Your professional identity may still be taking shape but it’s not too early to start forming a personal brand that is authentic and powerful. Law school is the time to become proactive about your future business and reputation.
Employers today often connect with future employees for the first time through their online presence and activity. A top-notch law student’s LinkedIn profile becomes essential in initiating a positive online dialogue.
To help you navigate the process of personal branding and reputation building, we’ve partnered with Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA) — the world’s leading legal search firm — to identify some best practices and tips for standing out in a crowded field using LinkedIn.
Watch this brief video to learn more.
Create your elevator pitch
How will you best present yourself as an aspiring attorney when asked? Start by formulating a two-to-three-sentence description that will effectively convey what legal employers seek: a future associate with strong skills and impeccable judgment. Use this along with a compelling headline as you build your law student LinkedIn profile.
How to shine on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an amazing professional networking tool that you should use to your full advantage. This means including a strong professional photo and a thoughtful About section. Consider enlisting the help of a photography student in your area or an aspiring pro for professional headshots to achieve a polished look and be sure to complete all sections of your profile — in the first person. The right image, headline, summary and story will add credibility to your online presence and increase your chances of discoverability.
Check out this quick guide to creating a compelling LinkedIn profile.
How to build your network
Once you have your law student LinkedIn profile in order, think about who you know that will accept your connection and speak well of you. Then expand that group to people with whom you have something in common.
Family members, friends and other students you go/went to law school with are typically connections that can help you build your professional identity. Alumni from your undergrad or law school and attorneys at the firm you are going to summer with are additional connections that can further elevate your reputation when they accept your request.
Don’t forget to connect with or follow legal influencers or attorneys with a background in your field of interest as a show of your confidence and willingness to expand your horizons. Find people who could potentially champion what you stand for and who will appreciate your skill set for additional “street cred”.
Go beyond the Connect button
Once you’ve established a LinkedIn connection, you’ll want to leave a personalized message for the person. This should introduce who you are, why you want to have a relationship and how you may be connected to them. What this shouldn’t be is an opportunity to ask the connection for something (such as an introduction with someone else on the platform). Rather, take the time to simply thank them for accepting your request.
How to interact with the online community
Creating content on LinkedIn doesn’t apply solely to legal experts. Even as a law student, you can offer thoughts on other people’s posts and share valuable insights about what you know — from getting into law school and tips for studying to guidance on case summaries and writing about trending legal topics.
Congratulate a fellow law student on a milestone or acknowledge the achievement of someone you find noteworthy outside of your LinkedIn network. Promote an article they wrote or an upcoming speaking engagement they have. Remember that all interactions are a path to establishing your own credibility.
Your identity will develop throughout the course of your career as an attorney and will likely transform as you increasingly engage with other legal professionals, make observations, and encounter “trial and error” experiences. But you can plant seeds via LinkedIn during your law school years that will grow into positive connections and relationships for years to come.
Interested in resources to enhance your resume? We’ve also partnered with MLA on how to create a stellar law school resume. Take a look.
Ready to start your job search? Learn more about legal internships, clerkships and clinics and grab strategies and tips to make the most of your time.