Trainee Blog: Networking for trainees - a "guide"

Networking is an invaluable skill for any aspiring lawyer.

This article discusses networking from the perspective of the trainee – keen to build meaningful business relationships but (perhaps) intimidated by the perceived challenge of building a network when our professional expertise is still developing.

Why we network – the big picture

Before doing so, it is worth considering why lawyers network at all. Law firms rely on the ability of individual lawyers to network to generate new enquiries, maintain existing business relationships, and advertise the services of their firm.

Without a successful business development strategy – of which individual lawyers networking is a fundamental aspect – law firms risk lagging behind their competitors and missing opportunities. This is particularly so in an increasingly information led economy.

Networking, therefore, underpins a law firm's success as a business.

How do I network?

Krishnamurti said that 'truth is a pathless land'; networking can be thought of in this way. That is to say, there is no textbook guide – or formula – to networking and quite often one person's approach may not work for another.

Rather than considering networking as a fixed mode of behaviour, we can best think about it as part of our own professional development and as something that forms and complements our own operating style. 

Opportunities for trainees

Realising this we can focus our efforts more efficiently on what trainees can do to network and develop professionally.

As a trainee sitting in Michelmores' Private Client department, I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of external networking events. These have included attending the Institute of Legacy Management Conference in London in addition to other events hosted by professional firms in the South West such as Brewin Dolphin and AC Mole & Sons.

These events have been useful in gaining exposure to different networking opportunities and it is important to take away learning points from these and identify ways to develop.

At Michelmores, trainees are also encouraged to attend the firm's Business Breakfast and Cycle Network. Moreover, for trainees, networking opportunities come from a range of different activities both within and outside the firm. They can – for instance – include attending knowledge sessions, organising firm events, writing legal update articles, using LinkedIn, and working alongside other professionals.

Looking ahead – tips for approaching networking

So that trainees can strengthen their existing skills, the following points are worth considering:

  1. Networking is fundamental for lawyers and essential for the success of law firms as businesses;
  2. Far from there being a "guide" to networking, young professionals should see networking as part of developing their own professional style; and  
  3. Networking for trainees presents itself in a number of different forms, which should not be overlooked.