Networking at Collision - Key Skills for Law Students

Networking at Collision - Key Skills for Law Students

It’s a complicated process logging in: download the app, open the website from your computer, scan a QR code from your mobile to log in to the website open on your browser.  It’s pretty neat at the same time. Even so, I had half a mind to not bother. You see, it was my first time attending the Collision Conference and I didn’t know what I was stepping into.  I didn’t know that it would change my life forever. 

The Collision Conference is Canada’s biggest tech conference, held annually in various locations. It has been held in Toronto for the last three years and the next one, scheduled for June 2022, will be held here as well. Last year, the Conference had over 38,000 attendees and spanned over three days. The Conference is a great opportunity for networking, learning from workshops and roundtables, meeting investors, leading generation, and creating brand awareness. You buy tickets online in advance, sign up, log in on the day of, and enjoy the ride. I highly recommend reviewing the programs in advance so you can be organized about what webinars you want to attend and whether you prefer to “Mingle” instead. 

Humans are a social species.  We rely on each other and thrive on each other’s existence. Since the COVID lockdowns happened, many social activities stopped mid-track. People became lonely and depressed. Virtual meetings, many of which are work-centric, became the norm. The Collision Conference turned out to be a perfect anti-dote to the theme of isolation.  Various options were available to the attendees: you could attend round-table conferences and webinars, and then there was “Mingle”. Under the Mingle feature, you stepped into a digital world of speed-networking.  You connected with AI-selected random matches, each for three minutes, before being escorted to another living room or home office. As random as the rooms were, so were their inhabitants. Some were brilliantly creative people who energised you: writers; musicians; inventors of a breathalyser for cancer, a work-from-home gaming platform, a royalty-free fair-trade music platform that empowers artists and contributors, and a brain-optimizing app, just to name a few. Others sapped your energy because they just offered a three-minute advertisement for their product and were not interested in meeting you, learning about you, or engaging. What a waste.

Once I slipped into my comfort zone with Mingle, I realized a few things: it is important to listen before you speak. Ask who they are, where they are from, what they do. People engage more when you express genuine interest in them. They can sense it. These interactions offer you the choice to become relevant to the person on the other side of the screen. This skill is key for a lawyer – to gauge the client’s needs and assess what they might need to know and what they want to hear. Listen to and analyze what the speaker is looking for. Ask yourself – why should this person sitting across from me be interested in what I have to say?

These skills and the people I met informed the way I wish to move forward in my legal career. They have shaped my perspective on the kind of work and clients I enjoy engaging with.

I would like to thank York University’s VPRI, Dr. Amir Asif, and Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino, Director of the IP Innovation Clinic, for the wonderful opportunity.  Were it not for their kindness, I would not have had this amazing experience. I am already looking forward to the next conference! 

Emma Abbas is an LLM student specializing in Intellectual Property Law. She has completed her training at the IP Innovation Clinic and plans to start her own practice soon, helping start-up companies with legal advice.