I just had my first informational interview as an attorney. By and large, the individual did a great job. That said, there are some things law students can do to make themselves stand out from the crowd. For what it is worth, here is my advice to law students:

For one, show up prepared. This person knew what type of law I practiced, and also took the time to read my bio. It is very helpful if you can actively engage in numerous points of conversation about both the practice area, and even the lawyer’s experiences. You do not need to be an expert in the area, but you should know something about it, or come prepared with some questions that make you look interested.

Two, know what you want from the interview. Do you want to know about the practice area? Do you want to inquire about law clerk opportunities? Do you want referrals? Are you looking for a mentor? If an attorney is willing to meet with you, they are probably willing to help you in some way. But they need to know how they can, and it is much easier if a law student can verbalize what they need help with.

Three, show your personality. You might not think this is a “real” interview, but it is. An attorney might not be able to help right now, but maybe they can down the road. If you can make yourself stand out (besides actually showing up), that will always work to your advantage.

Four, send a handwritten thank you card. This person sent a thank you email, which is a nice start. But sending a handwritten card is classier, and shows that you valued the time. In your note, try and think of something—conversation, joke, topic—that made your experience memorable. In other words, make your note personalized.

Doing informational interviews are always a good idea, but if you follow these steps, you can setup yourself up for opportunities in the future.

(photo: Alex France)