Informational interviews are an essential part of your career planning and job search strategy. As a law student, your primary focus should be on educating yourself about the legal field. Informational interviews will enable you to learn about different career paths, enhance your job search, and begin to build your professional network.
Why Conduct Informational Interviews?
Explore career paths
- Learn about different practice areas, settings, and geographic markets.
- Determine which type of practice is best suited to your personality, skills, and interests.
- Gain insights that will enable you to better convey your interest in cover letters and interviews.
- Understand the market and hiring trends.
Enhance your job search
- Practice your interviewing skills.
- Gather career advice.
- Solicit feedback about a resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills.
- Seek assistance in forming an action plan for a specific field or organization.
Build your network
- Grow your professional network.
- Obtain referrals to others who might assist you.
- Get ideas about professional organizations and bar association groups you could join to meet people in your field of interest.
Follow these step-by-step tips for conducting a successful informational interview:
- Explore practice areas that sound appealing to you.
- Identify attorneys in those areas through any of the following resources/methods:
- Join student organizations to connect with student leaders with interests in similar subject areas.
- Contact leaders and practitioners in the local bar association.
- Search attorney directories on employer websites, Martindale, Westlaw, or Leadership Connect. (You must be on-campus to access Leadership Connect.)
- Follow-up with attorneys who participated at law school events, or other lawyers you may know through friends, family, former employers, etc.
- Connect with GW Law Alumni on LinkedIn.
- Utilize your undergraduate college alumni network to identify alumni who are practicing attorneys.
- Read news/law journal articles to identify attorneys who practice in your areas of interest.
- Talk to professors who teach in your areas of interest. They may be able to point you toward attorney(s) whose work they respect.
- Contact the person you want to meet. An email is the most common way to make this request.
- Mention the mutual acquaintance that referred you, if applicable.
- Attach your resume by way of background.
- Explain your purpose: to learn more about their work, field, career path, the legal market in a specific location, and to obtain advice on a job search. Remember, you are not requesting a job interview.
- Request a brief (10-15 minutes) phone conversation or meeting.
- If you don’t get a response to your initial request, politely try again. Attorneys are busy and may simply overlook your first email.
- Before the informational interview, research the contact you will be meeting, as well as the firm or organization.
- Prepare useful questions in advance to make the most of the opportunity. Suggested questions can be found in the Guide to Informational Interviews.
- Bring a pen and paper with you. It is not recommended that you take notes on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
- Dress professionally and be on time.
- Feel free to ask for advice on how to improve your resume, but only leave a copy if you are asked to do so.
- At the end of the interview, ask if they can suggest other attorneys with whom you could connect.
- Be respectful of your contact's time and don’t stay past the scheduled end time – unless specifically invited.
- Send a thank you note! Email is preferred.
- Make sure to follow-up on any suggestions and/or contacts while the information is still fresh in your mind.
- Keep in touch with your contact, letting them know of your progress.
- Did you read the article(s) suggested?
- Did you meet with the person/people they recommended?
- Forward interesting articles or information related to your conversation. This will keep you on their radar and underscore your interest in a particular legal topic.
- Let your contact know when you accept a job – one day you may be able to return the favor!
The Career Center also offers a workshop on conducting informational interviews.
Alumni Networking Opportunities
There are many opportunities for students to seek advice and network with GW Law alumni during their time at law school.
Inns of Court
Through the Inns of Court program, students receive support and guidance from a diverse set of advisors dedicated to enriching their law school experience and enhancing their career opportunities. They also have opportunities to meet with alumni during the weekly sessions.
GW Law Alumni Mentoring Program
The GW Law Alumni Mentoring Program invites 2L and 3L students, and new graduates (alumni less than one-year post-graduation), to join the Alumni Mentoring Program as mentees. Please visit the Office of Alumni Career Development and Mentorship to register for the program or for additional information.
GW Career Connect (GWCC)
GW Career Connect is open to all GW alumni, graduate students, and upper-class undergraduates from all schools. There are close to 2,000 alumni on the system, including many in the Law & Legal Services Industry Community and GW Law alumni. Law students also have the opportunity to gain mentoring experience by being a "flash mentor" (i.e. informational interviews) for undergraduates who are interested in going to law school.
- Guide to Informational Interviews
- How to Prepare for a Job Fair and Table Talk
- Look Up and Around: Musings on Mentors, Role Models, and Professionalism, Steven L. Schooner
- Resources for Identifying Professional Contacts
- Watch the Recorded Webinar: Making Career Connections Through LinkedIn