Networking for Young Lawyers
Building your brand as a young lawyer; how to make use of the convenience of modern technology
My fellow lawyer, congratulations on being called to the Bar!
Now that you are starting out in your career, you may feel the pressure to focus on diving straight into work and excelling in legal practice. In doing so, it can be easy to forget about the importance of networking and building your personal brand. The mark of a great lawyer is the ability to go above and beyond your job description. The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is often famously quoted as saying “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
In a highly competitive field like law, in order to progress in your career and stand out, developing a personal brand is essential. Your personal brand is a code you live by and practice. It defines who you are, and the value you can bring to people. Essentially, it is what makes you unique.
Networking as a young lawyer is key to your brand and professional development. Networking is not just about remembering people’s names or being aware of their existence. It is the ability to establish and nurture long-term mutually rewarding relationships with people you meet. This could mean maintaining the bonds you developed in law school and during the Bar course, and forging friendships with your colleagues, fellow members of the Bar, clients, and employers, throughout your years in practice.
Over the years, the evolution of technology has facilitated greater access to information and social networking capabilities, thereby allowing young lawyers to reach out and make a name for themselves with greater ease.
The Honourable Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, in his Mass Call speech in August 2020, urged new lawyers to embrace technology in these unprecedented times. “You are well placed to offer fresh perspectives and creative ideas that may not occur to those of us accustomed to the old ways of practice,” said the Honourable Chief Justice.
People often think of networking as attending events with a large number of people and exchanging name cards. However, today’s digital world plays a big part to effectively reach target audiences. It gives young lawyers the opportunity to engage in networking in ways that were never before possible. Here are just a few ways you can leverage on technology to network and develop a personal brand:
- Social media
- Writing articles or commentaries online
- Virtual events
Digital presence is more important now than ever before. The average time that an individual spends on social media platforms has increased exponentially over the years. You should capitalise on this.
You have the ability to access and publish content with greater ease. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have gained greater traction within the legal profession.
Lawyers are now using social media to share information and interact with other members of the fraternity. Engage with your network by commenting on posts and articles. This will allow you to build rapport with individuals from a variety of backgrounds.
Get involved by joining LinkedIn and Facebook groups that provide great networking opportunities for you to interact with fellow lawyers and other professionals. One of the most unique and irreplaceable attributes of our profession is the ability and opportunity to meet and work collegially with a community of lawyers, within and beyond the walls of one’s office.
Social media is an extremely effective tool in bringing awareness to your legal services and expertise. It serves as a marketplace where clients might be searching for whom they should engage and seek legal assistance from.
Writing Articles or Commentaries Online
With the law constantly changing and developing, keeping abreast with the latest updates is crucial.
Writing articles for the Law Gazette, Singapore Law Review journal or a commentary on topics you are familiar with and have the most passion for, will not only hone your writing skills but will allow you to share your views and help to establish yourself as a source of information or insight. Providing content that is relevant and of quality will boost your credibility.
Post your articles on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to facilitate professional discourse with like-minded individuals. This will allow you to build relationships with a wider network of people.
Technology has also facilitated better access and interactions between professionals all around the world.
Webinars are online conferences or seminars that are held on platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet. Webinars have become the most common method of information sharing now that large in-person conferences have been put on hold. Speakers or attendees need not physically attend at a space. Instead, one can attend a webinar from the comfort of home or office.
Register yourself for webinars in subjects you are interested in or which you wish to learn more of and actively engage in them via webinar tools such as chats, polls and surveys that make discourse interactive and engaging. An insightful question or comment could spark conversations with others which could lead to future collaboration.
Attending virtual luncheons organised by the Law Society of Singapore is also a way for you to take a break from work and engage in friendly banter with your fellow members of the profession. You may wish to consider exploring Eventbrite, which is an independent platform that hosts a variety of virtual events which you can choose from.
After a virtual event, an active step can be taken by following up with a fellow member or individual by connecting with them on LinkedIn or sending them an e-mail to stay in touch. You can also post on social media platforms where you attended a particular event and share your thoughts on the event to engage with other people who attended the same event. In this way, virtual events can help you build a community around your personal brand.
As a young lawyer starting out, there will be fellow young lawyers who may be struggling with certain aspects of practice or the law. Why not take the extra step by creating an event amongst a group of fellow young lawyers?
Before you set out to develop and build your brand as a young lawyer, ask yourself – What drives you? What are your values as a legal professional? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you want to achieve in your professional and personal life? How will your lifelong goals align with your career goals?
Networking and developing your personal brand are matters that are within your control. They require deliberate and sustained effort to pursue. Be humble, committed, dependable, and empathetic. Reinforce your attributes through your actions. Not only are you developing yourself professionally, but you are also working to become the best version of yourself and building your confidence as a young lawyer. Ultimately, the onus is on you to leverage on technology available to you and to be innovative in your methods.
Stay true to yourself and be bold.
I wish you all best in your career.