You may have heard the phrase that it is “not what you know, but who you know”. This phrase rings particularly true if you are a law student or solicitor in the United Kingdom. The law community in the United Kingdom is a close knit one, so getting to know your peers is likely to help you to further your career. Although it may not be taught in class, networking could be one of the most important skills that you learn during your training. Here is some additional information about why networking is particularly important for both law students and qualified solicitors alike.
Get your name out there
If you want people to know who you are, then it is important that you get your name out there. Networking is a great opportunity to do this, because it allows you to get to know other members of the law community on a professional level. If people get to meet you, then they will be able to put a face to your name when you are discussed in future.
Find out about opportunities
Once people know who you are, they will be more likely to consider you for opportunities. Not all internships and training opportunities are advertised openly. Some firms will head hunt candidates who they know to be suitable for the positions which are available.
You are more likely to find out about these opportunities if people know who you are, or if you impressed them when you met them. If you do not network enough, you may never get to hear about these opportunities, which means that you could miss out on the perfect step up the career ladder.
Broaden your contact base
It is impossible for a single solicitor to know everything about the law in the United Kingdom, because there is just too much information. Trainee and qualified solicitors regularly have to consult with one another to ask for advice about areas of the law which might be outside of their area of expertise. Networking can give you the opportunity to meet people outside of your field, who you may be able to contact later if you do need advice. Likewise, these people may consider contacting you if they need advice about the area of the law that you specialise in.
As well as sharing informal advice, the people who you network with may also send clients your way in the future. An employment solicitor will not normally want to take on a divorce case; however they will often be prepared to recommend one of their peers to the client, so that the client can get access to suitable legal reputation. The contacts that you make as a trainee or qualified solicitor can help to send clients your way for the rest of your career, as long as you are prepared to do the same for them.
Make contacts from outside the legal community
It is also important to make contacts from outside of the legal community. Most people will need a solicitor at some point during their lives, if only for standard things such as conveyancing or wills and probate. Successful solicitors network outside of the legal community to help to meet potential clients.
There are many different types of networking opportunities. The opportunities that you take up can depend on what you are hoping to achieve. Most training courses will put on networking events for their cohorts, so that trainees can get the opportunity to meet other people who are at a similar place in their careers. It is recommended that trainee solicitors attend these events if possible, as a support network like this can be invaluable during the training and learning process.
Major training courses may also run networking events where leading industry figures are invited. These events are designed so that people can meet those who they might be working with in future, and may help to put trainees in a better position to find the right training contract when the time comes. Outside of training, it may also be wise to attend community networking events or local business-to-business networking events, depending on what area of law you intend to move into. Business-to-business events are great for people who intend to work in an area which could affect local business owners, such as employment law.
In addition to physical networking opportunities, trainees are recommended to utilise the online networking opportunities that are available to them, such as LinkedIn. Many potential employers now check an applicant’s LinkedIn page to find out more about their credentials. Building connections on websites such as LinkedIn can help you to get in touch with the people who you need to communicate with to further your career, even if you have not had the opportunity to meet that person in the flesh. LinkedIn also provides the perfect platform on which to establish yourself as an expert in a particular area.