February 12, 2022

Career Services Blog

Jobs in the Time of Corona: Virtual Coffee Meetings

by Devra Sigle Hermosilla,
Assistant Dean of Career and Professional Development

You have patiently endured Career Service’s advice to network and meet with local attorneys for information interviews over coffee. You may have thought you could avoid that advice for the time-being, but no such luck! Networking is a critical aspect of your job search, now more than ever. So, while your mission to connect remains the same, logistics may need to be adjusted. Here are some ideas for how to make the most of networking virtually:

  • Get ready to connect. Your online branding and LinkedIn profile as a law student or recent grad will likely become your primary connection tools so polish your virtual presence to professionally connect with industry professionals.
  • Set up virtual coffee meetings. Reach out to attorneys and alums for information interviews via virtual coffee meetings. Attorneys are generally willing to help law students and now, more than ever, may be easier to reach and happier for a human connection after a day of remote work.
  • Decide who to contact. Start with your attorney mentor. Ask career services and professors for names of people to contact. Connect with attorneys who came to campus this past school year to present on panels or in classes; shockingly few students ever take them up on their offer to meet. Career services, faculty, or student groups hosting these events will be able to provide you with the names of their guest speakers. At t the end of every information interview, ask your contact who they think you should reach out to next and get permission to use their name in your connection request.
  • Use a simple greeting. When initiating contact, keep things simple by using the
    Inigo Montoya method of a good introduction: (1) polite greeting; (2) name; (3) relevant personal link; and (4) your request:
    “Hi John. My name is Ima Lawgrad and I am a May 2020 graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School. I heard you speak at a panel at the law school this past spring and appreciated your perspective and insights. I would like to learn more about civil defense litigation work and am writing to see if you would be willing to meet with me briefly over videoconferencing for an informational discussion about this area of law. If there is a time that would work best for you over the next few weeks, I will gladly accommodate your schedule. Kind regards, Ima.” Here and here are some additional networking email templates you may find helpful.
  • Continue with traditional recruitment opportunities. Pay attention to job postings on Career Connect and other job boards and when you see a posting you like, reach out to the employer immediately. If you know someone who works in a firm that is hiring, contact them right away to find out more information about the position so that your application and interview will be stronger. Attend virtual career fairs and virtual campus interviewing sessions, which Career Services will continue to post on Career Connect.
  • Explore your new industry. One often overlooked aspect of networking is that it involves learning about market trends, hot industries, and useful skills for potential employers. Watch bar association webinars and attend virtual CLEs (like these sessions on COVID-19 Employer Liability and Force Majeure Contract Issues) that can help you get ahead of your competition. 
  • Think outside of the legal box. Networking outside of the legal industry can lead to connections and jobs, too. Consider joining industry groups or virtual business meeting and networking groups such as Ryze, Meet-up, Eventbrite, or BNI Oregon & SW Washington. They can be hit or miss but you may find some virtual events that work for you. 
  • Get out there … virtually. The key to your success in networking is visibility and consistency. Look for opportunities to engage with your virtual contacts and get your name out there so that when an opportunity arises, you will learn about it early and be considered as a candidate. Use social media to congratulate people for their accomplishments, share information, or post that you just attended a trending webinar.

If you consistently approach networking with an intention to simply meet people, learn about your industry, and be helpful – and not from a place of need or desperation – then you will have the right attitude. People often cringe from the word “networking” because it feels like a sales job. But considering it to be “connecting” helps it feel more authentic. Making connections to people, industry, and information will be important for the rest of your professional life – but never more than right now.