Networking 101, or How to Start a Conversation with an Attorney

Are you attending the Mentor Kick-Off tomorrow night and are unsure about how to talk with the attorney mentors?  Fear not, PDO has a few suggestions to ease your nerves.   Read on …

PDO Director Anneliese Booher has prepared a comprehensive handout on Networking:  5 Basic Rules and 10 Simple Ways to Get Started.  You might want to review Rule 4:

Seek information, and allow your contact to give it!  In general, you will be meeting with your contacts to obtain information, critiques, and advice.  Most people, but especially attorneys, love to offer all of the above.  Allow them do so—do not interrupt them and do not do most of the talking.  Instead, ask for information about various career opportunities, particular firms, industries, or cities.  A good way to break the ice is to ask about how they got started on their career path.

Other favorite questions to ask attorneys are:  “If they were in your shoes, what would they have done differently in law school?  What other courses would they have taken?  What organizations would they have joined? “   On the flip side, “What is the most valuable thing that the attorney did as a student that they can recommend to you?”

Remember that your goal at networking events should be to develop professional contacts/ build relationships.   Use your time to get to know the attorneys, as well as your fellow students!  (A word of caution:  please don’t limit your conversations to the safety net of other students.  On the other hand, don’t ignore the fact that your classmates are future attorneys and referral sources!)

Also, self-reflect before the event so that you can answer a few questions you may be asked about yourself, such as:

  1.  Why did you decide to go to law school?
  2. What is your favorite class so far?  Favorite professor?
  3. What type of practice are you considering when you graduate?


Learning to network is a skill, and you will have many opportunities to develop this skill during law school.  Relax, have fun, and aim to come away from any networking event knowing a few more people.