Business development is key for attorneys who wish to advance in their careers at law firms. If an attorney is able to develop business, they may be able to become a partner sooner, and they may have more career opportunities since a lawyer with business is more favorable than a lawyer who does not have business. Perhaps the best way that lawyers can develop business is by leveraging friend and family networks. Law school alumni networks can be particularly valuable since people with whom a lawyer went to law school could be well-positioned in the legal profession to refer work. Even if you have not connected with law school classmates in a while, it is never too late to rekindle law school friendships, and this can positively impact your business development efforts.
As I have said in a number of prior articles, I was pretty uncool in law school. I was much more focused on getting good grades than socializing with my classmates, and I really only attended the one-off bar review and the barristers’ balls in order to interact with my classmates. Still, I made some friends from clubs I was a member of and from classmates with whom I took various courses in law school. Over the years, I really did not reach out to my law school classmates much. Once I entered my career, I didn’t really build social connections with people I went to law school with, and I only kept in touch with a handful of people from law school.
About four years ago, I decide to start my own law firm, and I knew that I would need to build referral networks in order to obtain business for my firm. By this time, some of my law school classmates had entered roles in their careers when they might be able to refer work to me. I was a little hesitant to reach out to law school classmates since I had not spoken to people for years, but I decided to reach out to classmates through social media, call others, and just spread the word on my new firm.
The reaction was positive, and I was soon communicating with a number of people with whom I went to law school. Law school classmates soon became an integral part of my referral network. The interesting thing is that people I only minimally interacted with in law school could still be powerful referral sources for me. So long as I had any connection with someone from law school, and they remembered who I was, it was possible for me to rekindle the connection.
Of course, some people did not make friends in law school, or have not communicated with law school classmates in years, such that it would be difficult to rekindle the connection. However, alumni networks can still be valuable even if a lawyer does not network with people they knew from law school. From my experience, people who share a common alma mater all have shared experiences. This shared familiarity is definitely stronger for people who attended law school around the same time, since people all know the same professors, events, and other aspects of the law school experience. However, even law school graduate decades apart may still have a connection with one another than can be useful for business development purposes.
As discussed in a prior article, I have more recently attended law school alumni events held both in my local area and across the country. At such events, I occasionally see law school classmates, which has been great for energizing those existing connections. However, I have also interacted with new individuals that I either did not know in law school or who attended law school at different times than I did. Seeing these folks at multiple events has definitely fortified our connection and some of the people that I solely know from alumni events have kept me in mind when they have a referral for legal work. Attending law school alumni events can require an investment in time and energy, and it can be tough to attend such events if a lawyer does not know if anyone they know will be in attendance. However, such events can be an important way to fortify existing law school connections and make new ones.
All told, some people want to wholly forget their law school experience, and some may not have made long-lasting connections with their law school classmates. However, it is never too late to reconnect with law school classmates, and such connections can be important to business development efforts.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave a Reply