Additional Ways to Find Alumni
Through this site, students can access Cross Campus, a networking, community-building, and mentoring program. In addition, alumni can access both the Yale Online Alumni Directory and Cross Campus.
After creating a LinkedIn profile, search for the Yale Law Alumni & Students group in the top search bar to join. Additionally, we recommend the tutorial Learning LinkedIn (offered free of charge using your CAS login through Yale’s subscription to LinkedIn Learning) to navigate creating a profile and building connections.
Yale Law School provides students with a subscription to Leadership Connect, an online database containing biographical and contact information for leaders in U.S. business, government, professional and nonprofit organizations. Altogether, Leadership Connect provides information on almost a half million people at over 40,000 organizations. You can search for YLS alumni using the Advanced Search features. Students must be on the Yale Network or VPN to access site. Click the “Sign In” button at the top of the home page, and you will be taken immediately to a quick search screen.
This comprehensive database includes large and small law firms and can be used to search for YLS alumni, firms in a particular city, firms with a particular practice area, and more. Click on the “search tools” tab to get started.
How to Network
Your initial outreach to an alumnus/a or other person for information gathering/networking should be concise and professional. Start by explaining who you are and the reasons for your outreach (e.g., to learn more about a practice area; the person’s role and responsibilities in their current organization; their career path; their experiences at YLS; advice for you as you navigate YLS and your career). Ask whether there is a convenient time to talk either by phone, video, or in person. If you have been referred from a mutual acquaintance, mention that. Keep in mind that you should NOT be reaching out for the purpose of requesting a job. You may wish to say something like:
“I am currently a first-year student at Yale Law School, and I plan to pursue a career in entertainment law in Los Angeles. I see from your [LinkedIn profile/website/Courtyard profile] that you have had great success in the entertainment industry. I would be grateful for the opportunity to speak with you about your experiences at YLS and your career path. Please let me know if there is a convenient time for us to talk. Thank you in advance for your help.”
Conduct research in advance of your conversation, so that you will make the best use of your interactions. This can include spending some time researching:
- your mentor’s professional career path (e.g., LinkedIn, Organization web site)
- basic background about the industry you would like to explore (e.g., industry publications and web sites, American Lawyer, and the American Bar Association)
- the type of experience that attorneys have held in your field of interest (e.g., The Courtyard, YLS Alumni Profiles, LinkedIn)
As the person who requested the conversation, you should be prepared to direct the dialogue. Start by thanking the person for taking the time to speak with you and sharing some information about yourself and your background. Keep your goals for the conversation in mind, and ask questions to learn about the mentor and their experiences. Be mindful of the time and stick to the schedule you’ve agreed to as much as possible.
Ask engaging and insightful questions
Your goal is to learn more about the industry, the practice area, and the typical duties of an attorney at the organization. Keep your questions professional, but this is an opportune forum to ask about daily responsibilities, work-life balance, and new trends that may exist in the industry. Consider these sample questions:
Relating to the Mentor
- What experiences were most meaningful to you at YLS?
- Did you enter YLS will a sense of what you wished to do with your law degree? What experiences/resources/people helped you define your goals?
- Reflecting on your career, what has been your proudest professional accomplishment? Is there anything you would change about your path?
Relating to the Mentor’s Area of Practice
- Who are your clients and what types of cases/issues do you work on?
- What is a typical day like for you?
- What do you find most satisfying about your work? Least satisfying?
- What skills are most important to succeed in your area of work?
- What are the current trends/changes you have seen in your practice area?
- Are there other practice areas you would suggest I explore?
Relating to the Mentor’s Organization
- What characteristics does a successful attorney have at your organization?
- How is the industry changing and how do you see your organization adapting to those changes?
- How would you describe your organization’s culture?
- When people leave your organization, where do they typically work?
Advice for the Mentee
- What classes, clinics do you recommend I pursue given my interests?
- What experiences do you recommend I pursue to enhance my attractiveness to organizations in your field of expertise?
At the close of the conversation, ask to set up a subsequent conversation if you’d like. Ask if there are other people the mentor would recommend that you reach out to. Thank the mentor for their time.
Send a note within 24 hours thanking them for their time and advice. Consider opportunities to reach back out to the mentor to cultivate your relationship. If the mentor provided you with advice that you successfully implemented, reach back out to inform them. If you accept a position in the mentor’s field, let them know.
Sample Thank You Note language:
Dear [Alumni Name],
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me [date, time, and/or place]. [Write 1-2 sentences about the conversation you had, and possible next steps you are taking or the path you envision moving forward].
I know how busy your schedule is, and it means a great deal that you took time to speak with me and share your experiences and expertise. Thank you again and I hope to stay in touch.