Women Lawyers Leveraging Social Networks: Presenting Your Best Self

Social media has become a staple of personal interactions and brand management, but what kinds of content should job-seeking law students post online? Christina Martini (@TinaMartini10), National Hiring Partner-Associate Recruiting, at DLA Piper, discusses how to use social media to your advantage and a few tips for in-person networking and personal branding.

What benefits have you found in using social media with regard to your law firm practice and your recruiting experience?

I have found social media to be very helpful for my practice in several ways.  It is a great way to connect with others in the profession as well as business people, clients, and potential clients.  By reviewing their profiles and the content they author and share, I am able to learn a lot about their companies, their interests, and what makes them tick.  My outreach can be much more targeted with what I learn about them through various social media platforms.  It is also a great way for me to do the same for myself - and since I do a lot of writing and content development for a variety of media outlets, it provides a great platform for me to share that content with others who ordinarily may not have access to that content, including with hundreds of others within and outside the U.S.

So much of what helps lawyers differentiate themselves these days is having a strong professional profile and name recognition in their market. Social media is a critical component of being able to do that effectively.

Can you share any personal rules that help you determine how you use social media and what you share?

Generally, I am very cautious and mindful of what I post and share through social media.  It is important to recognize that there may be certain content which may be appropriate for family and friends to see but may not be proper for an employer or client.  In fact, there may be certain content that is downright objectionable to those in your professional circle. For this reason, I tend to be more conservative than many in what I post, even if it is through a social media platform which does not connect me with anyone professionally.  It is also important to remember that postings can live forever on the Internet, even years after they are made, so it is crucial to have that mindset when you are making the decision on whether or not to post certain content.  

What advice do you have for law students on if and how to use social media?  For example, should they use it to show interest in a practice area?  Should they use it to show personality?

My recommendation is for law students to use great care in determining what they choose to post on social media.  Even if it is a platform that is strictly for personal use, there are employers/potential employers who have social media policies for their employees and who will regularly search for postings and content and will make certain determinations about employees or applicants based on that content.  If you are going to use social media, I recommend being very professional and non-controversial in the content you post. Understand that your professional image is critical to your ability to succeed as a lawyer, so be careful about doing anything that may compromise that. 

How can job-seeking law students dig deeper to get additional insight beyond the firm website? For example, how can a law student evaluate a firm’s culture?

In addition to reviewing a firm's website, there are a number of third-party websites and blogs which provide various types of content about firms and their culture.  There are also a number of legal publications, which regularly report on various developments at firms and about attorney arrivals and departures, as well as other current firm news.  These sources can all prove to be very helpful in gleaning additional information.  I also recommend that students explore the alumni networks at their schools and try to find attorneys who have or are currently practicing at the firms in which they are interested.  They may also want to consider asking for an informational interview with one or more such alums.  In my experience, people tend to be happy to help and share such information.

What has impressed you the most when you’ve been interviewing or interacting with law student recruits?  Was there anything surprising?

What has impressed me the most are those students who take advantage of the wealth of information on the Internet that is now available at their fingertips regarding law firms and their practices.  What has particularly impressed me are those students who have been very targeted and strategic in their outreach to attorneys at the firm before they formally interview with me and have come in very well-versed and knowledgeable about the firm, its business, and its culture before they even meet with me.  Those candidates often seem to interview very well and find ways to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

Christina L. Martini is National Hiring Partner-Associate Recruiting, at DLA Piper.  She focuses her practice on domestic and international trademark and copyright law, as well as domain name, Internet, social media, advertising, unfair competition and entertainment law. Christina is  Chair of the Chicago Intellectual Property Practice Group and is a member of the firm's Executive and Policy Committees. She is also a member of the firm's Diversity and Inclusion National Steering Committee. Christina received her Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering with highest honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991. She graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1994.


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