Undoubtedly, securing admission to a law university in a country of your choice, living and studying abroad and learning some new valuable skills in the form of the LLM is an exciting time in the life of law students. This dream is often also accompanied with the dream of gaining some valuable legal work experience abroad. However, the bitter truth remains that competition for legal jobs is extremely fierce, especially for international law students. In order to stand out from the crowd excelling on paper is no longer enough. Networking during your LLM is an important aspect of going that extra mile for the post-LLM job search.
Networking is an essential lifelong skill for lawyers. Many LLM graduates report receiving their job offer through a friend, a referral, or some other form of networking. Networking is the process of building relationships or connections that many students shy away from because they find it rather intimidating or wrongly view it as being pushy, desperate or aggressive. However, the truth is networking may not be anything more that striking a conversation and finding a way to stay connected with somebody who may benefit your career and job search in the long run. It may seem more intimidating than an online job search but it is definitely more effective and rewarding.
But you may be wondering who to network with and how to build your network? An obvious concern could be that you don’t know enough people! However, you already have a network and it is stronger than you think! You already belong to many networks (family, friends, colleagues, moot club members, etc.) and your job search network can be a natural outgrowth of these primary contacts as each network connects you to another network. For example your classmate might connect you to their friend working for the law firm you desire to apply to. Each member of a network may know of an available job or connect you to someone who will know of one.
In order to network effectively you simply need to think of all of the people you already know who might be able to develop your network. You can draw from your LLM classmates; people from your prior law school or university; professors; former employers (even non?legal); alumni of your law school; other practitioners in your practice area; practitioners from your home country/region; family and friends. Reach out to these contacts regularly and in an appropriate manner and ask them questions you may have or advice you are seeking. Give them a background on who you are, what you do, and what you need. You’ll find that many people appreciate being given the opportunity to talk about themselves and their practice.
Networking is most effective when done in person so you may wish to be present at the university legal events and law society events where often notable and prominent legal practitioners are invited. There’s nothing like being able to have a good conversation with them and being invited to stay in touch – and this will definitely take you places!
Adopting a networking lifestyle — a lifestyle of connecting and helping others while they help you — will help you make valuable connections in your chosen field, stay focused and motivated during your LLM program and job search and take you a step closer in landing that job!