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Law Students And Associates Need To Get Out More

Jun 10, 2008
Last week, I spent three days at LegalTech New York and was stuck by the lack of law students and junior associates in attendance. When I was at a firm, I loved running over to the nation's largest legal technology conference for half an hour or so over lunch. I had a chance to preview new tools designed to make my life easier, talk to people excited about their work and learn about salesmanship. I struck up random conversations and tested my ability to clearly describe what I did in a virtually risk-free environment. In short, I could experiment with my message, which was critical for understanding whether I was moving in the right direction.

All that aside, the companies in attendance also give out a ton of free stuff, ranging from magnifying glasses and stuffed animals to authentic $2 bills and chocolate bars. More importantly, those items are given to you by people who really care about their product or service. They want to listen to you and you should take the opportunity to listen to them. The crowd is also made up of entrepreneurs, technophiles, other lawyers, journalists, bloggers and others.

Regionally, it is a good New York City example, but if you live in Los Angeles, there is a LegalTech show June 26-27, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. You don't need to attend a legal technology conferences or even a legal conference to find value in the experience. Check your local convention center and see what is coming. Some business-oriented newspapers will list such events regularly. Maybe you'll like the motorcycle show or the gift fair better. Find events that are consistent with your interests so that you will meet people that share your passions.

LegalTech happens to be a great forum for exercising your self-promotion muscles because most of the advertised products are sold to lawyers, which makes you an attractive person with whom to speak. Unlike a trade show in another industry, you are actually the prime consumer. The people who run these companies are often interested in hearing from lawyers about their products to make them better and more appealing to their constituency - you.

If you are not interested in meeting people who could transform your day, perhaps you would like to be a trend-spotter taking key information back to your office. Or, maybe you want to learn more about legal technology so that you can be the go-to person for the partners and sometimes even the clients. People at the firm will come to rely on your knowledge and interest.

Look for opportunities to interact that are closer to home, zero or low-cost and flexibly scheduled (i.e., available). The key investment is your time. In fact, the key element to self-promotion is spending whatever time is necessary to hone your skills. The great ones are frequently not born with natural instincts for engaging people in discussion and sharing information. They more often have placed themselves in situations where they could exercise their technique and perfect it over a number of years. Those who start now have a huge jumpstart on their peers.

That's why I suggest attending LegalTech. When you get there, don't worry so much about what you will see, concern yourself with who you will meet (and, of course, the crisp $2 bills).

This article was originally published on February 11, 2008 by the National Law Journal online.
About the Author
Ari Kaplan is the founder of Ari Kaplan Advisors and author of The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development. He teaches professionals how to promote their work-get free editorial calendars at http://www.AriKaplanAdvisors.com.
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