Should I be getting linked in?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 8, 2010 in Technology | Subscribe

Last Thursday I posted an entry about why I started law:/dev/null, which led to a back-and-forth convo on Twitter with Matt Hollowell of LexisNexis. Matt’s comment on that post raised solid points that I hadn’t considered back in the halcyon days of August 20091

…and also prompted me to seek some guidance from y’all. Again. :angel:

Matt mentions the value of LinkedIn, which also echoes a sentiment posted by Ruth Carter back in July on the importance of targeted networking. From my limited perusal of the site, LinkedIn basically seems like “Facebook for Job-Seekers”. And therein lies my conundrum.

On the one hand, I’m definitely a job-seeker.

On the other, I can barely keep my Facebook page updated regularly :beatup:

That’s the main reason why I’m generally far behind the adoption curve when it comes to social networks. I was obstinate in my opposition to Twitter, and didn’t cave in and create my own account until this April — 4 years after it was created, and 3 after it hit mainstream. Since then I’ve been on this rollercoaster of using it frequently and then not using it at all. The same rollercoaster goes on with my Facebook account: it usually gets used for status updates, talking trash with friends about ACC athletics, and setting up event invites for SBA stuff.

I don’t doubt for a minute that there’s value to LinkedIn; otherwise it wouldn’t have any users. But should I be adding yet another social network to my digital repertoire if odds are good I’ll only be a sporadic contributor at best? What are the odds of outdated info doing more harm than good? How many of my law student readers have LinkedIn accounts already?

Thoughts are appreciated, thanks y’all! :D

  1. It seems so long ago now! :crack: []



Keith Lee
Nov 9, 2010 at 11:37 AM

People who are using LinkedIn as nothing more than a resume, or just another place to shoot Twitter/FB updates are doing it wrong.

Yes, it is the modern version of a resume. I can’t imagine anyone who is a law student not having a LI profile. Sure you can send updates there as well, but that is of little real value.

In measuring LI v. FB, etc. you have to take into account the audience on each service. FB is a random group of whoever. LI is largely white collar professionals, the target audience of a law student.

LI’s biggest strength lies in its Groups functionality. Essentially, they’re mini-messageboard systems focused on a particular area. These can range the gamut from specific to general, irreverent to serious. Examples: Job Postings (Regional), Law Student Career Network, ABA TIPS, Legal Tweeters, Lexis, Networking (Your City here), etc.

I’ve been able to connect with a large number of lawyers all across the country via interacting with them on certain LI Group pages. I had a senior partner at a 200+ lawyer firm a few states away from me contact me out-of-the blue on LI offering to help me find a job because he liked my posts and the way I conducted myself in a group we both belong to. Not going to get that from FB.

My advice to other law students: Join LI, find legal groups that coincide with the area of law you want to practice, join them, and interact. The last one is key and is largely what separates LI from FB/Twitter in my mind. LI is not a place for me-centric updates, status, etc., rather it is a place to engage in conversation with other professionals. Rather surprisingly, very, very few law students seem to be aware of it.

All the better for me I suppose.


Nov 9, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Completely agree with Keith. You should absolutely be using it, even if you ARE doing it “wrong.”

Nov 9, 2010 at 6:47 PM

I use LinkedIn regularly, but I honestly think it’s best for people who are making mid-career switches. It is helpful to add your friends NOW, so you can be able to see where they are LATER. I’ve seen one or two valuable jobs posted on Twitter in which I thought my friends may be interested (political, not legal) posted by my contacts that weren’t otherwise publicly available. I can see when people from law firms I’ve worked at jump to other firms or go in-house, which may come in handy later. I’ve added a few professors and a few superiors, but mostly just my rough peers. It’s also very helpful for people who have already worked in the legal field to keep in touch with contacts.

However, I think law students who are trying to use LinkedIn to actually get a job (following vague advice to “network”) are for the most part going to be sorely disappointed. They may also be viewed as overaggressive if they “befriend” on LinkedIn every lawyer they meet in the real world. I’ve found that whether or not it’s appropriate to add someone on LinkedIn can sometimes be a delicate question. Frankly, there’s nobody on LinkedIn that I would approach for a job that I wouldn’t approach in real life.

If the traditional job hunt isn’t doing it for you (OCI and tons of resumes and cover letters), I think it’s much more appropriate to try to network using your school’s alumni database and local lawyer bar association or practice area meetings. You can try approaching folks for informational interviews (NOT job interviews) and network organically. Anyone who flat out asks for job opportunities is probably overstepping the bounds of a “soft”/superficial professional contact and is unlikely to be rewarded. The places to look for jobs online are firm websites and job listings, not your social network.

Nov 10, 2010 at 10:13 AM

The points are well-taken, thanks y’all :) I went ahead and created a LinkedIn profile after reading your comments — but I still have no clue wtf I’m doing :beatup: I’ll figure it out soon hopefully ;)

New Kid on the Hallway
Nov 10, 2010 at 11:22 AM

I have a LinkedIn profile, but for me it’s really just a kind of resume/placeholder – I belong to a few groups related to my undergrad, but don’t participate in them. I go on the theory that since my name is pretty uncommon, I’m easily googled, so it’s kind of a nice professional thing to have pop up if you google me (especially since most of my other online participation is through this pseudonym). So I don’t interact with anyone the way that Keith Lee talks about, but I figure it’s not a bad thing to have, and it doesn’t take me any time. (And I could join more groups in the future.)

Keith Lee
Nov 10, 2010 at 9:20 PM

All good. Definitely hit me up on LinkedIn for a connection, there’s a link to my profile at my website. You can see how I have my profile set up, and what Groups to which I belong.

That goes for everyone.

Nov 24, 2010 at 10:57 PM

I don’t really use LinkedIn to showcase a resume/job search at this point since I’m 90% sure what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future, but using it to connect with college and law school classmates and professors is invaluable to me. It’s like a virtual rolodex, through my connections and their connections (and so on) I can find somebody in whatever field I’m looking for. I also confess to having used it to “background check” people, including other law students I’m interviewing who are applying for internships/clerkships at my office. And if I ever DO decide to transition jobs? I will for sure be using it more!


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