Earlier this week, Above the Law featured a blog post authored by my good friend and coauthor, Carolyn Elefant. In the post, Carolyn addressed a question posed by one of her readers: whether a law student should start blogging.
Carolyn’s answer? Yes! She explained that blogging offered law students a host of benefits, allowing aspiring lawyers to explore a topic of interest, showcase writing skills, and connect and network with other like-minded law students and lawyers. And more importantly, as she explains, blogs offer other advantages as well:
A blog is your precedent; a picture of you as a law student, at a place in time where your profession lies in front of you and where you’re still excited and eager — maybe naive or at least, not yet jaded. Blogs capture the insight and curiosity and passion and yes, stupidity of the soon-to-be-lawyer and serve as a True North that you can look back on and use to re-orient yourself if you ever lose your way as a lawyer.
I agree wholeheartedly with Carolyn’s conclusion. Law students should consider blogging, and more broadly, should also use social media to establish a professional presence during their law school years. Interacting strategically online is a great way to jumpstart your legal career and make connections that can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that many law students are discouraged from using social media by law school professors and administrators. This was certainly the case years ago when social media was in its infancy, but even today, with the exception of a few forward-thinking law schools, the trend is to discourage law students from engaging online.
I would suggest that law students would be well-advised to ignore naysayers and their scare tactics. If you use social media and blogging wisely, you’ll open up doors and create opportunities you might not have thought possible.
Case in point: Mike Sacks. I read about Mike in 2010 when the ABA Journal wrote about his blogging endeavors as a law student at Georgetown. During his third year, he started a blog about the Supreme Court and the ABA highlighted his blog in this post. It caught my eye because I was impressed by his ambitious goal of being first in line for Supreme Court arguments and then writing about his experiences and observations. It struck me as a really creative way to set himself apart from the pack and I always wondered what became of him.
As I sat down to write this article, I looked him up. And sure enough, his career since 2010 has been an impressive one and is right in line with what you’d expect from a student who began blogging about the Supreme Court in law school. After graduation, he was an associate at Reed Smith for a year, then moved on to the Huffington Post where he was a Supreme Court correspondent and then a host/producer at HuffPost Live. After that, he was a Congressional correspondent for ALM Media and is now a National Political correspondent for E.W. Scripps Company. Quite a career path, and it all started with a legal blog about the Supreme Court.
His trajectory is a great example of how using social media and blogging can truly make a difference for aspiring lawyers. If you determine your goals ahead of time and then interact online with those goals in mind, you’ll open up doors and create opportunities that will pay off down the road.
To start, determine what your post-law school objectives are. Identify a niche, practice area, or career goal that interests you and make it yours. Learn everything you can about it.
Subscribe to blogs about your chosen focus and identify the influencers in that space, whether it’s a specific area of law practice or another career path in a different field. Connect with those people online and learn from them. Read their articles, blog posts, and social media posts and interact with them online.
And, whenever possible, take the online relationship offline. If they live locally, get together for coffee. Consider attending industry conferences to connect with influencers in your chosen space. Introduce yourself and get to know them.
And, last, but not least, if you enjoy writing, consider blogging. As Carolyn explained, it can benefit law students and/or law graduates seeking a job in so many ways. By blogging, you’re able to: 1) demonstrate your substantive knowledge; 2) showcase your writing and analytical skills; and 3) convince prospective employers that you are on top of changes in your chosen practice areas or career path of choice.
Of course, whether you’re interacting on social media or blogging, your primary goal is to make professional connections, so it’s important to be diplomatic. It’s not always easy, but walking that fine line between being engaging and incendiary is important. Always keep your end goals in mind and when necessary, consider refraining from discussions or comments that could be misconstrued by a potential employer or come back to haunt you down the road.
It’s always important to remember that the internet is forever. But don’t let that fact deter you from taking advantage of the many opportunities that social media and blogging offer. Use these tools wisely and let your passion for your chosen topics shine through. You just might be surprised at the results of your efforts![“Source-abovethelaw”]