Why every law student should have a LinkedIn profile
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, you should be.
Just as Facebook in the social media world, LinkedIn has become a pivotal part of the professional world, and what with most, if not all, international law firms and barristers’ chambers on social media – LinkedIn is the ultimate platform for law students.
Today it is no longer enough to simply have a solid CV; law students now need to have a professional online presence. Establishing an online presence on LinkedIn can help you connect with contacts who didn’t know about you previously. This makes it easier for future employers to find a candidate like you.
Here are five reasons why law students should be on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn allows you to read articles written or shared by practising solicitors on various topics. It is a professional social hub where information and advice are shared by successful law graduates and lawyers, allowing others to gain insider knowledge on the legal profession. LinkedIn allows you to keep up to date with the legal industry and pick up on the popular topics, trends and patterns in your chosen sector. Law firms use LinkedIn to build on their brand, attract clients and share news about their businesses. Students who use LinkedIn have an advantage over students who don’t because they have an insight into recent deals and developments that might not be on the firm’s website yet!
You can even join specific groups such as the Law Society Gazette, which will provide an even greater insight into the area of law you’re interested in. Furthermore, it allows you to share or ask experts questions directly, which cuts out of the middleman (recruiters). You can publish your own posts for your connections to read or start debates with groups and find out what other professionals think. The site can help to develop better working relationships with others, through engagement and conversation.
Building your network
Using LinkedIn regularly and being more active will help you to expand your network. The broader your network, the higher you rank in search results. LinkedIn offers you an opportunity to connect and network with legal professionals all around the globe. This allows you to build relationships with solicitors and barristers (not just in the United Kingdom) and hopefully turn these relationships into career opportunities. It also gives you the chance to interact with individuals via discussions in groups and connect with them in a professional and respectful manner.
Keep track of your connections
Throughout your legal career at one point or another, you will hear the following saying: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. While this is not always true, it rings true for law. Therefore, it is important to keep in touch with the professionals you meet during your law journey, be it a lecturer at your university or a solicitor you met at a law fair. Maintaining that contact is extremely important during any internships or vacation schemes that you may take part in, because in the future the people you meet can be useful contacts and may play a part in helping you land a graduate job.
Learn from others
LinkedIn helps you to view the career history of other law students and how they managed to secure vacation schemes and the ultimate training contract. I enjoy connecting with other law students and successful lawyers who I aspire to be like. By reading their profiles, I can also improve my knowledge of the legal industry as I get to learn more about different law firms and roles that I might not be aware of. This has expanded the possibilities of the different paths which I can take in my career. Having access to their profile also helps me to improve my CV writing skills. For example, you can learn how to phrase certain skills or experiences in a more marketable way, or how to quantify certain achievements.
As a law student, I utilise LinkedIn to deepen my understanding of firms I’m interested in and research the law firm I am interviewing with. I have found that employee profiles can tell you many things about the culture of the firm you’re interviewing at. For example, how tech savvy are they? What is the gender and racial balance at upper management? Are they committed to a Singaporean core or is the company dominated by a certain nationality that is known for hiring and promoting their own kind? You can even tell how selective the firm is and estimate how hard the interview might be based on the skills, qualifications and professional backgrounds of the people currently working there.
New research has revealed that almost half of the 85,000 partners and employees working in the top 50 UK law firms are now on LinkedIn. The research, conducted by PR company Kelso Consulting, found that LinkedIn accounts held by employees at the top 50 firms have nearly doubled since 2010, to 47%. The number of people following these firms has also nearly doubled, to approximately 50,000 LinkedIn users. The figures have encouraged many firms to focus more on LinkedIn. For example, 68% of Olswang employees were found to use LinkedIn, with Charles Russell also boasting similarly high numbers (64%). Berrymans Lace Mawer had the lowest proportion, at 21%.
You may not be actively looking for a new job, but you never know when a great opportunity will pop up on LinkedIn. The next step in your career could be right around the corner and it’ll be looking for you, rather than you looking for it. Recruiters use LinkedIn a lot, but because searches can be so specific it is likely that you will only receive interest from those seeking to fill suitable roles.
So, if you’re a young professional actively looking for a job or not, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and used regularly. LinkedIn is not only a place to be headhunted in the future but a place to learn, and learning should be a continuous focus in any career.
Today it is not enough to just simply create a profile. It needs to be accurate, up to date, and a strong representation of yourself. You can optimise your profile by doing the following:
A LinkedIn profile allows you to talk about yourself, your work history, showcase your past work and your areas of expertise. Even more importantly, it allows you to connect and network with other legal professionals and can help you form powerful relationships that can be a huge advantage to your legal career. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile yet, get one set up now!