Florida State Law Offers Students Great Networking Opportunities

Besides completing your law degree and passing the bar exam, networking may be the single most important thing that a law school student can do to kick-start their legal career. While there is no specific formula for how to go about it, there is also not just one thing that a student must do to build their network. Therefore, a student must learn to recognize and take advantage of their opportunities, include networking as part of their career strategy, and look for ways to nurture the relationships that develop along the way.

Tallahassee: A Great Place to Build Your Legal Network

Catherine Lockhart, Class of 2017

The Florida State University College of Law has positioned itself as an active participant in the community and is located in a perfect area to provide students and alumni with countless opportunities to network. Law students often find themselves at networking events and functions in the hopes of meeting and impressing their dream employers. Home to the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Capitol, and actively engaged private and non-profit organizations, Tallahassee has networking opportunities no matter what your interest or focus might be.

I have already mentioned the Florida Supreme Court, but Tallahassee is also home to the United States District Court, Northern District of Florida; United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Florida; Florida’s First District Court of Appeal; and Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit. Students have opportunities to meet justices, judges, and lawyers from these courts who visit the College of Law as guest speakers and as adjunct professors and who also offer opportunities for students to participate in internships and externships with them.

The annual legislative session brings not only the legislature, but also representatives from organizations highly engaged in public interest. Both legislators and notable figures from a variety of interest areas visit the College of Law to speak about their organizations, their work, and their issues. Many of these speakers come as guests of student organizations which provides students with opportunities to interact with potential employers, mentors, and future colleagues who share their interests.

While networking can often be intimidating it often involves your law school peers with more relaxed surroundings. It can also be as simple meeting at a restaurant or bar or having lunch with someone. To make networking even easier, the Career and Professional Development Center holds regular “Networking Nosh” lunch sessions where students can easily meet and learn from attorneys both inside and outside of Tallahassee. All in all, Florida State University College of Law makes networking as feasible and enjoyable as possible!

Networking Is What You Make of It

Laura Frawley, 3L

Before I started law school, I could list the number of lawyers I knew on one hand and three of them were because of their television ads. Once in law school it became apparent that to be successful I would have to expand my professional network to include more legal professionals and that there were many ways to accomplish this.

Mentoring: One of the easiest ways to start meeting lawyers is to find programs that match students with experienced professionals who have signed-on to mentor law students. Mentor/mentee relationships are great because your roles are defined in advance. Several of the College of Law student organizations can help match students with mentors and some can even match student with mentors in a specific area of law.

LinkedIn: It is amazing how many law students do not take advantage of the amazing networking tool that is LinkedIn. If you do not have a LinkedIn page yet, you need to create one, and if you have an account but do not use it, you need to start using it! Simply adding your fellow law students to your contacts list can vastly grow your network. There are also many interest groups that law students can join depending on the areas of law that interest them.

Networking Events: As cliché as it may sound, it really is all about who you know and networking events are a great way to meet people and build your network. These events can feature an experienced attorney in-person or via videoconference who will speak about a topical legal issue, how they got to their current position, and answer questions from students. Not only is this a great way to learn about different paths and meet people, but sometimes you can get a free meal in the process. After attending an event, I always ask to connect with the speaker on LinkedIn to thank them for taking the time to speak with the students. This simple act has helped me grow my professional network exponentially.

Justices and Judges and Lawyers, Oh My!

Marlie Blaise, 3L

Having access to so many accomplished justices, judges, and lawyers as we do in Tallahassee through the College of Law may seem intimidating, but having so many opportunities to meet them can be valuable, fun, and rewarding. They all love to talk with interested students and share their experiences and listening to what they have to say can be the first step to successful networking.

They also love to hear about what student’s professional interests are. This can be important because it can give a student some control over the direction of a conversation. If you are interested in learning about a certain area of practice, you can also target attorneys who practice in that area during a networking event. If you are simply interested in discussing contemporary legal issues, almost any legal professional will be willing to share their insights as well.

Most importantly, networking with justices, judges, and lawyers can lead to internships, job offers, and even mentoring opportunities. I have observed that students who establish and foster these relationships have an easier time landing a job opportunity directly and indirectly through these contacts.

I also believe that the more you are around experienced legal professionals, the more comfortable and confident you become over time. This will allow you to develop even greater connections, get more assistance, advice, and guidance, and expand your potential opportunities. Overall, a student can gain a great deal from networking with legal professionals and, as l see it, you have nothing to lose!

 Catherine Lockhart, Class of 2017

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Laura Frawley, 3L

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Marlie Blaise, 3L

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Why Tallahassee for Law School?

The City of Tallahassee offers many great opportunities for students who are attending law school in addition to being an exceptional place to live. Those who will be relocating to Tallahassee for the first time to attend the College of Law may not totally know what to expect, but it is very likely that they will come to appreciate their experience as much as these students have.

