In the last semester of my law degree, I chose to go out into the real world (sorta) and do a Semester in Practice. That is a semester long externship in which I work as a limited licensed attorney and get school credit for it. During this internship, I have met many attorneys that also went to UI for their law degree, and I have found out something about that: a lot of people remember/know other attorneys from their law school days. This may not be surprising to many people, and it wasn’t for me either. However, I never really considered how the time you spend in school with others is just as important for networking purposes as the time you spend in internships, externship, CLEs, and other law related events.
For instance, someone new was hired in the office that I work for. When they announced who got the job in the last work meeting, a lot of people were happy at the name. Some people were happy because they remember working with this individual when they were doing their internship in this office during law school. But most were happy because she was a fellow classmate and friend from law school. They liked this person from the interaction they had with them as a fellow student, and know that the person is smart and nice because they were in the trenches (a.k.a. carrel pods—see my earlier post on this phenomena,) and know that the individual is reliable.
As a student, I didn’t really socialize much. Not because I am an introvert, or because I didn’t like those around me, but because I was so focused on school that I didn’t feel I could legitimize a night out every so often. But now that I only have 7 weeks left, I really feel like that was a mistake. Sure, part of that is the networking component, but some of it is also just the missed opportunity. My class is full of wonderful, intelligent, funny people. And the whole law school is really a place full of friendly faces and helping hands. I wish that I had taken advantage of that more because I could have made lasting friendships with quality people.
To make up for this, I am going to the Barrister’s Ball this year. This is a dinner/dance that the Student Bar Association puts on every year. Despite it being an annual event, this will be my first time attending. I am looking forward to spending quality, non-class time with some of the people that I got to know well throughout law school. Much like the Senior Sentimentality that we all feel with the end of an era, I want to make the most of what time I have left.
I won’t miss the grueling hours or stress of law school, but I can already tell I will miss the people. If you are a current or future student of UI, I highly recommend that you don’t make the mistake I did. Take advantage of events that allow you to get to know your classmates on a more personal level. It will be good for your personal and professional life.