Young Lawyers Connect E-Newsletter


Don’t Miss the Next First Thursdays Event…

Don’t Miss the Next First Thursdays Events…
For those of you who just passed the bar exam, we hope to see you on December 4 th for our annual Pass the Bar Reception. Special thanks to Dewar’s, Heartland Brewery,, New York Magazine, Rock of Ages, The Young Lawyers Jungle Book, and Zagat.

And on Thursday, January 8th, join us for the next event in the Young Lawyers Connect First Thursdays Series- our Salsa Dance Class. Enjoy light food and beverages, meet new people, and learn to dance the salsa with top ranked Latin Ballroom Dancer Kevin Lee. Don’t be intimidated-no dance experience necessary. Register today.

First Thursdays Series

Pass the Bar
Dec 4, 6-8 pm

Salsa Dance Class

Jan 8, 6:30-8:30 pm

Wine Tasting at Landmarc
Feb 5, 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Thank you to our First Thursdays Sponsors: ClearChannel, New York Law Journal, Vault

View Pictures of the November 6 th Shopping Event at Brooks Brothers

Join the New York City Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Connect facebook group

Building Your Network Takes More than Business Cards and Cocktail Receptions—It Requires a Strategy

By Diane Costigan

No matter what your career, in order to be successful you need to invite and encourage people to participate in it. You need people to give you work; to send you business; to recommend you for new jobs and other exciting opportunities; to give you feedback on your performance; even to let you blow off steam when needed. Your network consists of those who can help you move forward in your career and to enjoy it along the way.

Note that the word “work” is in the word “network”. Healthy and strong professional networks do not build and manage themselves. They require care and feeding. Networking often gets a bad rap because people associate it with cocktail receptions and handing out business cards. Building a solid professional network can take many more forms that may be more aligned to your personality. Unfortunately, high demands on a lawyer’s time often prevent network building from receiving the level of attention and priority that it should.

 Start With a Solid Career Vision

Many lawyers network on the fly when they can find the time. While this is better than nothing, not all network building activities will be a productive use of time. When tied closely with a strategic vision and goals, however, investing time building and maintaining relationships can be a powerful career advancement tool. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem. Busy lawyers do not always have the opportunity to think about the bigger career picture.

Your career is the one thing you can be selfish about because, really, no one else can have or do your career for you. At least once a year (but preferably more) think strategically about where you are and where you want to be with respect to your career. Timing this exercise to an annual performance review can be meaningful. Once you are clear on your vision, set goals that support your career objectives.

Do you want to be a partner in a law firm? If so, your network building may focus more on business development. Does going part-time while pursuing other interests sound appealing? Finding a support network of other part-timers might be helpful. Have you always wanted to be a judge? Contacts more on the government or political side might make more sense. Is the draw of academia and professorship calling you? Reaching out to your law school professors could be a good idea.

 Set Specific Network Building Goals That Support Your Career Vision

Consider how network building fits into your career strategy. Establish specific goals and targets around building and managing your network and block out time in your calendar and do them. For example, you might commit to do a minimum of 3 networking activities once a week, month or quarter-- whatever works for you. Keep in mind, they do not always have to be time intensive things. You could send out quick touching base emails; forward articles that might be interesting; call a former colleague, classmate or client, etc.

 Define Your Network

A good place to start is to define your current network. To effectively build or manage something, you need to have a good grasp of where you are starting from. What is the composition of your network? Is it almost exclusively lawyers? If so, how does that support your career vision and goals?

If you are worried that you do not have a big network, fear not, it is probably a lot bigger than you believe it to be. In my experience, with some creative brainstorming, there are always a significant number of people who can be added to your network.

 Tips for Defining Your Network:

Quality of Contacts, Not Quantity is Key

Another common myth about networking is that you have to constantly add contacts to it. Having a lot of business cards and contacts is not necessarily a good thing if they are not relevant to your career vision, professional and personal goals and your greater values. They will just take up space in your address book and delay searching for those contacts that can make a difference. Websites like Facebook and Linked In make it fairly easy to locate people these days so do not worry about keeping every card you ever get.

Contact Maintenance Tips:

Evaluate Your Progress

If you set aside a certain chunk of time each week for the purpose of organizing, planning and scheduling—which I highly recommend from a time management perspective—make your network building goals a standing agenda item. Evaluate yourself each week and redirect your efforts when necessary to stay on track. If you use Outlook or something similar, keep a folder entitled “ Network Building”. Move emails that spark your memory that you need to reach out to someone or schedule a lunch to that folder.

Your career vision will provide a layer of organization and planning to network building that will help you use your time productively and strategically. Keeping your network organized and healthy and having meaningful relationships with those in your network can help ensure that you have the right people participating in your career.

Diane Costigan provides coaching, consulting and training to organizations and individuals who wish to enhance themselves and maximize their performance. She can be reached at

 Career Corner

Dusting off the Blue Suit: Getting Ready for the Interview & More
Dec 4, 11 am - 12:30 pm

How to Become a Judge
Dec 6, 9 am - 3:30 pm

Growing Your Practice
Dec 18, 12:30 - 2 pm

Professional Development Workshop: Managing Your Career
Jan 15, 8:30 - 10 am

Navigating Your Career Through Troubled Waters
Jan 29, 6:30-8:30 pm

Ask the Experts

Q: I have really enjoyed the time I have spent on recruiting the summer class for my firm. How can I best transition into a full time management/recruiting role at my firm?


A: First of all it is worth noting that the if the firm asked you to actively participate in the summer recruiting they must also notice something about your natural skill set for this type of position. In best case scenarios, good law firm recruiting involves being naturally likeable, socially comfortable meeting new and introducing new people, having sophisticated liaison skills and stealth troubleshooting abilities. It is not an easy job but for those who gravitate naturally to this position it can be a very fulfilling, social and meaningful way to add value to a firm and its very pivotal goals of attracting and retaining top legal talent.

That being said, your firm may have noticed these skills in you but may be surprised to hear that you wish to transition from practice to management. The best course of action is to do your due diligence with lawyers who have made that transition but who are not working at your firm. As part of your initial inquiry you might ask about the nature of the work, compensation and career growth potential. A good source of information for this is NALP and their programs and membership.

Once you have completed some initial inquiries and have really determined that this transition is for you—it’s time to leverage on your insider knowledge of the firm and the good will that you have built at your firm! Once you are certain that this is something you want to do, speak to the professional development department of your firm, inquire about possible position openings and suggest ways in which you might be able to add value to that position. Talk to partners that you work with only once it is clear that there is a position that you wish to be considered—these partners might be able to help you in your goals as well.

Finally, there have been several instances where lawyers have made their intentions to transition known to their department and yet they continue to work as lawyers until landing the job at their firm comes to fruition or until they have been able to secure a job like that elsewhere.

At the end of the day, if you are determined to leave the law to transition into management, it is probably best to let the partners who like you and respect you help you in the process. They are going to find out eventually, so you might as well maintain your good will with them by being the one to tell them so they are best inclined to help you in the process.


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