Find your in, and seize it

Recently, I attended a dinner and panel discussion hosted by the Massachusetts Family and Probate American Inn of Court. This organization, a professional group of attorneys and judges, holds monthly gatherings for socialization, education, and networking. The event was classy, educational, and a great opportunity to meet some amazing people.

Now, there’s a substantial waiting list for this group — as in, a 10-year waiting list for non-judges. So it’s not as though you can just drop in on their meetings. But if you ever have an invitation to go to an Inn of Court gathering, I recommend it.

I got to attend this meeting, at which the focus was marriage equality decisions, at the invitation of one of my professors, who was also a panelist. The discussion was intellectual, interesting, and not overly formal. It was a great way to learn about an important legal issue and find out more about a favorite professor,  several prominent attorneys, and my current supervisor, a judge who was also in attendance.

Judicial power and prestige can be intimidating, but events like this humanize judges and foster camaraderie among the bench. The Inn of Court also encourages student mentoring, so ideally this experience will have lead me toward a mentor or two in the professional community where I could be practicing quite soon. Formalized mentorships have been hit-and-miss in my law school experience, but I have high hopes for this particular program. Everyone I met was friendly and professional simultaneously, a tricky balance I could certainly learn from. xd

As an incoming law student, I had no idea what professional organizations were like for lawyers. By attending BBA, MBA, ABA, WBA, NLG, and now Inn of Court events, I have seen a huge spectrum, from schmoozy and crowded cocktail receptions to high-energy conventions. The common elements are friendly and intelligent professionals, law students not quite sure how to ingratiate ourselves, and awkwardly balanced glasses of wine. I am still not the best at post-event follow-up, arguably the most important part of these events, but for a more adept social butterfly, the opportunities to connect are many. Even for the least outgoing among us, our mere presence is an advantage in the long term — it ingratiates us with our future colleagues, exposes us to new ideas, and readies us for a crucial part of career success.

The good news is that whether you choose to expose yourself to these kinds of events or not, your law school career will put you in contact with people who want to help you, who will invite you to events like this one or connect you to employers in the field. You will be able to build these relationships, and you will come out on the other side more prepared to begin a career than you were on the other side (and not least because you’ll have three years of excellent BU Law education on your side).

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