I wrote most of these posts with law students in mind, but the information works for any young professional who wants to network effectively and stand out in their professional community.
I hope these have been helpful!
…and the Ruth shall set you free!
I’m not going to sugar coat it: the bar exam is hard. Studying for the bar exam can be brutal. But you can kick its ass and pass it. Here are the post I wrote about the bar exam during my experience before and after the July 2011 Arizona Bar Exam.
If a bar exam is in your future, good luck and stick to your study program. I know it’s hard, but you’ll be fine.
My law school experience was pretty well documented via this blog. These are the posts where I share what worked for me and the tips I wish I’d known sooner in my law school career.
I hope the wisdom I gleaned from my law school experience helps make your life in law school a little easier.
When you’re accepted to law school, you can expect to obtain an incredible education, have the opportunity to meet phenomenal people, and take on a mountain of debt. No one tells you about the other benefits that come with being a law student.
New Glasses: Don’t waste your money and get Lasik right before starting law school. If you don’t wear glasses when you start law school, you’ll have them when you finish. If you’re already a four-eyes when you start, you’ll have a stronger prescription by graduation day. I had to get new glasses twice in law school.
New Wardrobe: It seemed like everyone in my class either lost 10 pounds during law school or gained 15 pounds or more depending on what happened to our appetites when we got stressed. I think every law school should do an annual suit exchange for students need a bigger or smaller suit and donate whatever’s left to charity. Whatever size you were when you started law school will not be your size by the time you graduate.
Night Guard: I promise you’re going to be stressed out. Some of you might start grinding your teeth in your sleep. Your dentist might recommend a $500 custom night guard. I opted to get a Sleep Right night guard instead. It cost less than 90% of what a custom-fit guard costs and works just as well. Don’t bother with the over-the-counter night guard that you boil and mold to your teeth. If you’re like me, you’ll bite through it within weeks.
Dorky Rolling Bag: You might think these bags are super dorky. I did when I first started law school. I was perfectly happy lugging my books and laptop around in my backpack . . . until I was in a car accident. And then I couldn’t carry my books on my back. I swallowed my pride and bought a rolling bag – and it’s great. It’s a bit bulky, but it made dragging around two books, my laptop, and almost everything else I needed in a day much easier. If you’re going to get one of these bags, look for function over fashion. Some of my classmates got really cute bags, but they barely held anything.
New Signature: I don’t know when it happened but law school ate my signature. I can sign things with my old signature if I really think about it, but otherwise it’s a squiggle at best.
I asked some of my legal eagle friends what unexpected benefits they got from law schools. Here’s what they said:
What about you? What were some of the unexpected “benefits” that you got during law school?
When I was a law student and now as a young lawyer, I go to a lot of networking events. They’re a great way to meet people in your community. There are other tools that will help you make a name for yourself online and at the national level. I wanted to share my three favorite tools. There are other ways to make a name for yourself, but these are the top three that work for me.
I’ve been a huge proponent of Twitter for a long time. It’s my primary networking tool when there’s someone new I want to meet. All you have to do is follow the person you want to meet and wait for an opportunity to respond to one of their tweets. It’s a great and easy way to break the ice with someone without feeling forced or fake.
If the person is going to be at an upcoming event, tweet at them about how excited you are to see or meet them. Then during the event tweet a quote from them or an accolade about them. After the event, be sure to tweet about how awesome they were/are.
2. Maintain a Blog
Having a blog is a great way to showcase your expertise and interests. At networking events and interviews you can talk about your interests or you can prove it by referencing past blog posts you’ve written on a topic. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work but it’s worth it. It’s not enough to start a blog. You have to update it regularly – preferably weekly – and be patient while you build a following. It takes a while to get there.
If you are someone who is lucky enough to have an assistant, it’s ok to let them take care of posting your work to your website, finding images for your posts, and taking care of your SEO stuff, but don’t let them write your verbiage. Your readers want to hear your unique voice so write your posts yourself.
3. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO is one of the best ways to get local and national exposure as a potential expert in your field. HARO is a service that connects reporters with potential sources. You can subscribe to HARO for free and you will get 3 emails a day, 5 days per week with dozens of opportunities to share your experience or expertise.
Most of the requests won’t apply to you, but some of them will – and you need to respond quickly if you want to be a contributor. A lot of the reporters who use HARO are on tight deadlines. I usually respond to at least one HARO every week. It’s especially beneficial when I can include a link to a blog post I’ve written on a topic – I think it increases the odds that a reporter will use me for a story over a lawyer who doesn’t blog on the topic.
You can also use HARO to network by referring a reporter to others who might be a good fit for their needs or by referring contact to HARO if a reporter is looking for input that they can provide.
There are lots of ways to make yourself stand out within your profession and the business community. These are some of my favorite tools, but it is definitely not an exhaustive list. If you have a tool or technique that you’d like to share, please leave it as a comment.
Recently, I was contacted by a law student at Arizona State University. She and her friends noticed that all the winners of the Oplinger Closing Argument Competition since at least 2005 have all been tall, thin/muscular, white males. She asked me to share my thoughts on this phenomenon.
To be fair, I must disclose that the majority of people who participate in this competition are men, so based on pure numbers, it’s more likely that a man will win. It raised a red flag for me when I heard that all the judges in the finals for this year’s competition were white men. It made me wonder if the judges picked the best performer or if they were biased towards individuals who looked and sounded like them.
There is a general bias towards tall white men in our society. NPR reports that women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and obese women make 12% less than thinner women. The shoe lift industry is thriving because taller people generally hold higher status jobs and are assumed to be more intelligent.
I have to be mindful of my own bias. If you look at my professional rolodex, the majority of my contacts are men. In my defense, I generally lean towards people who are leaders, low-drama, sci-fi geeks, and improv performers. This leads to having a lot more men in my sandbox than women. But, when it comes to picking a professional where gender is irrelevant, like a dentist or an accountant, I need to make sure don’t automatically pick a man.
In thinking about gender bias, I was reminded of a trial I watched during my summer with the Army JAG. The prosecuting attorney was a woman who was maybe 5 feet tall and 110 pounds. The defense attorney, Eric Mayer, towered over her at 6+ feet tall with broad shoulders, a chiseled jaw, and a stance that oozed confidence. I was completely intimidated by him. Both attorneys put on good cases and the defendant was ultimately convicted, but if you didn’t hear the case and only saw a snapshot of the courtroom, most people would suspect that the defense was going to win.
As professional speakers, men have an advantage. It’s easier for them to command a room because they generally take up more space and have deeper voices. They are socialized to be more assertive than women. Conversely, women are socialized to be nice. They take up less space, especially when they’re teetering on heels, and their professional appearance requires them to be attractive, but not too pretty or sexy. They generally use more qualifying statements and smile at inappropriate times.
Some women face an uphill battle when they want to establish themselves as professionals. Women have to be more mindful of how they talk compared to men. Everyone has an upper and lower voice. Most men speak in their lower voice; women have a tendency to speak in their upper voice. This makes them sounds more child-like and less professional. Women who up-talk are worse. If you up-talk, I will tune you out because the sound of your voice annoys me.
And women need to figure out how their boobs factor into their professional appearance. Big boobs can get you free drinks, but they can be a hindrance to moving up the corporate ladder as many people associate bigger breasts with lower intelligence or being less professionally focused. I’m very grateful I pass the pencil test.
Unfortunately, gender bias will not go away overnight, and I encourage everyone – men and women – to confront it when it occurs. According to my source, a judge at the Oplinger competition told one of the women that she was “too aggressive for a female.” Another female competitor reported that a judge told her that he docked points because she didn’t wear a skirt. I hope both those women told those judges to fuck off.