Law Students – Perceptions and Reality

In Friday’s episode of Law Librarian Conversations podcast, we talked with two social media-savvy third year law school students to get a dose of reality on what they think about social networking, online communication, legal research and practice skills. Our guests were Laura Bergus from Iowa who runs a legal podcast called Legal Geekery and writes for and Huma Rashid from Chicago’s John Marshall Law School, who runs a personal blog called The Reasonably Prudent Law Student where she offers budget fashion tips and thoughts on being a law student. Both Laura and Huma participate in the Social Media Law Student site.

My big question for them was about how their participation in social networking would be viewed by future employers, and was surprised that one felt law firms would not be looking at this unless she was involved in profession-related discussions online, while the other had been approached for work through the social networks.


  1. The biggest upside is that I feel like I “know” both Huma and Laura through our various online interactions, despite having never met them in real life. The ability to connect people of similar interests over thousands of kilometers away is something that has yet to be fully appreciated by law firms.

    I still hear both sides to this story. Most larger firms with institutional clients are extremely wary of high-profile law students. Those firms eager to expand their practice and brave enough to take on a creative law student might just find the returns they’re looking for.

  2. Thanks for the post Connie, and I look forward to listening to the podcast.

    Omar, you’ve hit on the two relevant ideas.

    One is about risk. A blogging student may (rightly or wrongly) be perceived as having more upside potential and more risk. Even larger firms might have an appetite for a student with the independence and creativity marked by a record of blogging, but the appetite might be limited to one seat out of a number.

    The other is about identity. Firm identity and service provider identity are so strongly linked that a candidate’s existing public profile, its degree of fit (or conflict) with the firm’s profile and the candidate’s willingness to modify his or her message (or stop blogging altogether) are matters that should be addressed in the hiring process.


  3. Dan, thanks for weighing in from the firm/recruiting side.

    The response I have is how are students supposed to evaluate a firm’s identity and their compatibility with it, especially before they have an offer of hire? Presumably different firms have different identities and brands.

    I think most students can understand stopping their blogging activities for a job, or at least putting it on hold. A better approach for me would be a uniform policy that all legal staff, including blogging associates and partners, comply with. Not only is it easier to justify to new hires, but it provides them with a template of what the firm considers acceptable.

  4. I agree a policy is imperative Omar, and have drafted many for organizations (including our firm). They are not typically public documents, but could be, or at least could be shared early in the hiring process as a means of helping candidates identify a potential conflict of interest.

    Your comment is very helpful because it suggests that an internet publication policy should describe the hallmarks of an organization’s identity or brand, something that few do. Such policies can’t be too prescriptive though because conflicts of interest can only be judged in their full context. You typically see a general rule, with some examples. I don’t even like using too many examples because they can obscure a good general rule.