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Does a Law School Alumni Network Matter?

All law schools are not built the same and many factors go into choosing the right law school for you.

One important factor prospective law students often overlook is the size and strength of a law school’s alumni network. Alumni groups are pivotal to a future lawyer’s journey. Among other things, they can offer resources, mentorship, and invaluable networking opportunities that can shape professional futures.

The Importance of Law School Alumni Networks

All law schools want to attract the best of the best and soon [ideally] you’ll be amongst those ranks. Alumni are intended to go out into the legal world and make their own stamp on the industry.

The strength and activity of a law school’s alumni network can be a significant differentiator when choosing a law school. Every school has notable alumni who shine a spotlight on that school. In turn, you too can also benefit from this form of trickle-down economics as you start to carve out your career path.

If a law school’s alumni network is particularly active, this can set you up with valuable advice, resources, mentorship opportunities, and connections that will help you throughout your career.

Camaraderie is strong at some schools—it never hurts to have built-in friends!

Let us delve into the multifaceted roles that law school alumni networks play in shaping the careers of future lawyers.

A Resource for Mentorship and Guidance

Law school alumni networks are treasure troves of experience and wisdom. Having navigated the challenges of that specific law school and the legal profession, alumni can provide mentorship and guidance to current (or even future) students.

This mentorship can take various forms, from one-on-one advice sessions to panel discussions and informal meet-ups. It offers insights into the realities of legal practice, job market trends, and career development strategies.

Networking and Career Opportunities

Networking is a critical component of professional success in the legal field. Law school alumni networks open doors to job opportunities, internships, and clerkships, often not advertised publicly. These connections can be crucial in securing first jobs or coveted positions in prestigious firms or organizations.

Alumni can also offer practical advice on resume building, interview skills, and career planning.

It’s easier to start on a path with help from someone who has been in your shoes. 

What To Look For in Law School Alumni Networks

So what should you look for in a law school’s alumni network when applying to a law school? Here are three key factors to consider.

1. Size and Reach of the Network

The scope of a law school’s alumni network can significantly impact your future career opportunities. A larger network increases the probability of finding mentors and professional contacts in various fields within the legal world and expands your geographical reach.

2. Active and Engaged Alumni

School spirit matters! Ok, maybe they don’t have to attend the yearly homecoming game, but the more involved alumni are with the school and within the alumni network itself plays a big role in your experience with them.

Engaged alumni are a testament to a school’s community spirit and commitment to ongoing student support. When alumni frequently participate in school events and mentorship programs and offer career guidance, it reflects a robust, supportive community.

3. Alumni Success Stories

Success stories are more than just a source of inspiration. They offer a window into the school’s standards and set a benchmark for what you can aspire to achieve. Additionally, they provide a realistic preview of the career paths pursued by the school’s graduates and offer insights into potential future opportunities.

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Networking Tips for Law Students

We might be getting a little ahead of ourselves, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t give you a heads-up of how to network after we just explained why you should.

Let us explore these strategies to understand how to integrate networking into your law school experience from Day 0 (i.e. today).

Start Early

The foundation of a strong professional network is laid at the very beginning of your law school journey. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with alumni by participating in school-hosted events, joining student organizations that facilitate these interactions, and actively engaging with guest speakers and visiting alumni. Some pre-law groups at your undergrad institution might already host similar events to expose you to the law school early.

This early engagement broadens your network and helps you understand the diverse career paths in law.

Be Genuine and Curious

Authenticity in networking is paramount. You can likely tell one someone is being overly nice or “fake” with you, and we promise alumni can too.

When you meet alumni, show a genuine interest in their career journey and the insights they can offer. Ask questions that reflect your curiosity about the legal field and their specific experiences. They truly are a wealth of information! This genuine approach is more likely to lead to meaningful and lasting connections.

Follow Up and Stay in Touch

Relationships are the name of the game when it comes to networking, but they don’t happen overnight or after one encounter. You need to nurture your connections.

After an initial interaction with an alum, a thoughtful follow-up email can make a lasting impression. Keep them informed about your academic and professional journey, and reach out periodically to keep the connection alive without being too “pushy”. 

Offer Value

Networking is not a one-way street. Consider ways to bring value to your connections. This could be through offering to volunteer at alumni events or helping out with a project they are involved in. 

Don’t disregard law school alumni networks when choosing schools to apply to and, eventually, commit to. They could be major catalysts for your law career.

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