It is said that one should not let the fact that the internet is forever deter them from taking advantage of the opportunities that social media and blogging offers. But the basic question is: whether a law student should start blogging?
Established bloggers explain that blogging offers law students a host of benefits, allowing aspiring lawyers to explore a topic of interest, showcase writing skills, and connect and network with other like-minded law students and lawyers. And more importantly, as they explain, blogs offer other advantages as well:
A blog is your precedent. It is a picture of you as a law student, at a place in time where your profession lies in front of you and where you are still excited and eager — maybe naive or at least, not yet jaded. Blogs capture the insight and curiosity and passion and perhaps the stupidity of the soon-to-be-lawyer and serve as a mirror that you can look back on and use to remodel yourself if you ever lose your way as a lawyer.
Other well-known bloggers agree wholeheartedly with the above cited conclusion. They feel that law students should consider blogging, and more broadly, should also use social media to establish a professional presence during their law school years. According to them, interacting strategically online is a great way to jumpstart the student’s legal career and allow them to make connections that can last a lifetime.
The other side of the picture is that, unfortunately, it has been found that many law students are discouraged from using social media by law school professors and administrators. This was certainly the case years ago when social media was in its infancy, but even today, with the exception of a few forward-thinking law schools, the trend is to discourage law students from engaging online.
Seasoned bloggers suggest that law students would be well-advised to ignore naysayers and their scare tactics. They say that if you use social media and blogging wisely, you will open up doors and create opportunities you might not have thought possible.
A case study at this point which can be cited here is of Mike Sacks. Mike was a law student at Georgetown, USA who during his third year, started a blog about the US Supreme Court and the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal highlighted his blog in a post in 2010. It caught the experts eye because they were impressed by his ambitious goal of being first in line for Supreme Court arguments and then writing about his experiences and observations. It struck them as a really creative way to set oneself apart from the crowd and they always wondered what became of him eventually.As they sat down and looked up for him, they found that his career since 2010 has been an impressive one and is right in line with what one would expect from a student who began blogging about the Supreme Court in law school. After graduation, he was an associate at Reed Smith for a year, then moved on to the Huffington Post where he was a Supreme Court correspondent and then a host/producer at HuffPost Live. After that, he was a Congressional correspondent for ALM Media and is now a National Political correspondent for E.W. Scripps Company. Quite a career path, and it all started with a legal blog about the Supreme Court!
Mike’s trajectory is one of the great examples of how using social media and blogging can truly make a difference for aspiring lawyers. If one determines one’s goals ahead of time and then interact online with those goals in mind, they will surely open up doors and create opportunities that will pay off down the road.
To start, one should determine what their post-law school objectives are. They should then identify a niche, practice area, or career goal that interests them and make it theirs. They should learn everything they can about it.
They should subscribe to blogs about their chosen focus and identify the influencers in that space, whether it’s a specific area of law practice or another career path in a different field. Then, they should connect with those people online and learn from them. They should read their articles, blog posts, and social media posts and interact with them online.
And, whenever possible, they should take the online relationship offline. If they live locally, they should get together for coffee. They should consider attending industry conferences to connect with influencers in their chosen space. Then, introduce oneself and get to know them.
And, last, but not least, if one enjoys writing, he/she should seriously consider blogging. As established bloggers explain, it can benefit law students and/or law graduates seeking a job in so many ways. By blogging, one is able to: 1) demonstrate one’s substantive knowledge; 2) showcase one’s writing and analytical skills; and 3) convince prospective employers that they are on top of changes in their chosen practice areas or career path of choice.
Of course, whether you are interacting on social media or blogging, your primary goal is to make professional connections, so it is important to be diplomatic. It is not always easy, but walking that fine line between being engaging and incendiary is important. So, always keep your end goals in mind and when necessary, consider refraining from discussions or comments that could be misconstrued by a potential employer or come back to haunt you down the road.
It is always important to remember that the internet is forever. But don’t let that fact deter you from taking advantage of the many opportunities that social media and blogging offer. Use these tools wisely and let your passion for your chosen topics shine through. You just might be surprised at the results of your efforts!