by Rachael Perrotta
Networking with your peers, faculty members, and potential employers can be crucial for law students hoping to ignite their legal careers. Vanderbilt Law School’s Career Services team helps students learn to network and provides structured opportunities to do so throughout their time as a law student.
The Career Services team explains the importance of networking in law school and how students can most effectively do so, with the help of their schools.
Vanderbilt Law hosts “Mingles” on campus for each summer internship recruiting cycle to give students the chance to meet and network with potential future employers in person. This opportunity gives them an advantage when applying to internships, as they have contacts they can reach out to for advice throughout the process. It also provides them an opportunity to strengthen their networking ability and boost their confidence.
“It’s a big return for the students,” Associate Director Nick Alexiou said. “I think that it makes them more comfortable to then go up to people on their own.”
Vanderbilt Law School’s Career Services program works individually and personally with students to teach them to network via email, job interviews, career fairs, and more. “We try to tie networking into the job search process,” said Nick Alexiou, Associate Director.
“When you can work with them, and they feel more prepared, they’re more willing and interested to do it,” he added.
Reaching out to alumni can be an effective networking strategy. Vanderbilt Law School has a large and engaged alumni community who are willing to help students in their career journeys.
“Our alumni, more often than not, respond to law students and do want to help,” Alexiou said.
Elizabeth Workman, Assistant Dean of Career Services, says that alumni are typically eager to help students with their legal careers, specifically in earning a job or internship offer from their firms.
“Our alums are very key to our success,” Workman said. “They are very focused on getting Vanderbilt students to join their places of employment.”
Advantages in the hiring process
Networking can elevate a students’ internship or job application. Given the thousands of applications firms receive for a select few positions, gaining this advantage in the recruitment process is crucial to landing a job or internship.
“Networking is a way for you to help move your application to the top of that pile so you can make it,” Alexiou said.
Workman says that firms also want to hire interns and attorneys who get along well with the other attorneys at the firm. By networking with employees at a firm, recruiters see that your potential as an effective and collaborative co-worker. Some firms also have referral programs where attorneys receive bonuses for referring young lawyers or interns, sparking a mutual interest in networking.
“These attorneys to really want to talk to students. They want to talk to you as badly as you want to talk to them,” she said. “It’s in firms’ best interest to bring in the people that their employees want.”