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Networking with non-attorneys

Networking outside the legal community can prove just as rewarding as networking with other attorneys. Outside networking, however, may take longer to develop results and there are pitfalls to avoid.

The benefits of networking with other attorneys are often obvious and the results immediate. Attorneys may know of job openings at their firm or have clients they need to refer out right away. Fellow attorneys, however, may already have their legal network in place. That is why stepping outside of the legal community is important for networking purposes. Non-attorneys often do not know any attorneys and sooner or later, everyone needs an attorney. Even if you don't practice in the area of law these non-attorneys will need, they will approach you first. You can then refer the case to an attorney you know, thereby strengthening your legal network.

It may take longer to see results from networking with non-attorneys. Connections and leads are not as obvious with non-attorneys. Therefore, a follow-up coffee or lunch meeting is often needed to determine how the non-attorneys connections fit into your legal career.

The largest pitfall to navigate while networking with non-attorneys is avoiding those who are not interested in a mutually beneficial relationship, but rather are just attempting to get into your pocket. It is difficult to recognize these people immediately. They often enough begin the relationship by telling you what great leads they can provide while at the same time trying to set you up with their financial planning firm. If, after your follow-up coffee/lunch, they have still not provided any of those solid leads they keep selling you on, politely end the relationship. There is no need to continue meeting with a person who is busy selling you their products and services while providing nothing of substance for you and your career.

Tip courtesy of Robert C. Heaney of Heaney Disability Law in Boston.

Published March 20, 2014

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