I recently volunteered with a number of law students and was asked for advice about the job market. My biggest piece of advice was: network, get practical experience, and network more.
Outhustle your classmates
Even though the economy is making a minor comeback, jobs are still scarce. That means more and more law students are going to aggressively network as a means to land a job. Making some calls and sending emails does not cut it.
You need to get some face time and actually meet with attorneys. Lunch is a great way to do it. Most attorneys, if you approach correctly, are more than happy to buy you lunch and talk about their practice. If that does not work, try offering to buy coffee. Your goal is to actually meet this attorney and make an impression.
Always have a plan when meeting with people
Meeting an attorney is a de facto interview. Would you ever go into an interview with nothing to say? Of course not. So when you meet with someone, have five things you want them to learn about you. Have five questions you can ask them about their practice or their career.
Sitting there and asking them to blab about their practice is not going to make them remember you.
The goal is to develop a long term relationship
In all likelihood, you will probably meet with someone once and may not see them for years. But the goal is to use this meeting as a starting point for a longer term relationship. They may not be able to help you right now.
But the next time you see them, you might be an opposing sides of a case. Or maybe they are on the hiring committee of a firm you want to work at. The legal community is smaller than you think, and you are bound to encounter people again.
Always follow up
Unless the person you met with insulted you and your entire family, be sure to follow up. At a minimum, send an email. Even better, send a thank you note with some personal flourishes beyond “thank you for meeting with me, I really learned a lot.”
You are always selling yourself and always trying to stand out. Your follow up email or thank you should attempt to connect with them in some way–something to make an impression.