Spontaneous Exclamations: Early priorities part 2

 Adam Katz is a senior associate at Harrison & Held.  He concentrates his practice on federal & state tax matters, mergers & acquisitions, entity structure and formation, commercial finance, and non-profit law.  Adam can be reached at (312) 753-6110 or  akatz@harrisonheld.com.

This is part two of a two-part series that offers a few pointers about networking to build your business and reputation.

3.         But I’m Young and Don’t Know Anybody Who Needs Legal Services!

Touché!  I respond thusly: Imagine you are a tiny tadpole swimming around your little law school castle at the bottom of a fishbowl covered in that peculiar shiny neon gravel.  There are tiny fish swimming around with you going about their business, checking out their little fishy lockers containing their little fishy law books and writing little fishy case briefs in preparation for class.  Now you, tadpole, have decided that you are going to one day become a big old toad and leave this fishbowl, but you are anxious because you don’t know anybody outside of your bowl.

First, you realize that you may have family members who already are toads out in the world beyond the bowl.  For those who do, you generally have your foot in the door already with family and family friends.  Take them to lunch, pick their brains, and most importantly, establish a relationship.  I have found that most people I’ve attempted to network with enjoy assisting people in the beginning of their careers.  Generally people like to pass down the fruits of their knowledge because someone did it for them when they were just starting out too.  It’s like that movie that nobody has ever seen but somehow knows the title: Pay it Forward.  Furthermore, what goes around, comes around.  One day you might be in the position to assist the person who helped you out in the past.  In other words, don’t forget those who lifted you up to where you need to be, and always send handwritten thank you notes!!!

Lastly, take a look at the other little fishies swimming around the bowl.  Some may go on to become attorneys, others will go into business and other occupations.  A portion of those fishies will eventually need legal services and you want to be on the top of their fishy minds when they do.  In my own experience, I’ve taken a look around and seen various friends or acquaintances progressing in their jobs or starting their own businesses.  I’ve made it a priority of mine to portray myself to them as a capable, trustworthy, and cordial attorney who is able to assist them at a moment’s notice.  Occasionally, these contacts come to me with legal matters which I happily take on.  Some of these contacts are small-time, but could one day become big and I am honored to be involved in their businesses from day one.  Otherwise, I know that there is just a matter of time before a portion of these contacts become big old toads themselves and then potentially become big old clients.

In other words, young contacts with potential now may become your best clients in the future… or one day you’re forming a small LLC for a widget designer, three years later, you’re representing a global widget cartel.  Talk about a small investment paying off!

In conclusion, you, law student/junior associate/guy just looking for fantasy football advice, can get a major head start on your legal career this very second that may even bear fruit in the short term.  Network with friends, family, acquaintances, and college alumni.  Be friendly to people you meet on the street, attend charity events, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at the game.  The worst thing that can happen is you’ve reached out and they aren’t interested at the moment.  However, by NO means should you let your business get in the way of your friendships and relationships with the ones you love.  But that’s the subject of another blog post.

In upcoming posts I will touch on shepherding not-for-profit corporations through the federal tax exemption process, converting general partnerships to limited partnerships and the tax ramifications therein, and more associate life and practice pointers for law students and new attorneys.  If you actually are looking for fantasy football advice, I’m currently 6-0 and my tips don’t come cheap.

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