The upcoming Law Firm Receptions on Tuesday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Sport & Fitness Center Lobby will provide a great opportunity to re-connect with friends and colleagues, and build new relationships. This may be the first contact you have with larger, private-sector employers. Fall recruiting may seem far away, but it will be here before you know and the participating firms are excited to come on-campus to meet students and educate you about what sets them apart from their peers. Before attending, we suggest that you research employer websites and individuals’ bios. Here are some other questions you may have:
“Does it really matter if I attend? How will it help me?”
There are at least two reasons to attend. First, informal conversations are an essential way to learn more about the employer, and can provide insights about a firm that you aren’t able to glean from the marketing materials on websites. Second, attending, and speaking to attorneys, shows interest in the firm; demonstrating such an interest will prove useful, for example, when explaining to a firm at EIW why you bid on them.
“What should I wear?”
Business casual is perfectly appropriate.
“What do I talk about?”
While receptions are a great way to connect with attorneys and learn more about an employer, they’re not interviews per se, so conversation doesn’t need to focus entirely on “work.” It remains a good idea, as in most social situations, to avoid polarizing topics like politics, these conversations are an opportunity to get to know potential future co-workers so the conversation can be light.
“Should I bring business cards? Resumes? How do I follow-up?”
We generally don’t recommend business cards for JD students. Most employers consider them “cheesy” and certainly don’t expect them. We also don’t recommend bringing your resume either because these are social functions, not job fairs. We suggest getting business cards from the people you meet and sending an email the next day saying how much you enjoyed your conversation and meeting with them.
“How do I politely leave a conversation?”
When the conversation has run its course or you feel it is time to move on, it’s perfectly acceptable to initiate an exit. One strategy: “Well, I’d hate to monopolize your time; I know that others want to speak to you/you’d like to speak with others. Thank you for your time.” If there’s a legitimate deadline looming – study group, early class, piles of reading – then cite those reasons. Be honest and pleasant, and be sure to ask for a business card before parting.
Receptions are a great opportunity to practice your networking skills and get to know employers before recruiting season kicks off later this summer. But remember that these receptions are only one type of networking – personal connections, informational interviewing, and other one-on-one interactions remain important pieces of your job search and professional development.
And one final reminder, if you plan to attend, please RSVP! You can do so by visiting the Events tab in Symplicity. If you have questions about the receptions, please contact Amy Jones Mattock, Director of Employer Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.