Judge Acosta on the Power of Networking

Judge Acosta with Oregon Law students at a luncheon

Editor’s Note: Judge Acosta graduated from Oregon Law in 1982 and sits on bench as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the District of Oregon. As a student, he served on the Managing Board of the Oregon Law Review. He was an Adjunct Professor from 2001- 2007 and has served on the law school’s Dean’s Advisory Council since 2013.

Networking events create opportunities for law students to meet lawyers and judges in more a more authentic environment than the artificially stressful context of a timed interview or the sterile landscape of a resume.  The encumbrance of the formal job-seeking process is removed for both student and lawyer or judge, and replaced by a more casual atmosphere that allows both sides to get to know one another as individuals. 

For an employer, hiring is as much about fit as it is about fitness for the position itself.  In my experience, meeting and talking with a student in these less-structured circumstances is one of the best ways to assess whether the student is someone I want to invite to extern for me or decide how to help them find the job they want.


of jobs are filled through networking | Hubspot
of people say their impressions are impacted by
how someone appears and their handshake | Hubspot


The best jobs are obtained through effective networking.  Getting that great job is not luck, unless one defines “luck” as “the residue of design.”  That’s what networking is about:  developing a plan that creates your own luck.  Thus, attending county and specialty bar events, showing up at law-school-sponsored talks by lawyers and judges, participating as a student member of an OSB committee, and informational interviewing all are excellent networking strategies that enable lawyers and judges to know who you are. 


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It's not who you know, it's who knows you
The Honorable Judge Acosta

You’ve no doubt heard the saying “It’s not who you know, it’s who you know.”  That’s incorrect.  It’s not what you know, it’s who knows you.  What counts is that you are remembered when that opportunity arises and someone calls someone else to ask: “Hey, we are looking for a [fill in the blank]. 

Do you know of anyone who might be good for the position?”  Exactly.