Saturday, 6 December 2014

Networking for new lawyers

As you know from our previous blogs, articling with McCague Borlack is not a 'desk-job'. Within a week, I attended two trial management conferences, two mediations, a settlement conference and a FSCO prehearing.

When done right, you can create a connection with another person that reflects well on you and the firm...

At each of these outings, I met clients, opposing counsel and their clients, along with judges, arbiters, mediators, and so on. Meeting so many people in the legal industry reinforces to me the necessity of networking - a skill that law schools are only now recognizing the importance of. This is because law schools, traditionally domains of academia, are coming to grips with the notion that law is as much a business as it is a craft.

Networking is connecting

When done right, you can create a connection with another person that reflects well on you and well on the firm you work with. While the term might conjure the thought of forced social interactions, connecting with others professionally is key to succeeding in the business of law.

Here are a few things I have learned so far that are easy to apply:

Always carry a business card

You may be a student now, but you won't be forever. Make sure that people have a way of remembering you. You never know who you will run into down the road!

Attend the events you assisted on

Did you draft the best factum ever? Get that tricky causation issue, or limitation period, under your belt? Then go see it argued by that senior counsel! Senior lawyers are usually more than happy to point out to opposing counsel that you assisted in drafting materials, and down the road that may leave a lasting impression if you are on the other side again.

Be pleasant

This tidbit is perhaps the most important of all. The quality of your work will be ignored if your reputation is that of an aggressive, antagonistic, mean person. It’s a small world, and the legal industry is a smaller circle still. Everyone has a story of THAT counsel - that no one wants to be the subject of.

At MB it is a privilege to call the most pleasant people in the industry our colleagues. From them I've learned anything others may try to accomplish through a yelling match can be better handled by speaking normally and effectively. That doesn't mean we don't take hardline positions, but effective advocacy does not include bullying.

photo from freedigitalphotos.comThe benefit of being a new lawyer, especially at MB, is the opportunity to build your networking skills while connecting with clients and lawyers alike.

And if a novice at first, after a while, I'm sure networking becomes second nature!

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