LL.M. networking: How and why to get published

When I talk to foreign attorneys about the concept of networking, I notice the use of a somewhat passive approach — just like "showing up is half the battle." But Desiree, I go to networking events all the time."

While I subscribe to the importance of showing up, it is not enough to call it networking. More important than showing up is actually being present. By that I mean being present in the legal community through valuable actions. Making an actual contribution to the community, not through chit chat at every possible event, but through deeds. 

I am very bad at merely showing up and having small talk at cocktail receptions. I find it uncomfortable and not in the least enjoyable. I do not have an elevator pitch; nor do I aspire to have one. With so much self-promotion noise, I instead focus on doing and let my actions speak for themselves. I also find it much easier to discuss an actual project than talking about my career pursuits in the abstract.  This is what I call an active approach to networking — active in that I focus on doing, acting and creating, and then using these actions to contribute to and share with an ever growing network.

Writing is one wonderful way to act and contribute. Many LL.M. students shy away from writing for several reasons. But I encourage everyone to incorporate it into his or her professional activities. Imagine calling someone and saying, “It would be an honor to hear your thoughts on the current issue of blank about which I am currently writing an article for the New York City Bar Association blank committee newsletter.”  Who would not feel honored to be asked for his opinion?

Let’s take a look at a few writing/publication opportunities for foreign LL.M students:


Law Journals

This is the most demanding and also most unlikely means by which to get published. Law journals in the U.S. are very competitive and even though I have seen foreign colleagues get articles published, the standard is very high and it is very difficult. Law Journals are the most highly prized form of legal academic writing in the U.S. They are highly selective, especially (but not only) at the top levels. Law journals are largely student-edited, including the selection process. For the range of journals available see this Interactive List.


Bar and Trade Associations — Small Publications

Bar associations are very happy to receive content from their members for their various publications.  I wrote a thesis during my LL.M. study on “Zombie Trademarks” which I offered to the New York State Bar Association’s Law Student Committee and which was subsequently published.  I responded to a call for content, shared an abstract of my independent study and submitted an abridged version. Keep an eye on committee communications (hopefully you are a member of a committee somewhere) or better yet, reach out to your committee, and say that you would like to write something for its newsletter. Even if you do not have a topic yet, many committees are happy to brainstorm with you. Being an editor for one of those publications myself, I know first-hand how much new authors are valued. And yes, students can write and submit; you do not and you should not wait until after you graduate.   


Bar and Trade Associations — Major Publications

Some bar associations such as the ABA also publish books or printed magazines such as the ABA Journal.  Writing a book is a time consuming endeavor but some publications are compilations of articles by different authors. You also may want to consider working with co-authors. The ABA has about 100 publications on international law in its online store and keeps looking for new material. If you are interested in publishing a book with the ABA, you can find its author guidelines here


Legal Blogs

There are many legal blogs, in different colors and shapes, focusing on one area of law or on law in general, each of which offers opportunities to contribute (Above the Law, The Law Insider, Lawyerist, FindLaw’s Legal Blogs, Wall Street Journal Law Blog etc.).  I offered one of my first articles to Above the Law, which subsequently was published.


Self-Publish — Books

Self-publishing is another good way to get writing into the public sphere. The self-publishing industry makes it extremely easy. Self-publishing does not mean less work or lower quality but it does mean that there won't be anyone else who will judge the publication’s worthiness other than you. Self-publishing also gives you greater flexibility (for instance, on length). A book does not have to be 200 pages. It can be a tiny handbook of 30 pages along the lines “The Ten Funniest Laws in the German Civil Code.


Self-Publish — Blog

And finally, there is always the opportunity to start a blog. The set up will take no more than 10 minutes and everything else is left to your creative genius. Being a blogger in your practice area gives you many opportunities to reach out to other professionals to ask for an interview, comments or thoughts.


Sources of Inspiration

No matter what you write or where you publish, your topic should always be of interest to a reader in the U.S. So, if something newsworthy happens in your home country and you want to write about it, do not forget the U.S. nexus. It can sometimes be difficult to come up with an idea for an article. Here are some sources that can help inspire you:

Please use the work of authors just as an inspirational spark for your own thoughts.  Plagiarism is not treated lightly in the U.S.

Opportunities for writing and publishing are endless. Since many of us are not native speakers, it is very important to go through a very rigorous editing process and ask a native speaker to look over your work, especially when it is a legal piece.  

Some publications are more prestigious than others. What matters most, at first, is to get started somewhere. Use the writing process to get in touch with legal professionals, the publishing process to get in touch with the publishing industry and the written piece to develop your legal profile. Start your portfolio today.

Desiree Jaeger-Fine is principal of Jaeger-Fine Consulting, LLC, a career management firm for international attorneys in New York, and author of A Short & Happy Guide to Networking (West Academic Publishing) (forthcoming).