One of the biggest highlights that came out of the clerkship process for Jay and I (Renee) was the introduction to new, supportive and generous contacts in the legal industry. Neither Jay nor I came from a family of lawyers. So, we had to look outside our immediate social circles to find people willing to provide industry insight and guidance. We were incredibly thankful that our requests were met by enthused individuals willing to help.
The effort to distinguish between firms is much easier through informal conversations with individuals who had gone before us — either peers who clerked in previous years, or lawyers with a few more years in the game than us. Speaking to these individuals helped us to gain a deeper impression of the firm that was more insightful than merely reading the firm's website.
In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide into building this network of individuals, and an insight of the help we received:
1️⃣ Brainstorm a list of individuals you currently know in the legal industry and where they work. Include individuals who are merely acquaintances, or a friend of friends of friends. Don't worry if the initial list is short or contains people you don't really know — we will help you to widen and deepen it in subsequent points.
2️⃣ Peruse your Law Student Society resources — podcasts, clerkship guides, seminars, panels — and make a list of names of representatives from firms that you are interested in.
3️⃣ Think of the best way to connect with individuals in listed in 1️⃣ and 2️⃣. The most successful methods of connecting are via Linkedin and emailing their work addresses.
4️⃣ Before reaching out, consider the following:
5️⃣ When framing your connection request, articulate who you are, why you are interested in their work, and humbly request some time to discuss those interests. A good example of a connection request is this:
I hope you are well. By way of introduction, my name is Daniel and I am a penultimate year law student from Atlanta University, about to embark on the clerkship process. I heard you speak on the Atlanta Law Student Society podcast on mental health in the legal industry, which I found fascinating. I've been thinking hard about the topic, particularly as a soon-to-be grad, and wonder if I could pick your brain on this topic, and your life as a lawyer in general? I would be really appreciative of 20 minutes of your time. Please let me know if you'd be up for it. Happy to accommodate a time that suits!
6️⃣ If they accept your request (and I am confident most will), ask them questions that will help you get a feel for the firm. Some questions include: