How to ask an attorney/professional to get coffee

Like any profession, getting a job in the legal field is all about who you know and your reputation. But networking doesn't have to suck, it can be as easy as grabbing a casual cup of coffee with a fellow colleague.
You never know where a simple meeting may lead you- possibly to your next job or inspiration for where to go next! One of my 30 goals before 30 was to: Set up informational interviews with an attorney/professional once a month. I actually started doing this a few months before starting my blog, and I've gotten a variety of advice and perspectives on how people have practiced law. Here is my guide on how to ask an attorney to get coffee:

1. Know why you want to talk to this person

Are you looking for a new job? Looking for general advice on how who you're meeting with got to where they are? Maybe you want to be connected to someone they know? You should know your purpose and make sure it warrants a 15-30 minute conversation, time is valuable to attorneys.

2. Make sure you have met in person first

Ideally, you will have been introduced to this person, gotten their business card, or met them at least once. The attorneys that I've met with are all senior to me in some way, but I've met them at least once and interact with them only occasionally. If possible, try to run into them, mention you'd like to talk about [topic] over coffee, and gauge how receptive they are and their possible availability.

3. Send a simple email

Subject: Are you available for coffee?

Text: Hi [name], it was nice meeting you at [place you met them or namedrop person who introduced you.] I'd like to meet for coffee [suggest time period] and discuss [whatever they specialize in and you're interested in]. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

Below is a sample of an email I sent last week for a meeting today- I pretty much followed my usual template except I was an asshole and forgot to say thanks in my first message. If you're extra you can send an outlook/calendar appointment so they won't have any excuse to forget to meet with you.


4. Prepare questions and follow up

You'll always want to start with small talk, but if you know your purpose, it'll be easy to come up with questions for the conversation. Some job related questions I always try to ask are:

  • What advice do you have to get [x] position?
  • What aspects of your job do you like most?
  • Is there anything you wish you knew your first year in [x] job?
Essentially, you want to try extracting as much useful information in as little time possible, so try to think of what you really want to know that only this person will tell you. Also, try to remember at least one piece of advice that you can objectively follow - i.e. buying a book.

After you thank them for your time, you'll want to send a follow up soon, ideally after you've also demonstrated that you've followed their advice (i.e. bought recommended book or read article they forwarded you). 

In conclusion, meeting over coffee has several benefits: 
  • Getting advice/knowledge 
  • Slightly improving communication/social skills
  • Putting yourself on people's radars
Earlier this year, I got an e-mail from a law student to chat with me, and I was happy to set up a meeting. She had gotten my business card when I was at a law school event, and I felt honored that she would follow up to meet me. My ego went from the size of a snow pea to a helicopter. Expressing a willingness to meet with someone makes them feel important, and you can get invaluable information, so it's a win-win! 

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