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Networking is an important component of the job search process. While it is of course possible to obtain a job solely through participation in an employer’s application process, the majority of seasoned attorneys make lateral moves based on networking connections.
One of the most valuable resources available to you as a graduate of YLS is the network of YLS alumni. YLS has over 12,000 alumni working in virtually every corner of the globe. When deciding where to work, or when considering career transitions, be sure to tap into these alumni for information.
If you have not already done so, we enthusiastically encourage you to join The Courtyard, the new YLS online alumni community (also listed below), in order to connect with the many members of the YLS network.
Some of the methods for connecting with our alumni include:
- The Courtyard Yale Law School's new online community designed to facilitate connections within the YLS network.
- Yale University Online Alumni Community. Through this AYA site, alumni can access both the Yale Online Alumni Directory and the University’s Career Network.
- LinkedIn. You can search for the Yale Law Alumni & Students group in the top search bar. We recommend that you join this group in order to connect with a growing number of other YLS graduates.
- CDO’s Guides. Several of CDO’s published Guides, including Criminal Defense, Criminal Prosecution, Environmental, International Public Interest, Lawyers in Business, and Law Firm Practice include lists of alumni mentors and alumni in relevant fields and practice areas.
- Additional CDO resources. The YLS CDO website provides a good amount of industry-specific advice and links to additional YLS and external resources. See, for example, our webpage on Entering the Law Teaching Market.
In thinking about networking, you should not limit yourself to YLS alumni, but rather think about alumni from your undergraduate institution as well as alumni networks from any other group of which you have been a part, for example others who have worked for your judge if you have clerked, others who have had the same fellowships you have had, etc. Also consider other personal and professional connections that may prove helpful as you work toward a job search or career transition.
When reaching out to alumni or others for career advice, it is generally best to send a “cold email,” or “cold message through another platform, e.g., The Courtyard that starts your connection, explains your request for a few minutes of time and advice, and asks whether there might be a convenient time to talk. If you have been referred by a mutual acquaintance, mention that. Reassure the person you are emailing that you are NOT seeking a job interview, only an opportunity to discuss your career ideas and obtain some professional thoughts and feedback. For example, you may wish to say something like:
I am a [insert year] graduate of Yale Law School, and I am currently working at [employer name] in [city name]. I am very interested in transitioning to/seeking employment in/ exploring careers in [insert details]. I found your profile on LinkedIn, and noticed that you have had great success/have significant experience in the [insert specifics] industry/geographic region/etc.
I would be very grateful for the opportunity to speak with you about your career path and [industry/region/etc.], as well as to hear any thoughts or advice you might have for me. I have attached a recent copy of my resume to this email in order to give you a better sense of my background.
Please let me know if there might be a convenient time for us to talk. Thank you in advance for your time and help.
As suggested by the above text, you should consider attaching a current version of your resume in PDF format to the email so that the individual to whom you are writing can get a better, and more complete, sense of your work history and background.
Prior to a networking meeting, review the tips on conducting an informational interview. Limit your discussion to 20 to 30 minutes, unless the person with whom you are speaking expresses an interest in extending the discussion. Attempt to get the names of two or three people for further networking. Bring your resume for the individual to review and critique (or email it in advance), but do not attempt to solicit employment. At the meeting and in a subsequent email or letter, express your appreciation to the individual for taking the time to meet with you. Keep the people in your network periodically updated about your career.
-Last updated May 2020