Most new lawyers rightfully devote their time and attention to the daily tasks of managing partner and client expectations, producing quality work, billing hours, or in some cases, establishing their own practice. Nevertheless, at one point or another, everyone has been advised to fill their plate a little more by becoming involved in a community or legal organization. The natural reaction to this advice may be to say “I’ll get involved when I am more settled in my practice or career,” or simply “I’ll do it later.” However, whether you work at a large law firm, in the public sector, or just hung out your own shingle, the importance of getting involved in the legal and greater community is significant and it is important to do it now.
The process of networking may seem daunting. Most have experienced the familiar anxiety of walking into a room full of people, all of whom already seem to know each other. When met with this situation, it is easy to stand there asking yourself, “where do I start?” Who do I talk to? What do I say?
Participating in legal and non-legal organizations provides new lawyers the opportunity for meaningful networking. New lawyers can learn basic networking skills, and how to comfortably and effectively communicate with their peers. Networking is also an integral step in building contacts and connections with other lawyers and members of the community. Involvement in an organization provides a manageable starting point for building these relationships. By making it a point to meet one new person at each meeting or event, new lawyers can quickly develop a substantial contact base. Regardless of where and what you practice, a solid contact base is essential to developing your practice and legal career.
Build Name Recognition and Credibility
Beyond providing the opportunity to simply meet people, joining an organization also provides new lawyers with the opportunity to impress them. Once you have found an organization that you are interested in and passionate about, it is important to take your involvement a step further by volunteering for leadership roles and positions. Doing so will enable you to showcase your abilities, and show others you are dependable and produce quality work. This is an important and essential step in developing your reputation among your peers within the legal and non-legal community.
Develop Knowledge and Skills
As your career progresses, you will start developing a niche or specialized practice area. To start further developing your practice in this area, you will want to learn everything you can about that area of law. One way to achieve this end is to join boards, committees, and trade or business organizations that focus on your targeted area. Involvement in these types of organization will help you make a name for yourself within the organization and beyond. The goal is for people to associate your name with your desired practice area. If others associate you with a specific area of law, they are more likely to hire you or refer potential clients to you.