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LegalJob recently participated in a productive program about informational interviews.  Here are some takeaways:

► Set up these meetings with alumni with whom you have something in common (referred to as touchpoints)

  • e.g., from same town, same undergraduate school, same major, same background, etc.

► Ask the career resource center to print lists with names and e-mail addresses of these people

► Contact these people and make it clear:

  • You are not looking for a job.
  • You are reaching out because you have x,y,z in common and you would like to learn about their practice area.
  • Request meeting for coffee (so you are sensitive to their time constraints).

► Do some research about their practice area before the meeting

  • There are plenty of free resources on the internet; the career resource center has good resources too.
  • If you know you have no interest in criminal law, skip the meeting with the prosecutor.
  • It helps if you have some interest (based on the little you know) in practicing in the field of the person you are meeting.

► At the meeting

  • Ask some questions but let the lawyer have the floor most of the time.
  • One important question is what was your thinking process that led you to decide to be an x lawyer.
    • That thought process could help you even if you want to be a different kind of lawyer.
  • If you have are more than a little bit interested in the practice area, ask about sub-specialties in that area that are hot and what experience you can get or classes you can take to position yourself for that nice.

► Closing remarks

  • This person may be a dud but they may have two contacts that are very helpful.
    • Ask for contact information for two people that may be helpful for you to talk to.
  • If the meeting has been helpful, open the door to further communication.
    • May I keep you updated with my progress?  Insert your way of saying this here.
    • You can get a sense from the response whether this person should stay on your list.
    • If the person says yes, you now have potentially three new people in your network (the person plus his or her two contacts).
      • If the contacts are helpful, thanking the first person for connecting you is one reason to follow-up.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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