By Alvin ’18
One, if not the only, job at law school is to get the best grades possible. I could stop the blog there, but the reality is there are a ton of other moving parts to this endeavor. The extras seem hard to fathom when thinking about the task of learning to read, research, and write in a way that may be unfamiliar; but one of the most important of these moving parts is building relationships inside and outside of law school. Some people call it networking, I call it part of your new state of being.
NUSL recently hosted a lunch-time event where alumni of color shared insights with current students. One of the biggest takeaways was you are networking just by walking in the building. It is important to go out and try to meet new people in your community and in your industry, but it is also important to realize many of the people you will be working with, and for, are already around you. Your classmates and the faculty can, and will, be some of your best resources as you move through law school and start your career. Now, the hard part is balancing the pressures of being a student and keeping a professional demeanor. As the alumni illuminated, it is awkward when people are not that nice in law school and then you are sitting across from them in court. You are suddenly in a situation where you have to collaborate with them.
Reach out to classmates and offer assistance if they are out sick or need a hand. Take a minute to get to know the faculty. Every day is not going to be a good day, but the more you make yourself open and available to members of the NUSL community, the more you are effectively networking. Doesn’t that seem less daunting then the traditional networking that often happens after a long day of school or work? This community form of networking is built into your day, and it only requires you to be the good and helpful person you already are; just with a little more intent.
One way to do this is to join the executive board of a student organization or affinity group. I am co-chair of the Law and Information Society, the Multicultural Law Student Association, and the Intellectual Property Society. I am also the Social Activities Chair for the Student Bar Association and the Treasurer for the Black Law Student Association. Obviously, one of the ways I try to help the NUSL community is through these established mechanisms. I also try to make myself available for a few minutes of conversation with other students who I might not have classes with or see regularly. As time progresses, schedules mix and you may end up studying together or working on a project with them. You could even end up on co-op with some of them.
The moral of all this is not to be nice just because people are watching and you may need them. The real concept is to think about your interactions and how you want to operate as a professional and start now, if you have not already. Get the grades, but also take some time to say, “hello” a couple of extra times a week.