Taylor Elicegui ‘19
I recently sat down with UVA Law’s favorite all-knowing cretin ANG, under ANG’s favorite bleachers at the softball field, because ANG had a message ANG wanted to make sure the community heard. As law firm reception season starts up, ANG wants to make sure the 1Ls are ready to win friends and influence partners to get that bread. The conversation was a little tricky—it can be hard to distinguish ANG’s excited grunts from ANG’s angry grunts—but I did the best I could to reprint the substance for you here. If, for whatever reason, you’re wary about taking ANG’s advice about receptions, see my italicized commentary below ANG’s nuggets of wisdom.
1. Make sure you dress for success. ANG knows that if you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you can do a better job of convincing partners that your C+ in Contracts is not indicative of your overall intelligence. ANG recommends a new trash bag or maybe a new Busch Light box as a hat. ANG knows that is what always makes ANG feel ANG’s best.
In all seriousness, law firm business casual is more formal than I originally expected. Don’t wear a suit, but it’s not a bad idea to go a little more formal than you might initially think.
2. Find at least seven of your sectionmates and carpool. Social interaction can sometimes be a little weird for ANG. To make receptions go as smoothly as possible, ANG finds at least seven of ANG’s sectionmates and goes with them to the reception. ANG’s general life motto is “No New Friends” so ANG wants to make sure ANG doesn’t interact with anyone for the first time.
Go with a friend or two, but make sure you branch out and talk to others. Law firm
receptions can be a good time to get to know some of your other classmates. The goal,
though, is to learn more about the firm and the different types of law you may be
interested in. The best way to do that is talking with the attorneys and learning about
3. Keep your hands full at all times. ANG knows there’s nothing worse than having to engage in the social niceties of “shaking hands” and “looking people in the eye” during flu season. To avoid this problem, ANG suggests keeping your hands full at all times. ANG’s go-to is a glass of wine in each hand—one red and one white if ANG is feeling playful and wants to mix things up. If that’s not your thing, ANG recommends having two little plates piled high with appetizers. You won’t have any hands available to put the food into your mouth, so ANG avoids the caprese skewers and sticks to things ANG can eat straight off the plate.
Don’t have a drink and plate at the same time. If you want some snacks, grab a snack plate and napkin, and eat some snacks with your peers before beginning your networking interactions. Make sure you always have a hand available to shake.
4. Get as drunk as possible. ANG talks with law firms a lot—they all want to hire ANG. So ANG has it on good authority that law firms want you to get as drunk as you possibly can so they can assess how you will fit in at the firm’s annual holiday party. ANG likes to start with beer and then switch to liquor. ANG has found that really allows ANG to shine.
Don’t have more than two drinks. One is even better. This is not a party and you should not be visibly tipsy in any way.
5. Pick at least one lawyer and talk to them. Once you’re tired of talking to the nineteen sectionmates you arrived with, it’s time to do what you’re really there for: talk to a lawyer. ANG likes to pick a lawyer who’s engaged in a conversation with at least six other people and barge in. Once in the group, ANG thinks it’s important to cover all the major conversation topics to show the lawyer how good you are at social interaction. Make sure to tell the lawyer who you voted for, ask who they voted for, share your thoughts on religion, and ask about money. Don’t let anyone other than the lawyer talk, though. You want to make sure the lawyer knows you are the top dog at school. Law firms aren’t looking to hire anyone else. So assert your dominance over your peers by cutting them off every time they try to speak.
Use this opportunity to ask about the lawyer’s work and find out more about the firm’s personality. A lawyer once suggested I ask how they would describe the firm in three adjectives, which I thought was a good question and helped me differentiate between firms. Make sure you don’t dominate the conversation and give your peers the same opportunity to ask questions and talk).
6. Follow up if you have a good conversation. ANG continues to differentiate ANG from ANG’s peers by sending at least twelve follow-up emails to everyone ANG speaks to. Recruiter, waiters, bartenders, all the lawyers ANG made eye contact with. Tell them about your family vacation, most recent Con Law reading, and the Taco Bell you had for dinner. ANG finds that sending emails allows ANG to make meaningful connections.
Send a follow-up email only if you make a good connection or have an unusually good conversation. Keep it short and make sure it’s very polite. Lawyers are busy people, so don’t take up more of their time.