“I have a legal problem […] can you help me?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t practice that type of law. There is nothing that I can do for you”.
“Please…is there anyone you know? I really need help right now.”
That was the moment that I realized that there is something missing in our current system of legal education, and it’s really affecting the access to justice problem in Canada.
And this missing thing isn’t some sort of important course or law that needs to be passed – it’s an idea. That idea being networking doesn’t only open doors for you, but it opens doors for those around you.
Many people tend to think of networking as something that people should engage in only if it benefits them. Someone might network with other lawyers to land a lucrative job, or network in order to find out information about a competitor. But networking has the potential to help others around you as well.
Why Networking helps those around you
When someone faces a legal problem, they’re looking to having the issue resolved as fast as possible. However, the problem is that most people don’t bother to think about which lawyer they would contact if they were ever in trouble for two reasons: a) it’s not fun to think about/plan for when things go wrong, and b) we don’t know what kind of problems we might face in the future. But we simply say to ourselves “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it”.
And that’s exactly the point I want to make. When you effectively network with other lawyers, you become that bridge that connects your friends/family in need of legal help with the right professionals to help them. You don’t solve the problem for them, but you certainly help them connect to the people that can help solve the problem.
What’s in it for me?
Networking, if done properly, doesn’t just open doors for those around you, it also opens doors for you. When you help people connect, you benefit not only from the generally good feeling of helping someone in need (or the associated referral fee you’re entitled to under the Rules of Professional Conduct), but it also proves to be a future source of referral for you. That family member or friend in need will automatically think of you the minute they hear someone else needs legal help.
And you know what they say: there’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth advertising. Not even the most uncomfortable, gavel-banging, “seriously”-yelling, and slightly racist commercial money can buy.
Now go out there and network! FOR JUSTICE!