What Happens in Law School Does Not Stay in Law School

Being a student in law school is much different than being a practicing attorney. That said, law school is the foundation that your legal career is built on. As your career progresses and you build your reputation, law school fades away, but it never completely disappears.

If you are in law school right now, be mindful that your interactions, work, and relationships have a strong impact on your legal career.

Need a reference?

At some point, you will need a reference for a job. Even if your grades are outstanding, employers want to know what you are like. Naturally, your professors are a common reference. If you generally skip classes or put forth a half-hearted effort in class, good luck getting a good reference from a professor. If you do not think they are paying attention, you are wrong.

Is this common sense? Of course it is. Some law students, however, seem to throw common sense out the window.

Do not burn bridges

I had a couple professors that I was not very fond of, but I doubt they ever knew that. Sure, if you have a legitimate concern and can approach it in a respectful way, go for it. That can be easier said than done. In addition, you have no clue when you might run into that person again.

Maybe your professor is a mediator. Maybe your professor will become a judge or magistrate one day. Maybe they will forget that you threw a temper tantrum over a grade or told them they were the worst teacher ever. Maybe you really are naive. Those things can come back to bite you in a big way.

Your goal should be to create relationships and build bridges, not burn them.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rumble/2902033876)

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  • Susan Gainen

    Don’t forget to build and nurture relationships with your classmates. They will support you in all of your enterprises (commercial and political), refer business to you, buy band candy from your children, and appoint you to the bench.

    Or not, if you were annoying.

  • Paramjit L. Mahli

    Relationships are at the heart of our lives and lawyers forget this fact and think its a transaction. Relationships provide us with a support structure throughout our lives and my experience has shown that lawyers overlook this since they don’t see immediate return on investment.

  • acratley

    My advice is to nurture connections with contacts in the place where you intend to practice after law school, or in the same state where you want to practice at least. That’s not to say that making a connection with your professors isn’t important – but you should be doing that anyway without eyeing them as future contacts. But over your summers in law school, go to the place you plan to practice if at all possible and try to find a job clerking. It will pay off.

  • LawyerBlog

    Also, try to maintain a diversity in your connections with the law school community – those who get good grades, those on your journal, athletes, foodies, etc. You can establish a much broader network than if, e.g, you stick with all Biglaw types and you never know what you may want to do 5 or 10 years down the road.