you know really does matter most
By: Bill Myers & Jerry Crimmins
August 29, 2003,
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Students at Northwestern
University School of Law have been getting a crash course in
networking at their orientation this week.
Brian Uzzi, an associate professor at
Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, has taken the
1st-years through an exercise that employs "The Reciprocity Ring,"
in which the students are asked to realize that, sometimes, all it
takes to get something done is to ask for it.
"It's to help them see how effective networks are," Uzzi
said of the sessions, which have been held in the afternoons at
Northwestern's law school, 375 E. Chicago Ave.
Uzzi asks the students to write down a need or a desire on
a form. The wishes range from the everyday -- one student needed a
cell phone to replace her broken phone -- to what Uzzi calls "blue
sky" wishes, far-out desires like being an extra in the next "X-Men"
movie, landing on an aircraft carrier in an F-18, or even getting a
lung transplant for a friend.
collects the wish forms and puts them onto a poster with a drawing
of the multicolored Reciprocity Ring, reading out each wish as he
does so. If other students in the room can help, or know someone who
can help, they jot their own name and contact information on a
Once all of the forms have
been pasted on the wheel, Uzzi reads through the wishes again. This
time as he reads out the wishes, he asks whether anyone can help.
The helper then forwards his or her contact information and Uzzi
pastes the note to the wish form. The helper gets a gold sticker.
By the middle of a session Thursday, several
students had gold buttons pasted up and down their shirts. Several
students seemed skeptical when the exercise began, but as Uzzi
predicted, their doubts melted away.
instance, the wish of one student to be in the next "X-Men" movie
was met with laughter throughout the room -- until another student
raised her hand to say that she knew Hollywood producer Samuel
Goldwyn. At that point, several students gasped.
There was another moment of laughter after a student, who
wanted to play golf at the St. Andrew's course in Scotland,
misspelled "tee time" as "tea time," leading Uzzi to ask whether
anyone knew the caterers at St. Andrew's.
Uzzi has done this exercise at the business school for the
last three years, but this was the first year he has worked through
it at the law school.
In many ways,
networking is even more important for young lawyers than for young
business professionals, Uzzi said.
law firm, lots of things are codified but not written down. And if
you want to be able to access people's unique knowledge or contacts
for getting the information you need to service the clients or for
building client contacts, the networks are crucial," Uzzi said.
The activity works for students because of its
simplicity, Uzzi said. Through the gold buttons and the cluttered,
colorful ring, the students "really get to see" the process and
effects of networking.
outlandish wishes -- two different students wanted to take batting
practice at big-league ballparks, for instance -- spur the students
to realize their own potential for networking, Uzzi said.
"When people hear the wishes, it gets people
thinking," he said.
technique Uzzi uses was developed by a University of Michigan
professor, who was inspired by the customs of the Kula tribe of
Melanesia, in the South Pacific, Uzzi said.
In Kula tradition, village meetings are held around a "Kula
Ring." Someone who needs resources steps into the ring to ask for
help. If another member of the village knows a way of helping, that
person is obligated by tradition to offer assistance, Uzzi said.
Luckily, the Kula tradition "was a
non-copyrighted" technique of networking, that required only "some
bells and whistles" to make it workable for modern students, Uzzi
Applications at high tide
Applications to U.S. law schools are nearing record
numbers this year, an official said.
American law schools have received 98,776 applications for
the 2003 fall term, which, as a "preliminary final number," breathes
down the neck of the all-time high for applications -- 99,327 -- set
in 1991, said Edward Haggerty, spokesman for the Law School
Admission Council. Applications have risen 11.2 percent from last
year, Haggerty said.
Final numbers of
applications won't be known until December or January, when all
applications are reported to the council, Haggerty said, which means
the record could still be set. Last year, the council's final tally
was 2,000 above its preliminary total, he said.
If the same thing occurs this year, law school applications
for 2003 could break the 100,000 mark and set a new high, mark,
The council has been
recording admissions statistics since 1948.