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Networking and Informational Interviews. Presented by The Lawyers assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher. Networking. The main factor in your job search is how you go about it-not some external factor Ways that don’t work are often what your common sense says would work!

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Networking and informational interviews

Networking and Informational Interviews

Presented by The Lawyers assistance Program

Facilitated by Robert Bircher


  • The main factor in your job search is how you go about it-not some external factor

  • Ways that don’t work are often what your common sense says would work!

  • Ineffective methods:

  • 1.The internet-only useful for some postings like gov’t or academia otherwise it is grossly overrated

  • 2.Random mail outs of resumes


  • 3.Answering ads in trade journals

  • 4.Answering ads in newspapers

  • 5.Employment agencies and headhunters

  • Others are asking former teachers, gov’t employment agencies etc.

  • The fact that these are ineffective does not mean don’t do them-it just means don’t make these your only or main strategy!


  • “Warm Contact Rule” this means that the closer you are to actual face to face human contact the greater your prospects are

  • Your chances increase exponentially with any personal contact!

  • Email is cold contact-meeting face to face is warm contact-even a phone call is warmer than an email or anonymous contact

Networking methods that work
Networking-Methods that work

1.Asking for job leads from people you know-for lawyers this means anybody at any law firm

2.Knocking on doors- resume in hand-whether or not they have a vacancy-this is one of the oldest and most effective methods

This is the best method for small and mid-sized firms

In many cases it is the only method that works!

Most firms never advertise

Networking methods that work1
Networking-Methods that work

  • You can identify which firms do what simply by looking at the yellow pages

  • The 2 main problems with this approach are that it is simple (lawyers want things complicated) and it involves cold calls (fear)

    3. Job clubs or groups are highly effective

    4. The most effective is a structured job hunt

Networking methods that work2
Networking-Methods that work

  • This involves an examination of skills and interests-most lawyers have never done actual career planning!

  • This will result in a vague sense of what you want to do-a blinding flash of inspiration knowing exactly what you want is rare

  • The next step is Informational Interviews-This takes you out of your head and into reality land

  • The next step is marketing-selling yourself to the world


  • How do employers find people?

    1.They ask colleagues “do you know anybody looking for x”

    2.Or “do you know anybody who might be willing to move?”

    3.They look at Drop-ins who have left resumes

    “Drag and Drop”-Means drag your butt to the door of the firm and drop off your resume!-especially if they aren’t looking!-if you wait for small firms to advertise you will wait forever


4.They ask people they know for a direct introduction

5.Only as a last resort: they use an agency, they place an ad, they sift through resumes-Why? All of these are either expensive or time consuming and yield poor results

6.The employer pays a lot of attention to the way you look for a job-are you proactive or do you wait to be asked?


  • Best kept secret in looking for a job in a small or mid-sized firm: The act of applying often creates the job!

  • Best way to get a job-Through a mutual friend or acquaintance

  • Best way to look for a job-Drag(your butt to the door) and Drop (your resume)

  • Best way to stay put-Rely on job ads, obsess and worry rather than act, wait for something to come up, avoid any personal contact, wait to be discovered, assume that if they are looking they would advertise

Networking fears
Networking Fears

  • Even armed with this information people still won’t do it-their fears will take various forms-all of them are reasons not to take action

  • Fighting your fears exercise-sentence stem completion-the reasons I don’t like networking are…….Replacing fear with facts

  • FalseEvidenceAppearingReal

  • What are you willing (not able) to do? The smallest act is better than the greatest intention!

Informational interviews
Informational Interviews

  • Replaces stories or mental constructs in your head with reality+ an easy low stress way to network, you are not looking for a job - you are looking for information

  • Useful for finding out about a new field of law i.e.. what is it really like to do X area of law

  • Useful for checking out a firms culture-what is it really like to work here?

Informational interviews1
Informational Interviews

  • See II handout-feel free to copy

  • Screens out bad jobs, firms with cultures that are incompatible with yours, can ask questions you can’t in a job interview

  • You can talk without pressure to people actually doing the work

  • Your story or imagination about what it will be like can be very inaccurate! Think about what you thought being a lawyer was going to be like!

Informational interviews2
Informational Interviews

  • These are for information only-they are not a job interview

  • How to set them up?-very informal-ask for only 10-20 minutes-coffee is good

  • Most people are flattered to be interviewed -Talk to a personabout themselves and they will listen for hours!

  • Designed to be easy and casual-no pressure-basically they are what is your work life like? interviews

Informational interviews3
Informational Interviews

  • It is equivalent to trying on clothes at a store-what fits what doesn’t

  • With law firms it is essential-the image of the firm is not the same as reality-many firms are “legends in their own minds” in fact they may have a great image but be terrible places to work

  • If you want to get out of law Informational Interviews are also critical-your dream job could actually be a nightmare

Informational interviews4
Informational Interviews

  • Fabulous places to do II or network

  • CLE courses, bar functions, any law gathering, job fairs, law school events etc.

  • Who are your contacts? law school classmates, past or current coworkers, professional associations, generally anybody you know over 12 and breathing

  • How to cope with fear-Feel the fear and do it anyway!