Firm Blog

Impact Socialization: The Litigators’ Get-Together

Posted by: Victoria Santoro

The social aspect of a successful law practice has been one of the most important lessons of my first two years out of law school.  Coached and encouraged by my mentors at Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, I slowly began venturing out of the office: political fundraisers, new lawyer networking events, bar association events and nonprofit outreach activities, to name just a few.  And, as my most fond memories of college and law school center around time spent with friends, the same is now true of my law practice.  Barely a week goes by without some sort of social event designed to foster and encourage further professional friendships.

From the moment of my arrival at my first American Association for Justice Convention this past month until the moment I left, I was surrounded by a swirling, bustling atmosphere full of energetic and excited attorneys.  Events ranged from formal luncheons, board meetings, and litigation group meetings to informal brunches and a slew of dinners, receptions, cocktail hours and parties.  There was not only great networking, but also incredible work being done.  On top of this, there was an almost constant stream of ideas and an interchange of knowledge, experience and strategy.  Most importantly, all of the various functions and meetings I attended served as “breakout groups,” the single most important part of impact socialization.

As a first-time attendee and new lawyer, I began with almost no visibility in a group so large (something I hope to change).  As I tried to navigate the convention, I wanted to maximize the few days I was there and decided to do dip my toe in the so-called waters gradually, one small group meeting at a time.  It was surprisingly effective. A similar philosophy has worked for me in my hometown of Boston.  Small group settings, where sharing ideas and asking questions can last for more than just a meager few minutes of small talk, creates the most social bang for your buck.

Over 3,000 attorneys converged on Chicago, for the purpose of uniting towards common goals, and sharing strategy and knowledge.  While this reinforced how much I have to learn and how much I should always continue to learn, that is also an overwhelming number of people to try and socialize with.  Given the size of the convention, it would seem difficult to create strong bonds with new people.  But, at a small dinner thrown by the Injury Board, I was able to not only learn about the dangers of Distracted Driving, but also spend quality time with a small group of attorneys from across the country.  The dinner was thrown in honor of Joel Feldman, who founded End Distracted Driving after his daughter Casey was struck and killed by a texting driver.  By breaking off into smaller groups (such as this dinner), it became much easier to maximize my social time by forming stronger bonds.  And that is the essence of impact socialization.  Ten close connections from one weekend away will reap far more rewards than shaking hands with 300 people.

There are innumerable similar experiences from the four days I spent in Chicago.  But most importantly, and what I’ve learned to carry with me throughout my practice, is that the strongest (but not necessarily the largest) possible network of professional friends is invaluable.  I never appreciated how important impact socialization was on a successful career, but it is your professional friends who, time and time again, will give you advice, provide guidance, and, hopefully, send you business.

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