The Art of the Informational Interview

As an unemployed first semester 3L, I’ve been doing a lot of “informational interviews” lately. This is a concept that I had never heard of before attending law school, so it seems like a good topic to write about. Essentially, an informational interview is just what it sounds like: it’s an interview with someone in a field you would someday like to work in, where you ask questions about said field. For law students, this is typically a practicing attorney a specific area of law.

It’s easy to view informational interviews as just another thing you have to do as part of the law school experience, but I’ve actually found them to be super helpful. I have a strong interest in family law, which is kind of a niche field in Boston. There is a very small group of family lawyers in the area, and I’ve now done so much networking that I feel like I am – at least preliminarily – a member of that community. Informational interviews aren’t about getting job offers, at least in the short term, but they do help lay the groundwork for future employment prospects. Hopefully, if any of the lawyers I’ve met with hear of a family law job opportunity in the next few years, they’ll think of me and either refer me or let me know about the opportunity so that I can apply.

Perhaps even more importantly, I’ve truly enjoyed the process of doing these interviews. I’ve been able to ask candid questions about what it’s like to practice family law – how often the lawyers are in court, what a typical day looks like, the hardest and most rewarding parts of the job. In fact, some of my first informational interviews back during 1L year were geared more towards trying to decide if I actually did want to practice family law. Based on the interviews I did, I solidified my interest in that sub-field and I geared my course selection and extracurricular activities towards family law as much as I could.

Networking is a necessary part of law school, whether you like it or not. And while some of the networking opportunities I’ve participated in – speed networking, for example – haven’t proved beneficial to me personally, I have really enjoyed the informational interview process.

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