Law-School social mediaLast evening I presented on a panel at Seattle University as part of a program on social networking and social media for law students and Seattle University Law graduates.

As the moderator of the panel involving two other lawyers, I tried to keep the discussion high level. Rather than talk about tactics, ie, what is Twitter and how do I set it up, how do I set up LinkedIn, or how do I set up a blog, I tried to keep it strategic – why get involved in this social networking world.

The reasons are two-fold. One, to get better at what you do, be it a law student or a lawyer, and two, to put your self in a better position to gain employment or get good clients.

Like it or not, the Internet is here to stay. Those folks who don’t know why they should use the Internet to network to achieve the above two items and how to network via the Internet to achieve those two things are going to achieve less. There’s no question about it.

I don’t mean to be flippant about ‘when am I am coming to your law school,’ but dam, among the 60 or 70 people in the audience last evening, I’m not sure if anyone knew one, that you could use the Internet to network to build relationships, two, why you should use the Internet to do so, and three, how to do so.

Whether a 1L or a practicing lawyer of 15 years, these folks did not have a clue.

I feel sorry for them as there has never been a better time to be a graduating law student as far as getting a job. There has never been a better time for practicing lawyers to go get or make the job of their dreams.

The reason? The Internet and the social networking opportunities that come with it.

And the people who need to know how to use the Internet, the kids with $100,000 in student loans, don’t know how to use it.

Rather than cast blame on placement officers at law schools for not teaching law students why the Internet is important and how to use it or blame law students for not getting off their cans and taking some initiative, let’s act. And act now.

  • Let’s get in front of law students, the lawyers who have practiced law for years who know how and how to use the Internet to network for professional and business development growth.
  • Let’s have law schools host monthly social networking functions with a program on a dedicated subject followed by an hour social hour, inviting both law students and local lawyers. A couple birds killed with one stone here – not only will law students and lawyers learn to help themselves, but they’ll be able to network so as to build relationships.
  • Let’s get a law student or two at each law school to partner with the school’s placement office and alumni/development office to bring these events alive.
  • Get up and coming companies who care, ie, LexBlog, to help. I walk into Seattle Law School last night and there’s tables set up for students to meet student reps for LexisNexis, BarBri, and a couple other companies selling stuff to law students or looking to sell to them when they graduate. What are these companies doing to help law students for the law haul? What are these companies doing to help students get jobs?

Seeing that I was going to be at Seattle University Law last night and seeing the type of program Seattle U put together, Tim Eigo, Editor at Arizona Attorney Magazine, blogged why not a similar program in Arizona?

I responded that he ought to reach out to the University of Arizona and Arizona State University and let them know I’ll waive my fee and come for the price of a flight and hotel room. I guaranteed that the students and local lawyers would get a lot from the program. The law school placement and alumni offices would gain a ton in good will, more than they may be earning on other initiatives which are costing them a lot more.

The same offer goes for law schools anywhere in the country. It would be a privilege to come.

It need not be me, but law schools do need to act. Otherwise, they’re breaching the law schools’ obligation to help their students and alumni.

  • I wholeheartedly agree. I have seen law schools do a good job of arranging networking mixers where they get their alums and grads or current students together, however, they don’t do such a good job when it comes to teaching students to mix via social media. I stumbled upon blogging after graduating but found quickly that it really accelerated my career and created many opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible without blogging.
    Also, LinkedIn has been great for meeting new people in my areas of interest. Even Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch with friends and colleagues and old classmates – I have gotten business from these connections and I know I probably wouldn’t have gotten it if we didn’t keep in touch via Facebook.

  • I just sent the link to this post to the dean of the law school at Arizona State University. I think it would be wonderful if you could come out and speak! Social media has been my primary networking tool in and out of law school and it has been instrumental in my career. Law students need more instruction on how to use these tools and why they are missing out if they aren’t using sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to network.