advice given to you.
- After your informational interview, send a thank you note immediately. Your thank you note should mention something from the interview that you found particularly helpful.
- Try to stay in touch with the contact throughout your career development.