July 31, 2023
As explained in our guide, there are different levels to networking. Conversing with your peers should be completely different to talking to an established player in the field. Therefore, it’s a skill you have to develop on multiple planes. But how do you know who to ask what? And, in a sea of young lawyers looking for the exact same things as you, how do you make yourself stand out? Keep reading to find out.

1. Don’t Ask For Generic Advice

Whether you are at a conference, networking session, event or simply attending a university lecture, you will be surrounded by people who are able to impart priceless advice unto you. That is, of course, provided you ask the right questions.

Established lawyers and recruiters alike will have had countless young, ambitious people come and ask them for career advice. Therefore, it is very likely that they have a standard answer that they will give everyone asking the same question. You don’t want to waste any opportunity to ask for specific advice from an experienced professional. So, in order to make the most out of what they have to offer, ask for specific advice that will actually make them think about what answer to give you. Here are a few examples you can use:

  • What is something you wish you had learned earlier on in your career?
  • What is a lesser-known skill you think would give those just starting out in the field an edge?
  • What is a common mistake you have noticed less experienced lawyers tend to make?
  • How and when did you decide upon your area of specialisation?

2. Get To Know Them

When interacting with professionals who have been networking for far longer than you have, you need to consider that valuable advice is not necessarily career-related. Try making an effort to get to know the person you are speaking to – everyone’s journey is different, so find out what helped them along the way. Here are some examples:

  • What is an aspect of your upbringing that you have brought into your professional life?
  • What are some hobbies you like doing In your free time, and why?
  • What do you find is the best way to de-compress?
  • What do you consider an invaluable extracurricular experience that you had during university?

3. Do Your Homework

If you know who will be attending an event you are going to, and you might have the chance to network with them, make sure you do some research. Look them up on LinkedIn in order to see their job history and prepare some specific questions accordingly.

Doing some preparation before meeting someone will save both of you time. Moreover, this way you would be using the time you have with them efficiently. Professionals can tell when you have done your research – and it is usually greatly appreciated. It shows that you are involved, detail-oriented and driven. Going the extra mile is guaranteed to make you stand out – and, who knows, they might even keep you in mind for a future position! Check out these specific career-related questions for some inspiration on what to ask:

  • What was your key takeaway from your role at X firm?
  • What sort of firm culture do you prefer, and why?
  • What was a past position that was not the right fit for you, and why?



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4. Find The Firm Reps

If you are thinking of attending a careers fair or careers event, make sure you prepare some questions for the representative of firms you would like to work for. Showing interest early on will help you stand out – and asking the right questions will help you decide whether a certain firm or position is the right fit for you. Here are some examples of useful questions to ask:

  • What are he most important things you look for in a candidate?
  • Do you consider candidates with lower levels of experience, provided they have certain skills/are enthusiastic/are proactive?
  • What is the firm culture like at X?
  • What is the social aspect of the firm like?
  • What do you enjoy most about the workplace?
  • What is the application process like?
  • What are some interview questions that applicants tend to find difficult?

Need to brush up on your law firm knowledge? Check out our law firm profiles here.

5. Talk To Your Peers

Networking with professionals and recruiters is equally important to getting to know your peers. After all, in ten years’ time it will be them you will be working with! So, when you are not talking to speakers and lawyers, find another student to engage with. Here are some questions you can ask to get to know them better:

  • What area are you thinking of specialising in?
  • What work experience have you found most interesting so far?
  • Are you considering other career paths besides law?
  • Who do you consider your role model?
  • What kind of law firm culture are you looking for?

6. Collect Some Reading

Commercial awareness is a key factor in applying to jobs in the legal sector and succeeding in the field. Most of the lawyers you will be talking to will have an area of expertise; so, in order to broaden your knowledge in both their field and more generally, you should ask for some recommendations. Whether they suggest a certain publication, author, book or topic to look into, make sure you note it down – you might have just been offered some gold dust that will impress interviewers!

  • What is a legal topic you are particularly interested in?
  • What is a book/publication/article you would recommend?
  • What current piece of news has got your attention?
  • What commercial awareness topic do you think people should know more about?

Asking the right questions is guaranteed to make you stand out among your peers. You never know who you might get the chance to talk to, and where a conversation might lead, so make sure you prepare yourself well in advance and keep this networking advice in mind.

Want to practice your networking skills? Check out our events page.


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