Direct your questions to lawyers who might be able to answer them. Where can you find the right lawyers?
1. Ask for referrals.
When you consider a specific school, and certainly after you have been admitted, ask the Admissions, Career Services or Alumni Offices to introduce you to grads whose work interests you. Expect to contact them by email and phone: email to introduce yourself and ask for a time to talk; phone call to pose your questions. Do not be surprised if they request a face-to-face meeting. You have have sparked someone’s interest.
2. Follow the news.
When you learn about lawyers whose work sounds interesting, contact them by email to arrange a time to speak by phone.
Why use your telephone to make calls?
- Get over your aversion to the telephone. which is a very useful business tool. As you become an advocate for your clients, you will find that some problems can be resolved faster with a single phone call than in a dozen emails that don’t quite get to the heart of a client’s problem.
- Lawyers love to talk to law students, but if they are busy, they won’t take your calls. Leave voicemail.
- In this research project (what do lawyers do?), asking busy lawyers for detailed email responses to the questions below is a non-starter. At best, you might get a cursory reply; more likely, your email will be ignored. By phone, you can have a conversation with give and take that might lead to a variety of good things, including lunch.
- How did you become interested in this work?
- Is it related to your academic training, your prior work experience or some other interest?
- How did you get your job? Application? Network?
- What part has networking played in your career path? In your daily work?
- How do you manage your career? Continuing education beyond the CLE requirement?
CHALLENGES and BENEFITS
- What is the most challenging or frustrating to you?
- The day-to-day work? Business development? Client management? Time management?
- Billable hours? Work-life balance?
- What (other than a paycheck) motivates you?
- Would you do this work without a paycheck?
Keys to success
- What does it mean to be a professional in your area of practice?
- What personal characteristics and skills are essential to success in your area of practice?
- Or to being a lawyer in general?
- What should I read every day to prepare to do this work?
- What has surprised you about your work as a lawyer?
- How often do you work late? Do you take work home? Do you work on weekends?
- Describe your relationships with clients, colleagues, others. Is this a lonely job?
- What kind of earning potential is there in this practice area?
- If you were a new college grad, would you go to law school? If yes, why? If no, why not?
- What is the real product of the legal profession?
- Who else should talk to? Whose work do you respect? May I use your name?
And send a thank-you note. Email is fine.