Bailey Howard, 3L

Growing up on Florida’s Gulf Coast, anything more than ten miles inland might as well have been on Mars and Tallahassee was a place I drove past on Interstate 10 while on my way to somewhere else. Besides being the state capital, that was pretty much all I knew about Tallahassee. Since coming to study law here, the city has completely won me over, and wish I had discovered it sooner. There were quite a lot of pleasant surprises in store for me here, but here are a few of I would like to point out.

Tallahassee is gorgeous and is home to numerous parks and a very large amount of green space. There are many enormous oak and pecan trees dotting the avenues and shading old Southern houses and there are flowers everywhere. Florida State’s campus is itself a work of landscaping and architectural magnificence and while it may not have an ocean view, Tallahassee is a truly beautiful place to live.

Being home to two major state universities and the state government creates an intersection of talent, curiosity, and opportunity also makes Tallahassee an exciting and engaging place to live. Nearly everyone you meet is working to bring an idea to fruition, and this encourages creative thinking and entrepreneurship. This is especially visible in the culinary scene where gourmet, farm-to-table, and avant-garde cuisines are covered several times over. Even if you confine yourself to small, independent coffee shops (most of which roast their own beans), it would take you more than a week even if you visited just one each day.

Perhaps this is a consequence of the gorgeous scenery and fantastic lifestyle, but folks in Tallahassee always seem to me in a pretty good mood. People say hello to one another in the street, talk to one another in lines, and help one another out, even if they do not know each other. The sense of community is strong here, and it makes Tallahassee a very comfortable. Being a very outgoing city, Tallahassee is a very easy place for a newcomer to make friends and become involved.

Marianna Seiler, 3L 

As a Fort Lauderdale native, I never imagined Tallahassee would ever have as many opportunities and activities as I have discovered. Tallahassee, Florida has something for everyone and is one of the most exciting places for someone to choose to go to law school. You get the best of a professional city atmosphere and a college town with all of the opportunities that come with each. As Florida’s capital city, it is a hub for businesses, government agencies, and law firms and Florida State University (FSU) offers all of the resources you would expect from a major university. Tallahassee also offers many recreational and social opportunities, from excellent bars and restaurants to outdoor activities and parks.

For the law student, Tallahassee offers many openings for networking, internships or externships, or employment in any one of 500 law firms, numerous government agencies, or courts. These organizations provide excellent options for students to apply what they learn in law school to real life. Whether you want to be a lawyer, politician, lobbyist, or business executive, there are endless opportunities for you to meet professionals in these fields through law school events, student organizations, and professional groups.

Being at the College of Law makes one feel like they are in a small college town, but with access to FSU sporting events, campus gyms, the Seminole Golf Course, the FSU Reservation, intramural sports, and all of the plays, concerts, and guest speakers at multiple venues across campus. On top of all of this, a law student also has access to the professors and academic resources of both the College of Law and the FSU main campus. Depending on your interests, you can interact with professors, visiting lecturers, or study and read books in any of the multiple campus libraries.

Some of the areas of Tallahassee that are popular with law students include the recently developed CollegeTown area, as well as Midtown and Downtown Tallahassee. Collectively, these areas offer great restaurants, bars, and places to socialize. The Midtown area, which caters to both young and professional clienteles, even hosts a weekly Food Truck Thursdays event.

There are also many great options for outdoor recreation in and around the Tallahassee areas.  In addition to the FSU Reservation mentioned above, there are also numerous destinations and parks within a short drive of Downtown Tallahassee including the Tallahassee Museum, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla Springs State Park, Maclay Gardens State Park, and more. There are so many options for students to take a break from studying that include options for hiking, biking, rock wall climbing, going to the beach, zip lining, canoeing, or even tubing.  I can guarantee there will never be a day that you cannot find something to do with your friends.

Robert Sylvester, 3L

Adjusting to life in Tallahassee is something I speak about frequently with prospective students who, like me, did not attend Florida State University as an undergraduate. My initial impression of Tallahassee was simply that it was a sports-loving college town that also served as the state capital. After relocating to attend law school, I soon discovered that Tallahassee has plenty of other defining characteristics. There are many small businesses, cafes, and restaurants that are a joy to frequent. One of the things I enjoy is discovering my own local hideouts where I can quietly spend an afternoon away from the library. These spots also double as great places to take your friends and family when they visit.

One of the biggest things that drew me to Tallahassee was sports because of the way it brings the FSU community together. For me this is a genuinely a fun experience, but if you are not a fan of college sports, there are so many other ways to send your time through recreational activities, civic involvement, or participation in student organizations.

If you are moving to Tallahassee for the first time, you may want to consider living close to the College of Law for at least the first year. I personally did so and do not regret it. There are reasonably-priced apartments near the College of Law, and while they may not offer all of the amenities of some of Tallahassee’s newer facilities, they are reliable and clean and living close to the College of Law has several advantages. This will give you a convenient place to learn about Tallahassee and its surroundings. You also do not have to worry about parking and can just walk to class. Once you have become familiar with the city, you can then explore other options that may fit your lifestyle for your 2L and 3L years.

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Bailey Howard, 3L

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Marianna Seiler, 3L

College of Law, Student Ambassadors. Robert Sylvester, 3L